Spring til indhold

Udenrigsministerens tale ved konference om Fremtidens udenrigstjeneste, den 27. januar 2017


Welcome to this conference on the ‘Future Foreign Service’.

I’m pleased to see so many different partners, stakeholders, experts and friends of the Danish Diplomacy present here today. Thank you – especially to our foreign guests, who have travelled far to be with us.

    Innovate or die…
    In a time where global diplomacy is faced with crises, conflicts and controversial elections, why a conference on the future of the Foreign Service?

Simply because, we cannot afford not to. In order for the Foreign Service to match the pace and complexity in the world today, we need to constantly innovate, develop and adjust our diplomatic tasks and tools

At a time where the global power structures and the international ‘rules of the game’ are shifting. Where traditional alliances and allies are under pressure. And where 90% of the world’s data is created within the past two years…    


…we need – more than ever – to ensure a modern and efficient Foreign Service sufficiently equipped to handle the interests of Denmark and the Danes. In 2017 as in 2025.

But innovation does not grow out of a black box. To rethink and reflect upon what we do, and how we do it, we need new input and ideas. Your presence at the conference here today is a highly valued contribution to the innovation process already underway in the Danish Foreign Service.

Digital developments and diplomacy

    Nobody knows what the future holds. But one thing is for certain – the digital and technological development has a still greater influence on our everyday life. As ordinary citizens, as diplomats and as state actors.

 New technologies and digital actors already affect our security, our jobs, our businesses, our environment and our health and education sectors.

Robotics replacing blue-collar workers, artificial intelligence replacing lawyers, drones delivering humanitarian aid in South Sudan. New types of businesses and jobs, smarter public service delivery, better access to education and new healthcare technologies. The examples of both challenges and possibilities are plenty.

The power of new digital actors is increasing. In the future, their influence on the lives, security and interests of the Danes will be just as great as the influence of state actors.    


Or put differently: in the future, our bilateral relations with Google will be just as important as those we have with Greece. My point is not to offend Greece – but to highlight the importance of tech actors such as Google [the country director of whom we are happy to have represented among our guests today].


    The tech development holds great opportunities – and challenges – for all of us. We need to be on the right side of the digital history. Starting now, Denmark will make the digital and technological development a strategic priority across Denmark’s Foreign Policy and Foreign Service.
In short, what I call “TechPlomacy” will be one of the new guiding principles for Denmark’s Foreign Policy and Foreign Service in the years to come.    


First of all, we will prioritize a strategic and systematic dialogue with key digital actors to create a stronger link between Danish policy-making and current technologies, trends and developments on a global scale.

And to ensure a strong promotion of Denmark’s core interests vis-a-vis digital actors and new technological developments. Just as we have done in our bilateral relations with foreign nations for centuries.    


Secondly, as a concrete tool to spearhead these efforts, we will appoint a new and specially designated Tech ambassador. We need to build new, unconventional relations and alliances in this area – with tech actors, academia and researchers, cities, countries and regions. The tech ambassador is an important first step.

Thirdly, we will put the opportunities, challenges and dilemmas related to the digital and technological development on the global agenda, including in relevant multilateral organizations and fora.


Perspectives for tech and digital diplomacy is only one part of the agenda today. But I wanted to take the opportunity to share with you our new plans in this regard. Other aspects of the future of diplomacy are important topics such as partnerships, outreach, communication and mindset.

No matter what the future holds, the Foreign Service will not be leftover. On the contrary; a strong, efficient and modern Foreign Service will be key to dealing with all of these questions.

But to do this, we must remain focused on matching the demands of tomorrow. Let me once again thank all of you for contributing to this end here today.

And let me end by encouraging you to be bold, brave, honest – and innovative – in today’s discussions on the Future of the Foreign Service. Thank you.