Reflections on a red notebook, climate change, and a look into the future.

Eleven years ago, almost to the day, I took on the role as Secretary General at the SCC, succeeding Ulf Franke at the end of his 30-year tenure. I had already worked with Ulf and the SCC in various capacities, and spent many years in the dispute resolution universe, so I came onboard with many ideas.

I distinctly remember my first trip as Secretary General, which took me to Paris. Sitting with a cup of coffee at a brasserie on Champs-Elysées, I frantically tried to record all my impressions, ideas and thoughts for the future in a bright red notebook that I carried with me everywhere. I remember having to put the notebook down at one point because my mind was simply boiling over and needed to rest. What a privileged position to be in! And what a privilege it has been to see so many of the ideas formulated in those early days come true - the digitalisation of case management, a modernisation of the SCC Rules and of the SCC brand and profile, and global collaborations. The list could continue.

None of this would of course have been possible without the extraordinary team at the SCC Secretariat and the support of the SCC Board. The professionalism demonstrated daily here in Stockholm has always been paired with a great team spirit and many, many laughs. At all times it has been a group of people who truly enjoy working together and who take great pride in delivering at the highest level in support of the SCC mission. With a crew like this, even the toughest storms have always felt manageable (readers of the SCC Forecast will know I like to return to the experience of sailing).

One of the ideas in that red notebook was to consider the potential connections between international arbitration and climate change. After a couple of years on the job, I began exploring how arbitration could make a difference in the climate context. In 2011, I managed to catch the Swedish Ambassador for the Climate on the phone just as she was packing her bags for COP17, urging her to raise with the other delegates the issue of enforcement of climate change agreements through arbitration. I may not have been successful that time, but the conversation nonetheless marked the beginning of a series of SCC initiatives connecting arbitration to climate change and the net zero transition.

The most significant such initiative was The Stockholm Treaty Lab, which crowdsourced law for a better climate. I have also had opportunities to put a spotlight on the climate issue through many writings and presentations. And in 2016, the SCC co-organised the conference Bridging the Climate Change Policy Gap: The Role of International Law and Arbitration. For me personally, the invitation to speak about Arbitration and Climate Change at the ICCA Congress in Sydney was a great opportunity to discuss these important issues with the broader arbitration community. And so was last week’s seminar The Klein-Klein of Climate Change Contracts, an inspiring side-event to the Hamburg Arbitration Days.

Last year, as I conducted my own Annual General Assembly with myself — something that I highly recommend! — I came to the conclusion that I had now arrived at the end of that long list of ideas first formulated in a red notebook in Paris. It is time for someone with fresh new ideas to step into my SCC shoes, while I take everything I have learned in 20+ years as a lawyer and invest it in the global effort to tackle climate change.

From mid-April 2021 you will find me at Climate Change Counsel, a new practice that I have co-founded with my brilliant former SCC colleagues Anja Ipp and Sukma Dwi Andrina. We all share a passion for climate issues and a belief that law and lawyers can play a lead role in the global transition to a carbon-neutral society. Our mission is to accelerate solutions to climate change by using law to turn climate ambitions into obligations, by mobilising the legal community toward a net zero future, and by providing research and project support to organisations working toward climate neutrality. I could not be prouder of the journey we are now embarking on together.

As for the SCC, I see a bright and exciting future. The SCC has a strong track record and expertise in digitalisation and legal tech, which I am sure will continue to play an important role as dispute resolution continues to adapt to today’s rapidly digitalising world. The Institute’s drive to innovate will continue to produce new tools and services to the benefit of global business, the next example of which is just around the corner. I look forward to cheering on from the sidelines.

Last but certainly not least, I want to extend a huge thank you to everyone around the world who I have had the fortune to meet and work with in this capacity, whether it has been for a speaking engagement, a book or film project, a committee, a conference, the SCC Board, or just for a cup of coffee. You have all inspired me.

Let’s keep sharing all those good ideas and inspire each other as we so successfully have done for eleven years, so that together we can continue to move the world forward.

Annette Magnusson

SCC Secretary General


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