In English

Smart cities need to be sustainable


Raimond Tamm, Deputy Mayor of Tartu, talks about the SmartEnCity project and its goal to make Tartu more sustainable and create practical examples that could be used by other Estonian and European cities. The project is very ambitious – it includes improving public transportation and bike traffic, street lights, renovating apartment buildings and much more.

The main goal of the project is fight climate change. I ask if Tartu is aiming for becoming a carbon neutral city. Raimond Tamm says that it is, indeed, their long term goal, but they are getting there step by step. The current goal is to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020 and 40% by 2030.

The SmartEnCity programme includes three sustainable branches, the first of which deals with low-energy residential areas. However, Raimond explains that the goal of the project cannot be merely renovating a few dozen houses: “We wish to show that even the so-called khrushchyovkas, i.e. old apartment buildings with very high energy consumption levels, could be rebuilt into nearly zero energy buildings. It would be a demonstration project for other cities, showing how to renovate, how much energy could be saved and how much energy could be produced with solar panels.”

The second branch is about working on mobility, which includes, inter alia, creating a system for rental bicycles, revamping the public transportation and creating public fast recharging points for electric cars. The third branch involves public infrastructure and connecting various activities with IT to leverage their effect even further. Though the activities of each area are useful on their own, their results could be improved by the use of information technology.

City for its inhabitants

Raimond believes that we should be more aware of what effects our everyday activities have on the natural environment and the climate. “This way, we would understand how to design our future. Yes, for the city administration, the economy also has an important role, but it is essential to take a look at the living environment, particularly at clean city air, as little car traffic as possible, clean town centre with safe traffic, the quality of green spaces and so on.”

Raimond hopes that the governing of cities and planning of activities will be guided more and more by a famous quote by Abraham Lincoln: “The best way to predict your future is to create it.”

Website: SmartEnCity

Photo: Daniel von Appen

Why this story matters?

With the number of people living within cities projected to rise to 5 billion people by 2030, it’s important that efficient urban planning and management practices are in place to deal with the challenges brought by urbanization.

Many challenges exist to maintaining cities in a way that continues to create jobs and prosperity without straining land and resources. Common urban challenges include congestion, lack of funds to provide basic services, a shortage of adequate housing, declining infrastructure and rising air pollution within cities.

The Sustainable Development Goals are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. 

Read more about SDG 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities

This publication has been produced with the financial support from the Nordic Council of Ministers. The content of this publication is the sole responsibility of the coordinators of this project and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Nordic Council of Ministers.

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Estonian Roundtable for Development Cooperation (AKÜ) is an independent not-for-profit coalition of non-governmental organisations that work in the field of development cooperation, global citizenship education or sustainable development.

AKÜ is a strategic partner for Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a consultant the state in field of development cooperation, global citizenship education or sustainable development.

AKÜ also provides workshops and consultancy for private sector companies as well as for wider public on sustainable development goals and global issues. 

The highest decision-making body is the General Assmebly.  AKÜ’s legal representative is the Board, which is also responsible for managing the organisation’s staff. 

MTÜ Arengukoostöö Ümarlaud (AKÜ)

Estonian Roundtable for Development Cooperation

Telliskivi 60a/3, 10412, Tallinn


Agne Kuimet – member of management board, agne@terveilm.ee