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Science Academies issue joint statement ahead of G8 Summit in France

19 May 2011

In the run up to the G8 Summit meeting to be held in Deauville between 26 - 27 May 2011, the national science academies of several G8 and G20 countries are addressing joint statements to their respective Heads of State, stressing the need for action in two critical areas: 'Water and Health' and 'Education for a Science-based Global Development'.

Water & Health

Access to clean water and sanitation has been declared a Human Right by the United Nations since July 2010. And yet today, close on 900 million people do not have access to clean water and 2.6 billion do not have access to proper sanitation. The immediate consequence is that diarrhea and associate illnesses kill 1.5 to 2 million children under the age of 5, every year. Faced with this situation - made even more critical because of the concentration of urban, domestic and industrial wastes - the Science Academies recommend:

- that a priority action plan be implemented to provide sanitary equipment for supply of clean water and treatment of waste water, notably for schools in rural areas

- that education and training in both water management and water quality protection be promoted - that help be provided to assist in identifying pathogens and development of relevant vaccines

- that the key role of women in water management and hygiene be supported -that the efficiency of all forms of use of water be improved.

Education for a Science-based Global Development

Numerous current challenges can only be faced using the results of scientific progress. Education in science and initiation to scientific approaches must concern not only future scientists, engineers and other professional bodies, but also the population at large. In order to offset a certain decline in interest for science, a form of scientific ‘alphabetisation’ must be launched at primary school and continued during the secondary school education. To meet these challenges, the Science Academies recommend:

- that globalisation of knowledge be seen as an objective, thereby aiding the developing countries to acquire and maintain the infrastructures and the personnel as needed, and, for this purpose, to facilitate the return of those trained abroad to their countries of origin

 - that support be given to distance learning (e-learning) processes and to open access to data banks and similar sources of scientific literature - that full use be made of research in cognitive sciences, improving learning processes and programmes

- that a network of virtual reference centres specialised in innovating education programmes be set up - that support be provided for exchange not only among research scientists but also with Society ( general public, the media, the policy-makers).

For further information about the joint statements visit http://www.academie-sciences.fr/activite/inter/G8_2011.htm