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Exploratory meeting for “responsible” research and development in Nanotechnology


 

14-15 July 2005 – Brussels CHAIRMAN's CONCLUSIONS

The Exploratory meeting for “responsible” research and development in nanotechnology was organised under the Chairmanship of the European Commission.

The meeting marked a step forward with respect to the international dialogue opened in Alexandria (Virginia, USA, 17 and 18 June 2004) on the responsible research and development of nanotechnology.

The informal character of the discussions was re-affirmed as well as the fact that the participants attended in a strictly personal capacity. All participants acknowledged that nanotechnology will play an increasing role in technological and societal developments over the next decades, giving rise to a high level of expectation among the scientific community, industry and the general public at large.

However, public interest and concerns are rapidly growing over its impact, in particularly with regard to public health, environmental and safety matters. A responsible approach to these expectations and concerns is therefore required to ensure that research addresses these issues and that the public is properly and continuously informed. As this interest has a global relevance, as witnessed by the worldwide representatives attending, they will be better addressed under a global perspective and a single common approach.

The need to generate more knowledge in nanosciences and nanotechnologies, through research, is emphasised and has to be matched by supporting all efforts in this field. A number of concrete actions were endorsed by the participants to ensure that a proper exchange of information and communication strategies are jointly defined and set up.

A non exhaustive list of coordinated and joint initiatives of global relevance includes: - exchanging data on research and development activities carried out in the different countries; - generating and sharing data on the fundamentals of nanosciences and nanotechnologies, including on major infrastructures, e.g. for ”mega-science”; - generating and sharing data on toxicology and ecotoxicology; - developing common/compatible methodologies for statistical analysis and risk assessment in the field; - supporting research in nomenclature and metrology, paving the way for future possible regulatory actions; - developing common tools and exchanging good practices to increase public awareness and social acceptance on the basis of sound scientific research and publications.

Education and training for research was also highlighted as essential. Actions to address the need of new multi-disciplinary skills (and consequently to be able to meet an increasing demand for well trained people) are also identified as crucial. These initiatives would be achieved by launching a mapping exercise in the different countries, by defining common data-basis and/or web-sites as well as workshops, conferences, joint publications and research activities.

Attention to allow proper access of knowledge for developing countries was also strongly underlined. The issue relating to a framework of shared principles remains open.

There is a large consensus in progressing the dialogue in the light of emerging needs and consolidated knowledge on nanosciences and nanotechnologies.

The next meeting is scheduled to be held in Japan under Japanese chairmanship .


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