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International multi-stakeholder dialogue platform framing the responsible development of Nanosciences and Nanotechnologies (NS&T)

Final Report Summary - FRAMINGNANO (International multi-stakeholder dialogue platform framing the responsible development of nanosciences and nanotechnologies (NS&T))

FRAMINGNANO project, a FP7 Support Action (SS) within the Science and Capacities Area, was articulated in 23 months (May 2008, March 2010) and involves partners from 6 European countries. The project considers both risks and concerns related to environmental, health and safety (EHS) issues and ethical, legal and social aspects (ELSA) of nanotechnologies and nanosciences (N&N), which have to be understood and 'framed' or 'guided' to promote the responsible development of N&N. A multistakeholder dialogue has been enabled to this end to ensure that the diverse needs and expectations are addressed to define a set of social, political and technical criteria shaping the framework of an adaptive governance model.

The outcome is the FRAMINGNANO governance platform (GP), proposed to the EC, providing indication and guidance for actions at different levels (EHS, ELSA, regulation and control, public and stakeholders engagement, trans-boundary issues). Main milestones/outputs of the project have been:
- A website dedicated to issues related to the responsible development of N&N (see http://www.framingnano.eu online)
- The FRAMINGNANO newsletter (eight issues), written by journalism professionals
- The report 'Mapping study on regulation and governance of N&N'- January 2009
- A survey identifying the relevant stakeholders at EU level
- The workshop 'A dialogue on regulation and governance of N&N' - 26 February 2009, Brussels
- A two-stage Delphi consultation, detailed in two reports 'FRAMINGNANO Delphi consultation' - July 2009, March 2010
- An experts' workshop to discuss the first draft of the FRAMINNANO governance platform (GP) - 29-30 October 2009, St. Gallen, Switzerland
- The international event 'A new governance framework for nanotechnogies' to present the second draft GP - 15 December 2009, Brussels
- The final GP
- National workshops in Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland and UK, to present the final GP; February-March 2010 (details http://www.framingnano.eu)

The proposed model of governance is based on two instruments:
- A deliberative panel a structured, permanent group of multidisciplinary experts representing all relevant stakeholders
- A decision-making body composed of representatives of existing institutions/competent authorities tackling regulatory issues in the different fields affected by N&N

The two bodies are closely interconnected in a continuum loop and feedback action to keep pace with to the evolving of N&N and their applications and to the increasing knowledge about nanotech-enacted change and effects, to adapt the strategies of the governance model.

The GP was disseminated during the national workshops and through the project newsletter and website, contacts of the partners. These activities helped to collect reactions, opinions and possible routes forward concerning principles and proposals outlined in the GP with key stakeholders.

There has been a general agreement that the GP provided a useful heuristic approach to deal with the challenges facing societies wishing to balance the undoubted benefits deriving from N&N with the perceived and sometimes unquantifiable risks associated with them. Different regions and countries will have to adapt the model to suit their own cultures as well as legal and regulatory traditions, but it has been underlined the need to avoid lengthy processes of implementation and the risk of increased bureaucracy. The prompt definition of appropriate nomenclature, standards, metrics and methodology has been also pointed out as a priority to govern and regulate N&N.

In conclusion, the project succeeded in realising a multistakeholders dialogue on the governance of N&N, through an original, inclusive approach. The resulting platform was generally acknowledged as a fruitful model that will help to tackle the complex current and future challenges facing N&N governance to make of nanotechnologies an opportunity and a driver for growth for the benefit of the of society as a whole.