British Academy joins academies across the G7 in call for a "globally equitable" recovery from the societal impacts of COVID

16 Nov 2021

G7 governments must seize the moment to lead a "globally equitable" recovery from the long-term societal impacts of COVID-19, the British Academy says today in an unprecedented series of joint statements with organisations from across the G7.

With the UK hosting this year’s G7, the British Academy convened a virtual forum of social science and humanities representative bodies from every country in the group – the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the USA – to reflect on the lasting effects that the pandemic has had on societies around the world.

The statements are signed by the British Academy, the Royal Society of Canada, the Fondation Maison des sciences de l'homme, the Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities, the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, the Science Council of Japan (SCJ), and the Social Science Research Council.

The statements summarise the above representative bodies’ research findings on:

  • Community engagement: Focusing on how context specific to place, culture, social and economic factors, shapes people’s responses to COVID-19;
  • Education, skills and employment: Focusing on responses in and beyond the pandemic for education, work and employment;
  • Trust, transparency and data gathering: Focusing on how COVID-19 has affected society’s relationships with information, data, the media and the role of experts;
  • Inequalities and cohesion: Focusing on how COVID-19 has affected and highlighted inequalities and relationships between communities of people, and senses of community and belonging;
  • Fiscal policy and recovery: Focusing on how economies and societies can collectively harness their fiscal resources to respond to the challenges posed by the pandemic.

Professor Simon Goldhill FBA, Foreign Secretary of the British Academy, said:

“With the UK holding the G7 Presidency in 2021, the British Academy has convened for the first time ever the leading representative bodies in the Social Sciences and the Humanities from across the G7 to develop recommendations for an effective recovery from the pandemic. It was an enormous pleasure to work so closely with colleagues from across these nations, sharing insights and forging collaborative relationships.

“I look forward to continuing our collaboration together next year so we can bring together the immense value of the humanities and social sciences to the national and global challenges we face today and in the years ahead.”

Professor R. Paul Young FRSC, International Secretary of the Royal Society of Canada said:

“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on humanity and society will last well beyond the current crisis. We applaud the British Academy and G7 academies for initiating this process of positive engagement from the social sciences and humanities, and encourage G7 governments to utilise the lessons that will be learnt from this pandemic for current and future challenges facing society.”

Professor Hélène Velasco-Graciet, President of the Fondation Maison des sciences de l’homme, said:

"The increase in the severity of crises, whether they are social, economic, health or environmental ones, must encourage public authorities to turn more and more to social sciences and humanities. They will play a crucial role in the fair and sustainable post-COVID recovery of our societies. That is why the FMSH supports the British Academy's statement to the G7 governments for an equitable recovery from the societal impacts of COVID."

Professor Dr Edwin J. Kreuzer, President of the Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities, said:

“Member Academies of the Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities have been involved by their experts from different fields in various reports and statements in order to contribute to the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and in constituting and maintaining resilience in society. The importance of a multidisciplinary approach became feasible and especially the role of social science and humanities in science advice, as well as in communication capabilities during the pandemic has been widely appreciated. The statements attached herewith are a good summary of recommendations for society and policymakers.”

Professor Roberto Antonelli, President of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, said: 

“The current COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing recovery from its impacts have brought to light not only the need for scientific counselling coupled with investment in research, but also the central importance of the humanities and the social sciences. The SSH7 documents provide proposals for changes on several vital issues, which require the cooperation and engagement at the local, national and international level, in order to have comprehensive and inclusive responses. The statements stress, in particular, the urgency of a wholesome approach to the social, economic and cultural aspects we will be facing at present and in the near future. The SSH7 is another important step, after the SSH20, in strengthening the importance of social sciences and humanities in facing global issues.”

Professor Kajita Takaaki, President of the Science Council of Japan, said:

“The COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit the world since 2020, reveals the difficulties in the relationship between people's thoughts and actions, public opinion, science-based knowledge and advice, and political decision-making in many countries. International cooperation among national academies and international scientific organisations is becoming increasingly important in order to bring together the wisdom of science around the world and address global issues collectively. We believe that the joint statements of the SSH7 academies can provide and add real value to the global efforts to tackle the pandemic.”

Professor Julia Black FBA, President of the British Academy, said:

“Despite the progress that many countries have made in tackling the spread of COVID-19 with the vaccine, this pandemic is far from over. Indeed, as the British Academy highlighted earlier this year, the societal impacts of the virus are so vast and far-reaching that the global recovery could take a decade or more. History shows that times of upheaval can be catalysts to rebuild society in new ways, but that this requires vision and interconnectivity between academia, civil society, businesses and policymakers at every level. Social sciences and the humanities have a tremendous role to play in providing the evidence and insights for how governments in the G7 can seize this moment and lead a globally equitable recovery from the long-term societal impacts of the pandemic.”

Professor Anna Harvey, President of the Social Science Research Council, said:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need for rigorous social and behavioural science that can produce policy-relevant evidence about how we can achieve an effective and equitable pandemic response and recovery. In today’s highly politicised information environment, we are particularly in need of basic scientific knowledge about interventions that can counteract the effects of inaccurate and misleading health-related information, and increase the uptake of reliable health information. The Social Science Research Council looks forward to working with our counterparts in the G7 group of nations to continue to build the evidence base to support an effective and equitable pandemic response and recovery.”

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