Sustainable development

Research-based knowledge plays a key role in ensuring sustainable development and protecting the welfare of future generations. The Academy of Finland funds research across all scientific disciplines and thereby supports the attainment of sustainable development targets.

Sustainable development is a continuous and guided social transformation process that takes place globally, regionally and locally with the aim of securing opportunities for a good life for present and future generations. In 2015, UN member states agreed on global goals and targets for sustainable development. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development aims at eradicating extreme poverty and promoting a sustainable development in which the environment, the economy and human beings are taken into account in equal measure. Finland implements the global agenda through, for example, ‘Society’s Commitment to Sustainable Development’, an instrument whereby the public sector and other actors can pledge to promote sustainable development in their work and operations. The Academy has made a commitment to the 17 global goals of sustainable development.

The Academy has also made a commitment to Society’s Commitment to Sustainable Development for 2018–2021. By this commitment, our aim is to raise awareness of the principles of sustainable development and to emphasise the importance of these principles in research funding and research work. The commitment covers all research funding activities at the Academy. Through active advocacy communications, we also highlight the potential of research in promoting sustainable development.

Considering sustainable development in applying for funding

The Academy of Finland requires that Academy-funded projects take into account sustainable development. We also consider the principles of sustainable development when we plan themes for Academy Programmes and the contents of other thematic funding opportunities. In addition, our current Academy Programmes effectively support the sustainable development objectives.

One of the science policy objectives that are factored in when Academy funding decisions are made is how the proposed project has taken into account sustainable development. However, it is not a funding criterion as such. We will monitor how the goals related to sustainable development are being achieved in the projects we fund.

We expect the projects we fund to take sustainable development into account as part of responsible science. In the context of sustainable development goals, responsible science concerns a description of how the project can promote one or several of the eight goals for sustainable development: equal prospects for wellbeing, a participatory society for citizens, sustainable employment, sustainable society and local communities, a carbon-neutral society, a resource-wise economy, lifestyles respectful of the carrying capacity of nature and decision-making respectful of nature.

In their research plans, researchers are therefore also encouraged to describe how the project promotes sustainable development as part of responsible science. The final reports, in turn, can focus on how the project and its results have contributed to sustainable development.

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