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National circumstances relevant to adaptation actions

Located on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea, Estonia is the northernmost and also the smallest country in the Baltic States, in terms of both population and area (45,339 km2). Along with the Western Estonian archipelago and the numerous islands in its coastal waters, Estonia can geographically be described as an extensive peninsula stretching between the Gulf of Finland and the Latvian capital Riga. The country has a variety of geographical features that form the basis of its climatic values: a long coastline, a high number of islets (ca 2,222), a large number of lakes and rivers, a very flat relief (with almost two-thirds of the country lies less than 50 metres above sea level. The highest point is Suur Munamägi at 317.2 metres above sea level, with unique base rock openings – limestone cliffs – all along the northern coast of the mainland and the largest islands.

Located between latitudes 57°30’ N and 59°49’ N and longitudes 21°46’ E and 28°13’ E, Estonia is marked by conditions typical of the Boreal bio-geographic region. However, due to the strong influence of the Baltic Sea, half of the country can be considered to have boreo-nemoral and the other half more continental boreal conditions.

Almost half of the land surface is covered by forests). There are around 2,804 natural and man-made lakes in the country. Most are very small, with the largest, Lake Peipus, being 3,555 km2. The percentage of fens, forested swamps and bogs is 22%. Compared with other territories of a similar size situated north of the 57th parallel, Estonia’s biological diversity is among the richest. This is due to the varied climatic conditions, the existence of island and continental sectors, the abundance of sea and inland waters and the variety of base rocks with correspondingly diverse soil conditions, all of which paved the way for the evolution and development of a wide diversity of ecosystems. 40,000 species are thought to exist in Estonia, currently, about 30,000 of them (75%) have been identified.

Sea-level rise due to thermal expansion and the melting of glaciers, ice caps and ice sheets may be one of the main impacts of climate change for Estonia. Accelerated sea-level rise could strongly affect the territory of the country because of its relatively long coastline and extensive low-lying coastal areas.

The main factor influencing Estonia’s climate is the country’s geographical position. Estonia belongs to the mixed forest sub-region of the Atlantic continental region of the temperate zone and lies in the transition zone between maritime and continental climates. According to the Köppen climate classification, the western part of Estonia belongs to the Cfb zone (a marine climate with mild winters) while the eastern part of the country belongs to the Dfb zone (a humid continental climate with severe winters).

Local climatic differences are due, above all, to the neighbouring Baltic Sea, which warms up the coastal zone in winter and later has a cooling effect, especially in spring. The topography, particularly the uplands in the southeastern part of Estonia, plays an important role in the distribution and duration of snow cover.

Since annual precipitation is approximately double that of evaporation, the climate is excessively damp. Mean annual precipitation is ca 550–700 mm, ranging from 520 mm on some islands to almost 740 mm in the uplands. Seasonal variation in precipitation is similar throughout the country, the driest months being February and March. From then on, precipitation gradually increases until July and August, after which it decreases towards winter and spring. The lowest annual precipitation can be less than 350 mm on the coast, but inland regions sometimes have more than 1,000 mm. The highest daily rainfall ever recorded is 148 mm and the highest annual rainfall a total of 1,157 mm.

The snow cover duration, depth and water supply vary greatly between years. While in the middle of 1970s and at the end of 1980s there were mild winters practically without snow, then during 1920–1933 the winters lasted for longer periods with thick snow cover. On average there are approximately 109 days with snow cover per year, varying between 61 and 155 days. There has been a negative trend in the duration of snow cover in the period of 1961–2002, in forty years the average snow cover has decreased by 25.9 days.

The prevailing winds are southwesterly, southerly and westerly. Winds from the north are more frequent in spring and early summer. Average wind velocity is 5–7 m/sec in coastal areas and 3–5 m/sec inland. The strongest winds occur in the autumn and winter months, especially in November, December and January (with an average velocity of 4.3 m/sec). The weakest winds are felt in summer (July/August, with an average velocity of 3.1 m/sec). The fastest wind speed ever recorded in Estonia was on Ruhnu island in November 1969 when a maximum wind gust of 48 m/sec was registered.
Being one of the smallest countries in the EU after Malta, Luxembourg, and Cyprus with its 1,329,460 residents (2021), Estonia is significantly more vulnerable to external effects compared to other EU countries. Approximately two-thirds of the population of Estonia lived in urban areas (cities, cities without municipal status, towns).

The early timing of demographic transitioning has had a long-term effect on demographic processes, meaning that as early as in the first decades of the 20th century, Estonia was characterised by a low birth rate and a relatively low mortality rate. This has been the primary reason for the low population growth rate in Estonia throughout the 20th century. In recent decades, Estonia has been characterised by a negative population growth rate, but in 2015, for the first time in more than two decades, the population growth rate was positive – 0.8 per 1,000 people. The population mainly increased as a result of the net immigration of European Union citizens. Citizens of Russia and Ukraine made up the bulk of non-EU immigration.

The population density in Estonia is 30.3 people per km². That is almost four times less than the EU’s average - 116.7 people per km² –, making Estonia the third sparsely populated country in the EU.
The Estonian economy is small but open and flexible to changes in the external environment. The domestic market of a country with 1.3 million residents is too small for many companies, thus, they set their sights abroad.

Great changes occurred in the general structure of the economy at the beginning of the 1990s, as many service industries had not existed yet and a large share of the factories had been manufacturing goods necessary for the military industry and Russia, which were no longer needed. In the last decade, however, the more general division of the service, industrial, and agricultural sectors has been relatively stable and changes have occurred within the sectors.

The economy of Estonia as an EU Member State is tightly connected to the other EU Member States. The importance of the EU in the total export of Estonia has grown to 75%.

