Sustainable nanotechnology decision support system: bridging risk management, sustainable innovation and risk governance

  • Vrishali Subramanian
  • Elena Semenzin
  • Danail Hristozov
  • Alex Zabeo
  • Ineke Malsch
  • Eamonn McAlea
  • Finbarr Murphy
  • Martin Mullins
  • Toon van Harmelen
  • Tom Ligthart
  • Igor Linkov
  • Antonio Marcomini


The significant uncertainties associated with the (eco)toxicological risks of engineered nanomaterials pose challenges to the development of nano-enabled products toward greatest possible societal benefit. This paper argues for the use of risk governance approaches to manage nanotechnology risks and sustainability, and considers the links between these concepts. Further, seven risk assessment and management criteria relevant to risk governance are defined: (a) life cycle thinking, (b) triple bottom line, (c) inclusion of stakeholders, (d) risk management, (e) benefit–risk assessment, (f) consideration of uncertainty, and (g) adaptive response. These criteria are used to compare five well-developed nanotechnology frameworks: International Risk Governance Council framework, Comprehensive Environmental Assessment, Streaming Life Cycle Risk Assessment, Certifiable Nanospecific Risk Management and Monitoring System and LICARA NanoSCAN. A Sustainable Nanotechnology Decision Support System (SUNDS) is proposed to better address current nanotechnology risk assessment and management needs, and makes. Stakeholder needs were solicited for further SUNDS enhancement through a stakeholder workshop that included representatives from regulatory, industry and insurance sectors. Workshop participants expressed the need for the wider adoption of sustainability assessment methods and tools for designing greener nanomaterials.


Decision support system Sustainable nanotechnology Risk governance Risk management Engineered nanomaterials 



This study was funded in part by the European Union Seventh Framework Programme [FP7/2007-2013] under ECGA No. 604305 ‘‘SUN’’. This publication reflects the views only of the authors, and the European Commission and other sponsors cannot be held responsible for any use, which may be made of the information contained therein.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vrishali Subramanian
    • 1
  • Elena Semenzin
    • 1
  • Danail Hristozov
    • 1
  • Alex Zabeo
    • 1
  • Ineke Malsch
    • 2
  • Eamonn McAlea
    • 3
  • Finbarr Murphy
    • 3
  • Martin Mullins
    • 3
  • Toon van Harmelen
    • 4
  • Tom Ligthart
    • 4
  • Igor Linkov
    • 1
    • 5
  • Antonio Marcomini
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Environmental Sciences, Informatics and StatisticsUniversity Ca’ Foscari of VeniceVeniceItaly
  2. 2.Malsch TechnoValuationUtrechtThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Kemmy Business SchoolUniversity of LimerickLimerickIreland
  4. 4.TNOUtrechtThe Netherlands
  5. 5.US Army Engineer Research and Development CenterConcordUSA

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