Estonia country profile - SDGs and the environment

Briefing Published 02 Dec 2020 Last modified 02 Dec 2020
2 min read
Photo: © Photo by Antoine Petitteville on Unsplash
Estonia initiated SDG action through its 2016 VNR preparations. As a basis for the VNR, the government conducted a preliminary gap analysis of government policies concerning the SDGs. The Commission for Sustainable Development also launched a review of the ‘Sustainable Estonia 21’ strategy to determine whether its national strategy is delivering on the 2030 Agenda (Republic of Estonia, 2016).

Under the inclusive and sustainable development priority, Estonia set out to rethink production and consumption processes in an eco-innovative manner (SDG 12). The country prioritises circular use as well as smart and innovative solutions that sustain the environment (SDGs 7, 9). Readily available information about chemicals in products is considered necessary to phase out hazardous substances and reduce the negative impact on health and the environment, as well as the planned recycling of the material (SDGs 3, 7) (Lõhmus, 2017).

Estonia’s actions towards SDGs with an environmental dimension focus primarily on SDGs 3, 7, 9, 12, 13 and 15.   

In the first half of 2018, Estonia held the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Ahead of this, it set out priorities based on four themes, two of which are related to environment: a ‘safe and secure environment’ and ‘inclusive and sustainable development’ (Republic of Estonia, 2016).

To ensure coordination among the relevant line ministries, the country established an Interministerial Sustainable Development Working Group which works on an ad hoc basis and is composed of representatives from each ministry and Statistics Estonia.

Estonia tracks progress on SDG actions through a set of sustainable development indicators which are regularly reviewed. According to Statistics Estonia, of the 231 global SDG indicators, 32 are currently measurable by Estonia´s national sustainable development indicators. Gathering information on the remaining indicators requires further effort and the development of a set of national SDG indicators (Republic of Estonia, 2016).

Estonia submitted two VNRs to the UN in 2016 and 2020.

A gap analysis, a mapping exercise and indicator-based analyses indicate that Estonia is successful in several SDGs, including SDG 7, by achieving a high proportion of renewable energy in overall energy consumption, and SDG 15, thanks to rich biodiversity protection. The analyses also show that Estonia`s main challenges lie in developing an energy- and resource-efficient economy and reducing carbon dioxide emissions per capita, which require continued efforts toward SDG action in those areas (UN DESA, 2020).



Lõhmus, A., 2017, Statement by Mr Ado Lõhmus, Deputy Minister of Environment of Estonia, General Debate of the High Level Political Forum, New York, Republic of Estonia ( accessed 10 October 2017.

Republic of Estonia, 2016, Review on the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda in Estonia, Government of Estonia, Tallinn, Estonia ( accessed 20 September 2017. 

Sachs, J., et al., 2019,Sustainable Development Report 2019, Bertelsmann Stiftung and Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), New York, USA.

UN DESA, 2020, Main Messages From Estonia’s Voluntary National Review 2020, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, New York, USA ( accessed 12 June 2020.


The country assessments are the sole responsibility of the EEA member and cooperating countries supported by the EEA through guidance, translation and editing.


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