A Swedish investor has donated 500 million kronor (US$63 million; Ђ52.4 million) to help protect the Baltic Sea environment, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said Tuesday. The donation from Bjorn Carlson, 70, who made a fortune in the 1990s as the head of an investment management company, will be distributed to scientific projects and initiatives focusing on improving the condition of the heavily polluted Baltic, the academy said.
The funds will be distributed by a newly created foundation led by Carlson, academy members and officials from the World Wildlife Fund.
"Through my donation, I expect to see concrete measures and results within 10 to 12 years, and not just investigations," Carlson said. "Efforts based on wise decisions and good research can reverse the negative development of the Baltic Sea."
The foundation will also create a think tank made up of researchers and scientists from the Baltic Sea area who will identify the main problems facing the Baltic and suggest concrete solutions, said Lars Kristoferson, head of WWF's Swedish branch.
"We now have completely new possibilities to do something good with the Baltic Sea," Kristoferson said.
The Baltic, which is surrounded by Sweden, Finland, Poland, Russia and the Baltic nations, has suffered from heavy pollution and toxic algae in modern times because of increased ship traffic and oil transports, he said. Some researchers also say the waters have been too depleted of its fish stocks, leading countries like Sweden to adopt strict fishing quotas in the Baltic, the AP reports.
But despite ongoing efforts from several countries to decrease pollution in the Baltic, the sea is not getting healthier, Kristoferson said.
"It has just gotten worse, and (Carlson) has realized that," he said. "There has been a lot of talk about the Baltic Sea, but very little action. That is why this kind of donation is so valuable."