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Basic information

Year of approval of the
SD strategy and updates

NSDS was approved by the Estonian Parliament in 2005.

Type of SD strategy

NSDS covers the basic three dimensions of SD, plus the sustainability of Estonian culture.

  • The viability of the Estonian cultural space
  • The growth of welfare
  • A socially coherent society
  • Ecological balance
Lead ministry/institution in
the SD strategy process

The Ministry of Environment was responsible for developing the NSDS. The implementation of the strategy is now coordinated by the Government Office in order to ensure better horizontal integration.

Link to the SD strategy

'Sustainable Estonia 21' (2005)

The full list(s) of NSDS objectives as identified by a study commissioned by Eurostat can be downloaded here: NSDS Objectives (2005).

Further information about
the SD strategy process



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National Implementation of 2030 Agenda for SD



Estonia plans to use the already functioning national coordination system for sustainable development issues (Estonian Sustainable Development Commission, Inter-Ministerial Working Group on Sustainable Development) also for coordinating the implementation of Agenda2030

•       Estonian Sustainable Development Commission has launched a comparative analysis of Estonian Sustainable Development Strategy “Sustainable Estonia 21”, which will give answers how much is the Estonian strategy in compliance with Agenda2030.

•       Government Office will initiate a cap-analysis of Estonian Government policies in the light of Agenda2030 sustainable development goals. It will give the overview how many sustainable development goals and targets are covered by governments’ policy measures. Inter-ministerial Working Group of Sustainable development is going to be involved in the process.

•       During 2016 the review of Estonian Sustainable Development indicator set is started to match our national indicators to the SDG indicators. Involving Working Group of SD, National SD Commission and Statistics Office of Estonia.

Estonia is among the first countries that presented voluntary reports at UN 2016 HLPF about the implementation of Agenda 2030. Currently preparations for drafting the report are done.



Leading Ministry and
respective unit


Government Office of Estonia

Other ministries involved


All ministries according to their field of responsibility

Main contact point for the
implementation process


Government Office Strategy Unit

Links to main websites/
documents on national
implementation of the
2030 Agenda and SDGs
[No information available]
Voluntary National Reviews


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Mechanisms of Vertical Integration

National — sub-national linkages

The preparation phase of the NSDS started in 2001 and lasted about 4 years. The Local Self-Government Unions (representing the local authorities) were involved in the overall discussion of defining SD priorities. In the official consultation round for the draft NSDS, different stakeholders groups were involved to provide their comments, including the Local Self-Government Unions.

No institutions are officially responsible for the vertical policy coordination, however the local Self-Government Unions are connected to the monitoring of the strategy through Estonian Commission on Sustainable Development (NCSD). The Commission on SD provides a forum for stakeholder involvement.

Joint Commission of Ministerial Bodies (JCMB) provides a forum for multi-level cooperation, which meets annually and discusses relevant policy topics.

EU linkages

The renewed EU Strategy for Sustainable Development (EU SDS) that was adopted in June 2006 foresees that Member States bi-annually report about how they address the priorities of the EU SDS. Estonia has published its first national report on implementing the EU SDS in 2007 and second report in 2009.


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Mechanisms of Horizontal Integration

1) The Commission for Sustainable Development (NCSD) provides a forum for stakeholder involvement and was most instrumental in the preparation of the NSDS. Representatives from national ministries and other governmental institutions participated in this Commission. Since 2009, the NCSD has been reformed in its functions and composition and has been announced as an independent body from the government. The Commission comprises of non-governmental stakeholders and the commission prepares analytical reports on different SD issues.

2) An Inter-ministerial Working Group, comprising representatives of ministries and the Estonian Statistical Office, has been established in order to coordinate SD issues (e.g. implementation of the NSDS, National Progress Report of EU SDS implementation, SD indicators and monitoring, etc). The working group is chaired by the Strategy Director of the Government Office.


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Evaluation and Review

The Inter-ministerial working group, headed from the Government Office prepares internal Progress reports of NSDS. The second report was published in 2009. Different SD issues are also addressed through studies and reports prepared by NCSD every year.

Estonia is among first 22 countries who will prepare a national voluntary review to the HLPF in July on implementation of Agenda 2030 and glibal sustainable development goals.  


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Indicators and Monitoring

The goals of the four areas of sustainable development in Estonia – viability of the Estonian cultural space, growth of welfare, social cohesion and ecological balance – have been defined in the national strategy “Sustainable Estonia 21” adopted in 2005. In the framework of sustainable development, all those areas are observed as a whole, meaning that development cannot be sustainable if one area improves while the situation in another area deteriorates.

In 2008 the Government Office prepared a report outlining the results of the implementation of “Sustainable Estonia 21”, the Estonian national strategy for sustainable development. The report focused on the development trends that are important for Estonia in order to describe the relevant issues from the perspective of sustainability. The analysis was based on the set of indicators selected by the Government Office and ministries and non-governmental organisations. The indicators selected have also served as the basis for the publication “Säästva arengu näitajad".

