At the Research Council of Finland, accountability encompasses taking into account environmental, human and economic aspects both in our research funding and in our role as a government agency.
In our research funding activities, we follow a set of specific practices for responsible science, including research ethics, equality and nondiscrimination, open science, sustainable development and responsible researcher evaluation. Our aim is to make accountability and responsible conduct an integral part of both our research funding and our internal operations. Accountability issues are regularly discussed by our steering group and the Board.
The Research Council of Finland is committed to promoting sustainable development. In line with our commitment, we require that the research projects we fund take into account the principles of sustainable development as part of responsible science. When applying for funding, researchers are encouraged to include in the societal impact descriptions of their research plans an account of how the project will promote sustainability. In the final reports, in turn, they should describe how the project and the results succeeded in this task.
Sustainable development at the Administration Office
At our Administration Office, we have systematically improved our working methods in line with the objectives of sustainable development. In the review of applications, for example, we now mainly organise online panel meetings.
Other ways in which we take into account sustainability include:
- cutting back on work travel
- reducing office space
- making the most of hybrid modes of working
- following principles of good governance
- upgrading our skills and competence.
This approach has successfully helped us reduce air travel by around a thousand international experts every year. We have also promoted sustainable development by limiting air travel by staff and by supporting remote and hybrid working. As a rule, our stakeholder events and meetings are organised as remote meetings. This reduces the need to travel. Sustainability is also a central theme in all procurements and services related to our internal services.
How we take into account the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
The objectives of the Society's Commitment to Sustainable Development cover a wide range of sectors in society and people’s everyday lives. The Research Council of Finland funds research broadly across all scientific disciplines and can thereby contribute to the attainment of sustainable development targets. In 2021, we selected four of the UN’s Agenda 2030 goals for closer monitoring as part of our sustainability reporting:
- Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
- Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
- Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation.
- Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
The Research Council of Finland’s work to support accountability and the SDGs is implemented in practice through our research funding. One of the science policy objectives that are factored in when we make funding decisions is how sustainable development is considered.
We work with the scientific community, other research funders and various actors in society to strengthen the conditions for science and research, promote the use of research knowledge and identify topical research themes and topics.
When selecting international partners and topics for calls for applications, we also take into account our value base concerning our internationalisation activities and our objectives for accountability and sustainable development.
From the research projects we fund, we require responsible conduct of research and consideration of the SDGs.
We have no role in measuring the footprint of the research or research infrastructures we fund; this is the responsibility of the research organisation, such as a university or research institute. We monitor the accountability of the funded research projects through data from the projects’ scientific reports.
In our renewed commitment to sustainable development, our stated objective is to put more emphasis on monitoring the impact of research funding from a sustainability perspective.
The Research Council of Finland produces an annual accountability report. The report describes our efforts to promote accountability and sustainable development. For us, accountability includes work to support responsible science, achieve the SDGs and produce accountability reports.
Society’s Commitment to Sustainable Development
In June 2022, the Research Council of Finland renewed its societal commitment to sustainable development until the end of 2025. This third commitment addresses sustainable development and accountability in a more in-depth and systematic way than previous commitments.
Our latest commitment has three key objectives:
- increase and deepen the awareness of researchers, the Research Council and our stakeholders with respect to the principles of sustainable development and emphasise the importance of these principles in research and research funding in a cross-cutting manner
- more systematically examine the perspectives of sustainable development and accountability, integrating monitoring with the annual cycle of our operations
- raise the profile of research as a promoter of sustainable development and strengthen the profile of the Research Council as a responsible promoter of the principles of sustainable development.