Climate and Environmental Measures of Foundations

The climate crisis and the loss of biodiversity and nature are affecting everyone. The future cannot be planned without taking into account the fundamental changes brought about by humanity on the planet. The 2020 pandemic and extreme weather at the very latest have made us all aware of the fact that changes in natural mechanisms have unpredictable effects on the foundation of people’s wellbeing, health and the economy.

Global warming and the sixth wave of extinction call for urgent action in order to avoid a global crisis.

We already know many solutions, but we need to tackle them now: it is possible to take action, big and small, in all walks of life. Through cultural change, research, legislation, taxation and recommendations, we can work together to move towards a sustainable society promoting wellbeing.

More and more Finnish foundations and funds are participating in the work against environmental and climate change.

Foundations as financiers for the environment

The more than 200 members of the Association of Finnish Foundations support research, art and other development of the society with a total of more than half a billion euros each year.

The foundations implement actions for the environment in many ways, and with their funding they support e.g.

  • environmental research
  • the use of scientific environmental information in societal decision-making
  • rapid emission cuts
  • carbon sinks
  • sustainable development in the broadest sense.

Cultural change concerns everyone

More and more Finnish foundations and funds are participating in the work against environmental and climate change, although they are not actual environmental financiers themselves.

Foundations around the world place climate and environmental considerations at the centre as financiers, investors as well as in their other operations.

We monitor developments and pass on information to our members, e.g. through Dafne, Donors and Foundations Networks in Europe, whose climate group includes Finnish foundations and funds represented by a member of our board and research director Minttu Jaakkola (Maj and Tor Nessling Foundation).

We support our members in the change by

  • disseminating information on best practices
  • promoting mutual exchange of information and cooperation between our members through regular peer meetings on climate and environmental issues.

Operational models and tools

Here we collect examples of our members’ climate and environment activities. The listing does not aim to cover everything, but to offer the foundations a versatile range of tangible operational models and tools. The examples have been classified as follows:

  • Sharing information internally, to other foundations and other stakeholders of the foundation
  • Planning initiatives or programmes in such a manner that they take into consideration the transition to a zero-carbon society
  • Our own activities: Minimising the carbon footprint of premises, energy usage, travel, catering etc.
  • Allocating grants for climate work
  • Reducing the carbon footprint of investments or removing carbon from the investment portfolio
  • Public reporting on the above.

We have collected examples from our members, and we update the page regularly. Please note that the English page may not contain all the information as the Finnish page, e.g. because there are less links.

See also Sitoumus2050.fi

Classification: International Climate Commitment (Dafne, 2021)

Here we collect examples of our members’ climate and environment activities to offer the foundations tangible operational models and tools.

Sharing information

  • Maj and Tor Nessling Foundation and Kone Foundation fund the Forum for Environmental Information that provides the latest environmental information to support societal decision-making.
  • The Finnish Forest Foundation has supported the It´s about taimi school tour, that 4H Federation is piloting in the spring 2021. On the tour, 9th-graders are told about the importance of forests in climate change. The forest is one way that helps us make the slowdown of climate change a reality.
  • Drainage Foundation sr, Maa- ja vesitekniikan tuki ry, Baltic Sea Action Group and The Finnish Field Drainage Association organised on 1 October 2020 a webinar called Maankäyttö ja vesitalouden hallinta muuttuvassa ympäristössä (Land use and water management in a changing environment), welcoming authorities, financiers, advisers, researchers, planners, contractors, farmers as well as students in the field.
  • Tvärminne Zoological Station of University of Helsinki received support from Brita Maria Renlund Foundation for a period of three years to develop and conduct science education on biodiversity, climate and Baltic Sea issues.

Initiatives and programmes

  • In its strategy 2021–2025, Kone Foundation raises eco-social education as one of the values guiding its operations: social, cultural and ecological responsibility for people, other species and the environment. 
  • The Kone Foundation Saari Residence’s Ecologically sustainable residency programme also encompasses social and psychological sustainability. The operations are developed by the coordinator of ecological activities at the Residence.
  • Pro Arte Art Foundation’s IHME Helsinki is a carbon-neutral and sustainable contemporary art organisation, and the basis of its operations is dialogue between art and science.
  • Tiina and Antti Herlin Foundation is renovating Puistokatu 4 into a discussion forum to stop climate change. Maj and Tor Nessling Foundation is participating in the project as a partner. Watch video

Our own activities

  • Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation moved to geothermal heat in the renovation of the Salus Building.
  • The Finnish Cultural Foundation leads its environmental work with the help of the WWF Green Office system. The carbon footprint of the office is measured by electricity, work-related travel, workplace meals and annual banquet.

Grants

  • Maj and Tor Nessling Foundation has granted nearly 80 million euro for research and other activity promoting environmental protection. You can view the funded projects with the search engine.
  • Tiina and Antti Herlin Foundation focuses its resources in 2020–2025 on solutions for the global environmental crisis and especially on cutting emission volumes rapidly.
  • Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation supports e.g. atmospheric research lead by academic Markku Kulmala with a major grant of nearly 3 million euro and the research for plant proteins with 1.6 million euro.
  • Maa- ja vesitekniikan tuki ry supports projects for the water sector, environmental technology and soil protection. The largest single donation in 2020 was 750,000 euro to the University of Helsinki’s Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, for a greenhouse gas exchange measuring station for fields.
  • The Finnish Forest Foundation supports
    – sustainable use of drained swamps. The research project of the Finnish Peatland Society has compiled information on the effects of swamps drained for forestry and peat extraction on biodiversity, the climate and water systems.
    Uusi Puu – New Wood Competition. The competition looks for wood-based solutions for mega trends, which include e.g. lack or resources and climate change. The project communicates more widely about the topic online, on social media and in meetings with people and influencers in the field.
  • Åbo Akademi University Foundation and many other foundations support research on the Baltic Sea.
  • Kuopio Area Respiratory Foundation sr has given grants e.g. for studying the health effects of indoor air pollutants, moisture damage to buildings and the health effects of fine particles.
  • The Weisell Foundation has been involved in funding Keep the Archipelago Tidy Association’s floating pumpout device for boat sewage for the Ekenäs Archipelago.
  • Metsämiesten säätiö Foundation and Saastamoinen Foundation have funded the 4H Federation’s Taimiteko, which employs young people and increases carbon sinks by planting trees.
  • In the Climatechangemaker (Ilmastonmuutosvoima) project initiated and funded by the Finnish Cultural Foundation, anyone under the age of 25 can carry out their own climate-related project and combat climate change. The Finnish National Youth Council Allianssi is responsible for the implementation of the project.

You can also look at research funding in the new Research.fi service by the Ministry of Education and Culture, which many foundations have joined.

Investment

Taking environmental impacts into account in one’s own investment activities is part of responsible investing, which also takes into account the wellbeing of personnel and social impact and good governance. Examples of our members’ responsibility records (available only in Finnish or Swedish):

We have also published a guide on responsible investing for foundations (available in Finnish and Swedish).

Public reporting

  • Pro Arte Art Foundation’s IHME Helsinki contemporary art organisation publishes information about its annual carbon footprint and emission compensation.
  • Pro aere aqua terra. The Maj and Tor Nessling Foundation’s annual report 2020.