Nanotechnology and manufactured nanomaterials (nano) is a growing industry which creates an array of economic and social benefits, while potential risks to human health and the environment are, to date, not fully known. With numerous nano-containing products available in the market, there is a need to prepare appropriate regulations and safety standards.

To address the global challenges, nano has been included as key topic (an “emerging policy issue”) under the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM). The third International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM3) emphasized “the need for UNITAR and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to continue development of international guidance and training materials for the sound management of manufactured nanomaterials, drawing on existing initiatives, needs assessment and best practices, within their respective mandates and subject to available resources in cooperation with the regions and other relevant stakeholders".  

Working under the Inter-Organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC), UNITAR has implemented, since 2009, a range of activities to support developing countries in raising awareness on nanosafety issues and consider the implications of nano-based and nano-containing products traded across borders. Core funding for these activities has been generously provided by the Government of Switzerland.


    e-Learning courses

    Since 2014, UNITAR has coordinated three e-Learning courses: Introduction to Nanomaterials Safety. These took place in May-June 2014, October-December 2014 and October-December 2015. New opportunities to run the course are being investigated in 2017.

    Training Materials and Resources

    To support country-driven processes on nano, UNITAR has developed a guidance document entitled “Developing a National Nanotechnology Policy and Programme”, available in English, Russian and Spanish. For national, regional and general training activities, UNITAR is supported by a network of experts from around the world.

    WHO Guidelines

    WHO guidelines on protecting workers from potential risks of manufactured nanomaterials, 2017, available here. WHO infographics in support of the guidelines:


    UNITAR is committed to working with national, regional, and global partners to help address challenges related to nano. Capacity development services under consideration (resources permitting) include:

    • Coordination and organisation of additional regional workshops on nanosafety
    • Implementation of additional nano country projects
    • Collaboration with regional networks of nano experts, as proposed at the 2015 regional meetings
    • Further public awareness raising (e.g. through UNITAR’s nano e-Learning course) and briefing sessions
    • Revise and update the guidance document “Developing a National Nanotechnology Policy and Programme”
    • Continue and enhance collaboration with OECD on nano, as well as other IOMC Participating Organizations


    UNITAR would like to acknowledge the collaboration with the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), and the Inter-Organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC). UNITAR is also grateful for the financial contributions and programmatic support of the Government of Switzerland.  

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