Estonia's rural areas are emptying in favor of a gradually growing Tallinn, the newest edition of the Estonian Human Development Report shows.
Helen Sooväli-Sepping, editor-in-chief of the Human Development Report and professor of environmental management at Tallinn University said on ETV's daily affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" that the report covers a wide range of topics but has two main messages.
Sooväli-Sepping said: "First, Estonia is metropolitizing, which leads to a growth in the population of Tallinn and a reverse process in population density, Estonia is shrinking."
A scarcity of quality public space in cities is a familiar issue, one of the authors of the report Antti Roose said moving to rural areas might not bring much help anymore.
Roose said: "We really haven't figured out planning suburbs and the lifestyles in them."
Development is mostly done in a resource wasting plot-to-plot basis, the involvement of locals in decision making is minimal. Tallinn's growth and density means that other parts of Estonia are emptying, which could turn into a national security issue.
Roose added: "Social coherence will be disturbed and that will lead to political extremism."
According to Helen Sooväli-Sepping, the priority should be on reducing regional inequality and dealing with public health.
She said: "On average, Estonians live three years less than the average European. Health behavior has to change and that is in immediate correlation with public space. Our quality of life depends on the environment that we live in."
President Kersti Kaljulaid said: "According to the researchers who contributed to the report, we have choices of letting rapid metropolitanization continue or agreeing on a form of governance, which would develop a network of centers, where service and connections are guaranteed."
She added that Estonia is 30th on the Human Development Index and that allows the country to dream and make fast decisions, which will bring beneficial solutions for everyone.
The report (link in Estonian) emphasized the development of two different models of governance: a model on metropolitanization and a model on collapse.
The English version of the report is scheduled to release in July.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste