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Why Give | Impact stories

Innovation in policy: how UBC is influencing global affairs

As a leader of UBC’s policy engagement in Asia, Yves Tiberghien is often front and centre on our television screens to give his nuanced, expert insight into Canadian-Chinese affairs.

It befits his roles as Director Emeritus with the Institute of Asian Research, Executive Director of the UBC China Council, and Co-Director of the UBC Centre for Japanese Research. However, it’s his work as Founder and Co-Chair of the donor-funded Vision 20 Initiative (V20) that enables UBC students to impact upon the uppermost echelons of global political power, developing cross-cultural narratives and inspiring change at high profile events such as the Paris Peace Forum.

Dr. Tiberghien’s goal is to connect scholars and students to government leaders, private sector innovators, and other universities. UBC students are brought on board to offer solutions to urgent global problems including climate change, sustainable development, and cooperation between emerging and established global powers. They present their solutions through a Blue Paper addressed to the G20, the international forum of governments and central banks.

V20 is officially recognized as a partner of the G20’s network of think-tanks, the T20, and UBC students accompanied Dr. Tiberghien to recent debates in Buenos Aires and Washington on managing the relationship between China and the West and its impact on global food security, the future of work and education in the digital age. In the past year, UBC students have attended high-level policy forums at the Japanese T20 summit, the Berlin Global Solutions Summit, and the Brookings Summit in Washington, DC, encountering major world leaders including Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Collaboration is the foundation for the V20’s multidisciplinary approach. Dr. Tiberghien says, “We made it open to any program, so we have students from political science, the Masters of Public Policy and Global Affairs (MPPGA), international relations, economics, law and business.

“It’s the first program like this to unite so many domains; it has a huge perspective that goes beyond the fragmentation of their studies.”

Tommy Koh, a graduate of the MPPGA program who now works for the Singapore civil service in diplomacy, speaks of his V20 experience and the rare opportunities it affords. “Gaining entry to the recent Paris Peace Forum was extremely competitive. A lot of private and public sector people couldn’t enter, but through the connections Yves has in Paris, we were able to bring five students who were the only ones allowed. They planned workshops and side events, which is fascinating and helps to move the discourse along.

“The V20 is this unique thing; if you were at Harvard and wanted to participate in the Paris Peace Forum, you wouldn’t be able to do it. Yves‘ leadership is what really makes it special”

Koh recognizes the importance of attracting the brightest minds necessary for the program to have an impact. Koh adds, “Top talent has a choice of different universities. UBC’s ability to say that it, along with donors, can help fund opportunities such as Vision 20… other institutions aren’t able to engage you in that way.”

Dr. Tiberghien is proud of V20’s work to trigger new ideas and networks among nations and global economic leaders. “We bring an inclusive and entrepreneurial approach towards generating knowledge and momentum that will result in a better and more stable global order,” he says, adding, “We are also trying to decrease tensions between the US and China and other key nations, all the while including UBC students at the heart of the process. None of this would be possible without the bold and visionary support provided by our donor. The impact is great for many individuals and hopefully for the world. I am personally immensely grateful.”