The challenging problems facing the world will not be solved by the wave of a magic wand. Climate change will slow down and nature’s diversity will be preserved only if many parties find knowledge-based solutions simultaneously. The Maj and Tor Nessling Foundation received a record amount of 399 applications in the 2015 grant application process. We decided to fund current environmental research on a wide scale, and emphasise the solution focus and communication of research.
Out of almost four hundred applications, grants were awarded for a total of 105 different studies, amounting to 2,640,000 euros. The funded projects include very current topics ranging all the way from circular economics to biofuels, and from protecting swamps to preserving traditional ecological knowledge of the Sami people.
“Decision-makers are not familiar enough with the Sami people or their culture. Yet they still make decisions concerning their lands. It is good to record the oral traditional ecological knowledge of the Sami people and bring it to the attention of decision-makers”, says recent grant recipient Leena Heinämäki. It is important for her that the decision-making concerning the Sami people’s lands is not in conflict with the indigenous people’s traditional ways and views.
“We work in cooperation with the Sami people. Traditional knowledge can be transferred on in workshops, for example, where the community’s elderly teach the young. In addition, we provide training courses for decision-makers.“
Heinimäki’s venture combines two of the themes emphasised in this year’s application process: societal environmental research and communication of researched environmental knowledge.
EU decisions also reach Finland, which is why they need to be influenced
Many decisions concerning Finland and its nature are made at the EU level, so it is important to aim to influence decisions more extensively than just at the national level. The foundation also wants to support research aiming to change legislation. Sampo Soimakallio, who has long been researching the climatic effects of bioenergy, finds the EU’s present sustainability criteria inadequate. That is why he has decided to investigate how they could be improved.
“I understand that we are dealing with a difficult totality, which decision-makers find hard to grasp. That’s why I want to make my own research as understandable as possible. What has happened now is that when creating the current criteria, many corners have been cut either due to ignorance or skilful lobbying,” describes Soimakallio.
The Nessling Foundation emphasises solution focused and societally relevant research, and communicating research to society. You can follow the Nessling Foundation and its researchers on the foundation’s blog, on Facebook and on Twitter @NesslingSaatio.
Minttu Jaakkola, FT
Head of research, the Nessling Foundation
Tel. 040 169 6325
Leena Heinämäki, research fellow (PhD)
Arctic Centre, University of Lapland
Tel. 040 484 4280
Sampo Soimakallio, senior scientist
Finnish Environment Institute
Tel. 050 366 9810