News from the National Academy of Sciences

May 28, 2020

‘G-Science’ Academies Release Statements on Basic Research, Digital Health, and Declines in Global Insect Populations

WASHINGTON — Science academies from the G-7 countries and seven additional academies issued three joint statements to their respective governments today, to advise the G-7 process and to inform ongoing policymaking and public discussion.

In the statements, the academies call for strategies to restore and sustain public funding of basic research, to realize the benefits offered by digital health tools, and to respond to global declines in insect diversity and abundance. 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. 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. (statement)

“Since WWII, support for basic research has been the most important and impactful part of public investments in science,” said U.S. National Academy of Sciences Foreign Secretary John Hildebrand. “Right now the crucial role of basic research is illustrated by the case of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our collective future depends on understanding, at the most fundamental level, the extremely infectious novel coronavirus that causes the disease and how it harms multiple organ systems in the human body. Progress in resolving this crisis — mitigation measures and efforts to find treatments and develop vaccines — builds on that understanding.”

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, organize, store, analyze, 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. To realize 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 a number of priorities, such as ensuring cybersecurity, safety, and privacy; developing standards for interoperability; and supporting IT literacy, public understanding, and ethics. (statement)

Global insect declines. The vast majority of insects provides 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. (statement)

The U.S. National Academies are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine. They operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln.

Sara Frueh, Senior Media Officer
Office of News and Public Information
202-334-2138; e-mail

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