Posted by: Sarah | June 10, 2009

what the world needs now…

If money makes the 21st century go ’round, the economic value of peace should resound much louder for the leaders of our world….

Last week, I had the incredible opportunity to attend a conference at the UN which presented the findings of the Global Peace Index in 2009 with Chris and Jim.  Being back at the UN brought back so many memories of the summer that I spent in NY, attending briefings with diplomats every morning, learning the in’s and out’s of the UN, visiting consulates and permanent missions every afternoon, talking about every aspect of international relations you can possibly imagine.

The session that we were lucky enough to attend was hosted by the Institute for Economics & Peace.  The Global Peace Index (GPI) is an attempt to measure the relative position of peacefulness of states and regions around the world, based on quantifiable data collected by peace institutes and think tanks and analyzed by the Economist Intelligence Unit, including a variety of measures such as the number of internal and external wars fought, political instability, military expenditure as a percentage of GDP, UN and non-UN deployments, number of displaced persons as a percentage of the population, and more.

It’s an incredibly interesting and complex study, only 3 years into its existence, that has examined a huge spectrum of drivers of peace and violence (functioning of govt, freedom of the press, extent of regional integration, life expectancy, primary school enrollment ratio, women in parliament, importance of religion in national life, GDP per capita, hostility toward foreigners/private property, electoral process).  

The presenters of the study led a fascinating explanation of how the study was conducted, how various indicators were chosen to include, how certain countries landed where they did on the spectrum (New Zealand being the most peaceful country among the 144 analyzed, Iraq the least peaceful, Colombia toward the bottom at #130, and the US just below the median at #83), the shortcomings of the study, the economic implications of the findings, and much, much more.  A Q&A followed and the discussion was intriguing.  I’m excited to look more in-depth at the study.

While there were many shocking results and statistics presented to us, I will highlight just three here that describe the Financial Value of Peace:

– Only 4.4% of the global economy is estimated to be dependent on violence

– The annual economic impact of a cessation of violence has been estimated at $7.2 trillion USD
-In peace, $4.8 trillion USD of new business would be created annually
Just something to ponder…

**Defining Peace: The difficulties in defining the concept of peace may partly explain why there have been so few attempts to measure states of peace across nations.  The GPI has defined peace as the absence of violence, a definition most people will agree with, which also allows measurements.

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