“You never know the impact one person can make in the years to come” – Congressman John Garamendi, Keynote Presentation at The Future of Peace Summit, Washington DC, June 15, 2016. Garamendi, who served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ethiopia during 1966-1968, recalled that the positive outcomes he was able to bring about in Ethiopia-Eritrea were in fact due to previous Peace Corps volunteers who had taught and influenced the lives of the Ethiopian-Eritrean heads of state during their terms there. As a result of their efforts, the impact of their tenure there is still felt today.
Relating this to the Global Peace Index’s Goal 16 of ‘promoting peaceful and inclusive societies’, Garamendi emphasized the importance of making a concerted effort to ensure that we are in fact working towards the achievement of this goal. Regarding this, he questioned how much the US was in fact spending through its agencies (US State Dept, USAID, etc.) to actually realize the goal of promoting peaceful and inclusive societies. He iterated that in order to ensure that societies around the world were actually peaceful and inclusive, a greater focus on Global Economic Growth, Global Health, and Global Environment, etc. was required by the US; and that until the US and other peace-building allies invested in this areas, the likelihood of attaining this goal would remain bleak.
Garamendi added that even though the US economy is currently facing enormous challenges, it had also never been more wealthy or prosperous than it was right now. He went on to emphasize the importance of using the US’s position of strength in a globally responsible way. He argued that if the US was capable of deploying its strength by spending trillions of dollars in the nuclear arms race with Russia; then it was certainly capable of taking the necessary timely action to help create sustainable economies around the world, and make the achievement of GPI Goal 16 a reality, instead of remaining a lofty goal.