Meeting of G7 Science Ministers in Japan 2016

The Science Ministers of the G7 countries met in Tsukuba, Japan. The most important issues were poverty-related diseases and the future of the oceans both being follow-up topics from their previous meeting in Berlin in 2015.

Federal Minister Johanna Wanka with the G7 Science Ministers in Tsukuba, Japan, in May 2016. © Cabinet Office/ Government of Japan

Poverty-related diseases in developing countries, the future of the seas and oceans, equal opportunities for women and climate change – these are the challenges which the G7 countries want to address. The G7 Science Ministers met in Japan to discuss a joint approach. They can build on the outcome of the Meeting of G7 Science Ministers in Berlin in October 2015 where the Ministers already agreed to cooperate on research. At their meeting in Tsukuba, Japan, the G7 Science Ministers focussed on the following topics:

The ageing society

People are living longer. Prevention and care are important to help older people lead a healthy and self-determined life as long as possible. The G7 Science Ministers discussed joint research initiatives to support international research on common diseases such as dementia, cancer and diabetes.

Poverty-related and neglected diseases

More than a billion people suffer from neglected and poverty-related diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria and Ebola. This is why these diseases were a major topic at last year's meeting of G7 Science Ministers in Berlin. The aim of this year's meeting in Japan was to continue the debate about possible ways to improve coordination and networking in global research on poverty-related and neglected diseases.

Equal opportunities for women

In many countries throughout the world, women still do not have the same rights as men – and this also holds true for the academic and research sectors. Men still account for the majority of engineers and researchers worldwide. The G7 Summit in Japan addressed the topic of gender equity to help more women find their way into the world of science and join the ranks of global leaders.

The future of the seas and oceans

Our seas and oceans are the largest habitat on Earth which is home to innumerable species. However, the health of maritime ecosystems is at risk due to climate change, ocean acidification and large amounts of plastic waste. The future of the seas and oceans was already a topic at the 2015 meeting of G7 Science Ministers in Berlin. As a follow-up to this, the G7 Science Ministers meeting in Japan discussed possible international approaches. Interdisciplinary research is needed to improve waste management and develop innovative recycling technologies so that the large amounts of plastic litter in the oceans can be reduced.

Clean energy

The energy of the future must be clean, safe and affordable. To achieve this goal, we must reduce carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere and provide targeted support for renewable energy. Last year in Berlin, the G7 Science Ministers already agreed that joint research efforts are increasingly needed to ensure a cleaner, more efficient and environment-friendly energy supply. In Japan, the ministers continued their discussion about transparent energy research as a follow-up to the G7 meeting in Germany.

The Meeting of Science Ministers was the fourth of its kind. The question of how coordination of international research activities could be further improved was already the central topic at the first meeting of Science Ministers in Okinawa, Japan, in 2008. A second meeting of Science Ministers – again in the G8 format – followed in London in 2013. The most recent meeting took place in Berlin in October 2015.

The "Group of Seven" or G7 provides an annual forum for the world's major industrial countries to meet for informal exchanges. The group is made up of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the USA.