Due to the small size of Estonia, it is not possible to manufacture all products and offer all services required by the people and companies here domestically, for example, transport fuels, household appliances, or metals. The volume of exported goods and services amounts to 90% of the Estonian GDP, with the export of services forming approximately one-third of the total volume. The more important services successfully exported by Estonian companies include various transport services as well as tourism. More than three-quarters of Estonian industrial production is exported; many companies sell their entire production outside of Estonia.

Estonian export is diverse – manufacturing of electrical appliances and devices, as well as mineral products and various wood and metal products, are important. Due to the available natural resources, all forest-related sectors are imperative for the Estonian economy. The most important economic partners of Estonia are Finland, Sweden, Latvia, and Russia. However, the role of other European countries and countries from elsewhere in the world has also increased throughout the years. The volume of export has formed approximately 90% of the Estonian GDP in the last decade.

Estonia’s transport network consists of the infrastructure needed for road, rail, water and air traffic. Estonian coastline is 3,794 km long and there is a dense network of ports. Together with inland waterway ports, there are 211 ports registered in the State Port Register. The largest is of the depth of 17 metres.

Reporting updated until: 2021-03-15

Item Status Links
National adaptation strategy (NAS)
  • actual NAS - adopted
National adaptation plan (NAP)
  • being developed
  • previous NAP - superseded
Sectoral adaptation plan (SAP)
Climate change impact and vulnerability assessment
  • completed
  • completed
  • completed
  • completed
Meteorological observations
  • Established
Climate projections and services
  • Established
Adaptation portals and platforms
Monitoring, reporting and evaluation (MRE) indicators and methodologies
Key reports and publications
National communication to the UNFCCC
Governance regulation adaptation reporting
The scientific basis used here is the report Future climate change scenarios in Estonia until 2100 drawn up by the Estonian Environment Agency (ESTEA). This report forms the basis for the assessment of the sectors that are influenced by atmosphere and ground conditions. Where possible, the report was drawn up based on the CMIP5 (CMIP – Coupled Model Intercomparison Project) regional fine-scaling compiled for the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), AR5. The period of 1971–2000 was used as the base climate period (reference period), if possible, and the periods of 2041–2070 and 2071–2100 as future comparison periods. The climate forecasts were drawn up based on the global climate change scenarios RCP4.51 and RCP8.5. (Both also form the basis for the CMIP5 experiment).

The respective results were assembled and published within the framework of the EURO- CORDEX project. Where it was not possible or reasonable to use the results of EURO-CORDEX directly, summaries of published scientific literary works were used, incl. the IPCC reports AR5 (2013) and AR4 (2007), the IPCC special report on extreme climate events, SREX (2012), an overview of the scientific literature on climate change in the Baltic Sea basin, BACC (2008), and the project for the assessment of climate impacts, Baltadapt.
Where direct usage of the results of the EURO-CORDEX initiative was not possible or reasonable the conclusions from scientific literature, including the IPCC reports AR4 and AR5, IPCC special report on extreme events SREX, BALTEX Assessment of Climate Change for the Baltic Sea Basin (BACC) and climate change assessment project Baltadapt, were drawn.
Sectoral vulnerability assessments, climate change impacts and adaptation measures described for priority areas are the basis of the Estonian National Adaptation Strategy.
Observed climate hazards Acute Chronic
Temperature
  • Heat wave
  • Temperature variability
Wind
  • Storm (including blizzards dust and sandstorms)
  • Changing wind patterns
Water
  • Heavy precipitation (rain hail snow/ice)
  • Sea level rise
Solid mass
  • Coastal erosion
Key future climate hazards Acute Chronic
Temperature
  • Wildfire
  • Temperature variability
Wind
  • Storm (including blizzards dust and sandstorms)
  • Changing wind patterns
Water
  • Heavy precipitation (rain hail snow/ice)
  • Water scarcity
Solid mass
  • Soil erosion
The average annual temperature has increased slightly faster in Estonia compared to the world as a whole since the middle of the last century. The trend has been 0.2–0.3 °C per decade, while the global increase in the ground level temperature since 1951 has been 0.12 °C per decade. By months, the assessments of various authors of the trends differ remarkably. The warming trend of the winter, especially in January, is the clearest.

The increase in the average annual precipitation in the second half of the 20th century has been significant in Estonia, between 5–15%, taking into consideration a correction for wetting. A higher trend can be observed in the period from October to March. In 1866–1995, only a weak and statistically insignificant growth trend has been observed in the case of Estonia, which is stronger in autumn and winter and weaker in spring and summer. Regular cycles have also been observed in the total amount of precipitation, which is of the lengths of 50–60, 25–33, and 5–7 years. The average annual precipitation in a specific region may differ by more than twice, for example, 400 mm in 1965 and 850 mm in 1990.

A periodicity similar to that of precipitation is generally also characteristic of the runoff of Estonian rivers. Short-term variability can most often be observed in periods of 3–4 years and long-term variability in periods of 26–27 years, which reflect the regularity of the water-rich and water-hungry periods in the 20th century. No one-way increases or decreases in runoff have been observed in Estonia in the last 150 years and the impacts of climate change on runoff are not as clear or targeted as the observed long-term increase in precipitation.

The data on the water temperature of Lake Peipus and Lake Võrtsjärv show an increasing trend similar to other lakes in the Baltic Sea basin and the end of the winter in the Estonian inland waterbodies moved to a month earlier from 1946 to 1998. The ice cover period of Estonian rivers and lakes has shortened. The runoff maximum of the rivers has moved to an earlier time and the peak runoffs are less steep. The likelihood of high runoffs in spring (= 10%, i.e. runoff, which occurs once in ten years) decreased from 1922 to 2010.
The spread of new pathogens and increasing health disorders;
increasing flooding risk and pressure for building relocation;
changes in the hydrological cycle and vegetation and the spread of alien species;
unfrozen and waterlogged forest land in the winter and new plant pests;
transient effects of global trends on the economy;
immigration from global migration;
additional requirements on infrastructure and building durability;
changes in seasonal energy consumption.

