The broadly diversified expertise of its members allows the Leopoldina to voice its opinions on fundamental developments and challenges of our time. In the 21st century, these primarily concern climate change, energy supply, disease control and health, demographic change, the knowledge society, global economies, world nutrition and the distribution of natural resources.
The Academy advises policymakers with its statements on pressing social issues that require a scientifically sound evaluation. Thereby, the aim is to recognize, analyze and comment on important developments that are imminent in science and will prospectively become important for society in the future. In this way, the Leopoldina helps to ensure that political decisions can be made on the basis of reliable scientific findings.
The Leopoldina’s voice is well respected. For example, its statement on the energy and research policy implications of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima in the spring of 2011 impacted the work and the recommendations of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ethics commission on safe energy supply. Another statement from the same year pertaining to preimplantation diagnostics (PGD) was not only noted with great interest by the members of the German Bundestag, but was also extensively discussed in the media and society.
The Leopoldina is free to choose its research subjects. The vast majority of them are introduced by its members, the Presidium and its standing committees. Nevertheless, the Leopoldina may comply with policymakers’ individual requests, and is equally independent in appointing researchers to the working groups that produce the respective statements and recommendations. The working groups are interdisciplinary and staffed with outstanding scientists. The Leopoldina commissions further experts for the subsequent peer review process.