Fostering Nanotechnology to Address Global Challenges


Released in 2011: Report on Fostering Nanotechnology to address Global Challenges: Water



In this project area, the WPN examined the potential contribution of nanotechnology to addressing global challenges such as the environment, water, health, climate change, agriculture and/or energy. Work on the first global challenge – access to clean water – took place in 2008-2009, see new report. The aim is to develop concrete policy proposals for governments.


The work in 2008 was supported through funding from the Secretary-General of the OECD and was undertaken in parallel with significant other OECD work on water.


WPN has been examining how nanotechnology solutions could contribute to the sustainable provision of clean water to meet the global challenges of public health, safe and sufficient food supply and economic development. Initially, the work was concentrated on mapping the technologies, policies and challenges related to nanotechnology and water and in identifying activities of some organisations and enterprises addressing the global water challenge. Discussions with experts in research and with business groups (e.g. Aquafed and BIAC) specifically with members involved in water treatment, management and distribution, followed on from that work, together with further web and literature searches. This has been strengthened through short case studies of the water industry and nanotechnology research and development activities, reporting on the type of technology in use and the products but focusing mainly on the experiences of companies and researchers and perceived barriers in bringing nanotechnology to market.


A further aspect of the project has been an engagement and communication strategy, increasing awareness of nanotechnology in the water communities and water in the nanotechnology communities (business, research, society). In addition to the many meetings and discussions, a key activity in this area was the OECD one-day workshop on “Nanotechnology and the Global Challenge of Access to Clean Water” at the Nanotech Northern Europe Conference in Copenhagen in September 2008. The event brought together nanotechnologists, people from the wider water sector and policy makers - to exchange information, concerns and ideas.



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