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VeilleNanos - What role for civil society?

What role for civil society?

Info sheets

The population is still not very well informed about the developments of nanotechnologies, even though they affect everyone’s future. The vagueness and complexity of the nano domain1The term “nanotechnology” is a catch-all word that covers different realities. As underlined by the association Sciences et Démocratie in 2010, this term “adds a layer of complexity to the work of explanation necessary to allow the citizen to apprehend the subject, especially as its definition is still the subject of debate between specialists”. and the opacity that surrounds public decisions as well as the processes used by industrialists hinder the transparency that is necessary in a true democracy.

In 2009-2010, the national public debate on nanotechnologies organized in France revealed the communication difficulties that existed between citizens, administrations, researchers and industrialists on nanos. Citizens have limited access to the elements that have led, or will lead, to the choices concerning the orientations and financing of research, development and commercialization of nanotechnologies and nanomaterials.

The association AVICENN, through the information it makes available to all on this website and social networks, aims to provide transversal, readable and independent information on nanos and to facilitate the identification of key stakeholders and places where important decisions are made in this vast and complex field. In order to empower citizens, we provide them with the necessary tools to understand the issues at stake so that they can, if they wish, take part in the debates, influence the decisions and act with full knowledge of the facts.

Other stakeholders or programs show a willingness to involve citizens or “the public” in the governance of nanotechnologies, although there is sometimes a risk of instrumentalizing them and vigilance is required. Indeed, if public consultations and debates have made it possible to inform a larger – although still insufficient – number of citizens, the conditions of their implementation are often controversial and their recommendations have been followed by little effect(s)… More effectively, it is through the mobilization of civil society organizations2Cf. Xi Wang, Revisiting “upstream public engagement” in nanotechnologies: from the perspective of the public sphere, Library and information sciences. Université Paul Sabatier – Toulouse III, 2015. that their questions and recommendations can be raised, at least initially, to the decision-making level.

Upcoming Nano Agenda

Global Webinar on Nanotechnology and Nanoscience (Online)
On line
  • 3rd edition of the Global Webinar on Nanotechnology and Nanoscience
  • February 27 to 28, 2024
  • Organizers: Global Scientific Guild
  • Main theme: Insights and Innovations in Nanotechnology and Nano Science: Progressing to the future

Managing the risks associated with nanomaterials (CEA, Grenoble)
  • Awareness-raising aimed at personnel in contact with nanomaterials during research, formulation, production, maintenance, cleaning, upkeep, etc., as well as safety coordinators or engineers, facility managers, heads of laboratories where nanoparticles are handled.
  • Organizers: INSTN Grenoble (CEA)
  • On the agenda: potential impact on health; metrology and protection; control of potential risks associated with nanomaterials; consideration of societal aspects.
  • Website: https: //
Nanoparticles in everyday products (ATC, Paris)
  • This module is part of the training program “Interactions between toxic chemicals and the human organism”, open to anyone with a basic scientific education (bachelor’s degree or professional experience).
  • Organizers: Association Toxicologie Chimie(ATC)
  • Speaker : Nicole PROUST, Research Engineer, CNRS Honorary Research Director, Specialist in Nanotechnologies, Arsenic, Electromagnetic Waves, Palaiseau, France
  • Website:

Notes and references

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