Key affected sectors

Impact/key hazard
mixed impacts for different hazards
Climate change mostly affects, both directly and indirectly, larger Estonian towns Tallinn, Tartu and Pärnu, concentrating the majority of the population, economic activities, property, capital and cultural values. The technogenic urban environment with high population density and complex town- planning aspects cannot buffer the effects quickly enough – new civil engineering works often even amplify the risks.

From the perspective of rescue capability, the primary issues are the floods in densely populated areas and extensive forest and landscape fires. The risk of both emergencies has been assessed as high as a result of the national risk analyses prepared in 2013. In the context of Estonia, these emergencies do not pose a very great risk on the life and health of people but may cause extensive property damage. During the period of restoration of the independence of Estonia, there have been a total of seven forest fires which can be classified as emergencies.
Key hazard likelihood
different likelihood of their occurrence and exposure for different key hazards and/or climate scenarios
Flood with the probability of occurrence of once per 10 years threatens approximately 1,000 residents of coastal settlements, once per 100 years 6,600 residents and once per 1,000 years approximately 15,000 residents. Flood with the probability of occurrence of once per 10 years threatens approximately 843 residential buildings, once per 100 years approximately 3,200 residential buildings and once per 1,000 years approximately 6,400 residential buildings. Compared with coastal areas, the flood risk of internal water bodies is considered much lower.

The average number of forest fires has decreased by years, indicating the effectiveness of the preventive measures of anthropogenic forest fires. The number of forest fires that can be classified as emergencies has also decreased considerably.
Vulnerability
mixed situation for different key hazards
In the case of rescue capability, vulnerability depends on the processing of large amounts of emergency calls (in the case of floods, forest or landscape fires), on the learnt helplessness of people, and on interruptions in rescue work and in ensuring public order. The main risks related to climate change manifest and are amplified in the cities, which are exposed to extreme weather phenomena, where the activities of people are restricted to certain areas, where there is specific land use, the constructed environment, and urban landscape.
Risk Future Impact
high
Taking into consideration the forecasts for the speed of post-glacial rebound and the rise in world sea level, climate change has caused the long-term relative sea-level decline trend (caused by post-glacial rise) to be replaced by a rising trend in this century which by the end of the 21st century may mean an average sea-level rise on the coasts of Estonia: 20-40 cm according to the more optimistic trend RCP4.5 and 40-60 cm according to the more pessimistic trend RCP8.5. Sea level is currently considered especially dangerous if it is at least the following amount above the long- time average: 160 cm in Pärnu, 140 cm in Haapsalu, 160 cm in Narva-Jõesuu, 80 cm in Tallinn in Kopli and Pirita and 120 cm in the city centre harbour, 150 cm in Kuressaare. When preparing the plans and developing rescue systems, the contour lines for flood risk areas should be located towards the inland in the future due to the rise in sea level.

Due to the change in the cyclone trajectories and the resulting increase in the number of western storms, the coastal areas of Estonia may be more often exposed to the sea level rises and floods caused by the storms, the extent of which will probably be wider than we have experienced so far. To assess the floods caused by storms more accurately and operatively and to mitigate the risks, the sea level forecast systems and the public warning systems must be maintained and developed. To improve the accuracy of forecasting the probability of occurrence of potential extreme floods and their extent, the scientific research of archive materials and other sources, including the geological material, must be supported. The increasing flood risk presupposes a change in plans and rescue systems – above all, attention should be paid to populated coastal areas.
Impact/key hazard
low
The average number of forest fires has decreased by years, indicating the effectiveness of the preventive measures of anthropogenic forest fires. The number of forest fires that can be classified as emergencies has also decreased considerably. Forest fires generally result in extensive damage to the natural environment.

Due to climate change, species that are currently not represented or are scarce in Estonia but causing more and more damage in the neighbouring countries (including invasive alien species) are an increasing risk in Estonia.
Key hazard likelihood
different likelihood of their occurrence and exposure for different key hazards and/or climate scenarios
As a result of climate change, winters become warmer and the soil will not freeze, increasing primarily winter storm damages in excessively wet forests with a shallow root system and complicates forest works. During winter forest works, the risk of soil damages increases. The increasing frequency and prolongation of spring-summer drought periods increases the frequency of occurrence of forest fires and promotes the reproduction and spreading of forest pests. Climate change influences the spread and cohesion of forest habitats, their biodiversity, relations between species and forest habitat types.
Vulnerability
mixed situation for different key hazards
Increasing temperature, precipitation and extreme weather events caused by climate change influence the structure and functions of forest ecosystems, altering forest growth, carbon accumulation, and thus the whole nutrient cycle.

Also, it is essential to pay attention to the maintenance and management of the genetic resources of forests. A larger genetic variation allows tree species better adapt to the changing climate.

Climate change may considerably affect the capacity of the sector and its share in economy and employment. The composition of forest crop and through that the quality and availability of timber from excessively wet forests may deteriorate as the result of climate change and the costs in the forestry sector may increase.
Risk Future Impact
different rating of risks for different key hazards and/or under different climate scenarios
Also, climate change may considerably affect the capacity of the forest sector and its share in the economy and employment, e.g. through long-term changes in the composition of the Estonian forests, the production and the ecological status of forests, or through a decline in the quality of timber.

