Provide clarity on DNSH to boost contributions of science & technology

Our Board has adopted a position providing recommendations towards ensuring the ‘Do No Significant Harm’ (DNSH) principle boosts the contributions of science & technology.
19th October 2022
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LEUVEN, 19 October 2022

The leading universities of Science and Technology (S&T) united in CESAER welcome the focus of the European Commission on supporting the Green Transition, including the findings from the Technical Expert Group on sustainable finance (TEG) which published its final report introducing an ‘EU Taxonomy’ to advance ‘the transition to a low-carbon, resilient and resource-efficient economy’.

The ‘Do No Significant Harm’ (DNSH) principle was introduced in this taxonomy as one of the ‘technical screening criteria’ for economic activities.

With the position published today, we (i) point out that the current application of the DNSH principle risks slowing down the contribution of S&T to help tackle local and global challenges, and (ii) provide recommendations towards ensuring that the DNSH principle boosts the contribution of S&T instead.

Wendy Sonneveld (Co-Chair of Task Force Sustainable Funding) said:

“The DNSH principle is often applied in the context of large, billion-euro financial investment projects with well-developed methodologies for addressing potential environmental harms.

“In contrast and in areas such as early-stage research into new and emerging S&T, there is a high degree of uncertainty in potential outcomes and impacts. This large degree of uncertainty follows naturally from the ‘high-risk high-gain’ approach that is foundational for pursuing ground-breaking research and disruptive innovation.”

Christian Gerhardts (Co-Chair of Task Force Sustainable Funding) said:

“To make sure the implementation of the DNSH principle supports the laudable intention behind it also in Horizon Europe, it is important that approaches are harmonised and clarifications are made.

“To achieve this, we offer our commitment and expertise and stand ready to work together with the European Commission.”

The position can be referenced using

For more information and enquiries, please contact our Deputy Secretary General Mattias Björnmalm.

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