John Nurminen Foundation launched record number of new Baltic Sea projects in 2020 – Orion to continue as Foundation's main partner

Climate change has further increased the urgency of the efforts to save the Baltic Sea. Annamari Arrakoski-Engardt from the John Nurminen Foundation says we can’t afford to stop now for even one moment.

2020 has been a good year for the John Nurminen Foundation – and the Baltic Sea. Though the year has not exactly gone as expected, the final result is rewarding. 

“The funds raised through the #OURSEA campaign have enabled us to launch four new projects this year, which is a record,” says Annamari Arrakoski-Engardt, Managing Director of the John Nurminen Foundation. 

The #OURSEA campaign carried out with Moomin Characters was launched in February to mark the 75th anniversary of the Moomins. The aim was to raise one million euros during the anniversary year to save the Baltic Sea and its cultural heritage. 

There were many activities and cultural events planned around the campaign. But then the pandemic came along, and the plans had to be changed. The decision was made to continue the campaign until the end of July 2021 to make it possible to hold as many events as possible that were cancelled in the spring. 

Considering the circumstances, the fund raising went well: half of the target amount, i.e. EUR 500,000, was raised in late summer, very appropriately on Baltic Sea Day, which was 27 August. Arrakoski-Engardt anticipates that they will have raised EUR 650 000 by the end of the year.


Baltic Sea projects continue despite the pandemic 

The Foundation's new projects reflect the wide variety of measures that are being used to save the Baltic Sea. The Satakunta Manure Recycling Pilot is improving the regional nutrient balance of food production and reducing nutrient discharges to the Baltic Sea; the Fertilizer Shipping Project is investigating nutrient discharges linked to the loading and unloading of fertilizers; the Coastal Reed Project carried out together with Metsähallitus is recycling the nutrients of reed growths from eutrophicated coastal waters to land; and the Sea of Memories Project is collecting memories of the Baltic Sea. 

Previous projects, such as the pilot of the Seabased Project and ‘bombing’ of lifeless seabeds with natural limestone to retain phosphorus in them, a project to improve the treatment of nutrient emissions in biogas production and the Baltic Fish fishing project, are also continuing alongside these projects. 

“Fortunately, when the project plans and their implementation are carried out properly only a few pairs of hands are actually needed to save the sea. Therefore, all our projects have continued to make progress during the coronavirus pandemic,” says Arrakoski-Engardt.


Climate change spurs on the work to save the Baltic Sea  

There has been positive development in the condition of the Baltic Sea over the past ten years, particularly in the Eastern Gulf of Finland, as there has been an improvement in the wastewater emissions from cities in Russia and the Baltic countries, for example. The big picture is, however, worrying. 

“When I started at the John Nurminen Foundation eight years ago, there was more light at the end of the tunnel because climate change was not such a huge concern then,” says Arrakoski-Engardt. “Now climate change is not only breathing down our neck, it is really forcing us to get a move on. There is more work and more urgency – we must not stop for a moment or our children will inherit a green, stinking sea.” 

The Baltic Sea can also offer hope for the other seas around the world, as it is a small and shallow sea which quickly reflects the effects of climate change. “If we find solutions, we will also be able to use them in the coastal waters of the oceans.”


Orion to continue its collaboration with the John Nurminen Foundation  

Orion has been the main partner of the John Nurminen Foundation since 2018, and the collaboration will continue in 2021. 

“We have had very positive experiences of working with the John Nurminen Foundation and our customers have also noticed our collaboration. When I meet with customers and decision-makers, the issue of the Baltic Sea often comes up as a subject of discussion,” says Timo Lappalainen, President and CEO of Orion. “It is natural for us to focus on the protection of the Baltic Sea, as we have operations in all the countries around it. We decided to continue our collaboration as one of the main partners of the John Nurminen Foundation next year, as we want to support the work of the Foundation over the long term.” 

Lappalainen also explains that the Foundation’s work is highly professional and has important impacts. “For example, the Fertilizer Shipping Project that deals with the loading and unloading of fertilizers is an example of a concrete action that has had an immediate impact.” The cooperation has also inspired Orionees with the #OURSEA – Orion on Board theme. “Last summer our personnel hit the beaches and other areas and collected more than 1,800 buckets rubbish. “I expect we will do this again next summer,” he says and hopes that other chemicals industry companies will come up with similar ideas for the Baltic Sea. “I also went to collect rubbish from beaches and was astounded by the amount of rubbish I found,” he says. 

In addition to offering financial support to the Foundation, Orion shares information on the Baltic Sea with its employees and encourages them to participate in activities that benefit the Baltic Sea. The Baltic Sea is also featured in Orion's campaigns in pharmacies: instead of selecting a product gift after a required number of purchases, customers can select an intangible gift, such as the removal of 40 kg of blue-green from the Baltic Sea. Orion wants to continue to encourage its customers to select this intangible gift, so it will keep it as a gift choice in the campaign also in 2021. 

“Orion is an excellent partner for us because it is a responsible and respected company. It is great that it also wants to participate in the work to save the Baltic Sea and its heritage,” says Arrakoski-Engardt. 

“Orion's support will help make it possible to hopefully launch yet another project next spring aimed at reducing the phosphorus load from the land to the sea.”


Choices of 90 million people have a real impact 

Arrakoski-Engardt praises Orion's work in the Residue-free Baltic Sea campaign, in which the John Nurminen Foundation is a patron. “We Finns always do what we are told, as long as we are given clear instructions. Instructing people to take their expired and unused medicines to a pharmacy is a quick way to reduce the load in waterways.” 

A total of about 90 million people live in the Baltic Sea catchment area. “If each person does something for the Baltic Sea every day, this will have a significant impact,” says Arrakoski-Engardt, reminding us of the importance of individuals’ actions. 

The choices may be large or small. One of the large choices is wastewater, which means that the general public must demand that their municipal wastewater treatment plants operate effectively. “Diet also plays a large role: the more we eat sustainably caught Baltic sea fish, the healthier the sea is.”

Text: Sanna Jäppinen

3 December, 2020