Headline: Homepage

What we work on

Transformative Sustainability Research

RIFS conducts research with the goal of understanding, advancing, and guiding processes of societal change towards sustainable development. Our 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. The research approach is transformative, transdisciplinary, and co-creative.

About us

In brief

From Polycrisis to a Better Future

With a series of online panel discussions, Leuphana’s Social-Ecological Systems Institute seeks to engage a diverse range of scholars on current controversial topics in sustainability. A panel on the topic "From polycrisis to a better future" with RIFS researcher Halliki Kreinin is now available on Youtube.

Shifting Basslines - Club Culture & Sustainability

Shifting Basslines is a collaborative and creative research project by RIFS Fellow Kerstin Meißner that links climate change and raving. A storytelling podcast series will be launched on June 7 in Berlin.

June 2024 Newsletter

Find out more about our research and other activities in the latest issue of the RIFS Newsletter.


Show all

RIFS Mourns the Loss of Klaus Töpfer

The founding director of the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS), Klaus Töpfer, has died at the age of 85. Following its establishment in 2009, the pioneering institute rose to prominence within the international sustainability research community under his leadership.

Read more

Raving and the Planet: New Podcast Dives Deep Into Sustainable Club Culture

Can dance parties contribute to the transition towards sustainability? What are clubs doing to reduce their emissions? How can a new awareness of our relationship with planet Earth emerge on the dance floor? A new podcast produced by social scientist Kerstin Meißner during a year-long fellowship at the Research Institute for Sustainability (RIFS) explores these questions. Three episodes and an interview with Kerstin Meißner are available on most podcast catchers from today.

read more

Seddin Declaration for Sustainability and Democracy

Representatives of Brandenburg’s Sustainability Platform presented the Seddin Declaration for Sustainability and Democracy to Minister of the Environment Axel Vogel and Parliamentary President Ulrike Liedtke at parliament today. Signed by 20 organisations and over 380 citizens, the Seddin Declaration highlights the connection between democracy and sustainable development and calls on politicians to establish an enabling environment for pathways towards greater sustainability in Brandenburg. The Seddin Declaration calls on policymakers to put sustainable development at the top of their agenda in the next legislative period.

read more

Recommendations for the Transition to Sustainable Land-Use in Brandenburg

Brandenburg Sustainability Advisory Board presented its recommendations for a transition to sustainable land-use to the state government in Potsdam today. Drawn from the recent policy brief "Multiple-benefit Strategies for a Land-Use Transition in Brandenburg", the recommendations promote an approach to land-use management that operates within the planetary boundaries and upholds social standards. State Secretary Friederike Haase, who accepted the recommendations on behalf of the government, stated at the reception: “These recommendations cover a wide range of topics and will provide valuable input for our work. I would like to extend my thanks to the Advisory Board for this contribution.”

read more


Show all

Deliberative Mini-Publics Dossier

Deliberative mini-publics are participatory processes in which a randomly selected and heterogenous group of citizens cooperate for a period to develop recommendations, ideas or solutions on a specific issue. RIFS accompanies these processes in various roles.

Protecting the Marine Environment: An International Treaty on Plastic Pollution Dossier

Marine plastic pollution poses a threat to the marine environment and negatively affects human health. An international treaty is currently being negotiated under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) to provide a comprehensive global legal framework addressing plastic pollution, including in the marine environment. Scientists within the Ocean Governance research group at RIFS are closely following the negotiation processes and exploring the role of the future treaty in ocean governance.

Sustainability in Brandenburg Dossier

Brandenburg is facing major sustainability challenges, such as agrarian transformation, energy transformation, mobility transformation, transformation of Lusatia, adaptation to climate change, promotion of rural areas, revitalisation of the economy after the Corona pandemic, and water supply and water protection. As a Potsdam institute, RIFS is actively involved in sustainability work in Brandenburg.

Systemic Risks Dossier

Modern societies are vulnerable to “systemic risks” such as pandemics, financial crises, or climate change. Due to their complex and interconnected nature, systemic risks pose a particular challenge to conventional approaches to risk analysis and management. The research group on systemic risks at RIFS analyses risks and opportunities around transformation processes for sustainable development and, in a second step, develops policy recommendations for the governance of systemic risks.