Since 2006, the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) has had the lead responsibility for of the NanoDialogue in the context of the German government's Nano Action Plan. The aim of this long-term, continuous exchange with the various stakeholders was and is to provide socio-political support for scientific and technological developments in the field of nanotechnologies.
The NanoDialogue began with the work of the NanoKommission as a central, national dialogue platform. It consisted of about 20 members from various stakeholders groups. Its aim was to support an exchange of ideas between civil stakeholders on the opportunities and risks of nanotechnologies and thus help promote the responsible and sustainable use of nanomaterials. In order to discuss content in greater depth, working groups were formed in which more than 200 experts worked on a voluntary basis. The two dialogue phases (2006 to 2008 and 2009 to 2011) each ended with a final report and recommendations to the German government.
At the end of the second phase, the participants in the NanoDialogue decided that the issues could be better discussed in topic-related events. The format was therefore changed to two-day expert dialogues. Alongside the stakeholders that are regularly involved, a range of experts are also invited. Each expert dialogue consists of 25 to 30 people.
From mid-2011, in its third phase, the NanoDialog will taketook place in form of two-day expert dialogues. The first two events addressed two key issues of the NanoKommission and continued the discussion on: Assessment tools and risk management in the nano world and nanoproducts 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 Germany as a business location in the international context and drew conclusions.
The expert dialogues of the fourth phase were increasingly dedicated to individual fields of nanotechnology application: The first of four specialist dialogues took up the topic of nanomedicine, the second focused on nanotechnologies and the aquatic environment while the third examined the previously neglected issue of nanomaterials and waste. The fourth dialogue phase ended with the expert dialogue on use of nanomaterials in the food sector.
The Parliamentary State Secretary opened the fifth phase of the dialogue with a conference in June 2016. She looked back on ten successful years of the NanoDialogue and paid tribute to the work of the more than 300 participants. During this conference, the results of the previous expert dialogues were presented, weighted and discussed.
In November 2016, the first expert dialogue of the fifth phase discussed opportunities and risks of the application of nanotechnologies in the construction sector, for example with a view to sustainability. The second expert dialogue on the opportunities and risks of the use of nanotechnologies in the automotive sector provided an overview and discussion of current and future uses of nanotechnologies in vehicles. The third expert dialogue in 2018 provided an opportunity to discuss the globally unique long-term research project Nano-in-Vivo from a technical perspective and to reflect on possible regulatory consequences.
The expert dialogue opportunities and risks of advanced materials concluded the fifth phase of the NanoDialogue. It addressed the fact that nano-small structures of up to 1000 micrometers may be contained in advanced materials and offered the opportunity to discuss these developments and their challenges (for example for the circular economy).
The NanoDialogue of the German government will be continued. The exchange between civil groups, which is unique in Europe, thrives on personal encounters. As a result of the Covid19 pandemic, no expert dialogue took place in 2020. Events will resume as soon as the pandemic situation allows.