As part of aligning with the European Green Deal, a new evaluation criterion has been selectively included in the European Innovation Council and Pillar II programming of Horizon Europe. The criterion of “do no significant harm” (DNSH) references six long-term environmental goals, drawn from European Commission the EU regulation to establish a framework for sustainable investment (EU) 2020/852). Harm is proscribed as related to negative impacts on: Climate change mitigation, Climate change adaptation, Sustainable use and protection of water and marine resources, Circular economy, Pollution prevention and control, Protection and restoration of biodiversity and ecosystems.
Integration of this DNSH principle represents a novel and bold step for European innovation governance considerate of sustainability concerns. However, at present, guidance on how researchers would implement an accounting of harm, how reviewers might evaluate significance, how funders might determine acceptable or unacceptable harms across a portfolio projects, and many other questions remain open.
Our aim in this initiative is to create a space to open dialogue among researchers and research funders on what it means to operationalize the “do no significant harm” principle into research and innovation policies.