Estonia

The overarching vision of Estonian development co-operation is to contribute to the eradication of poverty and the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals by sharing its knowledge and experience with transition countries. It does so by focusing its co-operation with partner countries on improving basic services, strengthening governance and human rights, supporting the provision of quality education, contributing to economic development, digital transformation, and promoting environmental sustainability.

The Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for the Estonian development co-operation strategy and gathering data from other public sector institutions to report Estonia’s official development assistance (ODA). Each ministry has a budget for development co-operation. In April 2021, the Estonian development co-operation implementing body was established to separate the policy planning from the implementing functions. On average, over the past ten years, the volume of Estonia’s assistance has increased, with two-thirds of its ODA channelled through multilateral organisations in 2020. Estonia is engaged in shaping the European Union’s (EU) development policy while following Estonian priorities.

Estonia supported the international efforts against the spread of COVID-19, mainly by responding to the United Nations’ (UN) global call to action on humanitarian aid. Under the UN call, Estonia has contributed to the World Health Organization, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the World Health Organization’s Contingency Fund for Emergencies, and the UN Central Emergency Response Fund to stop the spread of the virus in the poorest countries with ongoing conflicts and weak healthcare systems. Aligned with the Team Europe COVID-19 response, Estonia has also provided bilateral support on healthcare, distance learning and socio-economic development to Afghanistan, Belarus, Georgia, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and Ukraine.

Please note that 2020 preliminary and 2019 data in the text are provided in current prices whereas the charts reflect all data in constant 2018 USD, in order for the data to be comparable over time. Find the methodological notes behind the profile here.

Two core instruments govern the Estonian development co-operation framework. First, the Estonian Foreign Policy Strategy 2030 stresses the importance of development co-operation and humanitarian aid in Estonia’s foreign policy. Second, the Programme of Development Co-operation and Humanitarian Aid 2021-2024 establishes sectoral and geographic priorities along with estimated financial contributions for ODA. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently launched its Africa strategy and updated its development co-operation strategies for Moldova and Ukraine, and is currently updating its strategy for Georgia.

Estonia’s development co-operation focuses on sharing its experience with transition countries, in line with the principles of humanitarian assistance and taking into account the international development co-operation frameworks of the UN, the OECD and the EU. Estonian development co-operation is channelled mainly through multilateral and civil society organisations, concentrating on health and education services, peace and stability, governance, human rights, economic development, environment, and sustainable development. Cross-cutting themes include digitalisation and gender equality.

Estonia provided USD 49.3 million (preliminary data),1 representing 0.16% of gross national income (GNI) in 2020. This was an increase of 1.2% in real terms in volume from 2019. The government has committed to strive to achieve a 0.33% ODA/GNI ratio by 2030 and Estonia is committed, at the European level, to collectively achieve a 0.7% ODA/GNI ratio by 2030. Total ODA on a grant-equivalent basis has the same value as net ODA under the cash-flow methodology used in the past, as Estonia provides only grants.

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In 2019, Estonia provided more of its ODA multilaterally. Gross bilateral ODA was 34.8% of total ODA, of which 26.7% was channelled through multilateral organisations (earmarked contributions). Estonia allocated 65.2% of total ODA as core contributions to multilateral organisations.

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In 2019, Estonia provided USD 36.1 million of gross ODA to the multilateral system, an increase of 9% in real terms from 2018. Of this, USD 31.6 million was core multilateral ODA, while non-core contributions were earmarked for a specific country, region, theme or purpose. Project-type funding earmarked to a specific theme and/or country accounted for 54% of Estonia’s non-core contributions, while the remaining 46% was programmatic funding (to pooled funds and specific-purpose programmes and funds).

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In 2019, Estonia’s total contribution to multilaterals was mainly allocated to the EU institutions, the UN and the World Bank Group. These contributions together accounted for more than 97% of Estonia’s total support to the multilateral system. The UN system received 14.6%, mainly through earmarked contributions. Out of a total volume of USD 5.3 million to the UN system, the top three UN recipients of Estonia’s support (core and earmarked contributions) were the United Nations Children’s Fund (USD 1.2 million), the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (USD 700 000) and the United Nations Development Programme (USD 500 000).

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See the section on Geographic and thematic focus of ODA for the geographical and thematic breakdown of bilateral allocations earmarked through the multilateral development system. Learn more about multilateral development finance.

In 2019, Estonia’s bilateral spending declined compared to the previous year. It provided USD 16.9 million of gross bilateral ODA (which includes earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations). This represented a decrease of 20.6% in real terms from 2018. Technical co-operation made up 4.4% of gross bilateral ODA in 2019. In 2019, country programmable aid was 48.7% of Estonia’s gross bilateral ODA, compared to a DAC country average of 48%.

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Note: NGO: non-governmental organisation.

In 2019, Estonia channelled bilateral ODA mainly through non-governmental organisations, multilateral organisations (as earmarked funding) and the public sector.

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In 2019, civil society organisations (CSOs) received USD 5.6 million, equivalent to 33.3% of gross bilateral ODA. Out of total bilateral ODA, 3.8% was allocated to CSOs as core contributions and 29.5% was channelled through CSOs by Estonia as earmarked funding. Between 2017 and 2019, core and earmarked contributions to CSOs decreased as a share of bilateral ODA, from 33.6% to 33.2%. Learn more about ODA allocations to and through CSOs and civil society engagement in development co-operation.

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In 2019, Estonia’s bilateral ODA was primarily focused on Europe. USD 6.2 million was allocated to ODA-eligible countries in Europe and USD 2.9 million to Asia, accounting for 36.5% and 16.9% respectively, while USD 500 000 was allocated to Africa, accounting for 2.8% of gross bilateral ODA. Europe and Asia were also the main regional recipients of Estonia’s earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations, in line with the policy priorities of its overall strategy. Thirty-three per cent of gross bilateral ODA was unspecified by region in 2019.

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Bilateral ODA by recipient country

In 2019, 48.9% of gross bilateral ODA went to Estonia’s top 10 recipients, mostly in Europe and Asia, in line with its focus on its immediate neighbourhood and its policy priorities. The share of gross bilateral ODA that was not allocated by country was 48.8%.

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In 2019, least developed countries (LDCs) received 10% of Estonia’s gross bilateral ODA (USD 1.7 million). This is lower than the DAC country average of 23.8%. Estonia allocated the highest share of gross bilateral ODA (38.4%) to lower middle-income countries in 2019, noting that 48.8% was unallocated by income group.

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Note: LDC: least developed country; LMIC: lower middle-income country; UMIC: upper middle-income country.

Support to fragile contexts reached USD 2.6 million in gross bilateral ODA in 2019, representing 15.6% of Estonia gross bilateral ODA.

Learn more about support to fragile contexts on the States of Fragility platform.

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Note: The chart represents only gross bilateral official development assistance that is allocated by country.

In 2019, most of Estonia’s bilateral ODA was allocated to social infrastructure and services. Investments in this area accounted for 40.7% of bilateral ODA commitments (USD 5.9 million), exhibiting a strong focus on support to government and civil society (USD  3 million) and education (USD 2 million). ODA for economic infrastructure and services totalled USD 500 000. Bilateral humanitarian aid amounted to USD 2.8 million (19.9% of bilateral ODA). Earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations focused primarily on humanitarian aid and social infrastructure and services in 2019.

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In 2019, Estonia reported for the first time amounts mobilised from the private sector by official interventions, becoming the first provider outside the DAC membership to report on such amounts. In 2019, Estonia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs mobilised USD 0.3 million from the private sector through simple co-financing arrangements (100%).

A share of 63% of private finance targeted middle-income countries and 2% the LDCs and other LICs in 2019. Moreover, 35% was unallocated by income. Estonia’s private finance mobilised for fragile contexts amounted to 2% of its annual mobilisation total.

Estonia’s private finance mobilised in 2018-19 mainly related to activities in the communications (38%), government and civil society (28%), and education (14%) sectors.

Learn more about the amounts mobilised from the private sector for development.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the key institution responsible for managing and co-ordinating Estonian development co-operation and humanitarian assistance, as stipulated by the Government of the Republic Act. Other governmental agencies implement specific projects within the scope of their competence. In April 2021, the Estonian development co-operation implementing body was established to separate the policy planning from the implementing functions. With this reform, Estonia aims at making the provision of development co-operation more effective and building up the necessary implementation capacity.

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The Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs undertakes regular monitoring of development co-operation, including through missions to partner countries, and project partners are required to submit reporting over the project period. In four out of five priority countries, Estonia has either an embassy (Belarus, Georgia, Ukraine) or a residing diplomat (Moldova) to assist with this work. In Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, a local development co-operation and humanitarian aid co-ordinator helps to carry out evaluation activities. Estonia has improved its monitoring and evaluation system in co-operation with the OECD and through learning exercises with other countries. The new system will be executed within the Estonian development co-operation implementing body by the second half of 2021.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Estonia, Development Co-operation and Humanitarian Aid: https://vm.ee/en/activities-objectives/development-cooperation-and-humanitarian-aid

Member of the OECD since 2010. Not a member of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC). Reporting to the OECD since 1998 and reporting activity-level data since 2014 on 2013 activities.

The methodological notes provide further details on the definitions and statistical methodologies applied, including the grant-equivalent methodology, core and earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations, country programmable aid, channels of delivery, bilateral ODA unspecified/unallocated, bilateral allocable aid, the gender equality policy marker, and the environment markers.

Note

← 1. DAC members adopted the grant-equivalent methodology starting from their reporting of 2018 data as a more accurate way to count the donor effort in development loans. See the methodological notes for further details.

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