Banker gives fortune to save sea

A Swedish businessman has donated 500 million kronor of his private fortune to clear up the Baltic Sea.

Financier Björn Carlson got rich in 1999 when he sold his company Carlson Investment Management to Skandia for 500 million kronor.

Now he is putting the same amount of money into a fund to help improve the Baltic Sea’s environment. The sea, which Sweden shares with seven other countries, has suffered in recent years from overfishing, pollution, and invasions by non-native species.

Widespread algae growth in the Baltic, which this summer was worse than ever, was one of the factors that made Carlson, who says he has always been a keen sailor, decide to act.

“You just need to look at it to understand that the Baltic is sick,” he said to Sydsvenskan.

“The water is less clear, and you can’t fish in the normal places any longer. As for the algae – I’ve seen it before, but not at all to the same extent as today.”

The Björn Carlson Foundation for the Baltic Sea will primarily hand out grants to researchers working on projects to improve the sea’s environment, but Carlson makes it clear that he wants his money to produce more than just new theories.

“I expect to see concrete measures and results in 10-12 years’ time, not just investigations,” he said.

“Investments based on wise decisions and good research could help to turn the tide of negative developments in the Baltic Sea.”

Carlson’s foundation will work with both the World Wide Fund for Nature, WWF, and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Before founding the private investment company from which he made his fortune, Carlson worked as the head of a fund for Swedish bank SEB.

“I’ve been considering what to do with my money for the past five years,” Carlson told Dagens Nyheter.

“I am influenced by the Anglo-Saxon model, and think that when you’ve been able to earn money you should also do something good.”

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