policy recommendations
for the G7

Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS)

The Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies conducts research with the goal of understanding, advancing, and guiding processes of societal change towards sustainable development. Our research approach is transformative, transdisciplinary, and co-creative: IASS researchers collaborate with diverse actors from science, policymaking and public administration as well as business and civil society to develop a common understanding of sustainability challenges and generate potential solutions.

Transformative sustainability research aims to bring together all relevant forms of knowledge generated both within and outside science in order to understand the problems of sustainable development, identify appropriate solutions, and support their implementation in cooperation with relevant actors and affected communities. The IASS involves these stakeholders in its transdisciplinary and co-creative research processes from the outset and does not view them as mere addressees of its research findings. The Institute also discusses its findings with representatives from politics, industry and civil society and supports transformation processes through this kind of consultation.

Our research and consultancy activities are organized across five research areas: Democracy and Sustainability, Global Implications of Socio-Technical Change, Transformative Methods, Processes and Practices, Energy Transitions and Societal Change, and Environmental and Societal Change. Our Science-Society Platforms and other activities foster dialogue between science, policymakers and civil society. These activities are complemented by a Fellow Programme, which fosters global dialogue and connects researchers working in the field of transformative research for sustainable development.

Our history

In 2007 the Nobel Laureate Symposium “Global Sustainability – A Nobel Cause” was held in Potsdam under the patronage of Chancellor Angela Merkel and attended by a host of internationally renowned scientists and political figures. The symposium’s widely regarded outcome document – the Potsdam Memorandum – calls for a joint effort to tap into “all sources of innovation and invention” in an effort to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century and establish a new “global contract” to promote sustainable societies in the age of the Anthropocene.

In the wake of the symposium, the German Science Alliance developed a concept for a novel research institute, from which the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) emerged. The IASS was officially founded in 2009 as a joint initiative of the German Federal Government, the Federal State of Brandenburg and the research organisations of the German Science Alliance. Potsdam was chosen as the location for the institute due to its excellent research landscape, with world-class institutions such as the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam – GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, as well as its close proximity to politics, media, and non-governmental organisations in Berlin.


Safeguarding the Blue Planet – Eight Recommendations to Sustainably Use and Govern the Ocean and Its Resources

Over 30% of the world’s population lives within 100 km of the oceanic coast. More than three billion people rely on fishing and other ocean-related livelihoods. The ocean is a biodiversity hotspot and moderates the climate, having absorbed around 40% of the world’s total carbon emissions. Oceanscapes provide an essential cultural good, offer recreational opportunities, health benefits, artistic inspiration and an entire cosmology and way of life for indigenous communities. However, anthropogenic pressures have seriously impacted the ocean and threaten its ability to provide human societies with the required climatic and ecosystem conditions for life on earth. The German G7 presidency has proposed a G7 “Ocean Deal” for the sustainable use, protection and effective governance of the ocean and its resources. Several ongoing global ocean governance processes require strong multilateral leadership and close alignment between the G7, in particular in this period of serious international tensions following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. At the One Ocean Summit in February 2022, global leaders have put forth first commitments to make 2022 a decision year for the ocean. Building on the final declaration of the summit and the UK G7 Ocean Decade Navigation Plan, we highlight that a G7 “Ocean Deal” should include provisions for 1) ambitious ocean governance to safeguard ocean health and climate (in the G7’s own waters and through leadership in international settings), 2) improving ocean observation, data infrastructure and knowledge sharing, and 3) financing the transition towards more sustainable interactions with the ocean. Specifically, we recommend that G7 states:

1a. Eliminate national subsidies that contribute to overfishing and push to finalize the related WTO agreement; step up international cooperation, financial & technical assistance to prevent IUU fishing.

1b. Reduce marine debris through a comprehensive global agreement on plastic pollution.

1c. Pause deep sea mining until risks are better understood and a transparent, inclusive and accountable institutional structure is in place that guarantees the effective protection of the marine environment.

1d. Expand marine protected areas in line with the proposed goal of at least 30% by 2030, and accelerate work in the coming months to successfully finalize negotiations for a legally binding instrument to conserve and sustainably use marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ).

1e. Fully recognize the importance of the ocean-climate nexus and strengthen the ocean dimension in key climate negotiations.

2a. Adopt a legal framework and binding commitments for a sustained and shared global coordination of ocean observations and infrastructure on marine data, compliant with FAIR and CARE principles.

2b. Ensure long-term, guaranteed funding, clear institutional affiliations, coordinated and integrated data products to enable continuous, comprehensive observations supporting policy monitoring & evaluation

3a. Redesign and scale up ocean finance by increasing funding of early-stage, nature-positive  and science-based opportunities, and large-scale investment into zero-carbon, resilient and nature-based  coastal blue infrastructure, and by integrating ocean criteria into sustainability finance frameworks (EU Taxonomy, Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), Taskforce for Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD)).

Logo: Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS)


City D-14467 Potsdam
Country Germany