In the early 1980s a large number of researchers and institutions gathered around a project to search and document the first natural and cultural history tracks in the landscape which the last ice age left behind in Northern Europe. The work lasted throughout the 1980s including advanced field work on land and in sea, as well as massive analyses in leading laboratories around the world. First of all, a unique cross network of international and subject boundaries was created between people and organisations. It was from those works that the embryo of The IK Foundation was developed, when we realised the benefits of working scientifically from a practical as well as theoretical perspective, but also due to thinking interdisciplinary and building new networks based on quality – without any form of prestige.
With this spirit in mind, on January 1, 1988, the independent foundation, IK, was established, first as a Nordic research foundation, which was transformed into an international research foundation based in London a few years later. From the start it was clear that IK aspired to have a long-term perspective to in the best way possible reach a wide range of interested individuals and organisations. Was it possible, for example, to publish research findings through books and exhibitions which were beautiful, accurate and scientific alike? We believed it then and we still continue to believe so, even though we now also include digital work to a large extent. No matter what, in all what IK creates, its emblem of the organisation – the lonely windswept pine, a symbol with a beautiful story – is a mutual denominator. The remains of the first pine trees that grew after the ice age process, after about 13,000 years still remain in today's sea-covered landscapes, currently forming the bottom of the Baltic Sea. But also that a lonely pine survives a number of storms, heat and cold is a living proof of long-term survival based on an interaction with its surroundings. IK's emblem is therefore a collective symbol for all those – employees, organisations, financiers, interested individuals et al – making our projects possible!
30 years after the creation of The IK Foundation, the world looks quite different. The digital revolution is incredible with all its possibilities for people to find information, contacts, ideas and knowledge, but equally inadequate when used for misinformation. The world's population has grown by almost 2 500 000 000 people since 1988, the pure "wild" nature is being exploited at an accelerating rate, diversity of fauna and flora have increasing difficulty in finding space or keeping existing habitats, already an increasing majority of the world's population lives in urban landscapes far from natural environments.
In a short amount of time, countries, people and organisations will have begun – more and more – to use words like "elite" and speak in forms like "us and them" – a conscious distance from their surrounding world. Having said that, the world is still filled with knowledge, opportunities and ideas, which through the digital world, among other things, have great potential for establishing unique projects in completely new ways.
IK will continue with "Promoting Natural & Cultural History – To understand Planet Earth". We will continue to work interdisciplinarily, as far as possible, publishing our results openly and freely – which we think is a democratic right. Long-term results is in our "genes" as well as thinking cross-border between countries, cultures and disciplines. Today, IK's results and thoughts are found in over 120 countries where we hope they inspire new projects and ideas for the interest of "Natural & Cultural History" to new generations’ everyday lives!
However, we are a relatively small NGO organisation, solely through independence, innovative thinking, long-term ideas and qualitative work, we have been able to make the first 30 years possible through close collaboration in different forms. If our results in all its forms can continue to spread knowledge in order to contribute to an increased understanding and respect for all – fauna, flora and humans of our mutual Planet Earth – it is great! That is what we mean when we say "continue to scatter seeds across a mutable world" – welcome to help us plant many more seeds …
Thank you very much!