Nanotechnologies for development in India, Kenya and The Netherlands:Towards a framework for democratic governance of risks in developing countries
01 / 2010 - 12 / 2014
Early engagement of developing countries in nanotechnologies is important to avoid that this new field of research deepens the global divide rather than helps bridging it. Nanotechnologies have a huge potential because of their generic nature, with applications in health, agriculture, water purification, energy, and manufacturing. They may, however, also entail serious risks for health and social cohesion. This IP contributes to a framework for democratic governance of benefits and risks that will help to make nanotechnologies beneficial for development. This IP is integrated and symmetrical: Indian civil society organisations? active engagement with science and technology is as important an input as recent Dutch developments on risk governance and African experiences with stakeholder involvement. The focus on risk governance is grounded in an analysis of cultures of innovation, linking the use of science and technology to a style of development that is ecologically, politically and culturally sustainable. The first founding idea of this IP is that developing countries should not be denied participation in advanced modern technologies; the second that they should do that in their own culturally-specific ways. This IP rejects any a priori distinction between traditional and modern technologies, but rather seeks innovative ways to connect indigenous and globalized knowledge and practices. The third core idea is that such developments entail risks and benefits that need to be addressed from the beginning. The fourth founding idea is that choices about those benefits and risks need to be made in a democratic way. Stakeholder consultations have led us to choose nanotechnology domains (water, health and energy) that potentially contribute to the realisation of MDG?s. In the selected domains we will not study ?lifestyle accessories? that make the headlines in glossies, but applications that are relevant for the masses in developing countries: new materials for water purification filters, new materials that translate and enhance indigenous technologies (e.g. of pottery makers in Kenya), new solar cells, and new diagnostic tests and drug delivery systems that enable less costly public health campaigns for vaccination and cure. The IP is built around symmetrical learning between the partners: north-south and south-south. The four PhD?s will follow a joint training programme in WTMC and will visit each other?s fieldwork sites. The project?s website will provide a platform for interaction and communication. Lectures and master classes that go beyond the IP will be organised in conjunction with the regular IP meetings at the three applying institutions.