Today 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 poverty-related diseases, and the future of the ocean were drawn up by the seven national academies under the aegis of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina.
The G7 academies call for a comprehensive strategy to tackle health threats from infectious diseases; progress toward preventing, controlling and eliminating Neglected Tropical Diseases; and steps to place the use and protection of the oceans on a sustainable footing. "It is the task of the national academies of sciences to contribute their scientific expertise to political debates," said Professor Jörg Hacker, President of the Leopoldina. "Over the last ten years, the dialogue between the academies of science and the heads of state and government of the G7/8 countries has become a successful and well-established feature of the run-up to the annual summit, demonstrating that scientific expertise is indispensable to international policy-making."
Infectious Diseases and Antimicrobial Resistance: Threats and Necessary Actions
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) a coordinated rapid response in the face of major epidemics.
Neglected Tropical Diseases
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) NTDs to be fully accounted for in the Sustainable Development Goals.
Future of the Ocean: Impact of Human Activities on Marine Systems
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 this year it is the Leopoldina, which also coordinated preparations for the scientific advisory process in the run-up to the G8 summit in Heiligendamm in 2007. Back then, the academies submitted reports on sustainability, energy efficiency, climate change mitigation, and protection of intellectual property.