Christian Iaione, Just Sustainable Innovation: Shared Systemic Stewardship as Governance Impact of Sustainable Investment?


1. On the Principle of Sustainable Innovation
2. Sustainable Innovation as Just Innovation? The EU Policy Landscape on Climate and Energy Justice
2.1. Climate and Intergenerational Justice
2.2. Energy Justice
3. Empowering Vulnerable Communities through Impact-Based Stewardship. Evidence from the EU Regulatory Frameworks on Sustainable Governance, Sustainable Finance, Just Transition, Integrated Local Development
3.1. On Engagement and Stewardship as a Defining Feature for Sustainable Governance and Sustainable Finance
3.2. On Just Transition and Integrated Local Development: the Partnership Principle as the True Source for Engagement and Stewardship
4. Conclusions: the Role of USDIPs and CSOs in Building Local Sustainable Innovation Ecosystems for Vulnerable Communities


The EU law and policy framework introduced in its main R&I program, Horizon Europe, the principle of “sustainable innovation” as a principle that should guide public investment on innovation. This principle calls for the recognition of the undisputable role that innovation can play in solving daunting social and environmental challenges generated by the technological transition and the climate crisis. It is less clear whether this principle can also engrain social justice to make the technological and ecological transitions more just. This article investigates first whether the legal debate on climate and energy justice as EU constitutional clauses can help operationalize the justice dimension of sustainable innovation. The investigation turns then to the role of the EU secondary law and legal reforms on sustainable corporate governance and sustainable finance steering private economic and financial operators towards the production of positive environmental and social impacts which seem to call for active engagement with all the stakeholders, including vulnerable communities, and a shared systemic stewardship of common essential resources. It then turns to the analysis of the legislation on public investment on the just transition and the social and territorial cohesion to demonstrate that probably only public investment through the “partnership principle” can enable real positive engagement of vulnerable communities and therefore a shared systemic stewardship of common essential resources to deliver a just and democratic ecological and technological transition. The article ends identifying limitations to this hypothesis which are mainly related to the lack of human and economic resources, and it shed light on a possible trajectory for future research pathways to overcome these limitations by making better use of new multistakeholder partnerships models aimed at tackling sustainable development and innovation as well as partially rethinking the role and mission of knowledge institutions in local innovation ecosystems as pivotal agents of local institutions such as city science offices that can enable and govern the cooperation between the various stakeholders within these ecosystems and monitor the production of their positive social and environmental impacts.