VISION20 Fellows at the Paris Peace Forum

Five UBC students participated in the inaugural Paris Peace Forum as Fellows of the VISION20 Initiative. The Paris Peace Forum was launched on the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I with the aim of reinforcing multilateral cooperation to achieve global peace. It involved 75 heads of state and global governance and was attended by over 12,000 top leaders across the Forum’s thematic areas: peace and security, environment, development, inclusive economy, and new technologies.

The UBC and VISION20 Initiative delegation was led by Professor Yves Tiberghien, Founder and Co-Chair of the V20 and Professor of Political Science. Professor Tiberghien moderated a panel in the 600-seat agora on the future of debt, featuring Deputy Directory of the IMF Hugh Bredenkamp, Chair of the European University Institute Jean Pisani-Ferry, President of the Paris Club Odile Renaud-Basso, and President of the Japanese Institute for International Affairs Kenichiro Sasae.

The VISION20 Initiative appointed four new V20 Fellows for the Paris Peace Forum: Alexander Ash (MPPGA Y2), Anne-Marie Dahms (IR Y4), Sara Harb (MPPGA Y2), and Denby McDonnell (MPPGA Y2). They join an illustrious network of Founders, Fellows, Partners, and Affiliates who are amongst the top minds on global governance. V20 Lead Fellow Tommy Koh (MPPGA Y2) coordinated the delegation’s participation in the Forum.

While in Paris, the Fellows attended agora panels and lab sessions where leaders and practitioners engaged with key global issues such as the role of cities in the environment, cross-border migration, the use of social media, and national inequality. They also connected with project leaders of 120 top global initiatives shortlisted by the Paris Peace Forum, strengthening people-to-people and institution-to-institution ties.

The VISION20 Initiative also contributed to the Paris Peace Forum’s program. V20 Fellows Alex Ash, Denby McDonnell, and Tommy Koh organized two meet-up sessions – VISION Tomorrow’s Order and VISION Tomorrow’s Development – bringing together Forum attendees to engage deeply with the act of visioning the future of global governance and global development.

Following their participation in the Paris Peace Forum, the five Fellows will provide research support to the V20 and contribute to reporting and publication. They will also draft op-eds for publication, such as this piece published by Denby McDonnell and Yves Tiberghien in the Vancouver Sun.

The V20 initiative offers 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

Student Reflections

Alex: Exciting, inspiring, and hopeful. The PPF provided me with my first experience at an international summit. I was struck by the energy at the event from all level of participants and their desire to induce change. The panel discussions I attended – with the likes of Angel Gurria, Jeffrey Sachs, and Mary Robinson – were insightful (at the macro level) and a novel experience. It was quite special to get the chance to listen to some of the leaders of international organizations working on such pressing issues. That said, after the first few large panels the appeal of the high-level rhetoric did start to wear thin – it was from attending some of the smaller panels and talking to a handful of the selected projects that concrete solutions were discussed. Overall, the forum provided an effective symbiosis of top-level drive for deeper multilateral cooperation and bottom-up solutions to truly affect change.

Anne-Marie: The Paris Peace Forum was an unforgettable experience that brought reality to the international cohesion that I have learned about in University. One of the key takeaways I observed was the need to move from abstract to concrete steps to take towards peace. It was inspiring to see people across many platforms come together under different topics ranging from Nuclear Arms to Migration. For instance, after listening in on a discussion between Twitter’s Vice-President for Policy, Colin Crowell, and a key figure in Tunisia’s steps towards democratic peace, Ouided Bouchameaoui, I learned the impact social media has had on opening the conversation for smaller governments and people on the world stage. All in all, I am grateful for the opportunity I had to witness and engage in conversations with the world’s influencers of today and gained ideas in which I hope to take into tomorrow.

Denby: Attending the Paris Peace Forum as a VISION20 Fellow was one of those rare and unforgettable opportunities that I only hoped to experience during the MPPGA program. The global dialogue elevated issues such as income or gender inequality, environmental issues, migration and human rights, and much more. The collective participation was inspiring and emphasized the powerful role of grassroots not-for-profits in advancing global goals and solving large-scale issues from the bottom up. I am grateful that I was able to experience many levels of global governance in synchronized action.  

Sara: The VISION20 fellowship was a great opportunity for me to meet with innovative project leaders from around the world. Participating in this global platform for governance projects exposed me to great ideas from around the world which inspired creative thinking and hope for the future of global governance. The prominent speakers engaged in conversations which stimulated my critical thinking on matters of interest such as the environment, development, migration, gender and security at a global scale. The diverse perspectives presented by actors from NGOs, international organizations and non-profit organizations within the forum created a dynamic environment which encouraged me to pursue my academic work with an open mind to the complexities and urgency of the problems faced today. This was a truly unique experience which motivates me to expand my professional network and engage with leaders and change-makers from across the globe.

Tommy: Coordinating the VISION20 Initiative’s participation in the Paris Peace Forum was an unparalleled experience in professional growth. My lasting takeaway as a coordinator is how many things in global governance (and indeed in the world!) move quickly and that we need to move urgently to capitalize on openings. It was great that the V20 was able to bring five Fellows to the Forum and include youth voices in the conversation. This was a unique and exclusive opportunity. Apart from volunteers, we did not see any other student participants. Credit must go to V20 Founder and Co-Chair Professor Yves Tiberghien’s visionary leadership and willingness to seize windows of opportunity on short notice. I believe firmly in the continued relevance of the V20 both for its ability to generate ideas and its capacity to give students exceptional opportunities to engage with leaders at the highest levels of global governance. It is a privilege to continue my work with this team.