Headline: News


Planetary Commons: Fostering global cooperation to safeguard critical Earth system functions

Tipping elements of the Earth system should be considered global commons, researchers argue in a new paper published in the renowned journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Global commons cannot - as they currently do - only include the parts of the planet outside of national borders, like the high seas or Antarctica. They must also include all the environmental systems that regulate the functioning and state of the planet, namely all systems on Earth we all depend on, irrespective on where in the world we live. This calls for a new level of transnational cooperation, leading experts in legal, social and Earth system sciences say. To limit risks for human societies and secure critical Earth system functions they propose a new framework of planetary commons to guide governance of the planet.

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#FactoryWisskomm Fellow to Tread New Ground in Science Communication with Podcast

The sheer wealth of information and fast pace of modern life can make it difficult for researchers to engage policymakers in dialogue. A new fellowship established at the RIFS offers researchers the opportunity to explore developments in science communication targeting political decision-makers. The fellowship is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and is part of the #FactoryWisskomm platform established by the BMBF to promote science communication. The inaugural FactoryWisskom Fellow will be Sébastien Vannier of the Centre Marc Bloch, a Franco-German research centre for social sciences and humanities in Berlin, who plans to launch a podcast.

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Film project

The Sky, the Land, and Lessons on Nature from the Rio Tiquié

What they see in the sky determines how the people of the Rio Tiquié in the Amazon rainforest deal with their land. Each constellation of stars is associated with certain developments in nature and tasks for humans. Brazilian filmmaker Mariana Lacerda, currently a fellow at the RIFS, wants to understand the indigenous peoples’ "handling of the world" in North-West Brazil and capture it in a film. She is developing the film script in dialogue with collaborators from the Rio Tiquié.

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Sustainability Advisory Board

Fostering Sustainable Development as a Democratic Process

The Sustainability Advisory Board of Brandenburg state has developed a set of recommendations titled “Social cohesion in an open society – Democracy as a way of life” and presented them to the state government on 8 January 2024. The recommendations are based on a policy brief in which the authors recommend an all-of-government approach to address various issues of social justice and public participation as well as the goal of safeguarding quality of life while remaining within planetary boundaries.

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Music Sector

Values and Traditions Slow Transition to Sustainability in Classical Concert Industry

There is a growing interest in sustainability among orchestras, ensembles and concert halls in Germany –in terms of reducing their environmental impacts, and in relation to programming, such as creating concert formats that engage with sustainability on a thematic level. Is the classical concert industry contributing to the broader transformation of society towards sustainability? RIFS researchers see room for improvement, finding that many institutions and orchestral musicians are not sufficiently self-critical in their approach to sustainability issues.

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Call for Applications

Potsdam Summer School 2024 Focuses on Ecosystems

The 10th Potsdam Summer School will explore the theme of “Ecosystems Change & Resilience in the Anthropocene” and will take place on 16–20 September 2024. Early-career scientists and young professionals from the private sector, government agencies, and non-governmental organisations are encouraged to submit their applications by 30 April 2024.

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Art Fellowship

Giving the Arctic Back Its Ice

Even if the global community were to double down in its efforts to protect the climate, it would not be able to give the Arctic Ocean back its ice. But, in a symbolic act, Hamburg-based conceptual artist Swaantje Güntzel has done just that: on 18 November, at Båtsfjord in the far north of Norway, she produced ice cubes from meltwater taken from the North Pole and let them slip into the sea. This artistic intervention is part of Güntzel's year-long fellowship at the Research Institute for Sustainability - Helmholtz Centre Potsdam (RIFS).

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