Mikko Jokinen awarded for his life-long work for a cleaner sea

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Östersjöfonden (the Baltic Sea Foundation), the delegation of the foundation has decided to award four persons who, through their extensive life work, have engaged in improving the Baltic Sea environment.

Two of the awards came to Turku, as the former UBC board member, UBC Sustainable Cities Commission Chair and Environmental Manager of the City of Turku Mikko Jokinen and Professor of Marine Biology at the Åbo Akademi University Erik Bonsdorff got the award.

The award of 100 000 euros is shared between Bonsdorff, Jokinen, Jochen Lamp (Germany) and Olga Senova (Russia). The Award ceremony is held on Friday 10th May in Mariehamn, Åland.

Mikko Jokinen was Finland’s first municipal environmental director and has participated in first building up and later developing environmental protection practice in Finland. He has also actively contributed to cooperation between the Baltic Sea Region’s municipalities and cities.

- This is a great honor for me, I am sincerely grateful. It is, of course, nice to get recognition for long-term work, says Jokinen. He retired in 2015 and then returned back to traditional nature conservation hobbies and engagements on for examplea at the Archipelagia Society.

In the forefront of environmental work

Mikko Jokinen has come up with innovative initiatives in water protection through his extensive network of authorities, academia and science, NGOs and the business sector. He has been a broad-minded promoter, active developer and practical implementer of environmental initiatives and collaborations throughout his career.

-    The main driving force has been my endogenous interest to understand nature, added with own experiences of different aspects of the Baltic Sea during the last 50 years, states Jokinen, a biologist.

Jokinen's participation in environmental cooperation, especially between Finnish cities and the City of St. Petersburg, has been significant. Regionally Jokinen’s great success has been the development in local level environmental cooperation, how it has entered into a very concrete level in so many Baltic Sea Region cities.

Jokinen was a member of the Union of the Baltic Cities (UBC) board from 1993 to 1999. In 1997, as Turku offered to host the Environmental Commission of UBC and it soon became Turku’s main cooperation platform in Baltic Sea Relations, Jokinen worked as a Chairman and Co-chairman of the Environmental Commission for a long time (1993 – 2015) together with colleagues from Århus, Sundsvall, and Nacka.

Today a team of 20 young international experts runs the commission, currently known as the UBC Sustainable Cities Commission, to implement sustainable urban development projects in the Baltic Sea Region and promote cooperation especially in environmental matters.

Many experiences to share

Looking back at his long career, Jokinen states his professional highlight has been the first participation in UN Summit of Sustainable Development at Johannesburg in 2002:

-    To feel the atmosphere of the meeting and the optimism, which was then to be seen concerning the common future and the sustainable development goals, he remembers.

Locally his main achievement has been the change in people´s behavior concerning waste management and recycling.

-    In the 1990´s Turku became one of the leading cities in waste recycling in Finland, Jokinen claims

But what is the award recipient’s most remarkable memory of the Baltic Sea?

-    Difficult to select, as there are so many fine memories. But to select one specific event; A trip to Innarahu, West part of Saaremaa  (Estonia) to study grey seal cups in March 1993 with a group of scientists from Estonia, Latvia, Russia, and Finland. To understand, in that fascinating environment, that people of Baltic states are now free to cooperate in all possible ways – the world had changed and the future was full of hope.

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Mikko Jokinen