3 Reasons Why Tallinn (Estonia) Is Europe’s ‘Greenest’ City

Jun 20, 2022by Olivia - F&F

When it comes to ‘green’ initiatives and achievements, Scandinavian countries consistently top the list. But now, a quiet achiever has been crowned as Europe’s ‘greenest’ city: Tallinn, the capital of Estonia! The residents of Tallinn enjoy the best quality of life in the world thanks to a number of sustainable initiatives — let’s take a look!

Tallin Estonia City SunsetTallin Estonia City Sunset

Image: Rudy Balasko / Canva

Tallinn Is The European Green Capital For 2023!

Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, has been crowned the European Green Capital for 2023! The Baltic State — once home to a number of heavily polluting industries — has reinvented itself as a leader of sustainable and social outcomes. 

Tallinn’s 445,000 residents enjoy the best quality of life in the world. The study, conducted by Essential Living, assessed the city’s low rates of pollution and crime, the inexpensive cost of living, and number of green spaces. 

So, what makes Tallinn the greenest city in Europe? “For us, a green capital means that Tallinn is inviting, comfortable, and clean — a city of the future,” said Mihhail Kõlvart, the Mayor of Tallinn. “We have learned to associate innovation and development with a sustainable economy and green thinking,” he said.

Man Cycling in CityMan Cycling in City

Image: Alvarez / Canva

Working Towards Climate Neutrality & Making Public Transport Free

The city’s long-term sustainability strategy — is looking to achieve a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and carbon neutrality by 2050.

According to Krista Kampus, Tallinn's Head of Development, “In the short term, we have to make investments and we have to spend some money, but if the result is a better, greener, more liveable city for everyone, then I think this is money worth spending”. In 2013, Tallinn drew international attention when it scrapped all public transport fees for residents. 

This sustainable transportation strategy was part of its goal to increase the number of cyclists on the road. Investing in free public transport and new cycle lanes isn’t cheap, but "I think a green city is more beneficial in the long term,” said Kampus. 

Talin Estonia Green SpacesTalin Estonia Green Spaces

Image: Sean Pavone Photo / Canva

Providing Green Spaces To Boost Environmental, Social & Health Outcomes

Green spaces aren’t just pretty to look at. ISGlobal Ranking is an urban health study that ranks 1,000 European cities in categories like air pollution, noise pollution, and green spaces. Their recent study suggests that European cities could prevent up to 43,000 premature deaths a year if they supplied adequate green space for urban dwellers! 

Tallinn is working to provide ample green spaces for its residents. Already, the city’s network of parks comprises 90 m2, which is 19.5% of the city’s total landmass. 

According to Vladimir Svet, Deputy Mayor of Tallinn, "Tallinn's long history of valuing and developing its green spaces and parks has undoubtedly contributed to the Green Capital title”. Even so, Svet says, "the green spaces still need a lot of work”.

Tallinn Estonia Pollinator HighwayTallinn Estonia Pollinator Highway

Image: Kaidi Põldoja / Tallinn

Encouraging Biodiversity With ‘Pollinator Highways’

Tallinn hasn't just earned its praise for its commitment to climate neutrality and sustainable transport. Tallinn is working hard to ensure that its smallest citizens — insects — have every opportunity to pollinate the city’s green spaces! 

To encourage insect pollination in the city’s parks, gardens and nature reserves, Tallinn created a 13km ‘Pollinator Highway’ which connects 6 of the city’s districts. "The aim is to enlarge the possibilities for the pollinators and also attract more people to use the pollinator highway as a green corridor," said landscape architect, Liivi Maekallas.

The Pollinator Highway allows pollinators to traverse the city with ease. It also provides a space for residents to grow food and ornamentals! 

By 2035, it’s expected that 65% of Tallinn’s land surface will consist of green spaces to boost biodiversity.

How amazing are Tallinn’s sustainable initiatives? With the city’s commitment to carbon neutrality and sustainable public transport, plus the coverage of green spaces and pollinator highways — it’s no wonder this Estonian city won the title of the European Green capital!

To read about more inspiring sustainability initiatives happening all around the world, please check out our Eco News category and the blogs below.

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