Nanotechnology Call for Views

I am writing in response to the Royal Society’s request for initial views on the study on nanotechnology to be undertaken by the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering. On behalf of Forum for the Future, I wish to register our interest in the study and draw attention to the relevance of sustainable development as a framework for analysis.

Forum for the Future is a UK-based sustainable development charity working to acclerate the transition to a sustainable way of life. We have partnerships with business, local authorities, regional bodies and universities, working with them to deliver a shared commitment to sustainability. We provide advice and develop partnership work on issues as diverse as climate change, procurement strategies, environmental accounting and the digital divide. We also communicate what we learn with our partners to a wider network of decision-makers and opinion formers and run a number of cutting edge projects engaging with a much wider audience of NGOs, business, higher education and government on key sustainable development challenges.

Forum for the Future has undertaken a range of research and policy projects exploring the sustainability impacts of technology and innovation. We are currently developing an initiative specifically in the area of nanotechnology, with the aim of facilitating greater dialogue between the different stakeholders in the debate on the sustainability opportunities and risks associated with the technology. We also have partnerships with businesses actively developing nanotechnology applications in different sectors.

We welcome the intention to consider the health, safety, environmental, social and ethical impacts of nanotechnology within the scope of the study. We would urge that the study adopts a robust sustainable development framework and would define such a framework as one that brings social, environmental and economic considerations together in an integrated set of appraisal processes. This would align the study to the government’s commitment to sustainable development, expressed in the UK sustainable development strategy and the DTI’s own departmental sustainable development strategy.

I would be pleased to provide additional information as the study progresses.

With kind regards

Vidhya Alakeson
Principal Policy Adviser
Forum for the Future