Stakeholders’ participation in international governance of nanomaterials

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.

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