New project puts focus on “long-term governance”

Climate protection or the final disposal of highly radioactive waste are challenges that will affect us for a long time to come. ITAS now wants to contribute to the basic understanding of the political approach to such “long-term problems.”
Fernglas mit Ausblick auf Wald
ITAS researchers take a closer look at “long-term problems.” (Source: mattylava/

The fight against climate change and environmental pollution, the disposal of nuclear waste, or the establishment of sustainable production and consumption patterns have one thing in common: They will definitely accompany us for a very long time to come. “In order to cope with long-term problems at the interface between technology and society effectively, we need a governance approach that goes beyond short-sighted orientations and decision-making processes,” explains Sophie Kuppler. Together with Dirk Scheer, she is head of the new project “Conceptual and empirical development of governance from a long-term perspective” at ITAS.

Addressing change processes with foresight

Research defines long-term governance as the foresighted and appropriate political regulation of large-scale change processes. This requires comprehensive integrated and adaptive/anticipative efforts over a long period of time, using direct and indirect steering modes.

For the final disposal of highly radioactive waste, for example, different stakeholders have to cooperate over several decades to centuries to identify a safe site and build, operate, seal, and monitor the repository. “This requires continuous adaptations, for example to changing social framework conditions and technical innovations,” says Dirk Scheer.

Long-term governance despite short-term political processes?

Scientists from different ITAS research groups who deal with long-term governance in a wide variety of topics work together in the recently launched project. They want to contribute to a better understanding of the basic principles of the political and social approach to long-term problems and the further development of the concept.

Important research questions are, for example, how long-term governance can be reconciled with the dominant short-term nature of political processes (e.g., legislative periods) or how such long-term processes can be dynamically adaptive while forming reliable structures at the same time. (22.01.2024)

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