The Journal Environment, Systems and Decisions just published “Comparing mental models of prospective users of the Sustainable Nanotechnology Decision Support System”, by Ineke Malsch and colleagues of the project Sustainable Nanotechnologies (www.sun-fp7.eu). Mental modelling analysis can be a valuable tool in understanding and bridging cognitive values in multi-stakeholders’ communities. It is especially true in situation of emerging risks where significant uncertainty and competing objectives could result in significant difference in stakeholder perspective on the use of new materials and technologies. This paper presents a mental modelling study performed among prospective users of an innovative decision support system for safe and sustainable development of nano-enabled products (SUNDS). These users included representatives of industry and regulators, as well as several insurance specialists and researchers. We present methodology and tools for comparing stakeholder views and objectives in the context of developing a decision support system. View online: http://rdcu.be/txoX
On 22 May 2017, Paulo Martins interviewed Ineke Malsch about “Citizens’ Responsibility for Nanotechnology” during the Internet TV programme NanoAlerta: www.nanotecnologiadoavesso.org. The interview highlighted what citizens can contribute to a collective responsibility for governing nanotechnology in society. Citizens can play four roles in responsible innovation: Learn about new technologies; Participate in citizen science projects (e.g. Nano2All www.nano2all.eu); Express an opinion in public dialogue and Consume responsibly.
On 11 May, Ineke Malsch presented what the African Network for Solar Energy (www.ansole.org) can contribute to recruiting talented African young researchers in new Solar Energy projects. She also suggested targeting markets for Renewable Energy in Africa, in addition to Dutch markets. The idea was pitched during the matchmaking event for the Mat4Sus call for proposals by the Dutch research funding council NWO: https://www.nwo.nl/documents/enw/materials-for-sustainability---call-for-proposals
On 12 December 2016, Ineke Malsch gave an overview of international initiatives stimulating dialogue on nanotechnology for water and energy, during the 1st BALEWARE conference in Arusha, Tanzania (www.baleware.org). Reasons for dialogue on science and technology include economic, democratic, societal and ethical concerns. She mentioned a.o. how NANO2ALL (www.nano2all.eu) aims to contribute to a worldwide discussion and shape the future of nanotechnologies. Nanotechnologies could contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals on Water and Energy (2015-2030), but may also introduce new risks and unintended consequences. Dialogue is one way to contribute to responsible research and innovation.
Abstract: The article reflects on current international trends in higher education in nanotechnology based on stakeholder discussions held within the EU funded project NanoEIS: Nanotechnology Education for Industry and Society. The discussions with stakeholders reflects on the main issues emerging from this project, that also includes surveys investigating the connection between university education in nanotechnology and the demands of the labour market for personnel with nanotechnology training. The project’s recommendations include a model curriculum for nanoeducation at BSc, MSc and PhD level. The modular organisation of this curriculum increases the opportunities for incorporating elements into current or new nanotechnology courses or as specialisation in disciplinary courses in physics, chemistry, biology, materials science, engineering, etc. Stakeholder comments suggest that there may be interest in developing nanotechnology courses at universities of applied science and in lifelong learning institutions. In addition, university professors in other countries show interest in setting up their own curricula, learning from the best practices in Europe.
Ineke Malsch, Dorota Rutkowska-Zbik, Martin Himly, Costas Kiparissides, Olga Kammona, Bartlomiej Szafran, Iseult Lynch, Frederick Ntow, Paula Queipo Rodriguez, Moshe Talesnik, David Rosenberg, Albert Duschl. Current Trends in Nanoeducation for Industry and Society. In Current BioNanotechnology 2016, vol 2: http://www.eurekaselect.com/node/142765/article/current-trends-in-nanoeducation-for-industry-and-society
Abstract: Protecting workers, consumers and the environment against uncertain risks of manufactured nanomaterials is a global issue. While risk assessment research and risk governance are already well established in Europe and North America, other regions are lagging behind. In Latin America, Brazil has recently joined the EU project on nanoregulation NANoREG and is investing in several projects in nanotoxicology. The situation in other Latin American countries is much more fragmented. The present chapter gives an overview of the current state of the art and future plans in nanosafety research and governance in Latin America based on a bibliometric study, interviews, workshops and literature review that were part of the EU funded project NMP-DeLA: http://cordis.europa.eu/project/rcn/108951_en.html.
