English-language discussions at the Estonian Opinion Festival

The annual Opinion Festival again takes place in its traditional place right in the heart of Estonia – the town of Paide; the main theme in 2019 is “Future” and the festival features several English-language panels.

During the two days, from 9-10 August, there will be plenty of discussions taking place in English – on sustainability, politics, economy, education and Europe. As always, the festival is free for visitors.

Friday, 9 August

12:00PM -1:30PM Trash Heroes – an artistic initiative for a better city

The Finnish movement, Trash Heroes, combines art and environmental awareness with having fun together. They bring up values essential to a better future through dance, music, green energy, recycling and environmentally friendly vehicles. The plan is simple: 1. cruising around with custom-made cargo bikes; 2. cleaning up areas to make them better for dancing; 3. Dancing; 4. moving on to next destination. The cargo bikes have percussions, DJ-sets and sound systems, all powered by solar energy.

Participants: Antti Lahti (artistic director of Time of Dance Festival in Jyväskylä), Panu Varstala (founding member of Apinatarha dance collective). Moderator: Karoliina Korpilahti. 

1:30PM-2.45PM Diversity – a tool for sustainable success

This discussion is about the benefits of diversity for different types of organisations. Diverse workforce brings along open-mindedness and helps grasp all potential business opportunities. Why diversity brings various benefits? Are Nordic and Baltic companies realising this competitive edge?

Participants: Piia Karhu (Finnair), Anu Realo (the University of Tartu), Kaire Tero (Rimi Eesti Food AS). Moderator: Annika Arras (Miltton New Nordics). 

2:00PM-3:30PM The Future of NATO

2019 marks the 70th anniversary of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and 15 years of Estonia’s membership in the alliance. It’s a good moment to look at current and future challenges for the alliance. What are the key issues, risks and threats the alliance is facing in the future? How is the nature of threats evolving and what should be the response? The discussion is organised in cooperation with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and the embassy of Germany in Estonia.

Participants: Marko Mihkelson (a member of the Estonian parliament), Colonel Paul Clayton (eFP commander of the British Army in Estonia), Anu Eslas (a member of Estonian Atlantic Treaty Association and long-term representative of Estonia at the NATO Industrial Advisory Group), Kalev Stoicescu (the International Centre for Defence and Security). Moderator: Taavi Toom.

3:00PM-4:15PM What is the future-proof economic model?

Consumption is the fuel for economy – how will the business do in the post-growth economy? Is circular and bioeconomy the right vehicle? Is it possible really to detach growth from resource consumption? Some socio-economic studies refer to new alternatives. These are crucial issues for politicians, social scientists, economists and entrepreneurs.

Participants: Kristiina Esop (the Sustainable Entrepreneurship Forum), Mika Pantzar (a Finnish economist), Mikael Malmaeus (an economist and an expert in environment policies) and Tea Danilov (the Development Monitoring Centre). Moderator: Kristi Saare. 

People chilling out at the Paide Opinion Festival. Photo by Anna Markova.

4:00PM-5:30PM The Youth of Europe – is what we want, what we get? The expectations and reality

The possible decline of liberal values and blurred landscape of political system, rapid development of technology, consequences of climate change, China as a global player – these are but a few challenges and questions millennials have to face. How do they imagine their future and what can be done about it in the next 15-20 years? We’ll ask both young idealists and experienced realists.

Participants: Luukas Ilves, an expert on technology and cyber issues, the former deputy director and a senior fellow at the Brussels-based think tank and policy network, the Lisbon Council; Klen Jäärats, the director for European Union Affairs at the Estonian Government Office; Kristen Aigro from the Estonian Roundtable for Development Cooperation and a former board member of the European Youth Council; and Gustaf Göthberg, a member of the Swedish Moderate Party. Moderator: Johannes Tralla. 

6:00PM-7:30PM How to define relationships? 

There are different types of relationships. How do you even know whether monogamy, polygamy, relationship anarchy, polyamory, polyandry or any other type would suit you? In the debate, we will discuss different relationship types, hear stories from anonymous authors and discuss about when would it make sense to talk to your partner(s) about your expectations for your roles and goals. Participants: everyone is welcome!

Moderator: Heli Aomets. 

6:00PM-7:30PM The European Citizens’ Initiative: Participatory democracy for citizen-powered Europe

How much power do you have? With the European Citizens’ Initiative, you can shape European policy. Join us to find out more about this unique tool allowing you to suggest concrete legal changes in any field where the European Commission has power to propose legislation. We will discuss the importance of participatory democracy as well as give you valuable information on the European Citizens’ Initiative.

Participants: Pirkko Valge (the Good Deed Foundation), Martin A. Noorkõiv (Domus Dorpatensis, Good Citizen), Pascal Herry (the European Commission), Marta Pardavi (the Hungarian Helsinki Committee). Moderator: Mall Hellam (the Open Estonia Foundation).

One of the areas at the Paide Opinion Festival in 2014. Photo by Sven Tupits (Wikimedia Commons).

Saturday, 10 August

2:00PM-3:30PM Rethinking the smart city

We all know what a smart home is, but what exactly is a smart city? Is it green, comfortable or something that evokes memories of a happy childhood? What does it offer to its people and businesses? Smart solutions eliminate traffic jams and parking problems, promoting green transport instead. They also offer effective and creative solutions for energy, water and waste disposal. Smart cities attract companies that think alike, creating a synergy of fresh ideas and people, cooperation and competition.

Participants: Teet Raudsep (Ülemiste City), Jarek Kurnitski (TalTechCity), Jacqui Taylor (Smart City Tsar), Grete Arro (a Tallinn University research fellow). Moderator: Rode Luhaäär (the CEO and a co-founder, Paytailor).

3:00PM-6:00PM Kõigi Eesti (#myestoniatoo) open microphone with surprise guests

The Kõigi Eesti grassroot movement was formed this spring by people active in very different areas, who after the general election in Estonia were worried about the democratic values and the maintenance and protection of our freedoms. In two days, the movement gained a support of over 20,000 people – a pace not seen since the Singing Revolution in 1988.

At the Opinion Festival, Kõigi Eesti offers everyone an open microphone – a unique feature at this year’s festival. Everyone from the public can participate and express their opinion on three questions: “Can everyone express themselves freely in Estonia?”; “Am I free in Estonia?”; and “Is a politician free in Estonia?” The opinions are expressed in “talking circle” rather than in front of the audience.

People are welcome to express themselves in Estonian, Russian and English. Registration recommended!

At the Opinion Festival, Kõigi Eesti offers everyone an open microphone – a unique feature at this year’s festival.

3:00PM-4:30PM Social inclusion as the key to success

For success in life, it is important to have connections. Some people are born into families that already have connections, but what about the youth that does not have any to begin with? In this workshop/discussion we will explore the possibilities of those young people and what could be the solutions to the given issue.

Participants: Külliki Vainu (AIESEC, the world’s largest youth-run organisation) and others. Moderator: members of AIESEC.

The first Estonian Opinion Festival was organised in 2013. Since then, it has taken place annually – always in Paide – and usually attracts approximately 10,000 people, from opinion leaders to ordinary citizens.

Cover: One of the areas at the Paide Opinion Festival in 2014. Photo by Sven Tupits (Wikimedia Commons).