Responsible Research and Innovation

“Responsible research and innovation means taking care of the future through collective stewardship of science and innovation in the present.” (“Developing a framework for Responsible InnovationStilgoe, J. et al. 2011)


The Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) framework stands for a broad assessment  of the societal impact that scientific advances can cause as to ensure that they meet the expectations of society. As a concept, it is a key pillar in the strategy of the European Union to create sustainable and inclusive prosperity while addressing global societal challenges. As an ever-growing part of the European research landscape, this multi-actor context brings researchers, citizens, policy-makers, and businesses together to better align the overall research process, and its outcomes. With this also comes the inclusion of values and needs of society as well as joint contributions to tackle the urgent challenges we face. The aim of the RRI initiative is to provide a valuable incentive for all societal actors to work together and produce integrative, inclusive and sustainable solutions for the benefit of society.

To further pursue the goals of RRI, the signatories of the Rome Declaration on RRI in Europe called in 2014 to make RRI a central objective across all relevant policies and activities, by underlining that the benefits of Responsible Research and Innovation “[…] go beyond alignment with society: it ensures that research and innovation deliver on the promise of smart, inclusive and sustainable solutions to our societal challenges; it engages new perspectives, new innovators and new talent from across our diverse European society, allowing to identify solutions which would otherwise go unnoticed; […] it assesses the risks and the way these risks should be managed."

Today, RRI is firmly established in the European Research landscape, covering all disciplines and interconnecting all scientific domains. In fact, publicly funded research tackles societal challenges posed by pressing issues such as climate change or the loss of biodiversity. Under the Horizon 2020 programme of the European Union, RRI is a cross-cutting theme and a budget of € 462 million is devoted to the Science with and for Society Programme, whose topics directly relate to the five dimensions of RRI that are generally said to foster inclusive and sustainable research:

▶ Open science

▶ Science education

▶ Public engagement

▶ Gender

▶ Ethics



Cover of CETAF RRI Framework


Natural science institutions are already engaged in these domains as the five RRI principles naturally underpin their numerous and varied activities, from exhibitions and educational programmes, to collection curation and scientific research. In the light of such an exemplary status, the community of CETAF is positioned at the forefront of RRI implementation across all its member institutions via the scientists involved in collections-based research and the policies and best practices endorsed at the institutional level.

To establish a common understanding and provide guidance on implementing and deepening its engagement in the RRI concept, CETAF has defined a set of five basic principles that lead to action under each of the five RRI domains in their “CETAF Framework for Responsible Research and innovation – 5 principles to guide 5 domains”. Those values are inherent in the everyday activities of our research-performing organisations and anchor their pursuit of excellent science whilst upholding high standards for conducting responsible research.

The process of the creation of the CETAF Framework for RRI started in 2016 at the CETAF39 General Assembly in Budapest and found its culmination one year later with the publication of the document, available for download here. By emplo ying a bottom-up approach, the CETAF RRI Framework is directly based on the input and experience of representatives and personnel from natural history institutions. This set of voluntaTheir character and history gives CETAF members special experience in each of the five domains. As a reference, the open access to biodiversity data has been a tradition in CETAF institutions and is solidly embedded in its backbone. Moreover, natural science museums and botanical gardens are strongly engaged in science education and public engagement as these constitute part of its core objectives. Similarly, ethics is a central axis for research discovery and scientific development at the institutions, and according to the numbers in our institutional profiles, CETAF comes very close to an equal staff distribution between genders with 49% women and 51% men employed by the museums and botanic gardens that make up CETAF.ry guidelines is a response of the CETAF community to the European Commission laying out their definition of RRI to show CETAF’s commitment to responsible science and how the entire community dedicates its scientific activity to serving society. 

RRI Resources

Below are some useful resources regarding RRI:


Tools and Outcomes

RRI Toolkit – The RRI Toolkit is an output of the RRI Tools project, funded by the EU under FP7, that set out to foster RRI in Europe with a view to a harmonious and efficient relationship between science and society. An extensive search engine lets the user search for digital resources to advocate, train, disseminate and implement RRI. The CETAF Framework for RRI can also be found here.

Screenshot Website RRI Toolkit

GenPORT – The Gender Portal compiled a rich trove of resources specifically devoted to the Gender domain of RRI.

Science in Society (SiS) page – CORDIS is the European Commission's primary public repository and portal to disseminate information on all EU-funded research projects and their results in the broadest sense, implementing the Open Access and Public Engagement domains of RRI directly.

RESPONSIBILITY  is a global model and observatory for International Responsible Research and Innovation Coordination. The observatory aims to be a permanent point of reference and actual forethinking regarding the current 17:30 concept and developments in the field of RRI.



Journal of Responsible Innovation

Options for Strengthening Responsible Research and Innovation, Report, European Commission, 2013



FoTRRIS – The project aims to foster a transition of the existing Research & Innovation system to a RRI system by helping researchers to overcome structural and cultural barriers against RRI. CETAF participated in a survey to help advance this project.

RRI- PRACTICEaims to understand the barriers and drivers to the successful implementation of RRI. The project will review RRI related work in 22 research conducting and research funding organisations and will develop RRI Outlooks outlining objectives, targets and indicators for each organisation.

ENGAGE – This project is about equipping the next generation to participate in scientific issues and to change how science is taught. Traditionally students gain an image of science as a body of content, whereas RRI deals with uncertain areas of knowledge, where values and argument matter as much as facts.

PROSO – PROSO provides guidance on how to encourage engagement of citizens and third sector organizations, such as non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civil society organizations, and citizens in Europe’s research and innovation processes. CONSIDER is a similar project focusing on research governance.

NewHoRRIzon is a project that aims at integrating RRI in the Innovation and Research systems on national and international levels. It targets in particular the current research framework programme H2020 and future multiannual programmes (e.g. FP9). The project website also features a number of videos on RRI.

A more extensive list of RRI related projects can be found here.