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Winning city 2023

Tallinn is the capital of Estonia with a population of 447,032. Lying on the Gulf of Finland coast of the Baltic Sea, its coastal boundary is only slightly shorter (46km) than its land border (59km). Its central position on the Gulf of Finland has made Tallinn and its port important since the 10th century, making it a top trade city in the area for centuries.

Although the city has a long merchant history and the port of Tallinn is still one of the biggest in the Baltic region, trade is not the most important business anymore. In fact, Estonia is considered the Silicon Valley of the Baltic Sea, and Tallinn’s economy is flourishing thanks to information technology. 

Between the many start-ups that originated in Tallinn, Skype is without a doubt the most famous one. Tallinn is one of the main IT centres of Europe and it is the home of the EU Agency for large-scale IT systems and the Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence of NATO.

Tallinn is characterised by the diverse nature of its landscapes and communities, which also serve as habitats for rare species. The most prominent landform of the natural environment is the Baltic klint, a limestone escarpment, with its highest point of 48m within the limits of Tallinn. Estonia’s most visited tourist attractions are located in the old town of Tallinn which is easily explorable on foot.

The city has recently adopted the ambitious development strategy “Tallinn 2035”. The plan addresses carbon neutrality, climate adaptation, innovation, health, mobility, biodiversity, circular economy, sustainable energy and food production. Long before that, Tallinn showed its commitment to climate adaptation. Numerous relevant measures, such as stormwater management systems and remodelling of streets have been carried out.

As for urban mobility, Tallinn has set a goal: its citizens should be able to reach all necessary infrastructure within 15 min via soft transport modes. In addition, the city has provided free public transport to its citizens since 2013. During a referendum organised by the city to get its citizens to express their opinion on the matter, over 75% voted in favour of it.

Thus, Tallinn became the first European capital to offer free public transport to its citizens. This city has set an example through this promotion of sustainable transport, showing the way for other European capitals.

Last but not least, the idea of a European Green Capital was originally conceived in Tallinn, at a meeting held in May 2006 on the initiative of the former City Mayor, Jüri Ratas.

According to the European Green Capital Jury, Tallinn has shown a systemic approach in their transition towards sustainability with interlinked strategic goals for 2035, linked to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Furthermore, the city is the only one of the finalist cities that has signed the Green City Accord.

Citizen Diaries - Tallinn