Headline: Democracy and Sustainability - News


Tackling the Climate and Housing Crises: Promoting Compact Living in Europe

Future European Union housing policy must address the twin challenges of providing adequate housing for all while drastically reducing current levels of resource use. Voluntary reductions in living space could make a significant contribution to achieving these goals. To facilitate this, the EU should promote the construction of smaller apartments set in attractive neighbourhoods and enable the more flexible use of existing housing stock, according to a new study co-authored by scientists from the Research Institute for Sustainability - Helmholtz Centre Potsdam (RIFS).

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Mobility transition

Civil Society Engagement as a Driver of Urban Transformation

Cities will need to change if we are to secure a sustainable future. Many people in Berlin have recognized this and cititzen-led initiatives have played a crucial role in driving transformations in recent years. This engagement strengthens resilience and ensures that communities are better equipped to tackle future challenges. But more can be done to involve different communities and improve cooperation with the city’s political institutions and policymakers.

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Citizen Objects: Challenging the Authority of Data

Artist and RIFS Fellow Julika Gittner went to London in the 1990s to study art and later architecture. She has taught at the University of Cambridge Department of Architecture and History of Art for many years. Julika Gittner joined the RIFS in April. In this interview, she talks about her work and current projects.

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Reassessing the Coal Commission

Germany’s Coal Exit: New Strategies for Structural Change Needed

Affected communities in former lignite-mining regions are critical of the work of Germany’s Coal Commission. With the phase-out still unfolding, a new study shows that further efforts and new strategies must be developed to ensure local communities are more closely involved. More public participation, more cooperation between stakeholders, and conflict mediation are all needed, the study reveals.

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Franco-German Forum for the Future

Accelerating Transformations With Agile Public Administration

From adapting public spaces to climate change to rethinking mobility and decarbonising the heat supply – cities are grappling with major transformation processes as they move towards a more resilient and climate-friendly future. The Franco-German Forum for the Future and the Research Institute for Sustainability (RIFS) in Potsdam have investigated how local authorities are adapting their planning processes to deal with these dynamic challenges. A new study explores an innovative solution developed by the City of Munich.

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Berlin Science Week

From Millinery to Natural Building to Podcasts

This year’s Berlin Science Week (1-10 November 2023) will once again showcase the sciences across a host of events, promoting discussion of recent research and its findings. The ten-day festival is expected to attract over 20,000 visitors and will feature presentations from around 500 speakers, supported by some 150 organisations. RIFS researchers and fellows will also participate in this inspiring dialogue between science and society, art and research. An overview.

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Indigenous Leaders in Berlin: Together for the Rainforest

In the struggle for their land and way of life, the indigenous Amazon peoples have already achieved a lot. But they need support in protecting their territories, which are so important for the global climate and biodiversity. During a European tour, a delegation of indigenous chiefs visited Berlin, met with the President of Germany and subsequently discussed their concerns at a public event.

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Shaping the Future Through Public Participation

The LOSLAND project has supported ten municipalities across Germany in their efforts to facilitate public participation processes on issues that will shape the future of communities. On 20 April, participants and organisers took stock of the project's outcomes at the symposium “Forging a sustainable democracy through public participation in municipalities”. Discussions at the symposium show that public participation can enrich democracy, but processes must be tailored to the demands of specific issues and target groups.

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Participation Processes: Talk to Each Other - But How?

Structuring discussions, explaining contexts, identifying perspectives: all of these are among the tasks of facilitators. In cooperation with the city of Magdeburg, RIFS researchers designed and accompanied three mini-publics that were facilitated in different ways. Their analysis of strengths and weaknesses contributes to a better design of future participation processes.

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Climate Litigation Plays Important Role in Struggle for Intergenerational Justice

Young people have long been marginalized in national, regional, and United Nations political fora. Now they are actively demanding their rights as representatives of present and future generations. They do so through public protests, but also by taking legal action to assert their claims. Scientists at the Research Institute for Sustainability (RIFS) have studied the potential impacts of climate litigation in the Anthropocene.

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Berlin Senate Adopts Most of the Recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly on Climate

On 20 December 2022, the Berlin Senate issued a statement on the recommendations prepared by the Berlin Citizens’ Assembly on Climate and announced that it would partially or fully incorporate 42 of the assembly’s 47 recommendations into its Energy and Climate Protection Programme (BEK 2030). RIFS (then IASS) advised the Citizens’ Assembly on Climate and accompanied the participation process.

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