The NanoDialogue

Since 2006, the NanoDialogue has been conducted as part of the German government's Nano Action Plan under the lead responsibility of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU).

Phase 1 and 2

The NanoKommission – working and issue groups

The NanoDialogue was launched by the NanoKommission as a centralised, national platform. The NanoKommission worked in two phases (2006 to 2008 and 2009 to 2011), concluding each one with a final report and recommendations to the German government.

Its aim was to support an exchange of ideas between civil groups and stakeholders on the opportunities and risks of nanotechnologies and thus help promote responsible and sustainable use of nanomaterials.

The NanoKommission itself was comprised of around 20 members from a range of stakeholder groups. In both dialogue phases working groups and/or issue groups were formed to support the work of the NanoKommission and debate specific topics in greater depth. More than 200 experts were thus engaged on a voluntary basis in the discussion on the responsible use of nanomaterials.

Phase 3 and 4

The expert dialogues

At the end of the second phase, the participants in the NanoDialogue agreed that it would be appropriate and preferable to approach the questions and tasks at hand through issue-related events. The format was therefore changed to two-day expert dialogues. Alongside the stakeholders to ensure continuity, a range of specialists are also invited. Each expert dialogue consists of 25 to 30 people.

Topics of Phase 3

Phase 3 of the NanoDialogue was carried out from 2011 to 2012 in the form of two-day expert dialogues. The first two took up two key issues of the NanoKommission and continued the discussion in the current context: "Risk management in the nano world" and "Traceability of nanomaterials". The third expert dialogue looked at issues in the field of "Sustainability of nanotechnologies – green nano". The final event summarised and assessed the results of all three dialogues, presented the potential of research for strengthening the business location and drew conclusions.

Topics of phase 4

Four expert dialogues will be held on different nanotechnology issues. The first has the theme "Nanomedicine". Up to now, medical applications of nanotechnologies have been omitted from the dialogue phases, due to varying regulatory circumstances and the social evaluation of opportunities and risks. The "gap" has now been closed with both an overview of different areas of application for nanotechnologies and an opportunity to discuss relevant opportunities and risks. The second dialogue was concerned with "Aquatic environment and nanotechnologies", and the third actively took up the issue of Nanomaterials and waste" – an aspect hitherto largely ignored. The fourth Expert Dialogue looked at "Nanomaterials and the consumer".

Phase 5

Topics of phase 5

The fifth phase of the dialogue was launched in June 2016 with a conference. The Parliamentary State Secretary opened the conference, where more than 300 participants acknowledged ten years of successful work. The results of phases 3 and 4 were presented, analysed and discussed. Another important objective was to identify topics for additional expert dialogues.

At the first expert dialogue on opportunities and risks of the application of nanotechnologies in the construction sector, organised by the Federal Environment Ministry in November 2016, participants discussed various aspects of the sustainable use of nanotechnologies in this sector. The second expert dialogue on the opportunities and risks of the application of nanotechnologies in the automotive sector provided an overview and discussion of current and future applications of nanotechnologies in vehicles. The third and most recent expert dialogue provided an opportunity for expert discussion of the one-of-a-kind Nano-In-Vivo long-term research project and potential regulatory consequences.