Remarks at the U.S. Pavilion at the Milan Expo 2015

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Milan, Italy
October 17, 2015

SECRETARY KERRY: (Applause.) I just told them that was way over the top, but I accept the nomination. (Laughter.) Where is Ambassador Phillips? Are you here? Come on up here, John. I want you to get up here. And David Thorne, get up here. Come on up here. And where’s Phil – where’s Ambassador Reeker? Come on up here, Phil. I want our leadership of our efforts around here to be properly recognized by everybody. Thank you, Mr. Ambassador. I appreciate everything you do. Thank you, Phil, very, very much. David, old man.

Do you want to say anything quickly? Ladies and gentlemen, our ambassador. I just want him to share a couple of words with you.

AMBASSADOR PHILLIPS: Well, who would believe that about nine months ago, 10 months ago, when you were hooked up in the State Department and I was – thank you. He talks a lot – (laughter) – I was here with others to turn the first shovel of dirt, that in nine months this would actually be done? But here we are nine months plus, almost six months, and it has been a great success due to all the people that have been recognized here tonight. It’s something for all of us that we’ve really learned a lot. The Student Ambassadors have been spectacular. I think this has been good for America projecting America’s face to the world, and the 22 million people or so who will come through here, about 6 million will wind up seeing this place and all that it represents about America.

So we’re all proud to be associated with it. Sorry it’s coming to an end. You can’t believe this whole place that’s been built is going to be disassembled here in a couple of weeks, because it is so magnificent. But that’s the way World’s Fairs and Expos go. So, thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, John, very, very much. Phil, you’ve got to say something. Come on.

I want to thank Consulate Milan. I’m really appreciative. He does not have the biggest team in the world, but they’re the biggest in heart and in effort, and I thank you very, very much. Thank you. (Applause.)

CONSUL GENERAL REEKER: Grazie mille. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. I do want to thank the Consulate Milan team. Our extra person for the two years, Elia Tello, who’s made a huge difference as the deputy commissioner general. The whole Consulate Milan team. And the Secretary may not know this, but 2015 is also the 150th anniversary of the first consul general of the United States in Milan, so we’re very proud of that and we’re proud to have kicked it off with this kind of birthday party. So, grazie. Thank you for your support. (Applause.)

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much. He doesn’t look 150 years old. He’s doing all right. (Laughter.)

David Thorne – he’s going to say something in Italian. Come on. (Laughter and applause.)

AMBASSADOR THORNE: (In Italian.) (Applause.)

SECRETARY KERRY: Very impressive. Bravo. Bravo. Capito tutti o – si. Capisc, eh? (Laughter.) Anyway, surprises – I know. I could – I won’t go through it. I won’t do that.

I wanted everybody to come up here because this has been a tremendous effort by all of our team, and I’m very appreciative of what Embassy Rome and Consulate Milan have done. I also want to thank particularly the friends of this effort. Thank you all for your tremendous efforts at raising money and helping to pull this together, and to all of you who have worked here. Particularly, I’m so happy all our ambassadors are here. Thank you very much for being part of this. I think you’ve lent a special quality to it all. I had no idea you were dressed in Brooks Brothers, but other than that – (laughter) – it’s good to know.

Now, I had expected to be here in the summer with the wafting, soft air of an Italian summer coming through into the garden here, and I didn’t luck out. There’s a little chill in the air today, but I am – I’m very, very happy to be here. This is, I hope – and I wrote this in the book downstairs – that I hope this is an awakening, this Expo, that will bring greater focus to the development goals that we just passed at the United Nations and to the whole notion of sustainability that is now part of those goals. That was a huge achievement this year. And all of you who have been part of this I hope will keep at it. It doesn’t end for you in two weeks when this building comes down. We have a lot of work to do. There are billions of people on this planet who still need to be adequately fed, cared for, and who have to become part of this journey – not on the outside of it, not outside looking in; they have to be part of it. And we’re not going to pull together adequately – even those 140 nations – to make the choices we need to make if we don’t get serious about linking food security, food production, quality of life, to dealing with climate change. That’s why I talked about it today. It’s essential for all of us. It doesn’t make sense to be struggling to feed people if those people are going to have to move from where they’re learning how to grow because their climate is destroyed, they don’t have the water, they don’t have the ability to grow, their soil dries up, they’re living in drought – whatever it is. There is a connection of each of these pieces to the whole, and I hope that what comes out of here is a holistic understanding of our global responsibility to meet this challenge.

That’s what this Expo means to me. That’s what your efforts mean to me. And we’ve got a lot of work to do, and I hope all you young ambassadors are going to continue to be ambassadors on this very topic for years and years to come.

Thank you all for being part of this. We are deeply appreciative. Grazie tanto. Arrivederci. A la prossima. Ciao. (Applause.)