The TBI Globalism Study 2020

Technology Policy

The TBI Globalism Study 2020

Posted on: 11th November 2020

The public strongly support the need to develop global cooperation on the study of infectious diseases as a key foreign policy priority, according to new research published today by the Tony Blair Institute (TBI), in partnership with YouGov and researchers at the University of Cambridge.

The TBI Globalism Study is a collaboration with researchers at YouGov and part of the wider YouGov-Cambridge Globalism Project, an annual study of changing international attitudes towards globalisation in 25 countries including Great Britain, the United States, Australia, South Africa, Thailand and Saudi Arabia. Now in its second year, the study looks at the role of technology in society today with the aim of supporting progressive policy making. 

Covid-19 has highlighted many of the failings of international institutions to support citizens. In every country surveyed, the majority of people thought that the study of infectious diseases was a priority and that there should be global cooperation.

Global cooperation has been hampered by nations taking more unilateral and nationalistic approaches to issues like vaccine development, understandable in the initial response phases but the pandemic has exposed the overall failure of system design. The new survey shows strong public support for more action in this area.

As the findings show, attitudes to global engagement are typically nuanced across the political spectrum, rather than polarised. In fact, majorities tend to reflect a mix of neutral to positive sentiment, rather than outrightly negative, towards the perceived impact of globalisation on various aspects of life. There are comparable trends across most countries in the survey, including for other metrics such as the national impact on living standards and cultural life.

The researchers conclude that there is an opportunity to build new, more effective coalitions for collaboration.  A greater focus on generating comprehensive, real-time and actionable data would help reap the benefits of scale.  Improving the collection of data, with surveillance systems that utilise developments in wearables, smart sensors and AI, could enable the use of therapeutics and vaccines earlier and more effectively. Countries must also invest more in R&D and build rich datasets to supercharge the biotech revolution, which is today providing the ability to interact with biology in same way computers, while a global policy framework that makes interoperability and standards a central requirement is needed.  

Benedict Macon-Cooney, Head of the Science and Innovation Unit at TBI said:

“Covid-19 has all too tragically revealed some of the failures of our current institutions, with some of the most prosperous nations being the most ill-prepared. In an interconnected world it should serve as a wake-up call to build more effective coalitions for collaboration with technology at the centre. 

“This requires new forms of digital multilateralism which focus on generating comprehensive, real-time and actionable data, greater investment in R&D and a global policy framework that makes interoperability and standards a central requirement.

“The world must be prepared to tackle more collective action problems in the future, and it is therefore urgent that we build institutions that can rise to the occasion.”

Read the articles in the TBI Globalism Study series:

Should Social Media Companies Be Regulated? by Max Beverton-Palmer

The TBI Globalism Study: Embracing Technology for Friction-Free Health Care by Hermione Dace

The TBI Globalism Study: Tech Companies Have a Role to Play in Improving Public Services by Andrew Bennett

The TBI Globalism Study: The Future of Work Is Remote by Jeegar Kakkad

Transparency and Autonomy Should Underpin Online Voting Systems by Areeq Chowdhury

Multilateralism Is Dead, Long Live Multilateralism! by Benedict Macon-Cooney, Head of the Science and Innovation Unit at TBI 

The Globalist-Nativist Divide Is a Damaging Caricature by Joel Rogers de Waal, Academic Director at YouGov and a researcher at the University of Cambridge writing for TBI 

Has China’s Reputation Peaked? also by Joel Rogers de Waal

Article updated 24 November

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