SAPEA publications

SAPEA publications, including Evidence Review Reports, are available here.

Publications from academies and European Academy Networks

SAPEA provides access to the knowledge and expertise from over 100 academies, young academies and learned societies from over 40 countries across Europe. Use the box below to search for keywords, academies or contributors.

A focus on fracking: potentials, opportunities and risks

Keith Evans, Simon Löw, Benoît Valley, Benjamin Jost, Ronald Kozel, Volker Lützen-kirchen, Federico Matousek, Marianne Niggli, Gunter Siddiqi, Stefan Wiemer, Roland Wyss, Esther Volken

Swiss Academy of Sciences

Fracking has been used for decades to improve the exploitation of conventional oil and gas reservoirs. In recent years, enhanced conveyance technology and rising gas prices have enabled an economic use of fracking in the case of unconventional gas resources, that is resources which are hard to recover. Fracking is also used in deep geothermal energy systems. Both applications are under controversial discussion. Gas fracking and fracking to tap geothermal resources are different not only with regard to environmental aspects. Assessing the use of fracking to exploit these two energy sources also requires considering sustainability, potentials and cost-effectiveness. Apart from the general opportunities and risks, there are specific questions regarding the application of fracking in Switzerland.

31 / 12 / 2014

Circular economy: improving the management of natural resources

Martin Lehmann, Bas de Leeuw, Eric Fehr, Adam Wong

Swiss Academy of Sciences

Global consumption of natural resources, and with it the scarcity of natural resources and the total amount of waste due to consumption, have increased significantly throughout recent decades. This raises the question of how we can deal with resources in a more sustainable way. Not only are resource consumption and waste disposal connected with severe environmental impacts, but resource scarcity also limits the growth of the economy in its present form. A very important aspect is the reduction of resource use through clever design and intelligent choice of materials and processes in order to increase overall resource productivity (fewer kilograms per service unit). The sustainable handling of natural resources is not simply a question of technology, ecology and waste management but also includes economic, social, political, cultural and ethical aspects. The optimization of entire processes and systems rather than single components becomes increasingly important. This “systems thinking” is at the core of the concept of circular economy, which aims to organize material and product flows in cycles in such a way that no resources are spoiled and the volume of waste is strongly reduced. The corresponding transformation of the systems from a linear to a circular design calls for the close collaboration of scientists, governments, economists and other stakeholders in society. In fact the achievement of a circular economy is seen as essential for shaping a sustainable society

31 / 12 / 2014

Agriculture beyond food: Experiences from Indonesia

Suraya A Afiff, Paul Burgers, Erik (HJ) Heeres, Oka Karyanto, Robert Manurung, Jacqueline Vel, Tim Zwaagstra, Koen Kusters, Ellen Lammers, Roeland Muskens, Cora Govers, Huub Löffler, Sikko Visscher, Suseno Budidarsono M. Yusuf Abduh Bin Abu Ghazali, Miftahul Ilmi, Carina van der Laan, Ad de Leeuw Bartjan, Pennink Loes van, Rooijen Ari, Susanti Pita, Verweij Henky, Widjaja Widyarani, Annelies Zoomers

Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research , Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences

The Agriculture Beyond Food (ABF) programme addresses one of today’s major societal challenges, how to achieve a sustainable and inclusive biobased economy, with high-level scientific research on the thin lines between food and non-food, commodities and waste products, livelihood opportunities and risks, and local and global economy. This book provides insights into the main issues and key questions relating to the biobased economy, reflects on the objectives of the ABF programme, and offers policy recommendations. It summarises the projects conducted within the three major clusters at the heart of the programme: migration and forest transformation, breakthroughs in biofuel production technology, and the commoditisation of an alternative biofuel crop. The book ends with a number of lessons learned from the ABF programme on interdisciplinary programming.

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31 / 12 / 2014

Utilisation of patents on the results of scientific research

CA (Clemens) van Blitterswijk , CM (Catholijn) Jonker, WF (Feer) Verkade, AJHM (Arno) Peels, K (Kees) Eijkel, O (Oscar) Schoots, T (Tom) van der Poll, A …   see more contributors

(Albert) Polman, EEW (Eppo) Bruins

Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences

A survey of the utilisation of patents on the results of scientific research conducted at universities and research institutes in the Netherlands showed that (1) valorisation involves knowledge-sharing, e.g. with commercial enterprises, which can invest venture capital in developing new products or services. (2) Technology transfer offices (TTOs) at universities and research institutes play a vital role in tracking and transferring patents to interested parties in the commercial market. (3) By continuing to improve the quality of the TTOs and raising awareness among researchers, universities and research institutes will be able to identify more patentable inventions and boost the quality of the patents themselves. National TTOs similar to those developed abroad would be beneficial in various fields of research in which the Netherland excels and which have strong international markets, for example in the medical sector.

