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Estonian development cooperation


Estonian development cooperation aims to improve global peace and stability, contribute to the eradication of poverty, and help attain sustainable development goals (SDGs) by sharing its reform experience with transition countries.

Cooperation with partner countries focuses on strengthening governance, supporting the availability and quality of education and health care, contributing to economic development, and fostering digital transformation, all while increasing peace and stability in civil society. Estonia is committed to human rights, gender equality and environmental sustainability.

Estonia’s official development assistance, according to the OECD

Estonia's official development assistance (ODA), including the entire public sector's foreign cooperation activities with partner countries and refugee support, reached 101 million euros in 2023. This comprises 0.28% of Estonia’s gross national income (GNI). Estonia has made an international commitment to increase this amount to 0.33% by 2030.

When calculating ODA excluding domestic expenditure for Ukrainian refugees, Estonia’s ODA reached 70 million euros in 2023, 0.19% of the gross national income. This shows a decrease of nearly 51.4% only because OECD rules state that domestic spending on refugee support can only be included in ODA reporting for the first twelve months. Even without including spending on refugee support, Estonia’s ODA has increased significantly compared to the period before the war in Ukraine, when ODA plateaued at 0.16% of the GNI.

Estonia's priority continues to be supporting Ukraine. In 2023, 9.6 million euros were allocated for bilateral development cooperation and humanitarian aid in Ukraine, comprising 9.5% of Estonia’s total ODA.

Development cooperation organisation

To cope with increased demand, the Estonian government separated development cooperation from humanitarian aid by creating the Estonian Centre for International Development (ESTDEV) as an agency separate from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Estonian Centre for International Development (ESTDEV) aims to increase and enhance Estonia’s development cooperation and long-term humanitarian aid projects. ESTDEV focuses on implementing strategic, wide-ranging, sustainable projects in countries and regions named priority countries by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs remains responsible for developing international development aid policies, state strategies and action plans. The Ministry also represents Estonian interests in development cooperation and humanitarian aid within international organisations.

Estonian development cooperation priorities
  • Developing democracy and states governed by the rule of law and good governance
  • Supporting economic development
  • Empowering civil society
  • Establishing quality health care
  • Promoting quality education
  • Raising public awareness

Horizontal priorities are sustainable development, gender equality and improved access to and use of digital and e-governance solutions. Priority is also given to essential areas such as the development of democracy and green and digital transitions.


Estonia’s main partner countries in the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood are Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova and Armenia. ESTDEV’s main partner countries in Africa are Kenya, Uganda, Botswana and Namibia.

In the last few years, Estonia has even more closely linked development cooperation and business diplomacy. Interest in imitating Estonia’s e-state and digital solutions has grown, making it possible to include more and more Estonian private sector solutions in development cooperation projects.

Among UN organisations, Estonian cooperation partners are the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), and the World Food Program (WFP). Estonia also hosts multilateral cooperation projects with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Providing humanitarian aid

Humanitarian aid saves lives during natural and man-made disasters, reduces suffering, and provides living essentials. Estonia bases aid on specified needs established through analyses by the United Nations, the European Commission, or Red Cross organisations. However, this aid may also come in response to countries’ requests for help.

Total humanitarian aid came to 4.5 million euros in 2023. Allocations to international organisations—the European Union, the World Bank Group, and the United Nations—comprised 45% of Estonia’s total ODA.

Every year, Estonia supports the activities of the following international humanitarian aid organisations through voluntary donations: the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC), the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).