The most important climate factors that will affect forestry are increasing temperature and precipitation. Strong negative impact can be caused by more frequent extreme weather events (drought, extremely low winter temperatures, storms). Forest industry will face difficulties with timber transport out from forests due to decreasing period with frozen soil in winter. Economically the largest effect will be caused by the need for additional costs for tending forest roads and ditches. Among fellings, the amount of sanitary felling will increase. The share of deciduous tree species will probably increase in forests. Positive effect is expected from increasing timber increment although such trend might not persist for the whole century. Forest health could worsen due to new invasive pathogens.
Impact/key hazard
medium
Higher temperatures increase the number of hot weather days and heatwaves, which in turn causes an increase in the occurrence of illnesses and deaths related to heat. The effect of hot weather is already evident because, in 1996–2013, the mortality rate during hot weather days was relatively high (when the maximum temperature of 24 hours exceeded 27 °C). The hot summer of 2010 had a particular effect on the health of the people in Estonia because the mortality rate in the summer months was approximately 30% higher than the expected rate. A study of the heatwave of July 2014 proved that the heat island effect affects all densely populated areas, not only larger towns. The negative effect of heatwaves is intensified by the ageing of the population and urbanisation which are trends currently monitored in Estonia and will accelerate in the future.

Although the content of air pollutants may increase (during heat waves, the formation of ground-level ozone becomes more intensive, on certain periods the dispersion conditions of small particles may deteriorate and the number of forest fires may increase), the most direct effect of climate change that is affecting air quality is still the increase in pollen spread.
Key hazard likelihood
different likelihood of their occurrence and exposure for different key hazards and/or climate scenarios
Since heat waves are becoming more frequent due to climate change, depending on the climate scenario (RCP4.5 or RCP8.5), the average number of expected excess deaths in 2030–2050 is 506 or 679 and in 2050–2100 the numbers are 655 or 1,068, respectively. The impact of heatwaves is amplified by the heat island effect which in addition to towns will also occur in smaller settlements.

In the event of the more pessimistic climate scenario - RCP8.5 –, the season of pollen will prolong by the end of the century and new allergenic plant species will be spreading into Estonia, increasing the health risk.

As a result of the changed spread areas of the vectors, the frequency of the currently spreading diseases, e.g. tick-borne encephalitis and Lyme disease, as well as the diseases that are currently rare in Estonia, e.g. leishmaniasis, hantavirus, tularemia, dengue fever, etc., will increase. The effect of different climate components is thereat the opposite – softer winters and wetter periods (although not heavy showers) generally promote, whereas the drought periods prevent the spread of diseases.
Vulnerability
medium
The main vulnerability of the health sector arises from the capability and preparedness of healthcare systems to adapt to the changing climate and extreme weather phenomena (availability of medical care may be interrupted), from the sensitivity and inequality of the population, from the share of more vulnerable people (the elderly, children, chronically ill), and the existence and functioning of warning systems. The negative effect of heatwaves is intensified by the ageing of the population and urbanisation which are trends currently monitored in Estonia and will accelerate in the future. Besides the exposure to climate risks, the vulnerability of towns also depends on complex socio-economic processes, the spatial density of towns, morphology, technical and social infrastructure, the share of green and water areas in the urban landscape, administrative capacity and implemented adaptation measures.
Risk Future Impact
medium
With heavy showers and/or severe floods, hazardous substances and excess nutrients from the environment (whereas the former may directly affect the health of people and the latter may cause more intensive eutrophication) as well as numerous parasites may be transferred to water (which may be transferred to drinking water in the case of insufficient water treatment).

A wider spread of plant diseases and mycotoxins is a risk related to food safety, which may become more hazardous in the case of the climate scenario RCP8.5 in 2050–2100.

The forecasts indicate that in the future, exposure to UV radiation will increase, which will also increase the probability of skin cancer (in Estonia, the annual growth in recent years has been 2– 4%). At the same time, based on the climate scenarios, winters may be muggier in the future, reducing the amount of sunlight in the winter period (reducing vitamin D synthesis and increasing the risk of depression).

Overview of institutional arrangements and governance at the national level

Research related to climate and climate change has been carried out by the Estonian Environment Agency (ESTEA), the Tartu Observatory, the Department of Geography of the Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences of the University of Tartu, the Laboratory of Atmospheric Physics of the Institute of Physics of the University of Tartu, the Estonian Marine Institute of the University of Tartu, the Centre for Applied Social Sciences of the University of Tartu, the Estonian University of Life Sciences, the Institute of Ecology of the Tallinn University, the Department of Marine Systems of the Tallinn University of Technology, the Centre for Nonlinear Studies of the Institute of Cybernetics of the Tallinn University of Technology, the Geological Survey of Estonia, the Baltic Environmental Forum, the Tallinn Centre of the Stockholm Environment Institute and the Estonian Environmental Research Centre (EERC).
The NAP includes specific activities and their costs for four years, presented based on the years and the responsible authorities. The NAP will be prepared based on the state budget strategy. After the approval of the state budget strategy and the state budget, the NAP will be specified if necessary. The working group of the NAS with the chair of the MoE discusses the NAP once a year before presenting it to the Government of the Republic for approval, monitors the NAP, gives recommendations for changing the NAS and if necessary, solves the open issues related to the NAS.

The MoE is currently in the process of adopting the NAS for the new implementation period (2021–2025), which involves monitoring progress toward meeting adaptation priorities and addressing knowledge gaps in national vulnerabilities and risks.
According to Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Management System Act (08.12.2020), based on the compliant strategic environmental assessment programme, the strategic environmental assessment report must contain an assessment of the potential significant direct, indirect, cumulative, synergistic, short and long-term, positive and adverse environmental impact, including impact on human health and social needs and property, biological diversity, populations, flora, fauna, soil, water and air quality, climate change, cultural heritage and the landscape, an assessment of the possibilities of waste generation and a description of the methods for impact prognosis.
The strategic development documents of Estonia include direct and indirect measures, which may help the society in adapting to the impacts of climate change. Most of the measures are concerned with climate change mitigation and the regulation of emergencies (under the Emergency Act and Water Act).
There are yet no arrangements to systematically publish collected CVRA data. There have been no restrictions to use public CVRA data, relevant information can be inquired at the MoE Climate Department.

