Combining instrumental and contextual approaches: Nanotechnology and sustainable development

  • Liao N
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Billions of people live in poverty, with no access to safe drinking water or solutions for other critical health and medical needs. Nanotechnology is poised to create workable solutions for large-scale public health needs in developing countries, including improving water quality and providing life-saving pharmaceuticals. There are two views on how emerging technologies such as nanotechnology can influence and affect developing countries. Instrumentalists believe that the international community can transfer nanotechnology from one context to another and use it to assist the poor. Contextualists warn that nanotechnology can increase inequality in underdeveloped regions. Because of inadequacies in both positions, the international community must adopt a mixed strategy. This article argues that this mixed strategy should target the bottom of the pyramid, develop native capability, implement emergency protocols in projects, create accountability, and engage the public. Managed well, this strategy can propel developing countries toward sustainable development.

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  • Nina Liao

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