Urgent need to address systemic risks in a world vulnerable to climate change, conflict and global health crises, say G7 science academies

07 March 2023

Science academies of the G7 have called for urgent action from governments to meet commitments to protect the environment and human health. The Academies have highlighted three key areas for action; the need to address systemic risks in a world vulnerable to climate change, conflict, and global health crises; the protection and restoration of the ocean; and improvement to health and well-being in an ageing society.

Three statements, published ahead of the G7 Summit in Japan, call for long term, multi-disciplinary collaboration, and increased investment in education to build awareness around these topics. They also call for open and data-driven science that uses the latest technological approaches and increases data accessibility, enabling countries to develop evidence-based road maps to reach climate and sustainability goals and provide lasting solutions to the challenges of ageing.

Sir Adrian Smith, President of the Royal Society, said: “The invasion of Ukraine, the COVID-19 pandemic and climate-related flooding, droughts and wildfires have all had an impact on global well-being, economies, and ecosystems. Added to that, our oceans are under threat and ageing populations are facing many health and social care challenges. Those already most vulnerable to these dangers are now even more so.

The G7 governments therefore have a responsibility to support scientists and provide countries around the world with access to the latest science and data to mitigate the impacts of these interconnected global crises.”

The statements were jointly developed ahead of the G7 Summit, under the leadership of the Science Council of Japan. They were submitted at the G-Science Academy (S7) 2023 International Symposium held in Tokyo on 7 March 2023.

The topics are summarised as: 

Addressing systemic risks in a changing climate: Science and technology in support of cross-sectoral decision-making 

Three recent major challenges – the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the COVID-19 pandemic and increased occurrence of climate disasters – have intensified the complex and systemic risks already present within societies, economies, and the environment. The cumulative impact of these challenges threatens human lives and prosperity beyond national boundaries.

To realise a sustainable and resilient society in which no one is left behind, the academies call for G7 governments to support national roadmaps to net zero and promote cross-disciplinary collaboration on local and global scales. This includes combining scientific and indigenous knowledge through expert advisers; promoting globally coordinated activities to increase data accessibility; and enhancing financial support by repurposing funds, especially for the most vulnerable countries with a large resource deficit.

Restoration and recovery of the ocean and its biodiversity

The ocean is the largest living space on Earth, but more than 90% of marine life has not yet been described. Meanwhile human-induced climate change is leading to rising water temperatures and sea levels, ocean acidification and more frequent and intense extreme weather events.

To manage human impacts on the ocean, the academies call on G7 governments to develop a roadmap for decarbonisation and the sustainable management and protection of the ocean and its biodiversity. This includes raising awareness of climate change and biodiversity in society and increasing scientific knowledge of the ocean and marine life; increasing funding for field surveys and research while championing students and early career scientists; strengthening fishery regulations; and establishing further protected marine conservation areas. 

Delivering better health and well-being of older people through wisdom sharing and innovation

Recent and complex changes in human demography are fundamentally transforming the planet and thereby represent a global challenge for our future. To achieve a society in which people can enjoy health, well-being, and independence to the fullest extent throughout their lives, the academies call on G7 countries with an advanced ageing population and long history of implementing various healthcare measures for older people to share knowledge and solutions with the world.

This includes improving understanding of ageing biology, promoting the construction of comprehensive healthcare systems and increasing the efficiency and quality of care through technological innovation and adequate support systems.