Interview with Eva Truuverk, Project Manager, Green Tiger
How did your initiative start? What was the initial situation?
For me it started in 2007 when I joined with The Let’s Do It team. From then on I’ve been dealing with environmental issues and figuring out ways to make this planet a better and more sustainable place to live. I’ve already been working in this field for 14 years.
Cleaning up Estonia – “The Let’s Do It” project – quickly turned into cleaning up the world. We created a model with The Let’s Do It and introduced it to 180 countries in the world. That’s how The World Cleanup Day started in 2018 and has been taking place every year in September. In 2018, the world was introduced to the Keep It Clean plan. Developed by internationally renowned scientists (Enzo Favoina, Kadri Kalle), it outlines principles for ensuring that the world remains as clean as possible, for example how we can reduce and recycle waste, how countries would implement circular economy.
Now the next step in the plan is the drafting of implementation schemes to keep each individual country clean. The Green Tiger was initiated in 2019 and launched in 2020 in Tallinn, Estonia. The Green Tiger was a natural sequel to the first ever World Cleanup Day, which was held on 15 September, 2018, involving 17.8 million people all over the world. The Green Tiger team started by creating a roadmap that will serve as an example to other countries.
What is the vision of your initiative? What do you want to achieve?
Green Tiger’s vision is a sustainable world which preserves social welfare whilst focusing on the conservation and restoration of nature. We are a cross-sectoral collaboration platform which is creating a basis for a green economy, just as the Tiger Leap project jump-started the development of Estonia’s technology sector. Green Tiger combines the societal demand for a sustainable Estonia and accelerates the system innovation that is needed to achieve that.
Whom do you want to reach?
Green Tiger aims to take green development to the next level in Estonian society via collaboration across sectors at four levels – public sector, private sector, NGOs and individuals.
Every level has a specific leader, strategy, tactical goals, metrics, and action plans. I’m responsible for the public sector. Mihkel Tammo is responsible for the private sector. He is behind the Green Tiger’s strategic processes and views, and his passion is contemporary, future leadership. The main goal for working with the private sector is to create a representative body of sustainable organisations to coordinate all the activities with.
The person responsible for NGOs is Teele Pehk. The idea in working with NGOs is that we will be collecting the know-how that already exists within environmental organisations (there are over a hundred environmental nonprofits and foundations in Estonia, each in their own specific niche).
The fourth level – individuals – is run by Birgit Kermes. We’ve made it our goal to reach every Estonian. We’ll be using a lot of different tools of communication, including social media, traditional media and stunts. Together with our pilot projects and later with the sustainability organisation, we’ll be running activities that concern regular Estonians.
The Green Tiger represents companies on environmental issues and in making suggestions to policy-makers. As an independent and apolitical platform, we support companies in their environmentally aware journey and take suggestions to policy-makers. That’s why we’ve created the Green Tiger Think-Tank and an economics panel made up of Estonian entrepreneurs, whose aim is to arrive at a vision of an economy that is environmentally friendly and based on future technologies, and whose implementation is feasible for Estonia.
What makes your initiative special?
The fact that a citizen initiative has achieved strong support from businesses makes the collaboration platform attractive for scientists (as the knowledge providers), the public sector (as the final receiver of societal demand), and for the non-governmental organisations, including environmental experts.
The Green Tiger project aims to bring together theoretical knowledge around circular economy and put it into practical use by having the country of Estonia implement the model. With its small population, high technology literacy and a compact society with politicians and business leaders who are easy to reach, Estonia is a great place for piloting new models like this which could be eventually useful for other countries as well. People in Estonia are used to using e-services like e-taxes, internet voting and e-banking. This puts us at an advantage when testing and implementing new models on a national scale.
What has helped to develop your offer?
We have been lucky to catch momentum at the right time. A year ago it was completely useless to talk about environmental issues, circular economy, etc. At best you were just politely heard from by the other party but that was it, there was no further dialog. Today in Estonia, environmental issues and interest towards the circular economy has strongly increased. Our first financers were from the Center of Environmental Investments. Leaders of the biggest companies in Estonia have started to understand that if they want to be taken seriously and be in competition 10 years from now, they need to start thinking about environmental issues and circular economy. In order to stay in competition they need to start making changes and developments today already. It’s no longer possible to ignore that. People have started to understand this and that’s why it has been relatively easy for the Green Tiger to find partners. Today we have gathered around 50 partners and they are big organisations and companies. We have invited top leaders to think with us and shape the future model of economy.
What are you particularly proud of?
I’m proud of having put together an alliance to coordinate a broad survey of the circular economy in Estonia, which was procured by the Ministry of the Environment. It’s a three-part procurement of €275,000 and the alliance won the contract for all three parts. The survey itself is already in progress, having started in August 2020 and ending in April 2021.
If you were powerful politician for one day, what would you change?
Political and financial support to the Green Tiger and an enabling atmosphere for all actors that work in the name of restoring and regenerating the environment.
What is your key message?
The challenge for Estonia and for the Green Tiger project is to bring together theoretical knowledge around circular economy, and put it into practical use by having the country of Estonia implement the model so impeccably that we’d be able to describe that model and introduce it to the world.