Nanotechnology is a collective definition referring to every technology and science which operates on a nanoscale. At this scale new scientific principles and material properties can be found. Nanotechnology is widely seen as having huge potential to bring benefits to many areas of research and application and is attracting increasing investments from businesses and governments all over the world. At the same time, it is recognized that its application may raise new challenges in the safety, regulatory or ethical domains that will require societal debate. Against this backdrop the question gains in importance on how nanotechnology can be developed in a sustainable way over the whole life cycle. This special issue focuses on different facets of sustainable nanotechnology development. It shows the progress that has been made in this field and highlights important achievements and gaps at theoretical as well at applied levels.