Development cooperation and humanitarian aid

For Estonia it is important to be an active and reliable partner in the work of the UN. Estonia supports the functioning of the UN as the only universal and legitimate global development co-operation system through which to guide development processes in the world’s least developed regions.

Estonia has been actively involved in the work of the Economic and Financial Committee of the UN (Second Committee), being President of the Committee during the 72nd session and rapporteur of the Committee during the 73rd session and the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), being a member of the latter from 2015-2017 and Vice President from 2015–2016. In addition to that, Estonian participated in the UN Working Group on Sustainable Development from 2014–2015. In the field of humanitarian aid, Estonia is a member of the OCHA Donor Support Group and has been focusing on promoting efficiency in humanitarian donations. Together with other EU member states, Estonia has been part of negotiations of various development cooperation and humanitarian aid resolutions, and has been a leader for women’s rights and empowerment, human rights and ICT in development cooperation.

For years, Estonia has been contributing to UN funds and development programs with operating grants. In addition to that, Estonia supports a number of UN development cooperation funds and programs in specific countries. As some of Estonia’s development contributions are channelled through UN funds and programs, to achieve best results, it is important to participate operational in councils of the UN, working on strategic goals and streamlining activities. In 2016, Estonia was the president of the UN International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and has been Vice President of the Fund twice (in 2012 and 2015).

In 2015, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were agreed. During the negotiations, Estonia focused on two broad thematic areas: gender equality and the rule of law as a prerequisite for sustainable development. In development cooperation, the UN and the Member States are engaged in the implementation of the principles of sustainable development, and the monitoring and review of the objectives. ECOSOC, which organizes the yearly High Level Political Forum (HLPF), plays a key role in monitoring the achievement of SDGs around the world. The HLPF provides regular country and thematic reviews on the implementation of sustainable development objectives. The country reviews are voluntary. In 2016, Estonia was among the first countries to present its annual review on SDGs.

Contributing to multilateral development initiatives is an integral part of Estonia’s development cooperation. Estonia has supported international development cooperation through voluntary contributions to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the UN Children’s Funds (UNICEF), UN Women, the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the World Food Program (WFP) and the Indigenous Peoples Forum. Additionally, Estonia has contributed to thematic or country specific funds of the UN.

One of the biggest development cooperation initiative takes currently place between Estonia and UNDP (November 2018 – June 30, 2020). The aim of the initiative is to support digital transformation as a pathway for advancing sustainable development across regions. The cooperation is based on the e-governance experience of Estonia, which helped Estonia evolve from being recipient of development aid to donor. The cooperation will advance knowledge exchange and collaboration among the wider UN membership, assist efforts to build capacities of developing countries to transform their own societies and economies through development-anchored digital strategies, and help share the digital foundation of efficient and effective governance systems and mechanisms crucial to inclusive and lasting progress.

Read or download the Strategy for Estonian Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid.