The national science academies of the G7 countries handed three statements to their respective heads of government for discussion during the G7 summit at Schloss Elmau in early June 2015. The papers on antibiotic resistance, neglected and tropical diseases, and the impact of human activities on marine systems, were drawn up by the national academies of the G7 countries under the aegis of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina.
“Every year, the national academies of the G7 countries meet to prepare statements on the main themes identified by the host country for the meeting of political leaders.” said Graham Bell, President of The Royal Society of Canada. “These statements are brief, authoritative documents that aim to contribute to the formulation of policy by providing the best available advice to the G7 leaders. The Royal Society of Canada has participated fully in this process and we are proud to endorse these important statements on neglected tropical diseases, antibiotic resistance, and the future of the oceans. All of them have Canadian dimensions that we shall explore in the coming year.”
The first statement concerns the rising number of infections worldwide caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In parallel, the number of effective antibiotics is falling steadily. The G7 academies call for (1) accelerating research and production of new antimicrobial agents, vaccines and diagnostics, (2) prioritising the research agenda to fill knowledge gaps for key diseases, (3) installing global surveillance programmes, (4) raising awareness in society, and (5) planning for a coordinated rapid response in the face of major epidemics.
The second statement concerns tropical neglected diseases (NTD) that often affect people in poorer parts of the world, such as African sleeping sickness, river blindness, and dengue fever. The Ebola epidemic in West Africa highlights the possible consequences of an outbreak of a disease that is well known but for which there is a lack of reliable vaccines or drugs. The G7 academies call for (1) increasing efforts to empower and build capacity in affected countries to deal with these diseases, (2) intensifying research on NTDs, (3) developing and delivering affordable and accessible treatments, and (4) accounting fully for NTDs in the Sustainable Development Goals.
The third topic concerns marine pollution by heavy metals and plastic waste. Particularly pressing issues are the acidification and warming of the ocean due to climate change, and over-fertilisation from nitrogen used in agriculture. The G7 academies call for (1) changing the course of nations’ CO2 emissions, (2) reducing and further regulating man‐made pollution of the sea, (3) ending overfishing and preserving marine biodiversity and ecosystem function through research based management, and (4) enhancing international scientific cooperation to better predict, manage and mitigate future changes in the ocean and their impacts on human societies and the environment.
The academies of sciences of the G7 have been supporting the summit meeting of their heads of state and government for ten years. In the run-up to the summit, they consider pressing issues that are related to the agenda of the meeting but that go beyond it in scope and that need to be addressed multilaterally. On each occasion, it is the host nation’s academy that assumes the role of coordinator – meaning that it was The Royal Society of Canada, which coordinated preparations for the scientific advisory process in the run-up to the G8 summit in Huntsville in 2010. Back then, the academies submitted statements on the health of women and children, and innovation for development.