Interview with Kristine Bak

IPMS 1999
Head of Section, Danish Energy Agency, Ministry of
Environment and Energy

(This interview was conducted in 2002.  Ms. Kristine Bak is currently Special Energy Advisor at The Danish Energy Agency.)

Current Activities

In her activities on behalf of the Danish Ministry of Environment and Energy and the Danish Cooperation for Environment and Development (DANCED), Kristine is focusing her energies on capacity-building initiatives that support the implementation of international treaties on climate control and Agenda 21 in countries such as South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Lesotho. Previously, she was involved in similar environmental programs based in Eastern European countries, Thailand and Malaysia.

Most Important IPMS Lessons

Kristine appreciates how the IPMS simulations allowed her to gauge her reactions and those of other participants to circumstances involving a variety of different technical issues and stakeholder interests. In one respect, she feels that these sorts of experiences are critical for understanding how one should deal with disputes involving different cultural perspectives. The simulations, she feels, capture the complex contexts in which negotiations normally take place, which provides the key element to their effectiveness as training tools.
Another critical lesson that she has drawn from her IPMS experience is the importance of building an area of interest common to all parties, an inherent part of the mutual gains approach to negotiation. According to Kristine, the idea of collectively creating value is extremely important, and the IPMS programme represented the first time that she had heard such an idea put into words. This concept, as it was explained and practiced during her training, has changed her attitude toward negotiation in her own professional activities. 

Applying IPMS Lessons
Kristine regularly finds herself in situations abroad or in Denmark that benefit from the insights she gained at IPMS. She puts her skills to use most regularly in her capacity as the Ministry of Environment and Energy’s representative of lawyers, economists and other social scientists during internal negotiations concerning compensation and work conditions issues. The mutual gains approach that she brings to such discussions has helped considerably to build trust among Ministry staff members.

Suggestions for Improving IPMS
Overall, Kristine found the program to be very well organized. She does, however, encourage its organizers to continue searching for ways to make IPMS more affordable for future participants. Upon her return from the program, Kristine was very enthusiastic in promoting IPMS to her colleagues in the Ministry. She indicates that despite initial interest in applying to the program, many promising candidates soon became discouraged by the enrollment costs.

Suggestions for Other SCF Activities

Kristine feels that the Sustainability Challenge Foundation should focus additional efforts on tackling substantive issues concerning sustainable transport, balanced energy consumption and climate change, with additional consideration for the effects of current energy consumption trends on privileged versus non-privileged groups. She also indicates that a significant disparity still exists in understanding what “sustainability” means for policy-makers and organizational heads the world over. A lot of the work Kristine performs within her own agency is aimed at exploring how sustainability can be achieved fundamentally. She encourages SCF to specifically address this issue in a way that galvanizes a commitment among program participants to making sustainability a reality.


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