The below questions were posed during the Q&A session of the S20 Information Session.

General queries

1.     How are the task forces formed and what is the role of the experts nominated by the G20's National Science Academies?
The S20 Chair carefully selects and appoints a chair(wo)man to each individual task force. Together with the S20 Sherpa, the Task Force Chairs then gather task force members from a range of sources, including nominees from the G20's National Science Academies and Heads of leading science and technology institutions, while other candidates are selected from applications received through the S20 website. All the experts, including those from the National Science Academies, collectively contribute to the S20 dialogue.

2.     What is a Sherpa?
To support and guide each engagement group, a sherpa, representing the Head of State, is appointed. The sherpa is instrumental in shepherding the engagement group's efforts at the outset, and, as the S20 year evolves, continues to provide assistance as needed.

3.     How will the outcome of the dialogues be implemented?
The S20 communiqué is the output of the S20 cycle and will be handed over to a G20 Presidency official at the S20 Summit. During the same event, G20 Science Academy representatives have the opportunity to present their action plans addressing the policy recommendations in the communique, and thereby support its implementation. A lengthier report of the task force discussions will be summarized, and could form a basis for actions and policies promoted by individual countries.

4.     Where can I find the schedule of the task force meetings?
The task force meetings are at the discretion of the chairs. Task force members are notified of meetings by their respective chairs.

5.     Will there be professional expertise supporting the S20 process with policy writing?
In addition to the professional expertise of the task force members, the S20 has employed a team of professional science and policy experts to support the entire S20 process, including policy writing and the formulation of the S20 communiqué.

6.     How can the S20 enhance the welfare of human beings and improve social security?
The S20 is a forum for top scientists that provides policy advice to G20 leaders aiming to address important global issues impacting society. This year, the S20 deliberations covers a broad range of issues under the topics of Human Health, Circular Economies and Digital Revolution, while addressing the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The discussion output is an integrated scientific policy advice and recommendations geared towards enhancing the welfare of human beings and improving social security.

7.     Which countries are part of the S20 task forces?
All the National Science Academies of the G20 member countries are invited to nominate representatives for each of the task forces.


Future of Health

1.     Will the mental health risks of the near future be discussed?


The S20 recognizes the importance of mental health as a significant part of humanity's general health and wellbeing, and therefore chose Mental and Emotional Health as one of the main subthemes of the Future of Health Task Force in 2020. Additionally, the task force features the impact of COVID-19 on both physical and mental health in its discussions.

2.     Why is mental health still a taboo, even in most developed countries? People of all age groups (especially the younger population) and of all economic strata are facing this challenge today. What measures are to be taken to resolve this issue?
This is a highly relevant point and one that may well be highlighted during the Future of Health Task Force dialogue, during which task force members will contribute their expert views and recommendations for policies and actions to address health issues.

3.     Will the Future of Health Task Force look into more preventative measures combining AI and healthcare, rather than just treatment paths? For example, by predicting infections before they happen. Will these techniques be applied on a personalized level to optimize patient care and cost?
The Future of Health Task Force recognizes that AI plays a significant role in optimizing wellbeing in the near to long-term future. The task force works closely with the Digital Revolution Task Force on the topic of AI in the health sector, in order to assess how and where science and science policies should be focused to affect better preventative health outcomes.


Digital Revolution

1.     How do we humanize technology - and hence the digital revolution - so that technology benefits people and not vice versa?
The Digital Revolution Task Force does not only focus on the positive effects of digital technologies for society, but also on the possible negatives, particularly concerning data security, data privacy and job security. In addition, education, particularly of women and youth, will feature heavily in the Digital Future discussions.

2.     Is there a plan to close the digital revolution gap between countries, gender and age with regards to education, skills and accessibility??
In line with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's G20 Presidency theme, Realizing Opportunities of the 21st Century for All, it is one of the goals of the Digital Revolution Task Force to close the digital revolution gap between developed and developing countries. This includes efforts towards increasing connectivity, as well educational opportunities for women and youth, and in less-developed countries and rural communities.

3.     Is digitalization making the younger population more immobile and limiting its social interfaces, contrary to human nature? How can this unhealthy trait be broken?
These are certainly very valid questions and a complex social issue that extends well beyond the S20. As the issue cuts across the S20 Digital Revolution and Future of Health priority areas, it is one that will likely come into the S20 task force discussions in 2020. These deliberations may well result in S20 policy or action recommendations to the G20 leaders in 2020 to assist in pushing this importance of this issue and contributing to better lives for today's youth.


Circular Economy

1.     Is the S20 going to cover social and economic issues with regards to Circular Economy, such as (un)employment?
Jobs and employment are key to all economies and well-functioning social systems, and are therefore certainly covered in discussions on circular economic systems.

2.     How will the S20 enable the implementation of a circular economy; as an approach, as a model, or even as a new system to replace the conventional economic system?
The S20 builds on circular economy initiatives currently promoted around the world. It will further these efforts by providing scientific advice and policy recommendations to the G20 Leaders, encouraging the implementation and adoption of circular economy approaches.

3.     In the current world gadgets are a vital part of our lives and constantly upgraded with newer technologies. Can digital footprints and recycling be part of a circular economy?
The huge volume of outdated hardware and gadgets used in digital activities should most certainly be recycled as part of circular economies. These contain numerous materials including scarce mineral resources, the extraction of which leaves a large environmental footprint.


Connecting the Dots

1.     Is the Future of Health Task Force going to address distant healthcare and look into virtual reality skill training for global health workers?
The synergies between the Future of Health and Digital Revolution in regards to digital health care and virtual reality skill training will be explored during the S20 discussions, particularly in light of recent and future pandemics.


COVID-19 related questions

1.     How are the task forces brought together during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The main mechanism for bringing the task forces together during these challenging times is through a survey. The National Science Academy experts' responses to the surveys assist to prioritize, link and focus the key issues, possible solutions and desired policy actions within each of the task forces. The Task Force Chairs supplement this process with discussions via virtual meetings to finalize the policy recommendations and to build consensus among the task force members.

2.     In addition to vaccine and drug development, will the issue of observed heterogeneity (across countries in both infection and mortality rates) concerning COVID-19 be addressed?
The aim of the task forces and of the S20 is to inform policy. Studies of the kind suggested are important to conduct, but may be outside the S20 purview. It takes a couple of years to analyze and find the ideal approach for a pandemic. Therefore, addressing the mortality rates is currently still challenging.

3.     The current COVID-19 pandemic is changing the world. How is the S20 making coherent efforts and ensuring a dynamic approach with these continuous changes?
The aim of the task forces and of the S20 is to inform policy, which could include advocating support for dynamic approaches commensurate with the major problems associated with pandemics.

4.     Will the S20 discuss the role of preventive technologies in reducing the spread of COVID-19 and in reducing the risks of future pandemics?
Vaccine development features in the S20 discussions as a tool to reduce the spread of COVID-19. In addition, the S20 discusses the role of several technologies including digital technologies to support remote working arrangements, telehealth appointments and virtual training for health workers, in an integrated approach to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and potential future pandemics.

5.     How does the S20 recommend handling future pandemics and will it advocate for an international approach?
The S20 process is on-going, hence no recommendations have been made yet. Stay tuned!