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Peace in the 21st Century: Ruth DeFries

Videography: Jean-Pierre Larroque, Interviewed by Jessica Chapman, Flat Earth Media

Is the idea of peace in the 21st century an idealistic vision or an achievable goal?

OEF recently asked that question to notable thinkers who research trends in violent conflict and other key drivers affecting global stability. Their responses are captured in the series, "Peace in the 21st Century." In this video, Ruth DeFries stresses the importance of a healthy environment in achieving peace.

Ruth DeFries:

The idea of a peaceful planet is within the realm of reality. If you look at the trends, we're going in that direction. Of course, we can never be complacent. We have to work to continue those trends, but this could be the century of peace.

We see from our long trajectory of humanity that we often fulfill the expectations that we set for ourselves. So if we have an expectation of peace, an expectation for a healthy life for everyone, we can work towards that being a reality.

My work is fueled by the recognition that people can be peaceful and happy when the environment is conducive, and that people can take care of their environment when they are happy.

With the environment we're facing a lot of challenges. Climate change being one of the very big challenges. Loss of bio-diversity, how we will feed nine billion people. All of these are very, very big challenges. Of course, we never know how that will turn out in the future. If we look to the past, we see that we have solved a lot of very difficult, very big problems, and that humanity has a lot of ingenuity when we need to solve problems.

Peace is more than the absence of war. It's a process. It's working towards a healthy environment, working towards opportunities for everyone to live with dignity. Peace is a verb that we all need to work towards.