The environmentally friendliest local government in Estonia in 2019 was Saaremaa Rural Municipality. The city of Rakvere and the city of Tartu were also nominated for the competition organised by the Ministry of the Environment and the Environmental Investment Centre (EIC).
“The rural municipality that won the competition stood out primarily due to the fact that their last annual environmental programme was extremely diverse and, at the same time, achieved consistently strong results in all areas assessed,” Secretary General of the Ministry of the Environment Meelis Münt said. He was also the one who handed over the award to Saaremaa Rural Municipality today at the sustainable development forum. “Everything that has been done for the environment was accompanied by a very high level of communication, which is why every islander is probably aware of the environmental trends on their home island. It is obvious that a good environment is also a creator of quality of life, so the islanders are in good hands in their rural municipality.”
The following were highlighted from last year’s activities in Saaremaa Rural Municipality: restoration of species-rich semi-natural communities, use of energy efficient solutions, green public procurement, projects to rehabilitate water bodies and improve fish migration conditions, rental of separate collection systems for events, and supporting the establishment of compliant drinking water and wastewater treatment.
“The role of Saaremaa Rural Municipality in making its area more environmentally friendly is significant – they have contributed to raising the environmental awareness of the population, making large investments, and helping to preserve biodiversity,” Chief Executive Officer of the EIC Andrus Treier said. “Examples include hazardous waste collection circles, the street lighting of several villages and small towns, the more energy-efficient kindergartens or the renovation of heating networks, which we have also been able to support through the EIC.”
An environmentally friendly local government receives up to EUR 50,000 from the EIC to participate in environmental training, to organise a public event or to support an investment that contributes to environmental well-being. “We hope that the local governments recognised today will be an example for others, and next year we can express joy over new success stories again,” Treier added.
Secretary General of the Ministry of the Environment Meelis Münt noted that although there could be only one overall winner, absolutely all the candidate local governments deserve recognition. “They have all made a great contribution to the environment at the local level and are willing to do even more. Sometimes this driving force is a word of appreciation, which is why this competition will definitely be held again,” said Münt, encouraging local governments to definitely participate in the following similar events and to present their activities to the public.
A total of 12 local governments participated in the competition: the city of Võru, Kanepi Rural Municipality, Saku Rural Municipality, Tõrva Rural Municipality, Hiiumaa Rural Municipality, the city of Tartu, the city of Keila, the city of Paide, Saaremaa Rural Municipality, the city of Rakvere, the city of Loksa, and Harku Rural Municipality.
Two recognitions were announced at the competition and these were awarded to the city of Keila and Võru Rural Municipality, and the winner was chosen from three nominees (Saaremaa Rural Municipality, the city of Tartu, and the city of Rakvere).
The purpose of the competition organised by the Ministry of the Environment and the Environmental Investment Centre is to recognise those local governments that have contributed to reducing the negative environmental impact, valuing the living environment close to nature, and increasing the environmental awareness of the local residents.
The participants of the competition were evaluated in five areas: circular economy, nature conservation, climate change mitigation and adaptation, water, and environmental awareness.
The forms submitted to the competition were evaluated by the representatives of the Ministry of the Environment, the Environmental Investment Centre, the Ministry of Finance, and the Association of Estonian Cities and Municipalities, as well as the administrators of the portal at www.kuhuviia.ee. The evaluation committee assessed how the circular economy has been promoted in the rural municipality, what is being done to mitigate and adapt to climate change, how biodiversity is being preserved, what solutions are being used to collect rainwater and rehabilitate water bodies, and what is being done to make local people more environmentally aware.
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