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Science academies urge G-7 on research, digital health, insect population decline

Science academies from the G-7 countries and seven additional academies have called for strategies to restore and sustain public funding of basic research, to realise the benefits offered by digital health tools, and to respond to global declines in insect diversity and abundance.

G7 Summit
A recent G7 Summit

The call was made on Monday, June 1, 2020 in three joint statements issued to advise the G-7 process and to inform ongoing policymaking and public discussion.

The three new statements follow a statement made in April that called for international cooperation in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Basic research

Investment by the public sector in basic research enriches society in unexpected ways, including with new treatments and technologies that elevate the global standard of living, the statement says. Yet there are many current cases of inadequate or decreasing investment in basic research.

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The statement calls for governments to restore and sustain long-term public funding of basic research. It also urges nations to build capacity through STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education and to cooperate globally through scholarly exchanges, visa programs, and other avenues.

It recommends collaboration in research across disciplines and the open publication of research results.

Digital health

Progress in health depends on the optimal generation and flow of reliable knowledge and information. Digital health refers to a range of digital tools to record, organise, store, analyse, and share information for use in managing and improving the health care of individuals and populations. That capacity is critical now in understanding and controlling the COVID-19 pandemic.

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To realise the benefits that digital health offers to enhance the human condition, systemic and dedicated collaboration is required across fields, sectors, and nations, the statement says.

It identifies several priorities, such as ensuring cybersecurity, safety, and privacy; developing standards for interoperability; and supporting IT literacy, public understanding, and ethics.

Global insect declines

Many insects are said to provide unique and irreplaceable ecosystem services, including pollination, recycling, and nutrient provisioning. The annual global value of pollination provided by bees and other insects has been estimated to exceed $200 billion.

But striking declines in diversity and abundance have been documented in insect communities, the statement says. It recommends a range of actions, including supporting long-term monitoring of insect species and biomass to identify stressors, and identifying and protecting critical habitats at risk.

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The G-7 or Group of Seven is an international intergovernmental economic organisation consisting of the seven largest IMF-advanced economies in the world: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

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