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Guidelines adopted for application of Do No Significant Harm principle

Ministry of the Environment
Publication date 4.7.2024 7.57
News item

In the DNSH Finland project coordinated by the Ministry of the Environment, guidelines were drawn up for authorities and companies on the application of the Do No Significant Harm (DNSH) principle.

The DNSH principle means that measures to reduce emissions, for example, may not cause harm to other environmental objectives. The principle became part of public funding when the European Commission included it in the conditions for investments to be paid from the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). 

The guidelines can also be used when making decisions on public funding. The aim is to increase the authorities’ understanding of how public funding can be targeted more effectively to projects that support the green transition. The guidelines can also be used for the companies’ self-assessments concerning significant harm. 

The guidelines help both the applicant in conducting an assessment concerning the Do No Significant Harm principle (DNSH self-evaluation) and the authorities in reviewing the assessments made by the applicants. They can be used to determine whether an assessment is needed in the first place and, if it is considered necessary, the scope of the assessment. DNSH self-evaluation is a process where the project implementers assess the impacts of their activities on the environment. In addition, the guidelines describe the relationship between the possible environmental impact assessment procedure and environmental permit and the DNSH assessment.

Two sets of guidelines were drawn up in the project. The “programme-level” guidelines are intended for those operating in the public sector who consider whether the DNSH principle should be taken into account as part of a new programme (e.g. a new government grant or other support programme). The guidelines for the project level are intended for those conducting self-assessments and the public authorities evaluating the assessments.

The aim of the guidelines is to make it easier for the authorities and companies to take the DNSH principle into account in their practical activities. The DNSH principle is part of the Taxonomy Regulation included in the legislation related to sustainable financing. According to the Regulation, financial market participants and companies have the obligation to report whether their activities qualify as ‘green’, i.e. are in compliance with the taxonomy. In addition, in Finland the principle applies to certain green transition projects that may apply for priority consideration in permitting procedures if they take the DNSH principle into account. In future, the European Commission will aim for more harmonised guidelines and procedures for the application of the DNSH principle. In view of this, the guidelines and the training materials that were also produced in the project will help organisations in developing their capabilities. 

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment and Ministry of Finance also participated in the project. The project received funding from the EU Technical Support Instrument (TSI).

The guidelines can be found at the Gateway to Information on Government Projects.


Emma Terämä
Chief Specialist
[email protected]
tel. +358 295 250 255