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, in line with the principles of humanitarian assistance and taking into account the international development co-operation frameworks of the United Nations (UN), the OECD and the EU, namely the EU’s Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument – Global Europe. Estonia does this by focusing its co-operation with partner countries on strengthening governance and human rights, supporting digital transformation and the provision of quality education, contributing to economic development and innovation and, more recently, green transition. Total official development assistance (ODA) increased to USD 60.1 million (preliminary data) in 2021, representing 0.17% of gross national income (GNI).

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 2022-2025 establishes sectoral and geographic priorities along with estimated financial contributions for ODA. Estonia has updated its development co-operation strategies for Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. It has also adopted a comprehensive strategy for engaging with Africa for the 2020-2030 period and an action plan for 2021-2025, focusing mainly on Botswana, Kenya, Namibia and Uganda.

Being one of the founders of the EU’s Digital4Development Hub, Estonia is actively engaging with its Eastern Europe and African partners on digitalization. Apart from cross-cutting digitalization and gender equality themes, Estonia’s development co-operation’s priority areas remain global education, peace and stability, governance, human rights, economic development, environment, and sustainable development.

Estonia is an Adherent to the OECD Recommendation of the Council for Development Co-operation Actors on Managing the Risk of Corruption, the OECD Recommendation of the Council on Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development, the OECD Recommendation of the Council on Environmental Assessment of Development Assistance Projects and Programmes, and the OECD Recommendation of the Council on Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas. Learn more about DAC standards.

Estonia provided USD 60.1 million (preliminary data) as ODA in 2021,1 representing 0.17% of GNI. This was an increase of 18.4% in real terms in volume, with ODA as a share of GNI being stable from 2020. 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. Estonia provided all of its ODA as grants in 2020.2 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 provided most of its ODA multilaterally in 2020. Gross bilateral ODA was 33.4% of total ODA. The share of gross bilateral ODA channelled through multilateral organisations (earmarked contributions) was 30.8%. Estonia allocated 66.6% of total ODA as core contributions to multilateral organisations.

In 2020, Estonia provided USD 2.3 million of gross bilateral ODA for the COVID-19 response, representing 13.8% of its total gross bilateral ODA. Three per cent of total gross bilateral ODA was provided as health expenditure within the COVID-19 response.

In 2020, Estonia provided USD 38.4 million of gross ODA to the multilateral system, an increase of 4.8% in real terms from 2019. Of this, USD 33.3 million was core multilateral ODA, while non-core contributions were earmarked for a specific country, region, theme or purpose. Project-type funding that is earmarked for a specific theme and/or country accounted for 23.6% of Estonia’s non-core contributions and 76.4% was programmatic funding (to pooled funds and specific-purpose programmes and funds).

Ninety-seven per cent of Estonia’s total contribution to multilateral organisations in 2020 was allocated to EU institutions, UN entities and the World Bank Group.

The UN system received 20.7% of Estonia’s gross ODA to the multilateral system, mainly through earmarked contributions. Out of a total volume of USD 7.95 million to the UN system, the top three UN recipients of Estonia’s support (core and earmarked contributions) were: UNOCHA (USD 2 million), UNICEF (USD 1.2 million) and the UNHCR (USD 700 000).

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

In 2020, Estonia’s bilateral spending declined compared to the previous year. It provided USD 16.7 million of gross bilateral ODA (which includes earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations). This represented a decrease of 2.4% in real terms from 2019. In 2020, Estonia focused most of its bilateral ODA on the reducing inequalities, poverty eradication, education and partnerships goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

In 2020, country programmable aid was 36.5% of Estonia’s gross bilateral ODA, compared to the reporting countries’ average of 47.8%.

In 2020, Estonia channelled bilateral ODA mainly through non-governmental organisations and multilateral organisations, as earmarked funding. Technical co-operation made up 3.6% of gross ODA in 2020.

In 2020, civil society organisations (CSOs) received USD 5.2 million of gross bilateral ODA. A share of 6.3% of gross bilateral ODA was allocated to CSOs as core contributions and 24.6% was channelled through CSOs to implement projects initiated by the donor (earmarked funding). From 2019 to 2020, the combined core and earmarked contributions for CSOs decreased as a share of bilateral ODA, from 33.2% to 30.9%. Learn more about ODA allocations to and through CSOs, civil society engagement in development co-operation and the DAC Recommendation on Enabling Civil Society in Development Co-operation and Humanitarian Aid.

In 2020, Estonia’s bilateral ODA was primarily focused on Europe and Asia. USD 5 million was allocated to ODA-eligible countries in Europe and USD 2.3 million to Asia, accounting for 29.7% and 13.5% respectively. USD 1.5 million was allocated to the Middle East, accounting for 9% of gross bilateral ODA. Asia and Europe were also the main regional recipients of Estonia’s earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations, in line with the policy priorities of its overall strategy.

In 2020, 46.2% of gross bilateral ODA went to Estonia’s top 10 recipients. Its top 10 recipients are in Europe and Asia, in line with its focus on its policy priorities. The share of gross bilateral ODA that was not allocated by country was 46%, mostly including administrative costs and core support.

In 2020, least developed countries received 13.1% of Estonia’s gross bilateral ODA (USD 2.2 million). Estonia allocated the highest share of gross bilateral ODA (35.9%) to lower middle-income countries in 2020, noting that 46% was unallocated by income group.

Support to fragile contexts reached USD 3.4 million in 2020, representing 20.3% of Estonia’s gross bilateral ODA. Forty-five per cent of this ODA was provided in the form of humanitarian assistance, increasing from 41% in 2019.

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

In 2020, social infrastructure and services was the largest focus of bilateral ODA. Investments in this area accounted for 40.7% of bilateral ODA commitments (USD 6.8 million), with a strong focus on support to government and civil society (USD 3.6 million) and education (USD 2.2 million). Bilateral humanitarian assistance amounted to USD 4.5 million (27.3% of bilateral ODA). Earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations focused on humanitarian assistance and social infrastructure and services in 2020. Moreover, Estonia’s administrative costs amounted to USD 3 million (17.9%).

In 2020, Estonia committed USD 0.8 million (6.5% of its bilateral allocable aid) to promote aid for trade and improve developing countries’ trade performance and integration into the world economy in 2020.

In 2020, Estonia committed 10.7% of its screened bilateral allocable aid to gender equality and women’s empowerment, as either a principal or significant objective (up from 7.4% in 2019).3 This is equal to USD 1.4 million of bilateral ODA in support of gender equality. The share of screened bilateral allocable aid committed to gender equality and women’s empowerment as a principal objective was 8.7%. Estonia screened all activities against the DAC gender equality policy marker in 2020. Learn more about ODA focused on gender equality, the DAC Network on Gender Equality and the DAC Recommendation on Ending Sexual Exploitation in Development Co-operation.

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 2021-2022, Estonia underwent a wide reform to improve its development co-operation as well as performance monitoring and evaluation system. The Estonian development co-operation implementing body (EstDev) was thus established with the objective to increase bilateral development cooperation implementation capacity.

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 (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 carry out evaluation activities. Estonia has improved its monitoring and evaluation and results system in cooperation with the OECD and is working towards the adoption of a dedicated strategy.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Estonia:

Estonian Center for International Development:

Member of the OECD since 2010. Not a member of the OECD Development Assistance Committee. 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.


← 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.

← 2. Other providers also provide non-grants, which include sovereign loans, multilateral loans, equity investment and loans to the private sector.

← 3. The use of the recommended minimum criteria for the marker by some members in recent years can result in lower levels of aid reported as being focused on gender equality.

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