Nanotechnology and the millennium development goals: water, energy, and agri-food

  • Susan CozzensEmail author
  • Rodrigo Cortes
  • Ogundiran Soumonni
  • Thomas Woodson
Research Paper


The claim has often been made that nanotechnologies will contribute to the global development process. In 2005, a careful study identified specific areas where nanotechnologies could help developing countries achieve the millennium development goals. This article examines whether the research agenda of nanotechnology in the intervening period, as reflected in publications, has followed the directions identified at that time, in three key areas, water, energy, and agri-food. We find that the research community has taken up the broad directions indicated in the earlier study, although not so often the detailed applications of specific nanoscale techniques or phenomena. However, the impact on global development is unclear, both because the same applications can be useful in both developed and developing countries, and because the conditions in developing countries may not match the socio-technical requirements of the applications.


Millennium development goals Water Energy Agri-food 



This work was supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation through a graduate fellowship to Thomas Woodson and support from the Center for Nanotechnology and Society at Arizona State University under Cooperative Agreement No. 0531194. All opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan Cozzens
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rodrigo Cortes
    • 2
  • Ogundiran Soumonni
    • 3
  • Thomas Woodson
    • 1
  1. 1.Technology Policy and Assessment Center, School of Public PolicyGeorgia Institute of TechnologyAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Universidad de TalcaTalcaChile
  3. 3.Wits Business SchoolUniversity of WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa

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