The overarching vision for Estonia’s development co-operation is to contribute to eradicating poverty and attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by sharing its knowledge and experience with transition countries. Estonia focuses this co-operation on partner countries in its region, including through scaling up assistance to Ukraine, 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 European Union (EU). Thematic priorities include strengthening governance and human rights, supporting the provision of quality education, contributing to economic development, developing quality healthcare, empowering civil society, and ensuring peace and stability. Throughout its co-operation, Estonia aims to ensure that its strong expertise in digital technology, green transitions and gender equality adds value.

Estonia’s total official development assistance (ODA) (USD 203 million, preliminary data) increased in 2022, representing 0.54% of gross national income (GNI). The increase in ODA volume was mainly due to an increase in in-donor refugee costs.

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 specific 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 digitalisation. Estonia’s focus is to engage more impactfully and strategically as part of Team Europe in fostering digital transformation in partner countries and implement the EU’s Global Gateway strategic goals, based on partner countries’ interests and by creating synergies with other donors. Estonia’s current focus is to participate in Team Europe initiatives related to the core areas where Estonia has recognised expertise, such as digital governance, education and innovative entrepreneurship. As a result of the co-operation in the Digital4Development Hub, there are already several large Team Europe initiatives in the pipeline.

Estonia is an Adherent to the OECD Recommendation of the Council on Environment Assessment of Development Assistance Projects and Programmes, the OECD Recommendation of the Council on Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development, the OECD Recommendation of the Council for Development Co-operation Actors on Managing the Risk of Corruption, 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 recommendations.

Estonia provided USD 202.9 million (preliminary data) of ODA in 2022 (USD 190.9 million in constant terms), representing 0.54% of GNI. This was an increase of 217% in real terms in volume and an increase in share of GNI from 2021, largely due to the rising costs of refugees in Estonia. ODA volume has consistently increased over the past ten years. Estonia is in line with its European-level commitment of 0.33% 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.1

Estonia provided a higher share of its ODA multilaterally in 2021. Gross bilateral ODA was 41.1% of total ODA. Twenty-four per cent of gross bilateral ODA was channelled through multilateral organisations (earmarked contributions). Estonia allocated 58.9% of total ODA as core contributions to multilateral organisations.

In 2022, Estonia provided USD 6.6 million of gross bilateral ODA to Ukraine to respond to the impacts of Russia’s war of aggression, of which USD 3.4 million was humanitarian assistance (preliminary data).

In 2021, Estonia provided USD 41.5 million of gross ODA to the multilateral system, an increase of 2.2% in real terms from 2020. Of this, USD 35.5 million was core multilateral ODA, while non-core contributions were earmarked for a specific country, region, theme or purpose. Project-type funding earmarked for a specific theme and/or country accounted for 63.7% of Estonia’s non-core contributions and 36.3% was programmatic funding (to pooled funds and specific-purpose programmes and funds).

Eighty-eight per cent of Estonia’s total contributions to multilateral organisations in 2021 was allocated to EU Institutions, the World Bank, and the UN system (in descending order).

The UN system received 11.5% of Estonia’s multilateral contributions, prevailingly in the form of earmarked contributions. Out of a total volume of USD 4.6 million to the UN system, the top three UN recipients of Estonia’s support (core and earmarked contributions) were UN Secretariat (USD 0.7 million), UNICEF (USD 0.6 million) and UNEP (USD 0.5 million).

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 2021, Estonia’s bilateral spending increased compared to the previous year. It provided USD 24.8 million of gross bilateral ODA (which includes earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations). This represented an increase of 35.3% in real terms from 2020. In 2021, Estonia focused most of its bilateral ODA on reduced inequalities 10), peace, justice and strong institutions (SDG 16), partnership for the goals (SDG 17), no poverty (SDG 1), good health and well-being (SDG 3) and quality education (SDG 4).

In 2021, country programmable aid was 53.1% of Estonia’s gross bilateral ODA, compared to a non-DAC country average of 46.4% (excluding the EU institutions).

In 2021, Estonia mostly channelled bilateral ODA through NGOs, public institutions and multilateral organisations, as earmarked funding. Technical co-operation made up 3.0% of gross ODA in 2021.