Overview of institutional arrangements and governance at the sub-national level (where “sub-national” refers to local and regional)

A working group of the representatives from the following institutions has been formed to implement and update the NAS:
1) the Ministry of the Environment
2) the Ministry of Rural Affairs
3) the Ministry of the Interior
4) the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications
5) the Republic of Estonia Government Office
6) the Rescue Board
7) the Ministry of Finance
8) the Ministry of Education and Research
9) the Ministry of Social Affairs
10) The Association of Estonian Cities and Municipalities
11) the Estonian Research Council
12) the Network of Estonian Nonprofit Organisations, a representative from the Estonian Fund of Nature
13) the Estonian Village Movement Kodukant
The Urban Storm project is to increase climate resilience in Estonian municipalities, especially their resilience to flooding caused by heavy rainfall. Two local governments participate in the project: Viimsi Municipality and Tallinn City Government. The main activities of UrbanStorm include developing a strategy and action plan for Viimsi and Tallinn, designing and setting up a comprehensive digitalised stormwater management system for Viimsi and capacity building of Estonian municipal water management specialists. The project’s results and support materials created based on lessons learnt will support other local governments in Estonia in compiling their adaptation strategies and introducing SUDS in their municipalities.
The main objective of the NAS is to increase the readiness and capacity of the state, the regional and local level to adapt to the effects of climate change in the following sectors:
1. Health and rescue capability
2. Land use and planning
3. Natural environment
4. Bioeconomy
5. Economy
6. Society, awareness, and cooperation
7. Infrastructure and buildings
8. Energy and security of supply
The potential impacts of climate change and vulnerability vary greatly by regions, but adaptation must be based on the location and territorial risk assessments. An assessment of vulnerability and climate change impacts is drawn up based on the assumption that exposure, sensitivity, and ability to adapt are phenomena that vary spatially. In addition to climatic changes moving in different directions in different regions and since some regions are more exposed than others, all regions have their own distinguishable environmental, social, and economic features, which are sensitive to climate change to a larger or smaller extent. To assess vulnerability, the impacts of change and the regional ability to adapt are integrated. This is based on the principle that a region with high impacts of climate change may still be moderately vulnerable if it is well-adapted to the presumed climate change. On the other hand, high impacts may be expected to result in higher vulnerability if the ability of the region to adapt is low.
The priority sectors have the following adaption objectives:

1) Improved rescue capability and the ability of people to protect their health and property has decreased the negative impacts of climate change on health and the living environment.
2) The risk of storms, floods, and erosion has been managed, the heat island effect has been managed, the climate resistance of settlements has been increased by selecting the best land use and planning solutions.
3) Variety of certain species, habitats, and landscapes, the favourable condition and completeness of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and provision of socio-economically significant eco-system services to a sufficient extent and with a sufficient quality have
been ensured in the changing climate conditions.
4) Sustainability of the bioeconomic sectors, which are important to Estonia, is ensured through planning the agriculture, forestry, water management, fisheries and the leisure industry as well as peat extraction by taking into consideration the climate.
5) Participants in the economy are using the opportunities, which accompany climate change, in the best possible manner and manage the risks related thereto.
6) People understand the hazards and opportunities accompanying climate change.
7) The impacts of climate change will not result in decreased availability of vital services or decreased energy-efficiency of buildings.
8) Climate change will not result in decreased energy independence, energy security, the security of supply or usability of renewable energy resources or in the increase of the volume of the final consumption of primary energy.

The cost estimation for the implementation of the Development Plan for Climate Change Adaptation for 2017–2030 was initially 43,745,000 euros. The implementation of the measures and the activities took into consideration the objectives and means of development plans from other fields, including the following: Estonian Rural Development Plan for 2014–2020, Operational Programme for the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund for 2014–2020 and Operational Programme for Cohesion Policy Funds 2014–2020. Many activities related to adaptation together with their budget were also reflected in the implementation plans of the development plans of many other fields, such as Nature Conservation Development plan Until 2020, Estonian Forestry Development Plan Until 2020, Internal Security Strategy 2015–2020, National Transport Development Plan 2014–2020, Development Plan for the Energy Sector Until 2030.

The cost of the implementation plan for the development plan for 2017–2020 was estimated at 6,700,000 euros, whereas the state budget expenditure form 3,310,000 euros and the support from the environmental programme of the Environmental Investment Centre and foreign sources is 3,390,000 euros. Financing of the activities from the state budget is ensured within the cost limits of the implementing agencies in the financial strategy of the budget strategy.

Selection of actions and (programmes of) measures

Description
Development of information, monitoring and support systems and preparation of action plans for improving the efficiency and managing the health risks arising from climate change (incl. health risks resulting from meteorological and hydrological factors, landscape fires, water quality, intensive pollen dispersal, algae blooms, disease vectors, parasites).
Status
being implemented
Key type measure (KTM)
C: Physical and technological
Sub-KTM
C2: Technological
Description
The measures focuses on preventing the possible damages created by heat waves and heat islands, floods and storms and managing the risks with land use techniques; managing the risks related to floods and heat waves on the establishment and maintenance of green areas, the use of the cooling power of water and the engineering solutions, taking into consideration the heat reflecting, absorbing and storing properties of surfaces and the air circulation when designing and constructing buildings.
Status
being implemented
Key type measure (KTM)
C: Physical and technological
Sub-KTM
C2: Technological
Description
The measure focuses on integration of adaptation awareness of both the residents as well as the specialists into plans, strategic environmental assessment and urban planning.
Status
being implemented
Key type measure (KTM)
E: Knowledge and behavioural change
Sub-KTM
E1: Information and awareness raising
Description
The measure focuses on reduction of the unfavourable effects of climate change on the status of species and natural communities and on the integrity and function of ecosystems.
Status
being implemented
Key type measure (KTM)
E: Knowledge and behavioural change
Sub-KTM
E3: Practice and Behaviour


The objective of the “Tallinn Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plan (SECAP) 2020–2030 and Vision for 2050” (hereinafter Tallinn SECAP 2030) is to set a strategy and an action plan for sustainable energy and climate change adaptation in Tallinn for 2030 with an energy and climate perspective for 2050.

