pro aere, aqua, terra

The Maj and Tor Nessling Foundation’s annual report 2022

The Nessling Foundation supports research and provides opportunities for encounters and scientific knowledge for the use of society. In 2022, the foundation celebrated its 50th anniversary. On this page, you will find key figures and highlights of the jubilee year.

Highlights of the year


From the Science and Executive Director

3,223 ways to change the world


Our new grantees are researching

benthic communities of the earth’s seas, climate repair and hypocrisy.


We enable active research

We supported our researchers during and after the application process and provided training.


We collaborate with others in funding projects for the good of the environment to advance the sustainability transformation

Outside the general grant call, we continued to provide support for co-funded projects that strengthen the foundation’s strategic goals.


We make encounters and co-operation possible

We want to enable encounters because we need a shared vision of implementing sustainability transformation.

3,223 ways to change the world

2022 was a year of change at the Nessling Foundation.

I began working at the Nessling Foundation as a Research Director in March 2014. Almost nine years later, in December 2022, I finished my last day of work as the foundation’s Science and Executive Director. Established fifty years ago to support environmental protection, the mission of the foundation has never been more relevant and valued than now. I am glad to have contributed to the foundation’s continuum, doing my part in the foundation’s success and effectiveness. 

During my term, I read all grant applications submitted to the foundation. There were a total of 3,223 of them. More than 3,000 suggestions on how to make the world more sustainable in terms of nature and the human environment! I am thankful and happy for the hopeful work at the Nessling Foundation. 

2022 was a year of change for the foundation in many ways: Katja Bargum was chosen as my successor as the new Science and Executive Director, the foundation’s long-term Administrative Director Jarmo Hirvonen left the foundation, the foundation’s organisational structure and strategy were updated, and the foundation moved to a new home at Puistokatu 4. 

My new home is also located at Puistokatu 4. At the beginning of 2023, I started as the Executive Director of Puistokatu 4, a space for science and hope. I am happy to be able to continue to change the world together with the Nessling Foundation. We are now roommates, and I get to report to the foundation on the operations of Puistokatu 4, as the foundation is their second financier.  

Thank you and good luck in the future, Nessling Foundation! Pro Aere Aqua Terra will forever remain in my heart. 

Minttu Jaakkolan allekirjoitus.

Science and Executive Director Minttu Jaakkola 2014–2022

We accelerate the sustainability transformation with grants

Our mission is to seek systemic solutions for an ecologically sustainable future. Through a general grant call in 2022, we funded projects that promote the sustainability transformation that protects natural systems. 

A record of 407 applications were submitted in the grant call. We were delighted not only by the number of applications, but also by their quality. Top-quality, ecologically sustainable and future-promoting research is carried out in many different scientific fields in Finland. There were also many multidisciplinary research projects among the projects selected for funding.

We granted a total of EUR 2,338,850 to 28 projects. The funded projects included 12 doctoral thesis projects, 8 post doc projects and 8 research knowledge implementation projects. The funding recipients represent 16 different universities, research institutes or other organisations. 

Our new grantees focus on, for example, the following themes: 

What characterises “green labour policy”? How do biodiversity loss and climate change affect the kestrel? What is the history of room temperature? How can duck mussels be used as biofilters in aquaculture? 

Funded projects

Totalling EUR 2,338,850

Funded projects by field

A total of 28 projects

Our new grantees are researching… 

Benthic organisms may take hundreds of years to recover – marine biologist Laura Kaikkonen examines the effects of destroying the seabed

If you get to take a peek at the bottom of the Baltic Sea and have a really keen eye, you will see plenty of small creatures crawling in the mud. You may need a magnifying glass and at least some light to spot them. The benthic communities of the earth’s seas lead a very secret life because deep-sea research is expensive and therefore rare. When life in the deep sea is then disturbed, the consequences can be unpredictable.

Read more

Operation Arctic, back from the Egypt climate summit: “Climate repair can still save our generation”

Imagine you are breaking a wooden chair and it has already started to come apart. If you still want to be able to sit on the chair, it is not enough to stop breaking it. You also need to repair the chair. The same applies to our climate: it is not enough to stop spewing emissions because the destruction has already taken place. That is why the climate must be repaired, Operation Arctic believes.

Read more

Philosopher Otto Snellman: “Hypocrisy can be useful and help achieve the sustainability transformation”

A politician forcefully advocates new wind power projects as a solution to the climate crisis. It is later revealed that their main motive was to reap more tax revenue from wind power into their electoral district. Was the politician hypocritical in their endeavours? If so, was their hypocrisy harmful? If it was harmful, to whom?

Read more

We enable active research

We supported our researchers during and after the application process and provided training

We organised personal sparring for researchers and projects before the general grant call. In addition, we provided personal feedback on the application for those not receiving the grant after the application period. We encourage and train the grantees to adopt an active and impactful research culture, which includes societal debate and communication. In 2022, we guided our researchers in writing blog texts and organised training sessions: a research interaction training and three virtual study circles together with the Kone Foundation. In addition, we organised a joint meeting for our new grant recipients to allow them to network.