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01 / 12 / 2014

Evaluation of new technology in health care: in need of guidance for relevant evidence

K Moons, I Meijer, P Bossuyt, E Buskens, M IJyerman, J Kievit, E van Leeuwen, W Niessen, T Stijnen, E de Vries

Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences

Medical technology covers a broad spectrum of devices and procedures, and there are already approximately 500,000 types of medical devices in circulation. Every medical device must not only be entirely safe, but it must also work as it was meant to. New medical technologies must be qualitatively equivalent to existing solutions and, if possible, cheaper. It is quite difficult to evaluate whether a new medical device offers any advantages, and what those advantages are. After all, there is more involved than technical quality and safety. Any evaluation also has to consider the varying usage and user requirements, sector-specific guidelines and legislation. But all the ‘ifs, ands and buts’ should never throw up insurmountable barriers to the introduction of new medical technologies. This report aims to offer the various stakeholders guidelines for selecting the research method that best suits the relevant medical device, including postmarketing surveillance. The report makes clear that there are different ways of tackling such evaluations, and that a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is insufficient.

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01 / 12 / 2014

The use of non-human primates in experiments

CCAM (Stan) Gielen, Th (Henk) Goos, Peter Hagoort, CJM (Kees) Melief, EN (Elsbeth) Stassen

Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences

EU legislation prohibits experiments involving non-human primates (NHPs) unless there are convincing and urgent reasons for such research in the interest of science or society. Every effort should be made to reduce the number of experiments involving animals, and in particular non-human primates (NHPs), to a minimum. Experiments involving NHPs should only be considered when they are urgently required, and when no suitable alternatives are available. Reductions in the number of experiments involving NHPs can be achieved by amending Dutch and international legislation on testing the safety and side-effects of new pharmaceuticals. Current legislation dictates that certain medicines may only be marketed for human consumption if tests for potential side-effects have been carried out on NHPs, but recent research shows that testing for safety and side-effects is often superfluous. Factors obstructing the search for alternatives to animal testing are lack of funding for research into alternatives and unsuccessful quests for alternatives. In addition, some effects and side-effects cannot be predicted from in vitro observations, making animal testing necessary for now to safely and accurately determine the therapeutic index between effect and side-effect. For the time being, animal testing will also remain necessary in basic research. However, only a small number of biomedical experiments involving animals require the use of NHPs.

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01 / 12 / 2014

Individualised medicine: Prerequisites and Consequences

Bärbel Friedrich, Philipp U Heitz, Heyo K Kroemer, Thomas Bieber, Manfred Dietel, Georg Ertl, Carl Friedrich Gethmann, Michael Hallek, Michael Hecker, Heinz Höfler, Jan C Joerden, Klaus-Peter Koller , Thomas Lengauer, Markus Löffler, Martin J Lohse, Peter Oberender, Peter Propping, Alfred Pühler, Georg Stingl, Jochen Taupitz, Hermann Wagner, Hans-Peter Zenner

acatech , German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina , The Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities

One of medicine’s central goals has been and is to heal, relieve or even prevent patients’ diseases. At the beginning of the 21st century, biomedical research and clinical medicine are undergoing a transformation, described by many as a paradigm shift. New approaches based on genome analyses and biomedical technologies are making it possible to analyse biological processes more precisely and more thoroughly than ever before. Associated with this is the goal of better understanding the causes of disease, providing accurate diagnoses, and last but not least, developing highly effective, precisely targeted therapies that have few side effects. For example, our understanding of why people who apparently have the same illness react differently to the same therapy is growing. ‘Individualised Medicine’ is an approach that adds another dimension to our understanding of illnesses. However, a number of ethical, legal and economic questions are associated with Individualised Medicine. This Statement depicts current developments, challenges and framework conditions of Individualised Medicine.

01 / 12 / 2014

Resilience to extreme weather

Georgina Mace, Andrew Balmford, Paul Bates, Katrina Brown, Peter Cox, Rowan Douglas, Charles Godfray, Nancy Grimm, Peter Head, Robert Nicholls, Youba Sokona, Camilla Toulmin, Kerry Turner, Bhaskar Vira, Virgilio Viana, Bob Watson

The Royal Society

Resilience to extreme weather’ investigates key questions to help inform important decisions about adaptation and risk reduction that are being made at global, national and local levels. We have examined people's resilience to weather- and climate-related extreme events, in particular, floods, droughts and heatwaves. We look at how improvements can be made to protect lives and livelihoods by comparing the options available and considering the fundamental building blocks for resilience. Recommendations: (1) Governments have a responsibility to develop and resource resilience strategies. (2) Governments should act together at the international level to build resilience. (3) To limit the need for costly disaster responses, more national and international funds will need to be directed to measures that build resilience to extreme weather. (4) The purpose, design and implementation of policy frameworks covering climate change, disaster risk reduction and development should be aligned and consistent regarding extreme weather (5) Those who make and implement policies need to take practical measures to protect people and their assets from extreme weather. (6) The risks posed by extreme weather need to be better accounted for in the wider financial system, to inform valuations and investment decisions and to incentivise organisations to reduce their exposure. (7) Information about extreme weather should be suitable for users’ needs. Funders should encourage collaborations and ongoing dialogue between producers and users of knowledge. (8) Research to improve the understanding of risks from current weather and to model accurately future climate change impacts should be increased to provide relevant information for decision-makers, particularly at regional and local levels.