Indicators of Sustainable Development” published by Statistics Estonia in 2009 and 2011. The new set of sustainable development indicators was approved by the Commission for Sustainable Development in December 2013. New set of indicators was developed and agreed in cooperation with National Commission for Sustainable Development, inter-Ministerial Working Group for Sustainable Development, Statistics Estonia and Government Office. Next publication, based on the new set of SD indicators was released in March 2015.

The renewal of sustainable development indicators will start in 2016. The aim is to enclose indicators that help to measure the achievements in the fields of SDG-s so the next indicator based reports on sustainable development will give information about performance in Estonian sustainable development goals and also global SDG-s. New list of indicators will be composed in cooperation of inter-ministerial working group, Estonian Statistics Office and Estonian Sustainable Development Commission. 

The earlier publications of Statistics Estonia on sustainable development – “Säästva arengu näitajad". Indicators of Sustainable Development” published in 2002, 2004 and 2006 – were based on the list of sustainable development indicators of the Statistical Office of the European Communities (Eurostat) and the UN Commission on Sustainable Development. The list was linked to the chapters of Agenda 21.

There are more than 100 indicators (incl. 11 key indicators) with their trends available on Eurostat’s web site for measuring progress towards the goals of the EU sustainable development strategy both on the EU level and in individual Member States.

In the survey conducted in 2011–2012, Statistics Estonia mapped and analysed the relevance and quality of the indicators of sustainable development used in Estonia.

The full list(s) of indicators as identified by a study commissioned by Eurostat can be downloaded here:

Unfortunately the dashboard is no longer available. The new set of SD indicators with updated data will be available on the Statistical Office web page in February 2015. 


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In 1996 The Estonian Commission on Sustainable Development was established. The Commission was led by the Prime Minister and co-chaired by the Minister of Economy and the Minister of Environment. The Commission composed of 28 experts in the field SD, including representatives from government (6), parliament (5), governmental institutions (5), academia (9), business (1) and NGOs (2). The objectives of the Commission were to advise the Government on issues related to SD, develop different sectoral options and comments, present them to the national and local governments, and submit proposals for new legislation.

The mandate of Estonian Commission on SD has been renewed. On 12 February 2009, the Estonian Government has adopted the regulation, which reviewed the functions of the SD Commission and changed its membership structure. According to the new regulation, the members of the SD Commission are the representatives from the non-governmental organisations only (i.e. no members from the ministries or parliament as has been the case previously). The membership of the Commission was last updated in 2013. At present, the Commission consists of 19 representatives of different non-governmental organisations. The Strategy Unit in the Government Office acts as the secretariat of the Sustainable Development Commission and provides link to the government sector and to the Europe 2020 strategy. Public participation mechanisms have changed substantially due to the reform of the mandate and functions of the NCSD. The reformed NCSD continues to hold regularly meetings on crucial SD topics and forwards the result of these participatory discussions to the government. It also organises various events like SD conferences and ad-hoc events in crucial SD issues. In all these participation mechanisms the role of the NCSD is to increase ownership and serve as an information exchange platform for stakeholders. The Commission’s focal topic for 2013 is managing cultural heritage conservation. The NCSD focus report “Maintaining of privately owned cultural heritage” was published in March 2014. In 2016 NCSD has launched a comparative analysis of Estonian Sustainable Development Strategy “Sustainable Estonia 21”, which will give answers how much is the Estonian strategy in compliance with Agenda2030.


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Sub-national activities

Regional SD strategies and LA 21 initiatives 

On local government level, there has been four comprehensive SD initiatives that relate to Rio 1992 agreement and Alborg Charter from 1994 and which have led to led to composing SD action-plans (Local Agenda 21). These initiatives have involved different stakeholder groups. The strategies have been consulted with the public and adopted by the local city government. These four initiatives are:

• Kuressaare Agenda 21 (adopted in 1997) 

• Tartu Agenda 21 (adopted in 1998) 

• Viljandi Agenda 21 (adopted in 2002) 

• Pärnu Agenda 21 (adopted in 2004) 

Taking SD in broader sense, then lots of SD field initiatives and activities are implemented through general local development strategies and local budgets. Most of Estonian cities and local governments have developed their own long-term development strategies.

Participation of stakeholders in sub-national SD activities 

The general practice is that different stakeholder groups are involved in drafting the important strategies and action plans or they are consulted during the implementation process. As said before, not all the regions have their own SD strategies, but most of the SD issues are covered in general regional development strategies.

Evaluation and review mechanisms at the sub-national levels, also in the context of your NSDS (plus indicators used on sub-national level).

Concerning the Aalborg process, there are several local governments that have adopted the Aalborg Treaty – Tartu, Tallinn, Narva, Häädemeeste, Märjamaa. Local governments, which have joined the Aalborg Treaty, give the overview of the situation in the baseline review.

Contact details (names, institutional affiliation, email) of sub-national and/or Local Agenda 21 coordinators

Mrs. Irja Alakivi from the Association of Estonian Cities,


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This Country Profile has been last updated on: Monday, 30 October 2017

For the sources used in the country profiles, please click here.


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