Ineke Malsch, Martina Lindorfer, Isabella Wagner, Maria Lima Toivanen (2016) International Cooperation on Nanosafety Between Europe and Latin America. In Springer Series on Innovation, Technology and Knowledge Management. Volume Managing Risks in Nanotechnology. Springer International Publishing Switzerland, 2016 http://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783319323909
Around 50 people attended the panel session on ‘freedom and security in an age of synthetic biology: challenges, concerns, needs’, chaired by Christopher Coenen, during the conference “Synthetic Biology – Visions of the Future” at NEMO, Amsterdam on 24 June 2016. The panellists presented a wide range of perspectives, including law enforcement, civil society, biology, social science, and industry from both sides of the Atlantic. Ineke Malsch contributed her experience as a volunteer with Pax Christi International since 2001. While several panellists agreed on the need for more oversight and a nuanced balance between freedom and security, adapted to the ever-changing geopolitical circumstances and technological developments, the discussion with the audience revealed deep-rooted differences of opinion on handling of specific cases of Gain of Function research, gene-drives and other recent developments. This calls for a continuation and broadening of this dialogue, to include political and ethical as well as technical and legal aspects. Info: www.synenergene.eu
On 22 May, Ineke Malsch presented her engagement with initiatives targeting solutions for offering clean water to people in developing countries. She in particular discussed the aims of the fact sheet “Nanotechnology Can Help Solve Conflicts over Mining” http://www.ethicschool.nl/_files/NMP-DeLA%20Factsheetmining.pdf developed in the European project www.nmpdela.eu. This was part of the Mass highlighting the Work of Mercy “To give drink to the thirsty” in the Aloysius church. A group discussion of this team afterwards was kicked off by the interview with Bas Hofs on nano-enabled water purification as a long term contribution to United Nations goals for sustainable development: http://www.ethicschool.nl/mediaalbum/viewitem/6/Bas_hofs This encounter between science and faith was well received by the participants.
During the Meeting of States Parties to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention in Geneva, 14-18 December, Pax Christi International called for making the treaty sustainable by embedding it in the global Sustainable Development Goals. These were adopted in September 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly. Info: http://paxchristi.net/document/5354 and http://www.unog.ch/bwc/news
Representatives from Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and experts participating in security research funded by the European Union met in Berlin 15-16 September to discuss ways to overcome barriers for CSO participation in such research projects. Currently, the agenda for security research tends to focus on the development of products by large industrial companies, without apparent visible contributions to the overall security of European citizens. Most CSOs campaigning for civil security issues lack the expertise and resources to engage with security research. CSOs are not included in most projects and when they are, their role tends to be marginal. The workshop participants discussed existing barriers as well as desired future solutions, ending up with concrete and detailed suggestions for engagement of CSOs in all stages of the EU Security research cycle, from priority and agenda setting, though project execution, to dissemination and impact assessment. The workshop was organised in the SECUREPART project www.securepart.eu
On 11 April 2016, Paulo Martins interviewed Ineke Malsch about stakeholder engagement in risk governance of nanomaterials, during the Internet TV programme Nano Alerta. Obstacles for engaging Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) are due to pre-existing working relationships between industry, research organisations and government bodies active in risk governance. Other barriers are due to mistrust of the triple helix of government, industry and research bodies fostering innovation among some CSOs. Different reasons why it is important to engage CSOs have been proposed. From a liberal perspective it may seem less important than from a communitarian viewpoint, where citizens are members of civil society associations represented by the corresponding CSOs. Info: www.nanotecnologiadoavesso.org
NanoEthics just published this new article as online first: Ineke Malsch: Communitarian and Subsidiarity Perspectives on Responsible Innovation at a Global Level. Abstract: All stakeholders agree publicly that innovation and governance of emerging technologies should be done responsibly. However, the international debate on who should do what to contribute to this lofty goal is nowhere near a solution. The starting point of this paper is the issue of how and for which reason to engage stakeholders in addition to governments in the international governance of nanotechnology. This article examines the mainly North-American communitarian criticism of political liberalism and the related (mainly European) concept of subsidiarity in order to shed new light on this discussion. The central research question is: Can a