This report aim is to provide a framework for thinking about and addressing concerns about the impacts of novel materials. It explores the extent to which novel substances are currently being deployed, the plausible pathways by which they might enter the environment, their likely environmental destinations in use or disposal and the possible consequences of their release. It considers what arrangements would be most appropriate for the governance of emerging technologies
under two conditions that pose serious constraints on any regulator. First is the condition of ignorance about the possible environmental impacts in the absence of any kind of track record for the technology. Second is the condition of ubiquity - the fact that new technologies no longer develop in a context of local experimentation but emerge as globally pervasive systems - which challenges both trial-and-error learning and attempts at national regulation.