30 / 11 / 2014

Atlas of the Islamic World Science and Innovation: Final Report

Savaş Alpay, Julie Maxton, Luke Clarke, Hakan Huseyin, Eryetli Zehra, Selçuk Zümrüt

COMSTECH , Economic and Social Research & Training Centre for Islamic Countries (SESRIC) , Nature , Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) , The British Council , The International Development Research Centre (IDRC) , The Islamic Development Bank , The Islamic Educational , The Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) , The Qatar Foundation , The Royal Society , The Statistical

This study explored the changing landscape of science and innovation across a diverse selection of countries with large Muslim populations in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Working closely with local partners, the project charted the delicate interplay between science, innovation, culture and politics and explored new opportunities for partnership and exchange with the wider world.The history of Islamic-world science and innovation is one of a period of great flourishing followed by a steep and protracted decline. Today, average research and development spending across the 57 member states of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) is very low, with some of the oil producing Gulf states among the world’s lowest investors in research as a percentage of GDP. But now there are signs of renewed ambition and investment in education, science and innovation, with strong support from national governments, businesses, philanthropists and bodies like the OIC. The path to a more innovative Islamic-world is not without obstacles. Salaries, infrastructure and research grants remain low, and there is still a substantial brain drain, with many talented scientists and engineers opting to pursue their careers in the US and Europe. A more fundamental question is the extent to which societies where open debate is not always the norm can become centres of creativity and invention. The project mapped key trends in science and technology-based innovation across the 57 OIC Member Countries. Looking in detail at a geographically and economically diverse set of countries, the Atlas project offered an independent and authoritative assessment of how their science and innovation capabilities are changing, and the opportunities and barriers to further progress; and explored new opportunities for partnership and exchange.

18 / 11 / 2014

Shale gas extraction: issues of particular relevance to the European Union

Bert Allard, Dietrich Borchardt, Peter Burri, Algimantas Grigelis, Christian Growitsch, Francois Kalaydijan, Robert Mair, Guy Maisonnier, Lucjan Pawłowski, Peter Reichetseder, Rudy Swennen, Michael Norton

European Academies Science Advisory Council

In this statement, EASAC addresses three specific concerns that are being put forward in the public debate about the exploitation of Europe's shale gas potential: (1) the implications of a high population density throughout Europe (in combination with the problem of water usage); (2) the question of methane leakage; and (3) the challenge of (local) public acceptance.The statement finds that although these concerns are justified in general, all three of them can be mitigated by use of best practices and proper regulation. The statement thus concludes that the issues studied in the report need to be carefully reflected by policy-makers, but that they are not an unsurmountable obstacle for exploring and using Europe's shale gas potential. Currently the scale of the shale gas resources and the economic viability of its extraction in EU countries remain uncertain and, without exploratory drilling, this uncertainty will continue.

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01 / 11 / 2014

Submission to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee inquiry on the Sustainable Development Goals

The Royal Society

The Royal Society submitted a response to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee inquiry on the Sustainable Development Goals. In the response the Society argues that (A) The SDGs and the Government’s contribution to them should not overlook the environment or the implications of population and consumption patterns for a finite planet. Future projected changes in climate and demography must be considered when developing policies in all areas of Government. Socio-economic systems and institutions must be developed which are not dependent on continued material consumption for growth. (B) The development and implementation of effective SDGs will require collaboration between both government departments and national governments. Resilience and sustainable growth should be considered across all Government departments in order to develop and implement policies that are effective and sustainable now and in decades to come. Intergovernmental coordination is required to ensure ambitious, consistent targets and indicators for the SDGs and upcoming international agreements on climate change and disaster risk reduction. Governments should act collectively to reduce inequality and mitigate climate change.

22 / 10 / 2014

Antimicrobial drug discovery: greater steps ahead

Dan Andersson, Bertus Beaumont, Axel Brakhage, Eefjan Breukink, Heike Brötz-Oesterhelt, Sally Davies, Nynke Dekker, Christiane Diehl, Alan Dobson, Arnold Driessen, Mikael Elofsson, Jeff Errington, Robin Fears, Ben Feringa, Rainer Fischer, Anna-Maria Gramatté, Oliver Grewe, Jörg Hacker, Kathrin Happe, Henrike Hartmann, Jürgen Heesemann, Christian Hertweck, Kim Lewis, José Martinez, Thomas F Meyer, Dominique Monnet, Mihai Netea, Anne Osbourn, Mariana Pinho, Andrew Roe, Hans-Georg Sahl, Philippe Sansonetti, Tanja Schneider, Volker ter Meulen, Jos van der Meer, Gilles van Wezel, Christina Vandenbroucke-Grauls, Ada Yonath

European Academies Science Advisory Council

Infectious diseases account for a substantial proportion of deaths worldwide. Continuing progress in the treatment of many infections is threatened by the growing resistance of pathogens to antimicrobial drugs. In this Statement, EASAC considers how to search for new scientific directions for antimicrobial innovation and to remove impediments in translating research advances to drug development. Key topics are (1) How can we learn from previous examples of success, and lack of success, in antibiotic research and development? (2) What are the functions of antibiotics in their natural environments? (3) What are the opportunities for novel approaches to tackling pathogens, for example based on virulence modulation or immune stimulation? (4) How might pathogen-specific pathways be influenced? (5) Can host cell targets be found that inhibit intracellular bacterial infection? (6) Are there new sources of antimicrobial compounds and delivery systems that can capitalise on emerging technologies? We conclude that much needs to be done to enhance antibiotic innovation: to define and validate better targets, to ensure high-quality clinical research facilities, to streamline regulation and to tackle the market problems so that companies are attracted back into the therapeutic area.

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01 / 10 / 2014

Submission to the House of Lords Arctic Committee

The Royal Society

The Royal Society submitted a response to the House of Lords Arctic Committee inquiry. The Arctic features in many areas of the Royal Society’s work. Much of the Society’s work has focused on the science behind observed changes in the Arctic, understanding why they are happening and how the Arctic may change in the future. The Arctic Ocean is currently crossing an environmental threshold, from a perpetually ice-covered region to a seasonally ice-free one. This is altering the geo-strategic dynamics of the Arctic, and awakening national interests in energy, fishing, shipping and tourism. There are many direct scientific issues arising from change in the Arctic. For example, changes in sea ice affect ocean ecosystems and atmospheric chemistry; rapid warming will affect terrestrial ecosystems and permafrost stability. This report comments on (1) the role of science, (2) Identifying Impacts from Arctic Change, (3) Governance of the Arctic, and (4) Adaptation Strategies in the Arctic.

29 / 09 / 2014

Resilien-Tech. “Resilience by Design”: a strategy for the technology issues of the future”

Klaus Thoma


The digital networks that characterise today’s world, together with the demographic change occurring in Germany and the growing frequency of extreme events are resulting in the emergence of new threats that are increasing the vulnerability of our modern industrialised society. Combined with the continual diversification of safety and security risks, this means that disasters are capable of causing ever more serious harm. In order to continue protecting people and infrastructure against future environmental, economic and social damage, it will be necessary to firmly embed preventive measures in our society and ensure that the right lessons are learned from the past. The concept of resilience provides a holistic approach to this problem that attaches equal importance to the technological and social dimensions and helps to minimise the threats to our safety and security. Accordingly, acatech – National Academy of Science and Engineering launched the “Resilien-Tech” project with the aim of improving our understanding of this concept and enabling security researchers to put it to practical use.The authors of this STUDY analyse the concept of resilience from a civil security research perspective, with particular emphasis on the issue of critical infrastructure protection. They also identify concrete approaches to developing resilient technological and socioeconomic systems.

17 / 09 / 2014

European Space Exploration: Strategic Considerations of Human versus Robotic Exploration

Wolfgang Baumjohann, Paul Callanan, Thierry Courvoisier, Michele Dougherty, Ari-Matti Harri, Stamatios Krimigis, Ernst Messerschmid, José Pereira Osorio, Jean-Loup Puget, Giancarlo Setti, Karoly Szego, Sigmar Wittig

European Academies Science Advisory Council

EASAC outlines the major potential benefits of space science for research, explores the economic, political and social arguments for choosing automated or human missions, and recommends the adoption of an overall strategy to ensure opportunities are not lost. It also urges a strategic rethink in Europe's options for the continued exploration of the solar system. The report addresses the requirements of fundamental research driven by scientific enquiry, strategies for contributing to solar system exploration with robotic missions, as well as the added value associated with human space flight, and the applied science questions (e.g. space medical and biotechnology sciences) which must be pursued in the context of human space flight. A number of general recommendations related to the future European space exploration programme are presented, underpinned by the importance of Europe remaining at the forefront of scientific and technological capability in space. A strategic plan for the cost share between robotic and manned missions in European space exploration, capitalising on technological advance and international cooperation, but without negatively impacting the future of pure scientific research, is highly desirable.

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01 / 09 / 2014

Submission on GM foods and application of the precautionary principle in Europe

The Royal Society

The Royal Society submitted a response to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee’s inquiry on GM foods and application of the precautionary principle in Europe. In the response the Society argues that (1) The safety of GM techniques should be considered as part of a broader evidence-based assessment of what constitutes a sustainable and resilient agricultural system. (2) A more effective regulatory system would result from a shift in emphasis from the method by which a crop is produced toward a focus on the trait that has been introduced. (3) The development of regulations should include an assessment of potential benefits alongside potential risks and take into account the uncertainties associated with both. (4) In its conventional application, the precautionary principle assesses the risks associated with taking a certain course of action’ but fails to assess the risk of not doing something. (5) The implementation of the precautionary principle should include the reassessment of the need for any restrictions when new evidence becomes available after a reasonable period of time.

31 / 08 / 2014

Technological Sciences. Discovery – Design – Responsibility

Klaus Kornwachs


What are the technological sciences? What are their characteristics and what sets them apart from other scientific disciplines? How did the technological sciences become established and what role do technology and the technological sciences play in our society? Despite their importance to our society, the technological sciences have hitherto been largely neglected by traditional scientific research. Moreover, the people working in the technological sciences have themselves given little thought to the principles and fundamental questions of their discipline. acatech provides advice on strategic science and engineering issues to policymakers and the public. In order to do this effectively, we also need to examine our own discipline. With this acatech IMPULS Paper the National Academy of Science and Engineering wants to encourage discussion of the technological sciences as a knowledge system both within and outside of acatech

14 / 08 / 2014

International Scientific Cooperation – Challenges and Predicaments, Options for Risk Assessment

PJD (Pieter) Drenth, NJ (Nico) Schrijver, JE (Jenny) Goldschmidt, KAM (Kristin) Henrard, EMH (Ernst) Hirsch Ballin, WJM (Pim) Levelt, RS (Rob) Reneman, PJ (Pieter) Zandbergen

Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences

The academic endeavour has been a global activity for centuries, with researchers collaborating internationally in order to broaden and deepen their knowledge and scope. This booklet about the challenges and predicaments of international scientific cooperation deals with the responsibility that researchers and administrators must assume to make potential conflicts clear in advance. It offers them an analytical framework to assess the risks involved.

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01 / 08 / 2014

Response to the Consultation by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment on the Draft Primary Language Curriculum

Alan Titley, O hUiginn Ruairi, Christopher Morash

The Royal Irish Academy

The Royal Irish Academy/Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann, Ireland’s national academy for the sciences, humanities and social sciences, responded to the consultation by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment on the Draft Primary Language Curriculum for all children from Junior Infants to Second Class in English-medium and Irish-medium schools. Key points: (1) There is scope for greater consideration of the integration of language acquisition and language learning goals and aims in the context of supporting non-English-speaking migrant pupils. (2) Teachers should be supported to have the requisite skills and competence in Irish to implement successfully the Integrated Primary Language Curriculum (IPLC) requirement for that language. (3) Broadening the curriculum to include a foreign language at some stage of the primary school curriculum should be considered. (4) The emphasis within the proposed curriculum on play as a methodology to support children’s language learning and development is welcome. (5) The IPLC should contain a clear framework on how the desired learning outcomes are to be achieved.

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01 / 07 / 2014

Socialisation in early childhood: Biological, psychological, linguistic, sociological and economic perspectives

Jürgen Baumert, Hans-Peter Blossfeld, Thomas Cremer, Angela D Friederici, Marcus Hasselhorn, Gerd Kempermann, Ulman Lindenberger, Jürgen Meisel, Markus M Nöthen, Brigitte Röder, Frank Rösler, Frank Spinath, Katharina Spieß, Elbeth Stern, Gisela Trommsdorff

acatech , German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina , The Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities

Neurobiology, psychology, linguistics, sociology and economics are consistent in showing how early childhood experiences have a long-term influence on a person’s later developmental trajectory. The effects of these early experiences can be traced into adult life. The reasons for this are (1) Hereditary predispositions and environmental influences always work in tandem to determine the structure and workings of the nervous system – and thus both behaviour and experience. (2) In early childhood, critical and sensitive periods exist, in which the individual must make certain environmental experiences. Only then can key structures within the nervous system and associated behavioural patterns develop to their full capacity. Seen from the perspective of lifelong development, funding early childhood education is thus a particularly advisable strategy, particularly for children who are born with sensory impairments or raised in disadvantaged environments. The effectiveness of later investments will depend on the favourable conditions achieved by earlier educational programmes. Since genetic makeup and environmental factors are inextricably intertwined, genetic dispositions must be actively addressed and fostered in all children.

01 / 07 / 2014

Management of spent nuclear fuel and its waste

Hans Forsström, Jan Marivoet, Yvan Pouleur, Anne Bergmans, Roger Cashmore, Miguel Angel, Cuñado Peralta, Concetta Fazio, Martin Freer, Paul Gilchrist, Ingmar Grenthe, Zoltan Hozer, Yves Kaluzny, Joachim Knebel, Ben Koppelman, Mark Nutt, Eero Patrakka, Rainer Salomaa, Michael Siemann, Robin Taylor, Claes Thegerström, Francesco Troiani, Eugenijus Uspuras, Maarten Van Geet, Magnus Vesterlind, Janne Wallenius , Laurence Williams

European Academies Science Advisory Council , Joint Research Centre of the European Commission

The European Council Directive 2011/70/EURATOM on the "responsible and safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste" requires EU Member States to establish a dedicated policy, including the implementation of national programmes for the management of spent fuel and radioactive waste. The report, which was produced in collaboration with the European Commission's Joint Research Centre, aims to inform policy makers on important issues to take into consideration in developing national programmes for the future management of spent fuel and the waste generated by fuel treatment. It describes in a concise but comprehensive way the options for spent fuel management, their present state of development, and the consequences of the choices between them. The report discusses the challenges associated with different strategies to manage spent nuclear fuel, in respect of both open cycles and steps towards closing the nuclear fuel cycle. It integrates the conclusions on the issues raised on sustainability, safety, non-proliferation and security, economics, public involvement and on the decision-making process.

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01 / 07 / 2014

Curiosity-driven Research: a threatened vital activity?

John Cadogan

The Learned Society of Wales

This paper questions some of the common assumptions about the value of funding blue skies research. It also analyses and celebrates the economic impact of such research and the benefits it has for a better quality of life. The paper is critical of the current growing emphasis on well-funded directed research programmes and points out some of the potential negative side-effects. In particular, the paper which employs testimony from several UK’s top scientists and engineers (including Fellows of the Learned Society of Wales and Royal Society) concludes that the balance has swung too far in favour of directed programmes and calls on the UK Government to ensure a more balanced funding programme, that provides for ongoing support for blue sky research. The evidence gathered by Sir John Cadogan (past President of the LSW) in this paper reveals several examples where "blue sky" research has delivered unexpected benefits, for example penicillin and antibiotics and argues for consideration within future research budgets to retain the potential from future unplanned discoveries.

30 / 06 / 2014

Mastering Demographic Change in Europe

Austrian Academy of Sciences , Finnish Academy of Science and Letters , German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina , Polish Academy of Sciences , Royal Danish Academy of Science and Letters , Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences , The Royal Society , The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

The population of Europe is growing older than it has ever before and in most European countries the total period fertility rate has fallen well below two children. The population in some countries has started to decline while in others migration is compensating low fertility. Thus, besides a lengthening life span and reduced child bearing, demographic change in the EU is characterized by increasing migration within Europe, and also by more immigrants from outside of Europe entering European Union member states. Such changes in the composition of the EU population, in particular when considered jointly with other global changes such as climate change or potential shortage in natural resources, pose challenges for the wellbeing of individuals, communities and societies. Eight European Academies of Science have pooled their knowledge on demographic change and its causes and consequences, to highlight areas and steps of priority for mastering demographic change, and to contribute to creating a Europe that makes the most of its resources to the benefit of all.

30 / 06 / 2014

Vision for science and mathematics education

Martin Taylor, Julia Higgins, Jim Al-Khalili, Linda-May Bingham, Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, Sally Brown, Charles Clarke, Raymond Dolan, Athene Donald, Michael Gernon, John Holman, Tim Hunt, Ian Jone, Alison Peacock, David Philips, Joan Sjøvoll, David Swinscoe, Robert Winston, Alison Wolf

The Royal Society

Science and mathematics are at the heart of modern life and provide the foundations for economic prosperity. The Royal Society’s ambition for the next 20 years of science and mathematics education is that it should enable people to make informed choices, empower them to shape scientific and technological developments, and equip them to work in an advanced economy. This is necessary if the UK is to maintain its position as a world leader in science and engineering, achieve economic growth and to secure the health and well-being of the nation. The Vision aims to raise the general level of mathematical and scientific knowledge and provide confidence in the population and the skills employers need. There is currently excellent practice in primary and secondary schools and colleges across the UK’s four nations. The Vision for science and mathematics education from 5–18 years of age offers a way to build on these foundations and to ensure that the UK's education systems meet the needs of all in the 21st century.

30 / 06 / 2014

Submission to the National STEM Review Group 

Alan Smeaton, Han Vos, Daniel O'Hare, Peter Mitchell

The Royal Irish Academy

Key Points: Initial teacher education (ITE) and continuous professional development (CPD) programmes need to continue to adapt more inquiry-based approaches to teaching science and mathematics. Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), in combination with the network of Education Centres (originally Teachers’ Centres) and MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), could deliver STEM education CPD. The primary and post-primary STEM curriculum should be shortened to make room for a more in-depth form of engagement with students, a richer student experience and alternative forms of assessment, so that students have more opportunities to apply and develop their scientific skills. The Teaching Council should be given the responsibility for recognising and registering discipline-specific teaching accreditation in the STEM area.

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01 / 06 / 2014

On Designing Communication between the Scientific Community, the Public and the Media: Recommendations in light of current developments

Martin W Bauer, Klaus Fiedler, Armin Grunwald, Peter Graf Kielmansegg, Georg Ruhrmann, Christian Schwägerl, Dagmar Simon, Peter Weingart, Heidi Blattmann, Gerd, Reinhard F Hüttl, Otfried Jarren, Alfred Pühler, Ortwin Renn, Ulrich Schnabel, Pirmin Stekeler-Weithofer, Holger Wormer

acatech , German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina , The Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities

Science and journalism are among the essential pillars of a democratic society. Despite their necessary mutual independence and their often divergent purposes, both freedoms also fulfil similar functions. They supply policy-makers and society with a diverse array of information that is as reliable as possible, reinforcing the education and knowledge of the population and stimulating democratic discourse. They should also provide a basis for reasoned political, economic and technological decisions. The academies responsible for this position paper believe that the appropriate exercise of this function is being impaired by a series of developments in the scientific and media systems. For example, the economic conditions in both the media and the scientific community have noticeably changed in recent years. The academies are concerned about the aforementioned development and consider it necessary that the scientific community and the media itself, as well as political decision-makers and society, take a more active role in ensuring the future quality of generally accessible information, including scientific knowledge and its representation in the media. The recommendations expressed in the present policy paper aim to provide food for thought for decision-making authorities and in this way to counter the undesirable developments that have been observed.

01 / 06 / 2014

The antidepressants

J.P. Olié, M.C . Mouren, M. Adolphe, J.F. Allilaire, E. Baulieu, J. Camber, B. Falissard, M. Hamon, H. Lôo, D. Moussaoui, MO. Réthoré, J.D. Vincent

Académie Nationale de Médecine

Antidepressant drugs must be prescribed according to good clinical practices: The diagnosis of a major depressive episode or other disorder requiring such treatment at an adequate dosage and duration. The neurobiological effects of these drugs remain insufficiently clear: the monoaminergic impact is only one aspect along with neurotrophic or epigenetic effects. Too little is known about the effects of these molecules on the fetus or child: this does not mean ignoring depressive disorders in women during or after pregnancy or in children and adolescents. Antidepressants are a mean of reducing the risk of suicide in children, adolescents, and younger or older adults.

20 / 05 / 2014

Importance of the frailty concept to detect and prevent avoidable functional dependency during ageing

Jean-Pierre Michel, Daniel Bontoux, Claude-Henri Chouard, Jean Dubousset, Jean-Louis Dufier, Jean-Jacques Hauw, Bernard Lechevallier, François Legent, Jean-Pierre Michel, Denys Pellerin, Pierre Ronco, Georges Serratrice, Patrice Tran, Ba Huy, Paul Vert, Annie Barois, Gérard Bréart, Jean-François Cordier, Régis Gonthier, Bernard Laurent, Alain Privat, Claude Rossignol, Jean Tamraz, Jean-Marc …   see more contributors


Académie Nationale de Médecine

The current acuity of the frailty concept is partly explained by the ageing of the French population which will count 73.6 million of inhabitants in 2060, including 32% of adults over 60 years. This expected increase of aged people was recently associated to a pandemic of comorbidity and disability. Costs of functional dependency and loss of autonomy are already extremely high and will increase in the near future. So actions are urgently needed to prevent or delay “avoidable” dependency linked to aging. Frailty is a 3-phase dynamic process: pre-frailty (pre-clinical phase), frailty (clinical symptoms mainly linked to sarcopenia) and its consequences (mainly disability, increased care costs and death). It is now proven that sarcopenia and frailty could be potentially reversed. So it is time to set up a program to better screen aging community dwelling people, at risk of frailty and disability to be able to delay the dependency onset.

06 / 05 / 2014

Scientific Freedom and Scientific Responsibility: recommendations for handling security-relevant research 

Hans-Peter Zenner, Hubert Blum, Georg Ertl, Philipp U Heitz, Otfried Höffe, Peter Schaber, Günter Stock, Günther Wess, Rüdiger Wolfrum

German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina , German Research Foundation

Research plays a fundamental role in ensuring progress. Freedom of research, which is enshrined in the German Basic Law, is a fundamental requirement in this respect. Yet free research is also associated with risks, which result primarily from the danger of useful research findings being misused. Legal regulations can only cover these risks to a limited extent.The German Research Foundation (DFG) and the National Academy of Sciences (Leopoldina) have developed two sets of recommendations. The first section of recommendations are aimed at individual scientists. They need to be aware of the danger of misused research and make a personal decision about what is responsible in their research by weighing the opportunities offered by the research against the risks for human dignity, life and other important values. The recommendations specify these considerations in terms of necessary risk analysis, measures for reducing risk, evaluating the publication of research results, and abstaining from research as a last resort. The second section of the recommendations is aimed at research institutions. They need to raise awareness of the problem, convey the required knowledge of legal constraints on research and support corresponding training measures for scientists. Research institutions need to develop ethics rules for handling security-relevant research that go beyond compliance with legal regulations. Each institution should set up a special committee on research ethics to implement these rules and to advise scientists.

01 / 05 / 2014

Future Business Clouds Cloud computing in Germany – requirements, national activities and global competition

Hans-Jürgen Appelrath


The unabated growth of the Internet is triggering fundamental changes to the world we live in. Advances in information and communication technology are leading to the emergence of a digital service landscape where almost every product or service

30 / 04 / 2014

A picture of the UK scientific workforce: Diversity data analysis for the Royal Society

The Royal Society

As part of the Royal Society’s diversity programme we set out to analyse the composition of the UK’s scientific workforce in terms of gender, disability, ethnicity and socio-economic status and background. Selected findings: (1) Approximately 20 % of the UK workforce need scientific knowledge and training for their jobs. (2) Women are not underrepresented in the overall scientific workforce but they are highly underrepresented at the most senior roles. (3) Disabled people are underrepresented in the workforce as a whole, but they are no more underrepresented in the scientific workforce than in other occupations. (4) The pattern of ethnicity in the scientific workforce is extremely complex. Overall, black and minority ethnic workers are overrepresented in the most senior and most junior parts of the scientific workforce. Black and minority ethnic students are less likely to progress to scientific jobs after graduating than white students. (5) Socio-economic background has a strong effect on an individual’s likelihood of entering the scientific workforce. Individuals from lower socio-economic backgrounds took longer to enter the scientific workforce than those from higher socio-economic backgrounds.

07 / 04 / 2014

Smart Service Welt Recommendations for the Strategic Initiative Web-based Services for Business

Henning Kagermann, Frank Riemensperger, Dirk Hoke, Johannes Helbig, Dirk Stocksmeier, Wolfgang Wahlster, August-Wilhelm Scheer, Dieter Schweer


Information and communication technology has become an integral part of our industry and society as a whole. Digitally enabled products, processes and services are increasingly being combined in innovative ways to create on-demand, personalised Smart Services that meet the needs of individual consumers. These new services and business models make use of the growing volume of data that is being captured every day in all areas of our private and working lives. The disruptive impact of Smart Services is already being keenly felt in the retail trade, for example in online marketplaces. However, the changes are also affecting the traditional business models of Germany’s flagship industries, such as the automotive, mechanical engineering, chemicals, electrical engineering, medical technology, logistics and energy technology industries, not to mention the rest of the economy. These industries are already benefiting from the support of Webbased services. In the not too distant future, however, the business models of suppliers, manufacturers and operators alike will be faced with a genuine revolution as a result of being systematically digitised, analysed, augmented with Smart Products and Services and networked with each other.

31 / 03 / 2014

The Art of Attraction: Soft Power and the UK’s Role in the World

Christopher Hill, Sarah Beadle

The British Academy

The concept of soft power – the ability to influence the behaviour of others and obtain desired outcomes through attraction and co-option – was coined by British Academy Fellow Joseph Nye. Over the past decade, it has been the subject of considerable debate, as governments at home and overseas have sought to exploit their soft power assets in the face of power shifts in order to further their foreign policy objectives. This report discusses the nature and relevance of soft power in the context of how and why it matters for the UK. It analyses the UK’s soft power resources and its ability to mobilise them, examines the main dilemmas, and includes a series of recommendations for policy-makers and wider society.

29 / 03 / 2014

Risks to plant Health: European Union Priorities for tackling emerging Plant Pests and Diseases

Volker ter Meulen, Walter Alhassan, Eva-Mari Aro, Ervin Balazs, Claudia Canales, Ian Crute, Tobjorn Fagerstrom, Richard O'Kennedy, Maria Salome Pais, Ole Petersen, Joachim Schiemann, Paul Schulze-Lefert, Tomasz Twardowski, Jens-Georg Unger, Jari Valkonen, Eva Zazimalova, Robin Fears

European Academies Science Advisory Council

The introduction and spread of pests and diseases among food crops and other plant species in forestry, horticulture and natural habitats has significant consequences for sustainable agriculture, environmental protection and ecosystem services. The European Commission has recently proposed reform to plant health legislation to prevent and control the cross-border entry and spread of such threats. This initiative is important in reinforcing technical aspects of risk analysis, quarantine and other controls and it also provides the opportunity to raise awareness of the need to tackle the wider issues associated with the threat from emerging plant pests and diseases to crops and forests and also to the other ecosystem services provided by the environment.

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01 / 03 / 2014

Partitioning and transmutation of nuclear waste

Ortwin Renn, Heinz Bonfadelli, Armin Grunwald, Helmut Jungermann, Roman Lahodynsky, Alex C. Mueller, André Reichel


In June 2011, the German government’s announcement of the transition to renewable energy (known as the ‘Energiewende’) marked the beginning of the end for electricity production using nuclear power. The goal is for all electricity production at Germany’s nuclear power stations to cease by 2022. However, no definitive answer has yet been provided to the question of where and how the radioactive waste from these power plants will be permanently disposed of. In particular, there is currently no permanent storage facility for highly radioactive heat-generating waste. Whilst this type of waste only represents a small fraction of the overall volume, it accounts for 99 percent of the total radioactivity of the waste from nuclear plants.

28 / 02 / 2014

Climate Change: Evidence and Causes

Eric Wolff, Inez Fung, Brian Hoskins, John Mitchell, Tim Palmer, Benjamin Santer, John Shepherd, Keith Shine, Susan Solomon, Kevin Trenberth, John Walsh, Don Wuebbles

National Academy of Sciences , The Royal Society

The Royal Society and the US National Academy of Sciences, with their similar missions to promote the use of science to benefit society and to inform critical policy debates, offer this new publication as a key reference document for decision makers, policy makers, educators, and other individuals seeking authoritative answers about the current state of climate change science. The publication makes clear what is well established, where consensus is growing, and where there is still uncertainty. It is written and reviewed by a UK-US team of leading climate scientists. It echoes and builds upon the long history of climate-related work from both national science academies, as well as the newest climate change assessment from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

01 / 02 / 2014

Clinical Trials with medicinal products on humans

Elisabeth Knust, Bärbel Friedrich, Frank Allgöwer, Stephan Becker, Alfons Bora, Jörg Hacker, Rolf Müller, Petra Schwille, Ulrich Sieber, Fritz Strack, Klaus Tanner, Jochen Taupitz, Margit Zacharias

acatech , German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina , The Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities

Clinical Trials with medicinal products on humans

01 / 01 / 2014

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