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30 years of work for the Baltic Sea

30 years of work for the Baltic Sea

Ruohosipulin kukkia kalliolla Itämeren rannalla
Photo: Mikko Voipio


The John Nurminen Foundation, established in 1992, celebrated its 30th anniversary this year. In honour of the event, Annamari Arrakoski-Engardt, CEO of the John Nurminen Foundation, shares the story of the Foundation and directs our gaze to the future.

The Baltic Sea is more – more than the archipelago, the fish, the ships, or swimming. It is all this and so much more. We call this the Baltic Sea identity. The Baltic Sea identity is something you can taste, smell, see and hear. It is a combination of history, livelihoods, food culture, Nordicness, and politics. It is what the 30-year-old John Nurminen Foundation does.

The maritime voyage of our Foundation began with maps and books. The rich marine cultural heritage encouraged us, or rather compelled us, to later take on saving the Sea. In the early 2000s, working in cooperation with our partners, we harnessed our cultural heritage foundation to marine protection work and tangible marine protection measures.

We began with the most important sources of discharges, and made many of the wastewater treatment plants that had weakened the status of the Baltic Sea perform more efficiently. The considerable impact of this work is visible in the Gulf of Finland even today.

Although we have managed to halve the nutrient load of the Sea in the most recent decades, eutrophication continues to be the gravest environmental problem faced by the Baltic Sea. The most efficient way of saving marine nature and biodiversity is to reduce the nutrient load entering the Sea with runoff. This is what we do in our marine environment projects as we strive to reach tangible results.

It is precisely our versatility that makes our operations unique: the Baltic Sea identity is an all-encompassing way of protecting the Sea and its culture. Today, we build new kinds of encounters between art and science, and create compelling content. Our goal is to see culture, ecology, politics, the economy, and the society in genuine interaction.

The words of the patron of the Foundation’s marine environment and culture projects, President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö, emphasize the continuation of this very important work:

“The Baltic Sea is where our home is. It gives livelihoods to many Finns, provides recreation, and opens up a fairway to the world. The Baltic Sea identity has been a crucial part of our history and culture, and its significance will by no means diminish in the future. A vigorous Sea is an asset for us all. A close relationship with the Sea carries with it the will to commit to the protection of the Sea’s unique marine nature. For decades, the John Nurminen Foundation has worked for tangible results that save the Baltic Sea. The work needs to be carried on.”

And carry on we shall. We will identify and develop different kinds of solutions that protect the Sea. We will promote our tangible projects, and advocate in various fora for the Baltic Sea. Our goal is, through cooperation, to save the Baltic Sea and its heritage for future generations.

The year of our anniversary is drawing to a close, but we will keep the discussion alive. Today, on 13 October, we join our stakeholder groups for an evening with Martin Koehring, head of the World Ocean Initiative, who will share his thoughts on the seas of the world and the blue economy, and Suvi Auvinen, journalist and activist, who will speak on responsible activism. On 1 December, we will organize the year’s last Baltic Sea Talks, where we will discuss the relationship of the Sea and art, their future, and the Baltic Sea identity. Come join the conversation!

Thanking the supporters of our 30-year journey,

Annamari Arrakoski-Engardt
CEO, John Nurminen Foundation

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