70% of the Earth’s surface is water. It represents our largest food resource. We need to clean our coastlines, rivers, lakes and oceans.
Below is a heart-warming report on one individual’s efforts to clean the waters round his country, Sweden.
Concerned Financier Who Donated SEK 500 Million to Stimulate Concrete Action Wins the 2006 Swedish Baltic Sea Water Award
For setting the bar for individual philanthropy so high in pursuit of his dream of an improved Baltic Sea water environment, Swedish financier Björn Carlson receives the 2006 Swedish Baltic Sea Water Award.
The 2006 award is in honour of Mr. Carlson’s 2005 personal donation of SEK 500 million (USD 62.6 million) for interdisciplinary projects and creative initiatives that support direct and practical efforts which contribute to improved water quality in the Baltic Sea. The funds are administered by the newly founded Björn Carlson Foundation for the Baltic Sea.
The Swedish Baltic Sea Water Award which he has been bestowed is a regional award for water stewardship. The award is given by Sweden’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs in appreciation for what individuals, corporations, non-governmental organisations and municipalities have done to help improve the Baltic Sea’s water environment. Mr. Carlson is the first Swede in the Swedish Baltic Sea Water Award’s eight-year history to be honoured with the distinction. The award will be presented August 25 at the Stockholm City Conference Centre/Folkets Hus during the closing session of the annual World Water Week in Stockholm.
An Exceptional Contribution
In its citation, the independent nominating committee wrote of Mr. Carlson:
The jury for the 2006 Swedish Baltic Sea Water Award awards the prize to Björn Carlson for his great commitment to improve the Baltic Sea marine environment. He has shown his commitment by, among other things, donating 500 million Swedish crowns to the Baltic Sea Foundation. To ensure the scientific quality of the Foundation’s work, he has appointed The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences as trustee of the donation. Through this large donation, he wishes to encourage politicians, authorities, companies, fishing societies and other sectors around the entire Baltic Sea to dare to try new methods and to take unconventional measures in the work to improve the sea’s marine environment. This exceptional contribution will likely increase pressure for coordinated and powerful measures for a cleaner Baltic Sea, to the delight of future generations.
According to award committee chair Dr. Ulla-Britta Fallenius of the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, Mr. Carlson’s individual largesse is unparalleled in the 40-year history of institutional and organisation efforts to improve the Baltic Sea.
“Mr. Carlson’s donation is a truly outstanding example of individual philanthropy in pursuit of a worthy cause,” said Dr. Fallenius. “Like all of us living around the Baltic Sea, he is disturbed and concerned by the increasingly threatened health of this common natural resource; unlike all of us, through such a generous donation he has the ability to stimulate efforts to make concrete improvements to the sea which benefit us all living in the region.”
Funds to be Invested in Innovative Research and Large-Scale Projects
Through his donation, Mr. Carlson has established a foundation with the potential to help alleviate environmental problems in and around the Baltic Sea. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences administers the foundation in cooperation with Åbo Akademi University. The foundation started its activities January 1, 2006, and expects to see concrete measures and results which turn the tide of negative developments in the Baltic Sea within the next 10 to 15 years. At the rate of about USD 5 million per year, funds will be invested in innovative research and experiments through the establishment of networks of researchers with different expertise. Large-scale experiments are also planned and will involve using regional scientists and researchers, as well as encouraging the participation of young scientists.
The Baltic Sea, as a semi-enclosed sea with shallow and narrow entrances and a slow water exchange with the North Sea, has been characterised as the most polluted sea area in the world. Heavy pollution loads received from the nine riparian states, including discharges of heavy metals and chlorinated organic substances, in particular, have had seriously detrimental effects on the ecological system. Several species of plants and animals have nearly been eradicated. Nutrient-laden wastewater from municipalities, together with polluted agricultural run-off, have contributed to the problem by causing eutrophication and intense algal blooms. Some 80 million people live in the countries surrounding the Baltic Sea.
The Swedish Baltic Sea Water Award
The Swedish Baltic Sea Water Award is a regional award for water stewardship and recognises direct and practical efforts which contribute to improved water quality in the Baltic Sea. Given by Sweden’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the award is seen as an appreciation for what individuals, corporations, non-governmental organisations and municipalities have done to help improve the Baltic Sea’s water environment.
The Swedish Baltic Sea Water Award was established in 1999 and is presented during the World Water Week in Stockholm each August. The award winner receives a SEK 100,000 prize sum, crystal sculpture, diploma and travel and accommodation to participate in the activities during the World Water Week. A jury appointed by the Swedish Government reviews the nominations and selects the winner, which can come from any of the Baltic Sea countries.
Previous recipients include Vodokanal St. Petersburg and its General Director, Felix Karmazinov; Nature Management and Water Environment Division of Fyn County, Denmark; Frantschach Swiecie SA, Poland; The Lithuanian Housing and Urban Development Foundation; Mr. Leonid Korovin from St. Petersburg, Russia; The City of Gdansk, Poland; and PURAC of Poland.
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The Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) is a policy institute that contributes to international efforts to find solutions to the world's escalating water crisis. SIWI advocates future-oriented, knowledge-integrated water views in decision making, nationally and internationally, that lead to sustainable use of the world’s water resources and sustainable development of societies.
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