Estonia as a pilot for a sustainable society: utopia or opportunity?

Considerable research effort has been put into discussing the topic of measuring sustainable development. Ethical considerations of sustainability have to be considered before selecting sustainability indicators or indices. The aim of this paper is to examine, whether Estonia can become a pilot for sustainable society. The main objectives are to inquire: (1) what are the ethical preconditions of Estonia to implement sustainability? (2) What is the position of Estonia among the selected countries measured by genuine saving and ecological footprint simultaneously? (3) What is the key factor causing unsustainability in Estonia and what would be the key-solution? The results indicate, that good preconditions for ethical considerations for sustainability exist in Estonia. Nevertheless, current ecological and economic situation is unsustainable. While considering genuine saving, Estonia is behind the most sustainable country – Botswana - almost five times. The ecological footprint of Estonia exceeds world average more than three times. Additionally, Estonia has a negative ecological deficit. The key factor in Estonian economic-ecological unsustainability is the extremely high CO2 emission per capita. Estonia has good natural preconditions for implementation an energy supply reform and start applying renewable resources (biomass). The best solution would be using waste water treatment areas for biomass production. 300,000 ha of energy/treatment wetlands could supply for 61 percent of Estonia’s annual heat consumption and for 55 percent of electricity production. This could change Estonia’s present negative CO2 balance to an equal positive one. As a result, genuine saving of Estonia would rise, ecological footprint would decrease and ecological deficit would be positive. This is Estonia’s opportunity to become a pilot for a sustainable society.

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