Tallinn is the European Green Capital for 2023, the concept of which was originally born in the city in 2006. Estonia’s forward-thinking, digital capital city of innovation shows how cities can operate in the future.
Estonia is already one of the world’s most advanced digital societies, offering schemes for digital nomads and international e-residencies. The only government interaction that can’t currently be done online is applying for a divorce.
Smart city solutions on the streets
Estonia is a trailblazer in driverless vehicles due to faster legislation in the EU to support experimentation, while still adhering to safety guideline. Starship Technologies provides cute electric robots that deliver food and small packages efficiently through an app. They are currently also being trialed in Cambridge, but the Estonian invention is still a novel experience to see on Tallinn’s Old Town cobbled streets. Seen patiently waiting on crossings, they are controlled by a central operating hub to make deliveries happen across the city. Another last-mile delivery robot, CLEVON, is larger, driverless, and is a fully electric delivery vehicle, which navigates streets to supply bulkier packages through a partnership with DHL.
Tallinn is also testing out what’s set to be the world’s smartest pedestrian crossing. Estonian startup Bercman Technologies is on a mission to bring zebra crossings into the 21st century by using AI technology to detect traffic hazards and predict users’ movements. Pedestrians are warned with an audio signal and vehicle drivers see blinking LED lights.
In 2013, Tallinn became the first city to introduce free public transport to all residents. For visitors, the Tallinn Card QR-ticket is a digital ticket that can be used to visit 50 museums and heritage sites and use public transport around Tallinn free of charge.
A business-friendly environment boosts innovation
Estonia is the Silicon Valley of Europe, with the most startups, unicorns, and investments per capita. Skype and Bolt were both founded in Estonia. Creating and operating businesses is bureaucracy-free in Estonia: it takes just 15 minutes to register a new business online and only 3 minutes to file taxes. Furthermore, Estonia has the best tax system in the world, according to the Tax Foundation. Estonia has no corporate income tax for reinvested profits, no capital tax, and no property transfer taxes.
Tallinn’s eco-innovation will be showcased during Greentech Week in November, a Green Capital year highlight, where inventors and entrepreneurs bring new products to Tallinn to test in the community. The city will host events promoting eco-innovation and cooperation between leading companies, investors, and scientists in green technology as well as increasing the dialogue between European cities and companies.
Consumers need practical research-based information and effective examples to make environmentally friendly choices, reduce thoughtless consumption, focus on reusing resources, and take steps to fight climate change. For a cleaner future, a group of Estonians has created Green Tiger – a cross-sector collaboration platform that is designed to boost environmental awareness and create a basis for a balanced, green economy. The vision of the Green Tiger is that by 2025, Estonians will have developed a plan for the transition to an economy in equilibrium with nature.
Natural urban space
Tallinn seamlessly integrates nature into the urban fabric of the city. One initiative of the Green Capital year is to create a 13 km green corridor crossing through six city districts. The Pollinator Highway will not only be a green transport corridor for butterflies, bees, and other groups of animals but also allow locals and visitors to cross the city surrounded by nature as well as enjoy the space for recreation and relaxation.
Visitors to Tallinn will explore one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Europe and a UNESCO world heritage site. The city has over 2,100 hectares of protected areas and Scottish Highland cattle are legal employees of the city, under the belief that increasing animal rights will aid the restoration and protection of coastal meadow biodiversity. The Green Tracks (Rohejälg) project aims to improve the standard of natural areas, bring in more greenery to the city, and improve the spatial quality in densely populated areas by supporting the development of green networks within the city.