Sustainable development means the coherent and consistent development of the social, economic and environmental areas to guarantee people a high quality of life and a safe and clean living environment today as well as in the future. In Estonia, sustainable development has been given more consistent consideration since 1995 when the Sustainable Development Act was prepared on the basis of the Agenda 21 programme approved at the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
Estonia in the light of sustainable development indicators
Estonia is on a sustainable course if there is progress towards the four main goals: growth of welfare, a coherent society, viability of the cultural space and ecological balance. These are the components of sustainability as defined in the Estonian National Strategy on Sustainable Development. Life in Estonia has improved but this has not been enough to catch up with the leading countries in the European Union. The sustainable development strategy has been implemented for about ten years but there have not been any major changes in Estonia. Even now, based on various indicators, Estonia has more or less the same ranking among the European Union countries as 10 years ago.
Säästva arengu näitajad. Indicators of Sustainable DevelopmentWhat progress has been made towards the four main targets of the Estonian National Strategy on Sustainable Development “Sustainable Estonia 21” (SE21) – growth of welfare, coherent society, viability of the Estonian cultural space and ecological balance? The publication includes 69 indicators of sustainable development that reflect the progress in key domains in Estonia. Under each indicator, there is an analysis of the current situation, an assessment of relevance in the SE21 context, and an overview of the measures defined in current development and action plans. The publication is prepared in cooperation with the Strategy Unit of the Government Office. While the main focus is on sustainable development, the publication provides a good overview of general trends in Estonia.
Sustainable development indicators are moving towards greater integration
The question of how much, why and how humanity is affecting the ecological balance of the planet and what could be done in that respect was raised again at the third United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, which took place on 20–22 June 2012 (widely known as the Rio+20 conference).
The question facing statistical organisations is how to explain the processes and tendencies related to sustainable development to politicians, scientists and citizens in a simple and understandable manner. At the Rio+20 conference, the UN invited statistical organisations to integrate into official statistics such data that reflect the implementation of the principles of green economy. The UN also plans to establish simple and measurable global goals of sustainable development.