Information for the use of society  

Research results on the researcher’s desk or in research publications do not move themselves into society as building blocks for a future. We use different methods to encourage our researchers to adopt an active research culture, in other words, a researcher career integrating communications and interaction as a vital part of the researcher’s work. We also ask the researchers to report their societal interaction in addition to their research publications. The reports show that the funded researchers have adopted an active role in society. In 2022, 44 of our grant recipients reported their research publications and other societal activity. The recipients reported a total of 125 research publications and 183 societal impact activities. The grant recipients reported, among other things, that they have written opinion pieces and non-fiction books, appeared in the media, and been active on social media.

Scientific publications and other types of societal impact

Other types of societal impact

We collaborate with others in funding projects for the good of the environment to advance the sustainability transformation

Outside the general grant call, we continued to provide support for co-funded projects that strengthen the foundation’s strategic goals. In 2022, we funded two separate projects outside the general grant call: the Futures School ecological reconstruction training programme for head teachers and the Rewilding in Finland restoration programme. In addition, we supported the 30th anniversary conference of the EEAC Network in Helsinki and awarded EUR 120,000 to the 120-year-old Tvärminne research station in honour of the anniversary.
In total, we granted EUR 197,920 in other funding during 2022.  

Futures School team: Veera Mertsalmi, Ilpo Rybatzki, Otto Tähkäpää, Paula Tyrväinen.

Futures School training programme for head teachers

Snowchange Cooperative’s Landscape Rewilding restoration programme revives damaged natural habitats

Purse seining in the wintery Puruvesi. Antoine Scherer, Ari Parviainen and Lauri Hämäläinen.

We make encounters and co-operation possible

We want to enable encounters because we need a shared vision of implementing sustainability transformation.

We opened the Space for Science and Hope together with the Tiina and Antti Herlin Foundation

The grand opening of Puistokatu 4. Photo: Eetu Ahanen.

Puistokatu 4, also known as the Space for Science and Hope, is a joint project of the Nessling Foundation and the Tiina and Antti Herlin Foundation. Its goal is to break down environmental discourse silos and catalyse the rapid cultural change needed in an ecological crisis. 

The offices of the foundations that finance the space and the Forum for Environmental Information are located at Puistokatu 4. In addition, experts from different fields work there as Agent members who work to solve the ecological crisis. The Science Attic on the top floor of the building provides a workspace for two dozen researchers from different fields whose work is also related to the ecological crisis. Puistokatu houses a restaurant, and you can also book meeting and event spaces from the premises. Financial Times, Kauppalehti Optio and Yle, among others, wrote about Puistokatu 4 during the year. Its opening exhibition was visited by 5,300 people over the course of two weeks.

The Forum for Environmental Information evaluated its effectiveness and got a new Executive Director

Johanna Riitakorpi and Kaisa Välimäki, the Forum for Environmental Information. Photo: Joel Haapamäki.

The Forum for Environmental Information promotes the use of researched environmental information in societal decision-making. It was founded in 2010, and the Nessling Foundation finances it together with the Kone Foundation. In 2022, Johanna Riitakorpi joined the Forum for Environmental Information as its new Executive Director, and Kaisa Välimäki continued as its Coordinator. 

The Forum for Environmental Information organises various events and facilitates encounters between researchers and decision-makers in order to convey the latest scientific information in the environmental field for the needs of societal decision-making and administration. In 2022, the Forum for Environmental Information and its stakeholders organised a total of six open events and three workshops for a limited target group. In addition, the Forum for Environmental Information organised the Saumakohtia dialogue with three parliamentary parties and the Ympäristödialogeja (Environmental Dialogues) discussion, which dealt with Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and its effects on the global sustainability transformation and energy supply. 

In 2022, the impact evaluation of the Forum for Environmental Information was launched, the results of which will be available in spring 2023. 

We awarded the promoters of sustainable development in the textile industry

Petri Alava and Ali Harlin.

The carbon footprint of the textile industry is estimated to make up as much as ten per cent of all emissions in the world, and the production of one T-shirt consumes 2,700 litres of water. That is why we awarded Infinna fibre developers Ali Harlin and Petri Alava with the Sininen pallo environmental award. The prize was awarded on the basis that fibre made from recycled textiles can significantly change the operation of the fashion industry and the behaviour of consumers. 

The prize is worth EUR 100,000, and this was the second time that it was awarded. The prize is awarded by the Tiina and Antti Herlin Foundation, the Maj and Tor Nessling Foundation and the Svenska litteratursällskapet i Finland.

We connected doctors and companies

We participated in the Post Docs in Companies cooperation programme with ten other foundations. The programme aims to promote the employment of doctors in companies and to improve the ability of Finnish business to reform itself in a long-term and ambitious manner. The foundations participating in the programme commit to funding doctors’ research work for a year, after which the doctors will start working with a business partner to apply their research results. In 2022, we funded the employment of two doctors in the programme.