Estonia ranks 20th out of the EU28 on the Eco-innovation Index 2019, and thus falls below the EU average performance. The overall composite Eco-innovation Index score of Estonia is 73. Despite being 11% below the EU average, it can be considered a positive sign in the country’s eco-innovation ambitions, as is nevertheless represents a substantial improvement from previous years. While resource efficiency is a major deficiency in which Estonia is ranked last among all EU Member States, socio-economic outcomes and eco-innovation inputs are the nation’s two driving forces.

In Estonia, there is a strong and consistent political and economic will to foster eco-innovation and circular economy. Circular economy has increasingly gained attention, also through the three-stage development of the national circular economy action plan. Ecodesign is a novel measure that is intensively addressed and developed, along with the national bioeconomy strategy which the Ministry of Environment intends to finalise and roll out presently. Resource efficiency, albeit being one of the major weak points of eco-innovation in Estonia and its economy, and having considerable room for improvement, is addressed through programmes and support schemes. However, several drivers and barriers are also identified. On one hand, digitalisation is used across many different levels as a competitive edge and continues to be a major driving force benefitting eco-innovation. This has also translated into a considerable surge of cleantech and its establishment as a crucial pillar of the national economy. On the other hand, the generally high awareness of environmental concerns among the Estonian population has only poorly translated into lifestyle changes, as green values and attitudes are only partially adopted and followed through. Moreover, in terms of access to investments and funding, Estonia continues to be somewhat dependent on the EU’s means, particularly with regard to RDI. In general, eco-innovation appears to be driven by the demand of foreign actors, which creates a distinct dependency on foreign support.

2019 Eco-innovation Scoreboard ranking and eco-innovation index composites for Estonia

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