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International Dialogue

Some International fora and initiatives on nanotechnology

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Towards a global co-operation in nanotechnology

The European Commission Communication " Towards a European strategy for nanotechnology " of 12 May 2004 presents the intention to engage in a dialogue at international level, with a view to establishing a framework of shared principles for the safe, sustainable, responsible and socially acceptable development and use of nanotechnologies. This intention was welcomed by the Council of the European Union in its conclusions of the 2605th meeting on 24th September 2004.

On 17-18 June 2004, first International Dialogue took place in Alexandria (VA, USA) by invitation of the National Science Foundation. Experts involved with nanotechnology from twenty-five countries were invited to this informal dialogue on responsible nanotechnology research and development.

The Action Plan on nanotechnology , adopted by the European Commission on 7 June 2005, foresees to intensify dialogue at international level with a view to adopting a declaration or a ‘code of conduct’ for the responsible development and use of nanotechnology. The action plan addresses issues of mutual benefit at global level e.g. on nomenclature, metrology, common approaches to risk assessment and the establishment of a dedicated database to share toxicological and ecotoxicological as well as epidemiological data.

In this Action Plan, the Commission calls upon the EU Member States to increase their support for nanotechnology research and capacity building in less developed countries. It highlights the potential of nanotechnology to contribute towards the Millennium Development Goals and sustainable development e.g. as regards water purification, providing high quality and safe nutrition, more effective delivery of vaccines, lower cost health screening, more efficient conservation and use of energy.

On 14-15 July 2005, an exploratory meeting for responsible research and development in nanotechnology was organised under the chairmanship of the European Commission. The meeting took place in Brussels and explored the possibility and the measure of how far marking steps forward.

Meanwhile, bilateral dialogues went on and one can recall e.g. the conclusions of The European Union and The United States Initiative to Enhance Transatlantic Economic Integration and Growth agreed upon in the June 2005 summit, where it is mentioned that "The EU and the US will increasingly rely on innovation and advanced technologies to stimulate economic growth and prosperity. Our aim is to increase synergies across the Atlantic as we become more knowledge-based economies. To achieve this, we will work to ... support an international dialogue and cooperative activities for the responsible development and use of the emerging field of nanotechnology".

On 27-28 June 2006 the second International Dialogue took place in Tokyo. Proceedings have been published by the Japanese presidency.

As agreed in this second meeting, a preparatory meeting has been then organised to define elements and structure of the third International Dialogue. Such preparatory meeting took place in Cape Town (ZA) on 9 and 10 February 2007 under South African presidency.

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