In 2012 the international community will celebrate 20 years of Agenda 21, the guiding vision agreed to by 179 nations at the Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro. Since then the idea of sustainable development has been discussed at uncountable gatherings around the world and numerous activities – in academia, politics, civil society as well as the private sector – have been initiated to bring the idea of sustainability to life. Interconnected sustainability challenges such as climate change, loss of biodiversity, economic and social instability are however still with us – and some of them are becoming increasingly serious. The institutionalization of sustainability as a regulative idea has only started in some spheres of activity and some areas of the world. To achieve transitions towards sustainability, continuous inquiry, learning, and adaptation is needed. And this requires science to go beyond disciplinary – and even interdisciplinary – approaches. By bringing about mutual learning, collaborative research, and problem solving among business, government and civil society, transdisciplinarity can serve as an important guiding concept for sustainability science and practice. Over the last 10 years, progress has been made to better understand and design the interface between sustainability science and transdisciplinarity. The conference focuses on three leading questions:

1. What insights about the role of transdisciplinarity for
 sustainability transitions have we gained over the last 10 years?

2. What gaps in research still remain?

3. How can we fill these gaps?

These guiding questions will focus the debates in workshops, plenary and parallel sessions in four topical areas: Biodiversity, Global Sustainability, Education, and Corporate Sustainability.

The Earth System Governance Project, together with the Leuphana University Institute for Sustainability Governance, Leuphana University Institute for Environmental and Sustainability Communication, and IASS are convening conference track 2: “Driving the transitions: Research and Institutional Development for Global Sustainability”

Despite uncountable activities and initiatives around the world, 20 Years after the world summit on environment and development in Rio de Janeiro 1992 systemic change towards sustainable development has not been reached yet. One reason for this can be seen in the inadequate institutional framework for sustainable development. Scientist have shown, that the governance structures for environmental protection and sustainable development are fragmented and lacking effectiveness. Consequently at the Rio+20 Earth summit the question of institutional reform is one major topic next to Green Economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty reduction. In this context the track on “Global Sustainability” focuses on the question how research on institutions can drive the transition towards global sustainability. The institutional framework includes as well political-administrative institutions at the international level as globally distributed institutions on regional, national and local levels. Next to (inter-)disciplinary presentations analyzing institutions and institutional development, a special focus will be on transdisciplinary perspectives; hereby we understand projects in which science cooperates closely with the policy-community in transition oriented research and development activities. 

The track focuses on the following four topics:

1. (Inter-)disciplinary research on international institutions and institutional development for global sustainability

2. (Inter-)disciplinary research on institutions for global sustainability and institutional development beyond the international level: transnational, regional, national, local institutions

3. Innovative approaches for transdisiplinarity in institutional development for global sustainability on international, regional, national and local levels. 

4. Research on methods for transdisciplinartiy in institutional development for global sustainability

For more information see the conference website: