UTokyo-Cambridge Voices: Global Risks and Public Policy

  • Date:
  • Time:
  • Venue:
    Online seminar (Zoom)
  • Title:

    UTokyo-Cambridge Voices: Global Risks and Public Policy

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  • Host:

    Graduate School of Public Policy (GraSPP), The University of Tokyo
    Security Studies Unit (SSU), Institute for Future Initiatives, The University of Tokyo
    The University of Cambridge

  • How to Register:

    Please click the registration URL or scan the QR code on the flyer.


COVID-19, climate change, AI and geopolitical tensions are but manifestations of a long list of complex global risks the world faces. The World Economic Forum’s Global Risks 2020 report urges that “stakeholders must find ways to act quickly and with purpose within an unsettled global landscape”. This session brings together researchers from the Universities of Cambridge and Tokyo to present ongoing projects on global risks and the ensuing implications for policy.


Dr. Clarissa Rios Rojas (Research Associate at the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk(CSER), The University of Cambridge)

Dr. Yee-Kuang Heng (Professor at the Graduate School of Public Policy, The University of Tokyo)

Professor Hideaki Shiroyama (Vice Director of Institute for Future Initiatives, Professor of Graduate School of Public Policy and Graduate Schools for Law and Politics) moderator/commentator

As part of the strategic partnership between the University of Tokyo and the University of Cambridge, the Security Studies Unit (SSU) and the Graduate School of Public Policy were delighted to co-host with the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER) a discussion on the topic of “Global Risks of public Policy”. Two speakers included Dr. Clarissa Rios Rojas, Research Associate at the CSER at Cambridge University, and Yee-Kuang Heng, Professor of Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Tokyo. The session was chaired by Hideaki Shiroyama, Professor of Graduate School of Public Policy and Law and Politics, University of Tokyo.

Rios Rojas began by emphasizing that the main vision of CSER is to provide a platform for different stakeholders dealing with an emerging field and very practical issue – Risk management. They provide workshops for key partners on how to conduct research on the science of global risk and engaging with policy-makers at different levels. In response, Heng pointed out that science and politics have become increasingly close-tied. In the recent US Presidential election, Nature, a well-known scientific journal, supported Biden. Heng mentioned a climate change protest in Brussel where activists warned the public that we are faced with choosing “evils”: global warming or COVID-19. Boris Johnson has stated that his decisions on COVID were about following the science.

There are more countries starting to conduct risk analysis. For example, the UK and Singapore are two countries studied at GraSPP. Besides climate change risks, Heng also pointed out the problem of AI disinformation and online risk. Policymakers should collaborate closely with technical researchers to investigate, prevent, and mitigate malicious use of AI.

Rios Rojas emphasized that linkage or collaboration becomes much more important. To deal with emerging risks, the connection between academia and government is fundamentally important. For example, environmental collapse is not limited to particular environmental problem, it could involve multiple stakeholders. In response to

Shiroyama’s question about collaboration among experts becoming more challenging, Heng added there is also the danger of cognitive bias in ranking risks and some people may trust the “official” rankings blindly. Rios Rojas, therefore, emphasized that is why the combination of different training from different discipline is important because different backgrounds could help research of problems remain impartial.

They discussed how best to ensure that policy transfer could be possible, knowledge exchange, and the effect of election cycles. Shiroyama pointed out that GraSPP is an example of attempts to engage and contribute to government including partnerships with government-funded initiatives.

※This meeting was organized by subsidies from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.