As set out in the first Nano Action Plan of the German government, the Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMUV) has had the lead responsibility for the NanoDialogue, which was conducted from 2006 to 2023. The aim of this long-term, continuous exchange with the various stakeholders was to provide socio-political support for scientific and technological developments in the field of nanotechnologies.
2006 - 2011: The NanoKommission
The NanoDialogue began with the work of the NanoKommission as a central, national dialogue platform. It consisted of about 20 members from various stakeholder 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 300 experts worked on a voluntary basis. The two dialogue phases (2006 to 2008 and 2009 to 2011) each concluded with a final report and recommendations to the German government.
2011 – 2022: The expert dialogues
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 around 30 people.
2011 - 2012
From mid-2011, in its third phase, the NanoDialog took 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 the dialogues, presented the potential of research for strengthening Germany as a business location in the international context and derived implications.
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 focussed 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.
2016 - 2019
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 application of nanotechnologies in the automotive sector provided an overview and discussion of current and future applications 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 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-scale structures of up to 1000 nanometres may be contained in advanced materials and offered the opportunity to discuss these developments and their challenges (for example for circular economy).
2019 - 2022
The Federal Government's NanoDialogue thrives on direct exchange between social groups. The exchange between social groups, which is unique in Europe, thrives on personal encounters. During the Covid19 pandemic, such meetings were not possible. The events were resumed when the pandemic situation permitted.
The Expert Dialogue in June 2022 focused on the future of active, nanoscale materials in medicine, display technology, sensor technology, as artificial muscles, in buildings and machines, or even for catalyzing cleaning and disinfection processes.
Final Conference 2023
In cooperation with the OECD, the Federal Ministry for the Environment concluded the Federal Gouvernment‘s NanoDialogue in June 2023 in Berlin with an international conference entitled „How the world deals with materials at the nano scale“. About 200 participants from compnaies, public authorities, scientific institutions, environmental and consumer organisations discussed the responsible handling of and the challenges in the use of nanomaterials.