Sweden30 March 2020Interview with Sweden’s Senior Arctic Official Louise CalaisLouise Calais is the new Senior Arctic Official for Sweden and an expert on multilateral affairs. She started her position in January 2020 and was looking forward to a spring full of Arctic Council meetings and related events. The corona pandemic put a sudden halt to most of these gatherings. In the meantime, Louise Calais is working closely with the Swedish Arctic team to get up to speed on Arctic issues. While working for the Arctic Council feels like coming home to her, in more recent years she has worked in areas with a lot more sand than snow. What is your background, and how do you feel it has prepared you for your role as Senior Arctic Official? My background is mainly in security policy and EU affairs, working both in Stockholm, Brussels and New York. I have also been active in humanitarian affairs and worked with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for three years. Then, I have been stationed in Iraq, where I was the Deputy Head of Mission in Bagdad and the Head of our Section Office in Erbil – a lot more sand than snow at that point of my career. But if you ask me if this has prepared me for the Arctic, I think that my experience from multilateral affairs can help me in the multilateral forum that the Arctic Council is. What elements of your work with the Arctic Council are you looking forward to? Two things come to my mind immediately: First of all, I am looking forward to working with all the people that are involved in Arctic affairs – not just in the Arctic Council but also in the Swedish Arctic team that engages a number of ministries and government agencies. I am starting this position during the corona pandemic, which means that I will not be going to the Senior Arctic Officials’ meeting that was scheduled to take place in Akureyri in March – and which I was very much looking forward to. While we were still hoping that we would be able to go to Iceland, we held a preparatory meeting here in Stockholm with the Swedish team and I am so impressed with all the expertise and knowledge that comes together from different areas. I think together we can create some good results. I really enjoy working multilaterally with people from different backgrounds, it creates its own dynamic. In the end, you always get something more out of it – the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The second thing that I am looking forward to is the close collaboration with the Working Groups. In the Swedish Arctic team, we have two of the Working Group Chairs: Anders Turesson from the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme and Mark Marissink from the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna. The Working Groups are the core of the work of the Arctic Council and you have a very interesting link here between the science and research and the political level.