Governance of advanced materials: Shaping a safe and sustainable future


Groenewold M., Bleeker E.A.J., Noorlander C.W., Sips A.J.A.M., van der Zee M., Aitken R.J., Baker J.H., Bakker M.I., Bouman E.A., Doak S.H., Drobne D., Dumit V.I., Florin M.V., Fransman W., Gonzalez M.M., Heunisch E., Isigonis P., Jeliazkova N., Jensen K.A., Kuhlbusch T., Lynch I., Morrison M., Porcari A., Rodríguez-Llopis I., Pozuelo B.M., Resch S., Säämänen A.J., Serchi T., Soeteman-Hernandez L.G., Willighagen E., Dusinska M., Scott-Fordsmand J.J.


NanoImpact, vol. 35, art. no. 100513, 2024


The past few decades of managing the uncertain risks associated with nanomaterials have provided valuable insights (knowledge gaps, tools, methods, etc.) that are equally important to promote safe and sustainable development and use of advanced materials. Based on these insights, the current paper proposes several actions to optimize the risk and sustainability governance of advanced materials. We emphasise the importance of establishing a European approach for risk and sustainability governance of advanced materials as soon as possible to keep up with the pace of innovation and to manage uncertainty among regulators, industry, SMEs and the public, regarding potential risks and impacts of advanced materials. Coordination of safe and sustainable advanced material research efforts, and data management according to the Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable (FAIR) principles will enhance the generation of regulatory-relevant knowledge. This knowledge is crucial to identify whether current regulatory standardised and harmonised test methods are adequate to assess advanced materials. At the same time, there is urgent need for responsible innovation beyond regulatory compliance which can be promoted through the Safe and Sustainable Innovation Approach. that combines the Safe and Sustainable by Design concept with Regulatory Preparedness, supported by a trusted environment. We further recommend consolidating all efforts and networks related to the risk and sustainability governance of advanced materials in a single, easy-to-use digital portal. Given the anticipated complexity and tremendous efforts required, we identified the need of establishing an organisational structure dedicated to aligning the fast technological developments in advanced materials with proper risk and sustainability governance. Involvement of multiple stakeholders in a trusted environment ensures a coordinated effort towards the safe and sustainable development, production, and use of advanced materials. The existing infrastructures and network of experts involved in the governance of nanomaterials would form a solid foundation for such an organisational structure.



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