The region in brief
Ida-Viru County is situated in north-eastern Estonia on the border with Russia. Its location, adjacent to both north-west Russia and Finland, tend to favour the development of trilateral economic links of transit and border trade. The County has long-standing traditions in manufacturing and production, modern vocational centres and branches of universities. The region possesses a highly developed technical infrastructure and logistical network.
Total area of the county is 3364 km2, covering 7,4% of the area of the whole country. With its population of 147 597 Ida-Viru County is the second largest region in Estonia. The county has a total of 20 local governments: 5 towns and 15 parishes. The major cities, home to 80% of the region’s population, are: Narva, Kohtla-Järve, Sillamäe, Jõhvi (the county administrative capital) and Narva-Jõesuu.
The county accounts for 8% of Estonian GDP and holds most of its industrial and energetic capacity, producing 14% of Estonian industrial yield. The employment rate is 52,1%, which is quite low compared to other places in Estonia.
Ida-Virumaa has a long-distance seaport in Sillamäe and small harbours. Ida-Viru County’s main tourist attractions include areas for active tourism (e.g. former industrial areas which are now used as attractions); spa hotels and beaches on the coast of Gulf of Finland and Peipsi lake, as well as historical objects.
The blue economy in Ida-Viru today
Historically, Ida-Viru has been a very diverse region with trade, heavy industry and manufacturing traditions. According to the Estonian Regional Development strategy, the preferred sectors for Ida-Viru are:
- oil-shale energy;
- chemical industry;
Smart specialization areas for Estonia (in general) are:
- ICT supporting other sectors;
- Health technologies and services;
- Resource efficiency.
Presently, the most important economic activities in Ida-Viru county according to RIS3 research are more niche and linked with general sub-sectors. In addition to chemical industry, logistics and tourism, they include coke and refined petroleum products, machinery equipment repair and mounting and manufacturing (leather and apparel).
Ida-Viru industries and business activities are mainly situated along the coast and maritime issues are horizontal. The Blue Growth long-term strategy is integrated into other themes of Ida-Viru’s regional development strategy economic fields:
- development of maritime transport (cargo ships and passenger travel):
- to increase and ensure safety levels for liquid chemicals and petroleum transportation;
- to re-establish passengers’ regular travelling to the eastern part of the Gulf of Finland;
- development of high added value food, nutrition production and health, eco-system services:
- coastal tourism and living environment:
- to extend the duration of the touristic season with unique, innovative services and attractions;
- to create and develop a small harbours’ network for leisure boats, coastal tourism and an attractive living environment in the region.
There are R&D challenges in every sector mentioned above, especially those connected to:
- maritime knowledge to improve the overall access to information about the sea (incl. provision of continuous training and activities for locals;
- maritime spatial planning to ensure sustainable management and development of regional activities at sea and along the coast;
- providing authorities with information and guidelines about maritime activities: planning and provision of on-water border control, safety and security; fisheries control; environmental issues.
The blue economy of tomorrow in Ida-Viru – our vision
The Blue Growth strategy and activities contribute to diversity and internationalisation of the region’s entrepreneurship environment:
- Sustainable expansion and development of Sillamäe port as the main regional logistics centre (water roads - railway - highway);
- Increasing trade flows;
- Increase of water-travelling passengers, providing an alternative North-South corridor through Sillamäe - Kotka/Hamina;
- Existing machinery repairing enterprises provide works for maritime needs;
- Aquaculture is integrated into the regional food-production sector;
- Maritime culture and activities support tourism and the creative industries’ development.
Blue Growth information and knowledge in the region is growing:
- Stakeholders act according to information and guidelines for sustainable maritime development in the region;
- Locals get training and information about maritime issues;
- Regional Centre of Competence provides links to chemical industry.
Environmental condition of the Gulf of Finland is continuously improved through:
- Reconstructions of small harbours and port infrastructure;
- Increased quality of harbours services;
- Increased safety and security of maritime transport;
- Decreasing of inland inflows and air pollution.
Increased diversity of aquacultures in the Gulf of Finland:
- Research-based aquaculture;
- Research-based and sustainable coastal tourism development.
Coastal living environment and costal infrastructure is attractive and enchanting maritime tourism and regional development:
- Maritime tourism is based on innovative and year-round services and attractions;
- Maritime culture is widely acknowledged and used for regional development.