Ministers from the Group of Eight (G8) countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK and the United States) and the European Research Commissioner Janez Potočnik met on 15 June 2008 to discuss the role of international science and technology cooperation in sustainable development, in particular regarding reduction of CO2 emissions.
The ministers argued that in the long term, making existing technologies more efficient will not be enough to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Instead, "fundamental breakthroughs in science and technology will be essential" to pave the way towards a low-carbon society.
Ministers therefore "committed to increasing investment in both basic and applied environmental and clean energy technology R&D". In order to develop "new and sustainable energy solutions", they also pledged to boost international R&D collaboration on all possible energy alternatives, such as fusion energy (ITER), carbon capture and storage (CCS) and next-generation biofuels.
Regarding cooperation with developing countries and the current global food price crisis, the G8 ministers underlined that it is crucial to enhance agricultural productivity, improve the nutritional value of crops, better control plant diseases and restore and maintain soil fertility while at the same time decrease adverse environmental impacts of agriculture. In addition, ministers argued that "food security would also be improved by increased access to new agricultural technologies including biotechnology and post-harvest technologies".
As for strengthening the cooperation within large-scale research infrastructures, which was also on the agenda, the ministers agreed to set up an ad-hoc group of senior officials on the issue to ensure access to existing facilities and basic information. They argued that international use of large research infrastructures could also promote the mobility of scientists and overall capacity building of human resources in science and technology.
The input of this ministerial meeting will be further discussed in the next G8 summit taking place on 7-9 July in Japan and in which environment and climate change will be one of the main themes.
A second G8 science and technology ministers' meeting is planned for 2009.