Kerry spoke of population growth, climate change and global "conflict and governance" issues, but assured his audience that "[a]ll of this is manageable if we lead, if we step up, if the Western world will do the things that we have in our capacity to do".
And the world right now is in need of leadership as never before, perhaps. I can’t – hard to say “never before” when you’re in London and Winston Churchill did what he did, but we have serious, monumental kinds of problems that we face, which is a clash of technology and modernity and culture and religion, and a group of people who are so nihilistic that there’s not even an ideology around which they organize themselves. They just want to destroy and take you back to a place where you have to live according to what they say and what they ordain, and it changes. Who knows when or how – there’s no rhyme or reason except for their brutality and their hate for people who represent something different.
So I look at a world where the population is going to go from 6 billion to 9 billion, where the planet is warming at a rate that is beyond alarming, where we see conflict and governance that are deeply troubling, notwithstanding our best efforts to build capacity and so forth. So – but all of this is changeable. All of this is manageable if we lead, if we step up, if the Western world will do the things that we have in our capacity to do. And I fault my country and others for, frankly, not stepping up sufficiently, financially and otherwise. We’re the richest country on the face of the planet. We have $18 trillion economy, yet we put only one penny of every single dollar that we spend into everything we do around the world. It doesn’t make sense when you see millions of children who need to be educated, people who need to be kept out of the clutches of these nihilists. It’s a major challenge. [emphasis added]The secretary of state also appeared to take a veiled shot at Britain's decision to leave the European union:
And finally, I’m glad to receive this because I believe that this is a special moment in world history where regardless of how you manage Brexit, we need to show leadership together going forward on every issue from climate change to the oceans, which you mentioned, Sir Bob, to the vexing challenge of religious exploitation and terrorism. [emphasis added]Kerry noted he was "really honored to receive this [award] for probably – well, several reasons, but first and foremost the special relationship between [Britain and the US]," and that while he "will soon be leaving being Secretary, [this award] will stay with me as a down payment on the things I need to do with the rest of my life."