communitarian-subsidiarity perspective on the roles of governments, companies and civil society actors that hold a stake in emerging technologies clarify the grounds on which each actor should be expected to contribute to responsible research and innovation at the international level? After selecting some relevant aspects of a communitarian-subsidiarity model for a dialogue society, an analytical framework is proposed. This framework is then applied to the recent international dialogue on responsible governance of nanotechnology. The outcomes of the analysis are compared to the OECD planning guide on public engagement and outreach in nanotechnology, and indicators for monitoring progress in responsible global innovation are suggested. The main contribution of the selected communitarian-subsidiarity perspective is that it offers philosophical grounds for a return of citizens to the driving seat in cooperative international responsible innovation. Link: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11569-015-0234-1
On 29 January, Ineke Malsch explained differences in participation of different types of stakeholders in global governance of nanomaterials to students and young researchers participating in the Sustainable Nanotechnology School in Venice, Italy. Nanotechnology and other emerging technologies tend to escape the control of governments and regulations designed to protect citizens from harm caused by these technologies. This is for two reasons. First, the technologies did not exist at the time when the regulations were drafted and adopted, hence these regulations must be reviewed and adapted regularly to accommodate scientific and technological progress. In the intermediary period between the emergence of the technology and the adoption of legislation, researchers, industry and other stakeholders must cooperate with governments in responsible governance of this technology. Second, science and technology development is an inherently international endeavour that escapes the control of any individual government. To complement and coordinate national regulations, the United Nations is working on an international legislative system, but the democratic oversight of this system remains very inadequate. The presentation started with a concise introduction of some key philosophical and social scientific theories illustrated by discussion of the global dialogue on risk governance of manufactured nanomaterials. This was followed by interactive discussion on a project proposal aiming at participatory safe and sustainable design of a nanoenabled product. The participants were divided in two groups and asked to present their proposal to each other and a jury of school lecturers, resulting in a draw. www.sun-fp7.eu
Applications of microsystems and nanotechnologies for water were discussed during MINAPIM 2015. Jacobus Swart presented NAMITEC project results: nanotechnology for water problems and agrifood. The motivation for the project is to feed the growing population, and to mitigate and prevent environmental disasters (e.g. the recent breaking of a tailings dam in Minas Gerais). The NAMITEC project has been funded in three phases since 2001 until today. The consortium hopes to start the next phase from 2016-2022. The research focused on wireless sensor networks and Integrated Circuit design. Among other achievements, they developed several sensors devices for pressure, humidity, gas, CNT and graphene etc., and an ISFET for measuring pH and for controlling the levels of lead (Pb) in water.
Alba Avila, University of the Andes, Colombia, presented water monitoring in Colombia – a crowdsourcing approach. Water use in Colombia includes 13% in industry including mining. Cyanide and mercury are used to extract metals. Mining includes coal, gold, nickel etc. The extracted amounts vary with the world prices, and are now much higher than in 2003. This leads to increased pollution of rivers, ground and surface water. They make use of crowd sourcing and social networks, through tools that communities can use to monitor water quality to involve users. The monitoring kits measure things like pH, conductivity, water savings, etc. The project is led by Engineers without Borders, working with high school students: www.laligadelagua.com. They have collected 6900 reports from 400 users. In addition to existing solutions, they are developing nanosensors, but communities don’t trust nanotechnology. Therefore, university students have collected fewer reports on mercury levels in field tests.
The MINAPIM 2015 seminar (http://www.suframa.gov.br/MINAPIM/index.cfm) was held 18-19 November 2015 in Manaus, Brazil, as part of the International Fair for the Amazon FIAM (http://www.suframa.gov.br/fiam/). The focus of MINAPIM 2015 was on applications of microsystems and nanotechnology for agrifood, health and environment including nanosafety. Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things were main issues discussed in several presentations. The event, with around 50 participants, was hosted by the Superintendence for the Free Trade Zone of Manaus (SUFRAMA) and the Brazilian representative of the German Fraunhofer Institute.
The final results of the project on Nanosciences, Nanotechnologies, Materials and New Production Technologies Deployment in Latin American Countries (NMP-DeLA) have been published. This includes the following recent documents: