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Summer 2007 Vol. 7 No. 2

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NAS President Ralph Cicerone (third from left) and the presidents of 12 other national academies of science met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (fourth from left) in Berlin, May 2007, photo courtesy German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina Science Academies Issue Statements on Energy, Innovation

The leaders of several national science academies met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in May to discuss the organizations' collective call for world leaders to address global climate change, energy efficiency, and innovation.

In two joint statements released before the June meeting of G-8 leaders in Heiligendamm, Germany, the academies said world powers should tackle these issues by promoting low carbon-emission energy systems and taking decisive steps to facilitate scientific and technical innovation, among other actions. Leaders also should balance intellectual-property rights and free access to knowledge and information.

The documents were written by science academies from the Group of Eight industrialized nations, including the United States, and five developing countries, including China and India. At a May 16 press conference in Berlin, Merkel, who is also the G-8 president, appeared with NAS President Ralph J. Cicerone and other academy representatives to voice her support and applaud their commitment.

Energy security and climate change are the "defining issues of our time, and bring together the themes of growth and responsibility in a way that highlights our duties to future generations," one statement says. The second statement frames scientific and technical innovation as "the engine that drives economies."

Cicerone noted that the issues "are oblivious to national borders. The scientific community and policymakers worldwide must work together to bring about necessary changes." To read the two statements online, visit <>.   -- Vanee Vines

NAS President, Vietnamese Official Sign Accord

NAS President Ralph Cicerone and Banh Tien Long, Vietnam's vice minister of education and training, signed a joint statement in March to encourage mutual learning and cooperation between the two nations in science, technology, and education. Pham Gia Khiem, Vietnam's deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs, also attended the signing ceremony at the National Academy of Sciences building in Washington, D.C.

Ralph Cicerone and Banh Tien Long, Vietnam's vice minister of education and training, at the National Academy of Sciences in March 2007, photo by Vanee VinesThe U.S. National Academies and the Ministry of Education and Training of Vietnam will work together on several activities, including exchange visits and exploring at least one project related to scientific cooperation -- with an eye toward implementing that project if it would benefit both the United States and Vietnam. The Academies also will give the ministry advice and technical assistance to help it further develop Vietnam's higher education system, the statement says.

In the near future, Vietnam plans to establish at least one world-class university and grow its pool of doctoral scholars in higher education. Additionally, the ministry will focus on screening and selecting qualified candidates for graduate education and research in the United States, among other measures.

Vietnamese officials at the event described science and technology training as key to their nation's socio-economic advancement. To read the statement online, visit <>.   -- Vanee Vines

Academies and Learned Societies Celebrate Basic Knowledge and Research

The National Academies came together with the nation's two oldest learned societies in a historic two-day convocation held during the 144th annual meeting of the National Academy of Sciences in April. Members of the American Philosophical Society, begun in 1743 by Benjamin Franklin, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, founded by John Adams, John Hancock, and other leaders in 1780, joined NAS, NAE, and IOM members at a series of symposia on the state of our democracy, jurisprudence, religion, economy, and media.

(from left to right) NAE Treasurer William Friend; NAS President Ralph Cicerone; Emilio Bizzi, president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; Baruch Blumberg, president of the American Philosophical Society; and IOM President Harvey Fineberg; photo courtesy American Academy of Arts and SciencesNAS President Ralph Cicerone chaired presentations on global warming and our future energy choices. IOM President Harvey Fineberg led a symposium on science and health in a rapidly aging society. Other speakers included retired U.S. Supreme Court associate justice Sandra Day O'Connor, economist and Nobel laureate Robert Solow, broadcaster Tom Brokaw, and novelist E.L. Doctorow.

During ceremonies at the Smithsonian Institution's National Portrait Gallery, leaders of the five organizations issued a joint declaration about the key role knowledge plays in service to the public good. "Each generation," the groups stated, "must reaffirm and reinforce the founders' reverence for scholarship and knowledge as the cornerstones of progress and the building blocks of enduring institutions. We live in an age of instantaneous access to unimaginably rich sources of information, but truly useful information continues to depend on underlying research and basic knowledge."   -- William Skane

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Copyright 2007 by the National Academy of Sciences