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SAO Interview: Klavs Holm from the Kingdom of Denmark

11 October 2012
Klavs A. Holm was appointed as Arctic Ambassador and Senior Arctic Official (SAO) for the Kingdom of Denmark in January of 2012. During his career Ambassador Holm has been posted in different locations around the world, for example at the Royal Danish Embassy in Paris and London. He is committed to ensuring that the Arctic Council contributes to sustainable development for Arctic inhabitants.

Arctic issues are global issues

During his first months working for the Arctic Council Ambassador Holm attended one SAO meeting in Stockholm in March and the Deputy Ministers' Meeting in May, also in Stockholm. So far the work has taught him that the Arctic Council is working with very complex problems.

"The Arctic Council is a regional organization but the issues it deals with are global. There are linkages between the Northeast Passage and China, and between oil exploitation and the Middle East. There is no Arctic issue which does not have some kind of repercussions around the world." says Ambassador Holm.

He notes that the political work of the Arctic Council is also very important to the Kingdom of Denmark, especially the process surrounding the approval of new accredited observers.

Assessments and scientific work

Ambassador Holm appreciates the many assessments produced by the Arctic Council Working Groups. He prefers not to distinguish any particular project among all of the valuable work being done within the Working Groups. However, the communication work done in connection with the changes in Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost in the Arctic (SWIPA) report was noteworthy.

"I am especially interested in the results of the SWIPA assessment. I like the project and the DVD which I received. Those kinds of books are usually heavy but this was an example of good communication."

Further communication development

In the past Ambassador Holm has worked with communication in his position as Under-Secretary for Public Diplomacy at the Danish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Efficient communication is still a priority issue for him, in particular with regards to the work of the Arctic Council.

"We are going to take far-reaching decisions on issues related to the Arctic in the coming years. We need to communicate our work in order to involve those outside of the decision making sphere and create a dialogue."

The Arctic Council Communication Strategy is a step in the right direction according to Ambassador Holm. Now it is important for Arctic Council actors to prove that they can follow the strategy and improve on it further.

"Communication develops very quickly and there is still room for further development of the strategy."

Ambassador Holm mentions the need to embrace other communication platforms, such as for example social media.

"The use of social networking tools is important, as is writing in a language which people understand. We shouldn't over-complicate things. If we don't utilize the platforms that are in use and which people are familiar with we will never reach the public. At the same time the adjustment has to be made slowly, so that all actors have time to grow accustomed to the new technology."