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Leopoldina makes recommendations to the G8 heads of state and government

Together with the national science academies of the other G8 states, the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina has prepared two statements for the G8 states in the run-up to the G8 Summit of Heads of State and Government. The recommendations contained in these statements were now presented to the participating governments for the negotiations in Deauville, France on 26 and 27 May. In a statement on the topic of "Education for a Science-Based Global Development", the academies urge governments to target investment to establish an infrastructure for a globalization of knowledge in science and technology. A further statement on the topic of "Water and Health" urgently recommends improving the world's population access to clean drinking water and sanitation to protect people against serious disease and epidemics.

The science academies set forth that progress and global development are attributable to advances in science and technology. They therefore recommend targeted investment in education to achieve a globalization of knowledge. The objective here must be to make all people partners of science. This would help avoid new technologies being met with scepticism and unfounded fears, and also better equip people to assess the risks new technologies pose. This challenge must be faced in three ways: improved scientific education for the general public, in school, at university and at other national research bodies.

The science academies advise the heads of state and government to support the governments of developing countries in establishing and maintaining a functioning infrastructure for education. In their statement on education, the academies also recommend a policy of open access to scientific literature and databases and supporting international collaboration to set up new e-learning facilities. Furthermore, they stress the importance of using new findings derived from brain research and cognitive sciences to improve teaching and learning programmes. Moreover, a collaborative network of research centres should be created for various innovative topics in education. Current successful programmes to facilitate exchange between scientists, the general public, the media and decision-makers should also be further expanded.

Given the fact that the investment of large sums of money over the past decade has provided access to clean drinking water for over one billion people for the first time, the science academies indicate in their statement on "Water and Health" that, in the same period, much less has been done to improve sanitation for these people. Around 40 percent of the world's population still lack access to adequate sanitation, and 20 percent of the global population do not have access to a toilet connected to a wastewater system, which results in an additional 300 million tons of untreated human excreta polluting vital drinking water resources every year. The academies point out that diarrhoea-related diseases kill more children under the age of five than AIDS, malaria and measles combined. The majority of these cases are due to unsafe water, inadequate sanitation or insufficient hygiene.

The academies strongly recommend politicians to regard access to drinking water and sanitation as a unity, in accordance with the Millennium Goals of the World Health Organisation (WHO). The G8 states should work towards ensuring that people all over the world have access not only to drinking water of acceptable quality, but also to basic sanitation. This involves providing technical support and training local technicians, supporting researchers developing vaccines against waterborne pathogens, and local capacity-building initiatives to increase awareness for improved hygiene standards.

Every year since the G8 Summit of Heads of State and Government in Gleneagles, Scotland in 2005, the national academies of the G8 states Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the US have prepared science-based statements on global issues relevant to society, with the aim of supporting governments in their negotiations at the annual G8 summits. The statements for this year were prepared at a conference of the representatives of the science academies in Paris on 24 and 25 March 2011. Alongside the science academies of the G8 countries, the academies of South Africa, Brazil, India, Mexico and Senegal participated in the conference. In this group of academies of science, Germany is always represented by the Leopoldina - National Academy of Sciences.


Contact: Caroline Wichmann

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