Comprised of Columbia SIPA and Law School students, the Capstone team worked with the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Estonia to the United Nations and the Office of the President of the Republic of Estonia to undertake a comprehensive research project in order to offer a set of strategic recommendations to have Estonia serve as a dynamic global thought leader. In addition to literature review and desk research, the team conducted over forty interviews, primarily in Tallinn during a March 2018 research trip, and in New York, with representatives of the Estonian government, private sector, academia, and civil society.
While Estonia is well known for its advances in the digital realm, the country must assess ways forward in order to continue being renowned for these and other activities and achievements. This report provided recommendations in five key areas that the team determined are important in both maintaining the strides Estonia has made and enhancing and building on its international image and reputation: its activities at the UN and its campaign for a seat on the UN Security Council; the establishment of an international agency focused on digital technologies; Estonia’s potential to serve as a key proponent of the interests of small states; integration of an enhanced international image into Estonia’s existing programs on e-Governance (and Administration), e-Residency, startups, education, and research; and the question of defining and branding Estonia’s identity.
Estonia is arguably at a turning point given its potential in maintaining and enhancing its position as a leader in the digital realm and emerging as one among small states of the world. In order to meet this potential, however, Estonia must enhance and expand its international image and reputation, and this report provided a roadmap to do so in the international community, among small states, through Estonia’s existing programs, and in how Estonians think of themselves.