Tallinn SECAP 2030, with its energy and climate policy vision for 2050, consists of the following two components, implemented separately or together:
1) A mitigation plan whose objective is to reduce Tallinn's CO2 emissions by 40% by 2030 compared to the baseline year 2007. This is done by increasing energy efficiency and reducing the carbon intensity of energy consumption and moving towards a carbon-neutral vision for Tallinn.
2) An adaptation plan which objective is to increase the capacity and readiness of Tallinn to adapt to the impacts of climate change through long-term decisions and spatial solutions, and to prevent or limit the damage caused by extreme weather events.
From among the laws of Estonia, the topic of adaptation to the effects of climate change is mostly handled in the Emergency Act, based on which the Rescue Board has prepared the risk analyses for the emergency events which may occur as a result of extreme climate events and circumstances: “Floods on Densely Populated Areas”, “Extremely Cold Weather”, “Extremely Hot Weather” and “Extensive Forest or Landscape Fires”. Risk analysis “Epidemic Emergency Risk Assessment” has been prepared under the guidance of the Health Board. The Emergency Act regulates the preparation of the emergency risk analyses and emergency plans, training related to emergencies, informing about emergencies, emergency management, also the declaration of an emergency and the measures implemented at the time of the emergency (e.g., work obligation for third parties, expropriation of movable property, a prohibition to stay and other restrictions for freedom of movement). Although the risk analyses do not refer to the effects of climate change or the importance of adaptation thereto, the existing measures still help to manage climate risks and are, in their essence, works which the system administrator should perform anyway or which the state should order additionally from companies (e.g. modernisation of rainwater systems, maintenance of dams, preparation of more accurate maps for risk areas and preparation of risk management plans, training for local governments regarding the issues related to emergencies). The law also stipulates the organisation of the continuous functioning of vital services (e.g. electricity and gas supply, continuity of ambulance services and water supply and sewerage services) which may also be affected by climate change (if extreme weather conditions become more frequent). To ensure the continuity of vital services, continuity risk analyses and continuity plans are foreseen. The main focus of the measures related to the Emergency Act is to increase the awareness of the population and the providers of vital services, inform the risk groups and promote cooperation, but also to make the weather forecasts more effective and establish a weatherproof infrastructure.

Concerning the assessment and management of risks related to floods (updating the management plans), the effects of climate change are also handled in the Water Act. The Water Act establishes the obligation to prepare maps of the flood risk areas, give an assessment for flood risks and prepare the risk management plans for flood risks. These activities and plans aim to reduce the possible harmful consequences from flood risks to the health of people, the property, the environment, the cultural heritage and the economic activities and to reduce the possibility of the occurrence of floods with such consequences in the future. The activities outlined in the Water Act are coordinated by the Ministry of the Environment in cooperation with the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Rural Affairs, involving local governments and county governments. The obligation to execute the activities lies on landowners.
The measures of the health sector mainly stress the increasing of the awareness of the population of the health impacts of climate-related risks and improvement of the monitoring capability of the healthcare system. Increasing risks call for further studies to specify the nature of the risks in detail.

The prerequisite for increasing the rescue capability is increasing the efficiency of risk management. The efficiency of risk management can be increased in emergencies related to climate change to ensure better possibilities for the prevention and management of emergencies. Communication of the risks also requires development – notifying and warning of the public in time to bring vital information smoothly to the vulnerable population. It is also important to increase the awareness of the population of the hazards and to teach about coping and assisting others in emergencies. Organising cooperation must be focused on more than before, both between the civil and military institutions and between authorities and the private sector. Acquiring and development the rescue service equipment required for responding to emergencies related to climate change is also important, as even though the general number of forest and landscape fires is decreasing, the number of fires caused by climate factors is on the rise.
1.1. Development of information, monitoring, and support systems and drawing up action plans to increase the efficiency of the management of the health risks arising from climate change and the management of the health risks.
1.2. Increasing rescue capability.

In the case of land use and planning measures, spatial planning is the instrument, which enables preventing the adaptation-related risks affecting cities and coastal areas. Another important factor is the competence and ability of local governments and county governments in the field of planning, i.e. existence of specialists competent in the area of adaptation to the impacts of climate change. Thus, integration of the knowledge of both the people as well as specialists into plans, strategic assessment of environmental impacts, as well as urban organisation is important.

The measures are focused on the prevention of the potential damage arising from heat waves and heat islands, floods and storms and on the management of risks by applying measures related to land use, the management of risks related to flood and heatwaves by creating and maintaining green areas, using the cooling effect of water and various construction technology solutions, such as reconstruction and construction of stormwater systems, consideration of the heat-reflecting, heat-absorbing, and heat-retaining qualities of surfaces and air circulation in the designing and construction of buildings. Implementation of the measures is primarily the landowners’ duty. The state and local governments must guide the application of the implementation measures within the scope of their legal and administrative competences.
2.1. Increasing awareness of the impacts and risks of climate change on land use, urban organisation and planning, development of planning methods for areas at risk, and adjustment of the legal framework.
2.2. Management of the flood hazard and development of green areas and green areas in cities to manage climate risks.
Agricultural measures are above all focused on ensuring the companies’ economic coping and competitiveness to create the prerequisites for adaptation to climate change. Due to the high level of uncertainty and the need to create the primary data required for decision- making, research measures must be used to designate a significant part of the Estonian scientific potential into basic and applied research analysing the changing conditions. The measures of information exchange help to communicate better knowledge to the target groups, which help to implement new, relevant technologies in practice and preserve a decent quality of life and a safe and clean living environment. A contribution by the state in the investment measures would help to develop systems for modelling the agroclimatic and agricultural environment and for issuing warnings of natural damage and emergencies in time to ensure food supply and food safety both in a shorter and longer perspective.