In 2021, civil society organisations (CSOs) received USD 7.5 million of gross bilateral ODA. Three per cent of gross bilateral ODA was allocated to CSOs as core contributions and 27.7% was channelled through CSOs to implement projects initiated by the donor (earmarked funding). From 2020 to 2021, the share of bilateral ODA, channelled to or through CSOs was rather stable, moving from 30.9% to 30.3%. 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 2021, Estonia’s bilateral ODA was primarily focused on developing countries in Europe. USD 7.0 million was allocated to Europe and USD 5.3 million to Africa, accounting respectively for 28.1% and 21.3% of gross bilateral ODA. USD 3.2 million (12.9%) was allocated to Asia. Europe was the main regional recipient of Estonia’s earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations.

In 2021, 54.4% of gross bilateral ODA went to Estonia’s top 10 recipients. Its top 10 recipients are in Europe, Central Asia and Sub-Sahara Africa. The share of gross bilateral ODA that was not allocated by country was 35.2%.

In 2021, the least developed countries (LDCs) received 15.5% of Estonia’s gross bilateral ODA (USD 3.9 million). This is in line with the non-DAC country average of 13.7% (excluding the EU institutions). Estonia allocated the highest share of gross bilateral ODA (40.7%) to lower middle-income countries in 2021, noting that 35.2% was unallocated by income group. Estonia allocated 18.5% of gross bilateral ODA to land-locked developing countries in 2021, equal to USD 4.6 million.

Support to fragile contexts reached USD 5.3 million in 2021, representing 21.2% of Estonia’s gross bilateral ODA. Twenty-nine per cent of this ODA was provided in the form of humanitarian assistance, decreasing from 44.7% in 2020, while 14.7% was allocated to peace, decreasing from 15.2% in 2020. Two per cent went to conflict prevention, a subset of contributions to peace, representing a decrease from 14.3% in 2020.

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

In 2021, less than half of Estonia’s bilateral ODA was allocated to social infrastructure and services. Investments in this area accounted for 44.3% of bilateral ODA commitments (USD 11.5 million), with a strong focus on support to government and civil society (USD 4.9 million), health (USD 3.3 million) and education (USD 3.0 million). ODA for economic infrastructure and services totalled USD 2.7 million, focusing on business (USD 2.6 million bilateral humanitarian assistance amounted to USD 3.4 million (13.0% of bilateral ODA). In 2021, earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations mostly focused on health, emergency response, and government and civil society.

In 2020-21, Estonia committed 9.2% of its screened bilateral allocable aid to gender equality and women’s empowerment, as either a principal or significant objective (compared with the 2020-21 non-DAC average of 24.2%). This is equal to USD 1.6 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 6.2% in 2020-21, compared with the non-DAC average of 0.8%. Estonia screens virtually all activities against the DAC gender equality policy marker (100% in 2020-21). 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.

In 2020-21, Estonia committed 7.9% of its total bilateral allocable aid (USD 1.3 million) in support of the environment and the Rio Conventions (non-DAC average of 8.9%), up from 5.3% in 2018-19. Eight per cent of screened bilateral allocable aid focused on environmental issues as a principal objective, compared with the non-DAC average of 4.3%. Five per cent of total bilateral allocable aid (USD 0.8 million) focused on climate change overall (the non-DAC average was 5.7%), up from 0% in 2018-19. Estonia had the same focus on mitigation (4.8%) and on adaptation (4.8%) in 2020-21.

Learn more about climate-related development finance and the DAC Declaration on Aligning Development Co-operation with the Goals of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

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. Within the framework of the development co-operation reform in 2020-22, Estonia’s development co-operation system was significantly reorganised. The reorganisation streamlined and improved the effectiveness of the administration of development co-operation by separating policy-making from its implementation and established clear lines of authority and delineating roles within the system. The reform culminated in 2021 with establishing the Estonian Centre for International Development (ESTDEV). ESTDEV is a government-funded foundation responsible for managing and implementing Estonia’s development co-operation and NEXUS projects.

Internal systems and processes help ensure the effective delivery of Estonia’s development co-operation. In 2022, Estonia finalized the drafting of a Strategy and Action Plan for Assessing the Impact of Estonia’s Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid to strengthen its performance monitoring and evaluation system. Estonia started piloting the new system of evaluating the results of Estonia’s development cooperation with some projects in Moldova at the beginning of 2022 and launched the improved final version in October 2022. The official implementation of the action plan began at the end of 2022.

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. Non-grants include sovereign loans, multilateral loans, equity investment and loans to the private sector.

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