Helsinki, Finland – WWF-Finland presented an award to Finnish conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen who, through his work, has brought to the public’s attention the condition and conservation needs of the Baltic Sea.
The award was presented in conjunction with the Baltic Sea Festival’s opening concert, which Salonen established in 2003, in addition to his role as Principal Conductor with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Finnish President Tarja Halonen also attended the event.
“The universal language of music has no political attachments and it reaches people across language barriers with ease,” Salonen said. “That is why a big festival such as this one can foster a common desire to help improve the condition of the Baltic Sea.”
“In order to garner enough support for the Baltic Sea and nature conservation on the whole, it is important that people from different sectors of society, including the arts sector, who enjoy broad and international recognition, dare speak out on behalf of the environment.”
As a festival participant, WWF is conducting environmental seminars with a particular focus on conserving the Baltic Sea region.
“Esa-Pekka Salonen has spoken and acted passionately on behalf of the Baltic Sea and its protection,” said Elisabeth Rehn, Chair of WWF-Finland’s Board of Trustees, who presented the conductor with the award.
“Just like art, the Baltic Sea environment gives people valuable experiences and improves our emotional well-being,” said Rehn.
The Baltic Sea is the youngest sea on the planet. It has a unique marine ecosystem that plays an important role for the 85 million people who live in the area – the only sea almost entirely within the European Union. However, the ecosystem is highly sensitive to pollution as there is little exchange of water with the neighbouring Atlantic Ocean. As a result, the sea’s contaminated water can remain in place for 25 to 30 years.
“Society as a whole must concentrate its energies on saving the Baltic Sea,” said Salonen. “I don’t want to ever again have to tell my kids they can’t swim in the sea because of it is no longer fit for swimming.”
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Päivi Rosqvist, Head of Communications
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