The main measure for the preservation of the fisheries resources and thus also fishing opportunities in the changing climate conditions is, above all, changing the ratio of the fishing regime and the methods of use of the fisheries resources (hobby fishing and industrial fishing). The fisheries resources should be managed more accurately and skillfully, taking climate risks into account. Through optimisation of minimum size limits, creation of better spawning conditions, spatial and seasonal restrictions on fishing, and regulating fishing efforts is already a common practice in Estonia, these measures should be brought into compliance with changing climate and resources. One of the prioritised measures is reducing the factors, which damage fish fauna (e.g. anthropogenic eutrophication, pollution). This helps to compensate for the negative impacts of climate change on the living environment of fish. To prevent remarkable damage, large investments must be immediately made in Lake Peipus and the Baltic Sea (cross-border, if possible) to implement measures, which are of decisive importance for preserving the habitats of fish. A measure, which can be implemented to increase the efficiency of the use of diminishing fisheries resources, is more extensive and efficient adding of value to the fish (incl. the fish of low value and foreign species) and restriction of illegal fishing. If necessary and possible, alternative jobs should be created promptly in the home regions of the population groups who are dependent on fisheries to provide an additional income source in coastal areas (e.g. development of tourism, incl. accommodation, catering establishments, car parks, transportations to the fishing sites on lakes or at sea) and fish farming should be developed. The lack of scientific information, which the adaptation measures could be based on, is of decisive importance here, incl. inaccurate assessment of the fisheries resources. Thus, complex studies of the pressure factors influencing the fish fauna and communities (e.g. climate change and eutrophication) must be conducted in the coming years and hobby fishing should be monitored at the national level, allowing the state to get a better overview of the use of the fisheries resources. To make knowledge-based decisions in the management of the fisheries resources, the results of the monitoring of the fisheries resources must be integrated better with other biota and environmental monitoring. Such studies aim to implement scientifically proven and thoroughly planned measures for adaptation to the climate in the fisheries sector all over Estonia.
4.2. Ensuring the productivity and viability of forests, and the diverse and efficient use of forests in the changing climate.
4.3. Ensuring the sustainability of the fisheries resources and the welfare of the people who earn their living from the fisheries sector in the changing climate.

The measures of the economy sector are primarily focused on companies to notify them of the risks and opportunities, which accompany climate change, followed by supporting the companies in the necessary restructuring. Thus, the main task is to make the information about climate change readily available, as well as to notify the companies operating in the at-risk areas of the risks accompanying climate change and make them prepare for hazardous situations.
5.2. Supporting entrepreneurship, which considers the impacts of climate change.
As of 2020, the MoE has been presenting an overview of the implementation of the development plan and achievement of the goals and efficiency of the measures to the Government of the Republic by 1st March each year, making suggestions for complementation or amendment of the development plan, if necessary. There is yet no comprehensive MRE methodology in place to systematically and periodically assess climate impacts, vulnerabilities, risks and adaptive capacity. This has been identified as an issue and a systemic solution is being sought.
As of 2020, the MoE has been presenting an overview of the implementation of the development plan and achievement of the goals and efficiency of the measures to the Government of the Republic by 1st March each year, making suggestions for complementation or amendment of the development plan, if necessary. There is yet no comprehensive MRE methodology in place to systematically and periodically assess climate impacts, vulnerabilities, risks and adaptive capacity. This has been identified as an issue and a systemic solution is being sought.
According to the monitoring of the superseded NAP (2017–2020), which for the first NAP period focused on national level adaptation actions, most successfully implemented measures addressed increasing the awareness of the general public, reducing the knowledge gaps related to climate change and the uncertainty due to them, acknowledging long-term changes, and ensuring the capacity to mitigate climate risks and increasing the strategic and operative readiness. While the initial estimate on implementation of adaptation programme in the first period was ca 6.7 million euros (which did not take into account funding planned under other relevant strategic plans), it was identified, that actual disbursement of cross-sectoral funding reached ca 186 million euros, of which Governmental level spending earmarked to increase climate resilience of human and non-human systems (incl. risk prevention) reached up to 155 million euros least in the period 2017–2020.
According to the monitoring of the superseded NAP (2017–2020), all planned disaster risk management measures were implemented and Governmental level spending earmarked for disaster risk management reached ca 25 million euros.
There is yet no comprehensive MRE methodology in place to systematically and periodically assess climate impacts, vulnerabilities, risks and adaptive capacity. This has been identified as an issue and a systemic solution is being sought.
According to the Eurobarometer social study, the main indicator of adaptive capacity – % of people who are aware of climate risks and have taken a respective measure – has improved from the 2015 baseline level of 28% to 47% in 2019, which is quite remarkable.

There is yet no comprehensive MRE methodology in place to systematically and periodically assess climate impacts, vulnerabilities, risks and adaptive capacity. This has been identified as an issue and a systemic solution is being sought.
It has been identified that the areas in Estonia most vulnerable to climate change are densely populated (coastal) areas, especially in the western and northern coast of Estonia due to “everything water-related” (floods, erosion, heavy storms, water quality etc) and in the urban environment also the urban heat island effect is a concern. But our particular strategic interest is the carbon and water-intensive oil-shale region Ida-Viru County in north-eastern Estonia, which in addition to complex water stress and vulnerability to climate change is currently also in the centre of the Estonian just transition process - moving towards the climate-neutral or low-carbon economy. The oil shale industry has a major negative environmental impact and the Green Deal concerns the region (social and economic impacts together with environmental issues). Coastal areas and the Ida-Viru County will especially expose social and also economic vulnerability, an issue Estonia has also referred to in our NAS. This does not override overall adaptation priorities but exposes regional adaptation priorities.
It has been identified and taken into consideration by the MoE that adaptation measures need to be directed to increase the awareness and resilience as well as to the implementation at sub-national level on the principle of caution based on the following guiding principles:

Awareness: increasing the awareness of the general public (the society as a whole, people, officials, etc.) and reducing the knowledge gaps related to climate change and the uncertainty due to them (scientific measures).

