VISION20 Fellows at the T20 Japan Inception Conference

Four students from UBC’s School of Public Policy and Global Affairs participated in the T20 Japan Inception Conference held in Tokyo from December 4, 2018 to December 5, 2018 as Fellows of the VISION20 Initiative. The Fellows are Sara Harb (MPPGA Y2), Tommy Koh (MPPGA Y2), Denby McDonnell (MPPGA Y1), and Nicole So (MPPGA Y2).

The purpose of the Conference was to prepare for the T20 Japan Summit to be held in Osaka in May 2019. The T20, or Think20, is the parallel thinktank track to the annual G20 summit and seeks to harness the problem-solving capacity of the world’s leading thinktanks to solve the pressing challenge of the day. The T20 is closely related to the annual Global Solutions Summit that is held in Berlin.

The VISION20 delegation to the T20 Japan Inception Conference was led by Professor Yves Tiberghien, Founder and Co-Chair of the V20 and Professor of Political Science at UBC, and Dr. Alan Alexandroff, Co-Chair of the V20 and Director of the Global Summitry Project at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. Both Professor Tiberghien and Dr. Alexandroff will prepare policy briefs for inclusion in the T20 Japan communique in May 2019.

All four V20 Fellows participated in the proceedings of Task Force 6: Social Cohesion, Global Governance and the Future of Politics. The Fellows assisted in drafting minutes for the working meeting which were subsequently shared with all Task Force members. The Fellows also prepared memos on their insights from the Conference including the recently published memo titled “Three Establishment Views on the G20: Insights from the T20 Japan Inception Conference” which is available here. While in Tokyo, the V20 Fellows also met with MPPGA alumni based in the region and visited the University of Tokyo where they attended a guest lecture delivered by Professor Tiberghien.

VISION20 remains deeply integrated with the T20 process and other global governance fora. V20 Lead Fellow Tommy Koh joined V20 Fellow Susanne Beilmann (MPPGA Y2) as delegates at the T20 Argentina Summit in Buenos Aires in September 2018. Tommy is leveraging his experience at T20 Argentina to effectively coordinate the VISION20’s participation in T20 Japan. More recently in November 2018, V20 Fellows Sara Harb, Tommy Koh, and Denby McDonnell also attended the inaugural Paris Peace Forum.

The VISION20 remains a unique opportunity for the inclusion of student and youth voices in conversations about global governance and the global order at the highest level. Learn more about the VISION20 initiative, founded at UBC, on Twitter @v20summit and by visiting its website at and downloading the recently published “2018 VISION20-Brookings Blue Report” here.

Student Reflections

Sara: The T20 Japan Inception Conference was a great experience and the first of its kind for me as I got to see the policy making process come into action. The two-day conference had a vibrant energy among important think tanks from around the world, with the common goal of supporting G20 with policy recommendations to tackle global risks and challenges. It was exciting to be able to attend the Task Force 6 Planning Meeting on Social Cohesion, Global Governance and the Future of Politics to listen to the unique policy proposals pitched by various academics and experts. Working with the Vision 20 fellows and sharing insights on global issues with Professor Yves and Professor Alan has been an incredibly thought-provoking journey.

Tommy: Attending this conference in preparation for a conference was a refreshing opportunity that gave me unique insight into the planning and coordination required to make large events like the T20 summit successful. Having attended the T20 Argentina Summit earlier in September 2018, it struck me that the close relationships and strong networks build within and between the T20’s task forces emerged from regular, albeit infrequent, meetings of thought leaders with similar goals. My greatest takeaway from participating in the T20 Japan Inception Conference is the critical importance of being continually engaged and present: not just in the final moments but in the preparatory stages. I’m thankful for the efficient and effective coordination of our colleagues in Japan, especially my counterpart Kensuke Yanagida at the JIIA. I look forward to the VISION20’s continued support of Japan’s T20 efforts and G20 presidency.

Denby: At the T20 Inception Conference held in Tokyo from December 4-5, 2018, I was grateful to participate with global thought leaders on the world’s biggest issues. The conference included leaders from global development banks, think tanks, academia, and private consulting firms, who all collected to discuss the best way to contribute to the G20 process. The conference provided some hope about solving the biggest global challenges through collaborative effort.

Nicole: Having the opportunity to attend the T20 Inception Conference has been a thought-provoking and eye-opening experience that enabled me to better understand the dialogue at the other side of the table, and some of the challenges and barriers faced between the T20 and G20, as well as on global governance overall. It exposed me to the hierarchical and patriarchal setting, which is particularly predominant under Japan’s presidency (and in contrast to the Canada’s G7 Presidency). The high-level discussions opened me to various prominent issues and challenges in global governance, but also following-up on that note, made me wonder and consider how we can improve the process and how we can measure the impact and outcomes we desire (coming from my experience and work in Family Medicine around program evaluation and assessment).