Anna-Karin Eneström, the recently-appointed Senior Arctic Official for Sweden, spoke briefly to the ACS about her background and her thoughts on the work ahead of her.
Tell us a little bit about your background, and how you feel your background has prepared you for your role as a Senior Arctic Official.
My career at the Foreign Ministry has taken me to Strasbourg, Nairobi, New York, Pakistan and Brussels and - in between - Stockholm. In Stockholm I have worked with International Law, including the Law of the Sea and environmental issues, as well as in the areas of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs. My first negotiation when I joined the Ministry for Foreign Affairs almost 25 years ago was the revision of the Helsinki Convention on the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area. I have pretty broad experience in foreign policy from security policy, international law and multilateral affairs to human rights, humanitarian affairs and environmental issues, which should give me a good basis for the challenges that face a new SAO. But I acknowledge that I’m a newcomer and will need good advice and support from colleagues.
What elements of your work with the Arctic Council are you most looking forward to?
I have spent a good deal of my career in multilateral affairs, so I’m looking forward to working closely with colleagues in preparation for and during meetings. I’m also eager to understand more about the complexity, importance and multifaceted aspects of the Arctic region. Plus, I’m an outdoor person who loves nature. I spent six weeks in the Kebnekaise mountain area when my son was six months old, and I’m looking forward to attending meetings in the Arctic region.
What are some of the challenges that you see for the Arctic Council that you are looking forward to tackling in your new position?
I will go on working with the Swedish priorities, including strengthening the Arctic Council and its Secretariat. Environmental issues will continue to be at the center of our work. But so too are the human dimension and the balance between those areas and sustainable economic development in the Arctic.