Readiness and resilience: ensuring the capacity to mitigate climate risks and increasing strategic and operative readiness.

Caution: acknowledging long-term changes and preventive action in the long perspective.

It has been identified that systemic risk assessment, indicator elaboration/use and monitoring/cost-efficiency evaluation is necessary to support/sustain current adaptation actions elaborated in NAS and updated NAP, which efforts should be gradually and strategically delegated to local authorities. Relevant capacity, incl. the ability to determine ecosystem services and social transition component in the adaptation process, have shortcomings.
There is no comprehensive MRE methodology in place to systematically and periodically assess climate impacts, vulnerabilities, risks and adaptive capacity. This has been identified as an issue.
The MoE is currently in the process of adopting the NAS for the new implementation period (2021–2025), which involves monitoring progress toward meeting adaptation priorities and addressing knowledge gaps in national vulnerabilities and risks.
The MoE is currently in the process of adopting the NAS for the new implementation period (2021–2025), which involves monitoring progress toward meeting adaptation priorities and addressing knowledge gaps in national vulnerabilities and risks. The process of revision and updating the NAP has become longer than expected, mostly because of the necessity to update several other expiring national strategies at the same, in addition to cooperative difficulties in the face of the international health crisis. For this reason, the process has not been rushed and instead, more input for a longer period has been acquired to evaluate resources already invested in adaptation actions and to identify shortcomings of the implementation of the NAS and superseded NAP.

Good practices and lessons learnt

Not reported
The EEA Financial Mechanism 2009–2014 supported the project “Elaboration of Estonia’s Draft National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan”. Transboundary cooperation had taken place on many levels, bilateral cooperation contracts were signed between EERC and the Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection and Emergency Planning (donor country). The bilateral contract aimed to transfer Norwegian know-how on climate change adaptation to Estonia (and vice versa). Further, research groups who compose sectorial adaptation analysis had partners from EEA Financial Mechanism donor countries: Agricultural University of Iceland, Norwegian Fridtjof Nansen Institute, Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research, NIBR.
Researchers of the Centre of Excellence in Environmental Adaptation ENVIRON studied the adaptation of plants and ecosystems to environmental and biological stressors to gain a better understanding of the responses of the ecosystems in the temperate climate zone to global climate change. The project period was 2011–2015. Ecosystems have a high potency of adapting to environmental changes, but this is generally not considered when forecasting the impact of climate change. The centre of excellence conducted research based on interdisciplinary experiments and models that would allow a quantitative forecast of the response of ecosystems to global climate change based on knowledge of molecular stress mechanisms. The research results serve as a basis for the sustainable management of natural resources and long-term planning of land use in agriculture and forestry in Estonia and the Nordic countries.

In 2013, the Marine Institute of the University of Tartu started the project Coastal ecosystems and rapid change: understanding and projecting effects of multiple stressors on marine biodiversity and functioning to develop models that can forecast the developments in ecosystems and consider long-term climate change and significant anthropogenic pressures, such as eutrophication.

In 2017, the institute started the project Future marine climate and ecological risks in the Baltic Sea to study extratropical cyclones of future climates, the combined effect of sea-level rise and its acceleration, and storm surges in the Baltic Sea during the 21st century and future manifestations of storm-induced oceanic climate-related and ecological risks in the Baltic Sea.

In 2016, the Department of Geography of the Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences of the University of Tartu started a JPI Water project Improving Drought and Flood Early Warning, Forecasting and Mitigation using real-time hydroclimatic indicators. The main objective of the project is to apply the knowledge gained from the project (based on fundamental research) and develop information tools built on server-based technologies that are needed for the management of flood and drought risk. This will be done in close cooperation with stakeholders and end-users to ensure the diligent commissioning of the new products. Spain, Portugal, South-Africa and Romania are taking part in the project.
Two local governments participate in the project Development of Sustainable and Climate Resilient Urban Storm Water Management Systems for Nordic Municipalities (Urbanstorm, LIFE17 CCA/EE/000122) – Viimsi Municipality and Tallinn City Government. They will develop a local strategy and action plan for climate change adaptation that will be based on both a) analytical work and b) practical capacity-building and testing exercises of the current Project.

The main activities of UrbanStorm include developing a strategy and action plan for climate change adaptation for Viimsi and Tallinn, designing and setting up a comprehensive digitalised stormwater management system for Viimsi and capacity building of Estonian municipal water management specialists and engineers. The project’s results and support materials created based on lessons learnt in this project will support other local governments in Estonia in compiling their adaptation strategies and introducing SUDS in their municipalities.

Duration: Sept 2018 – Feb 2023

Partners: Viimsi Municipality, Department of Municipal Engineering Services of Tallinn City Government, Baltic Environmental Forum Estonia and Estonian University of Life Sciences

An output of the Urban Storm project, the NAS of Tallinn was integrated into the Tallinn SECAP 2030, developed by the Estonian Environmental Research Centre.

Ministry of the Environment

Climate Department
Ministry, lead entity
Reeli Jakobi
Senior Officer

Relevant websites and social media source

[Disclaimer]
The information presented in these pages is based on the reporting according to 'Regulation (EU) 2018/1999 on the Governance of the Energy Union and Climate Action' and updates by the EEA member countries. However, for those pages where the information is last updated before 01/01/2021, the information presented is based on the reporting according to 'Regulation (EU) No 525/2013 on a mechanism for monitoring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions and for reporting other information relevant to climate change' and updates by the EEA member countries.'