Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Specific challenge: Transparency, knowledge and societal engagement are key factors in addressing societal concerns regarding the use of nanotechnology, including nanomaterials. An essential element of a safe and responsible nanotechnology governance is an effective and informed dialogue with all stakeholders, enhancing public confidence in nanotechnologies.

Scope: The proposed action should identify current best practices in societal engagement to establish a multi-stakeholder platform at EU and/or at national level in a number of EU Member States and Associated Countries, involving a balanced representation of researchers, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), scientists in the field of Social Sciences and Humanities, industry and policy-makers to develop a shared understanding of the current and potential future (economic, social and environmental) benefits and risks of advancing nanotechnology. This action is to be based on the concept of Mobilisation & Mutual Learning (MML) Platforms[1].

The two main activities to be undertaken within this platform are a series of multi-stakeholder dialogues and training activities to address knowledge gaps between various types of actors and potential co-production of knowledge. These dialogue meetings should consider the various questions of interest or information needs that emerge across the entire value chain (from R&D to production and distribution to use and waste processing or recycling), discuss how to employ nanotechnologies to the benefit of society addressing societal challenges and identifying desired fields of innovation, whilst contributing to Responsible Research and Innovation. The outcomes of the dialogue are to be fed back into policy making and research and innovation processes with joint stakeholder undertakings. In order to ensure that all participants have a common knowledge base, various training or information sessions should be organised to address any knowledge gaps that may impede a constructive dialogue.

The design of this platform and its activities should take into account and build on previous FP6 and FP7 activities and relevant EU and international policies and initiatives in this field. Gender balance should be taken into account in the make-up of the platform and gender should be embedded in the dialogues on the content and impacts of nanotechnology research.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU between EUR 500 000 and 1 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts. No more than one proposal will be funded.

Expected impact:

•  The direct and sustainable impact of this action will be to enhance the interaction between society, science and nanotechnologies in order to contribute to a responsible nanotechnology research and innovation at EU and national policy level and research processes.

•  Involving civil society, social sciences and humanities, and industry groups in decision-making procedures and/or societal dialogue and engagement on nanotechnologies will increase awareness, enhance understanding between stakeholders’ on their positions, needs, expectations and concerns, and enhance trust between them.

•  The outcomes of the multi-stakeholder platform will contribute to responsible policy-making, better acceptability of nanotechnologies outcomes, a more inclusive European society and will lead to a roadmap to enhance societal engagement in nanotechnology.

Type of action: Coordination and Support Action

[1] A Mobilisation and Mutual Learning (MML) Action Plan or Platform typically includes following types of partners: research performing and/or funding organisations, civil society organisations, industry/business and policy-makers and should involve a wide range of EU Member States or Associated countries. The MML Action Plan or Platform should have a minimum duration of three years.

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