Old Mutual Wisdom Forum 2017

This country has some big challenges right now - John Kerry

The Old Mutual Corporate Wisdom Forum has become known for the quality of its speakers and the far-reaching global issues it sets out to demystify.

The 2017 Edition held in Sandton this week revolved around the theme is Populism and Economic Reform and featured 68th US Secretary of State John Kerry as its keynote speaker.

Stephan Grootes attended the event and spoke to Kerry before his address. Delighted to be back in SA, Kerry had some thought provoking insights to share on globalization, technology and how populism can have a positive outcome if harnessed for the greater good of the people.

The problem today is that in most parts of the world the gap between have and have nots is growing. Too much populism is being driven towards enrichment of small groups of people.

John Kerry

According to Kerry, the inequality gap is going to produce crises of governance in many parts of the world if those in power do not approach it in a direct and thoughtful way, that is for the greater purpose of all citizens.

He also shared upbeat views on technology advancement debunking the notion that it’s causing higher unemployment and a larger wealth gap.

There are lots of jobs to be done. We have millions of children in the world to educate. Hospitals and roads to be built, airports to be refurbished and transport systems that aren’t working. We need people moving. We need people with a vision about how we are going to do these things.

John Kerry

Kerry went on to state that we need a birth of leadership and societies in the world to focus on getting things moving using technology instead of being so afraid of it.

On the issue of globalisation and whether local interest can co-exist with global action. Kerry mentions we need to go back to basics and apply the once popular saying “think globally – act locally” especially when it comes to climate change.

This is how we approach issues of the environment. You have to think globally because trans boundary pollution is travelling around the world and hurting everyone but acting locally is how you can take action.

John Kerry

When asked about South Africa, Kerry said the country needs "strong leadership putting solid ideas behind the challenges" that we currently face.

Listen to the full interview below:


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