Mrs. Liina Tönisson
Minister of Economic Affairs 

at the 
World Summit on Sustainable Development 

Johannesburg, South Africa
4 September 2002

Mr. Chairman, 
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen!

Are we ready to accept the challenge of the Millennium Development Goals in our everyday decisions and activities? Shall we remain as positive as we are in our words and promises here, in Johannesburg?

Let me assure you - positive transformation IS possible!

Over the past ten years, Estonia has proven to be capable of positive transformation. Our success has been based on Estonia's status, as one of the world's most liberal and open economies, its monetary system and conservative budgetary policy. Estonia owes much of its success to its creative and flexible people.

The rapid changes have, however, had also high social costs. This, in turn, has created new challenges for the society: ageing population and social stratification. To secure a more balanced societal development, we are currently in the process of drafting our sustainable development strategy in co-operation with the civil society and private sector.

Another challenge Estonia will face in the next decades is to find alternatives to our fossil-fuel-based energy. Estonia has ratified the Kyoto Protocol. We have nearly halved our C02 emissions in the last ten years and we are committed to continue the trend.

Having idolized the inaccessible consumer society for decades and now having reached it, we see the other side of the coin: a need to make our consumption and production patterns more sustainable.

In the globalising world and expanding international trade, it is important to have clear and harmonised rules of fair trade. Globalization should not degrade the quality of our environment and the health of our people. It is of utmost importance to preserve and value society's culture, lifestyle and nature - diversity enriches the world.

Among our biggest assets we can identify Estonia's virgin forests, untouched wetlands, and beaches, together immensely enriching the Urbanised Europe as well as the whole world. Our agricultural land poses an exceptional opportunity to organic farming and healthy food production.

Estonia shares common responsibility for solving global problems and managing global resources. Creativity and flexibility, traditions and sustainability are factors that make up our development experience and we are willing to share that experience with the world. Hopefully our experience can help others in similar processes by providing alternative solutions or warning of certain mistakes. We should be aware of our strengths and weaknesses to be ready for positive and sustainable transformation.

Radical and decisive changes require openness, different approaches, creativity and participation of stakeholders. We back partnerships between governments, private sector, NGOs, networks and scientific community - internally as well as across borders.

Complex challenges and demanding goals as well as multiple relations entail good governance and knowledge management. Our approach is that sustainable development is possible if we increase our national wealth. By which we mean that we need to successfully manage our various resources - natural, human, and produced ones. This provides us with a pragmatic tool to quantify goals and measure achievements.

If positive changes are possible at the country level, they might become realistic also at the global level. Estonia is encouraged with the results achieved here in Johannesburg this week. Progress at the global level will support national efforts which in turn add value to the global sustainable development.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

Global positive transformation awaits the decisive action of all of us - North and South; small and big!

Thank you for your attention.