Tallinn - finalist of the European Green Capital 2022 award

Tallinn is one of the four finalists that remain running for the title of the European Green Capital 2022 . Altogether, 18 cities applied in the 2022 award cycle, Tallinn’s competitors in the final are Dijon (FRA), Grenoble (FRA) and Turin (ITA). An international jury will choose the winner on October 8.

4 focus points of Tallinn as the finalist of the 2022 award:

1. State of the Baltic Sea

As a capital that lies by the sea, we are extremely worried about the poor state of the Baltic Sea as one of the most polluted seas in the world. Most of the litter that ends up in our sea, especially plastic, can be tracked back to our everyday lives – for example, 50% of the plastic waste in the Baltic Sea consists of cigarette filters. 80% of the trash in the sea comes from the mainland, so it is up to local communities to put an end to this by spreading awareness of the cigarette butt issue and tackling the problem via reducing this type of littering actively.

In our 2020 pre-programme, the City of Tallinn in cooperation with the World Cleanup Day initiative launched a campaign „Bin Your Butts“. The aim of the campaign is to spread awareness of the cigarette filter litter problem. The campaign partners are the Port of Tallinn, Tallinn Airport and major shipping companies that operate from the Port of Tallinn - Tallink, Viking Line and Eckerö Line. In addition, 350 storm water drains in Tallinn got a special yellow marking in the campaign „Sea Starts Here“, a project lead by NGO Pühapäevane prügikoristus piknikuga. The city will also bring special bins meant just for cigarette butts on the streets – these are not ordinary, boring bins, but Ballot Bins – a design created in UK and has shown promising results by reducing cigarette filter litter by 50-80% depending on a specific location.

2. Supporting biodiversity

A city can be truly sustainable only if we live in harmony with the surrounding nature. Tallinn is concerned about the steady decline of insects and especially pollinators. The numbers of insect species has shown decreasing number in all continents due to intensive use of pesticides and the effects of climate change. It is a paradox that cities have become a safe haven for insects – there is no active agriculture here and the use of pesticides is therefor much lower than in rural areas.

Tallinn has joined the movement of European Pesticide Free Towns, we have mapped our use of pesticides and we are taking steps to reduce it systematically. Tallinn Urban Environment and Public Works Department has reduced the use of pesticides necessary for keeping road sides clean of weeds by 58% (in comparison with data from 2017).

The butterflies, bees and other pollinators flying around the city need much more. That is why, Tallinn is investing in creating an Insect Highway, a 13 kilometre pollinator-friendly corridor. Planting pollinator friendly flowers and bushes to the area of the corridor is an inseparable part of the project. A wish to create an urban space suitable for all species that call Tallinn home has lived in our hearts since 13th century. It was exactly then when it was decided that no trees would be allowed to be cut in Aegna island – a sanctuary right in the city centre. 20% of Tallinn is covered with forest and we also have nature parks, landscape protection areas, unique alvars and bogs.  

 3. Carbon neutral mobility

Tallinn has been the capital of free public transport since 2013. We consider free public mobility for all a corner stone of reducing emissions coming from the transport sector. Free public transport is a very ambitious target that many cities around the world are aiming for. But we aim higher.

Our goal is to provide free carbon neutral public transport. We have already started – all public transport already powered by electrity uses only renewable energy. This year, we are replacing 100 of the oldest buses with highest emissions with new, compressed biogas buses. This is one of the most important and major investments of the last couple of years in Estonia.

By 2025, we will have 350 of these new Solaris biogas buses roaming around our streets. This means, that in 4,5 years, our public transport fleet will be running on renewable electricity, compressed biogas or is hybrid. And we will not stop. All of our public transport network is planned to run on green electricity by 2035.

Citizen’s feedback survey of 2019 showed that 44% of Tallinners use public transport for everyday movements, such as going to work or school. 38% use cars. But we have a plan on how to increase the number of public transport users ever further.

Tallinn has launched a public idea call for developing a sustainability function for the Ühiskaart ("green card") system which we right now use for validating our rides in public transport. We believe that in order to get people to choose public transport or walking over using a car, motivation is needed. That is why we are creating a green credit system.

The system is simple – while validating Ühiskaart (which 96% of Tallinners already own) in public transport, in bicycle parking lots or other places that offer green substitutes to high emission or waste activities, a person gets green points. For a certain amount of these points, a person can get a discount of city services – such as the kindergarten or hobby school fee or from the ticket of the zoo or city’s museums.

You could get points by:

•            validating your ride in public transport

•            using a bicycle parking lot

and in the next phases of the development

•            returning deposit packages,

•            choosing tap water over bottled water in restaurants

•            for walking distances

You could spend points for getting a discount from:

  • kindergarten or hobby school fee
  • tickets of cultural institutions of the city (theatres, museums, botanic garden, zoo)
  • tickets of sporting grounds of the city (swimming pools, stadiums, etc.)

 4.       Sustainable urban planning

The central idea of the city planning is close-by services and comfortable living, in all of the districts of the city. Districts of the city need serve as community centres as an alternative for visiting the city centre for running everyday matters or spending quality leisure time. This is very much linked to nearby green areas that are accessible by bicycle or walking and are connected by comfortable public transport connections.

Our major projects are:

-          the development of the Skoone bastion area

-          creating a tram connection between the airport and the seaport

-          the development of Tondiraba eco-park, the biggest nature and family friendly park in the country

-          Green Insect Highway – this already mentioned project puts focus also to emission free mobility and designing quality urban space – not just for bugs, but for humans as well!

More information on the 2022 competition can be found on the European Commission's website European Green Capital.

Last updated: 02.10.2020