Opinion Festival in English

This year’s Opinion Festival will be taking place on the 9-10th of August in its traditional place right in the heart of Estonia – the lovely town of Paide. The main theme of the Opinion Festival 2019 is FUTURE.

If you are an opinionated, forward-looking, debate-seeking foreigner that does not yet speak the Estonian language, then fear not, we have got you covered. During the two days, there will be plenty of discussions taking place in English at Arvamusfestival to accommodate your need to speak up and think freely. Everything from sustainability to politics, with a side-dish of the economy. Schoolchildren won’t be left out either – there will be a discussion about the youth of Europe, as well as one on the topic of interpersonal skills. Take a look for yourself at the list below. The festival is free for visitors.

Friday, 9th of  August

12.00-13.30 Trash Heroes – an artistic initiative for a better city

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

13.30-14.45 Diversity – a tool for sustainable success

Discussion is about the benefits of diversity for different types of organizations. Diverse workforce brings along open-mindedness and helps to grasp all potential business opportunities. Why diversity brings various benefits? Are Nordic and Baltic companies realizing this competitive edge? Participants: Piia Karhu (Finnair), Anu Realo (Tartu Ülikool), Kaire Tero (Rimi Eesti Food AS). Moderator Annika Arras (Miltton New Nordics). 

14.00-15.30 The Future of Nato

2019 marks the 70th Anniversary of the North Atlantic Alliance and 15 years of Estonia’s membership in NATO. It’s a good moment to look at current and future challenges to 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 our response? The discussion is organised in cooperation with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and the Embassy of Germany in Estonia. Participants: Marko Mihkelson (Chairman of the Council of EATA), Colonel Paul Clayton (eFP commander of the British Army in Estonia), Anu Eslas (Member of Estonian Atlantic Treaty Association and long-term representative of Estonia at the NATO Industrial Advisory Group), Kalev Stoicescu (International Centre for Defence and Security). Moderator Taavi Toom.

Video: British Embassy Tallinn

15.00-16.15 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 (Vastutustundliku Ettevõtluse Foorum), Mika Pantzar (finnish economist), Mikael Malmaeus (economist and an expert of environment politicst) ja Tea Danilov (Arenguseire Keskus). Moderator Kristi Saare. 

16.00-17.30 The Youth of Europe – is what we want, what we get? Expectations and reality

Possible decline of liberal values and blurred landscape of political system, rapid development of technology, consequences of climate change, China as a global player are but a few challenges and questions the millennials have to face. How do they imagine their future and what can actually be done about it in the next 15-20 years time? We’ll ask both young idealists and experienced realists. Participants: Luukas Ilves, expert on technology and cyber issues, former Deputy Director and Senior Fellow at Brussels-based think tank and policy network the Lisbon Council; Klen Jäärats, Director for European Union Affairs at Estonian Government Office; Kristen Aigro from Estonian Roundtable for Development Cooperation and former board member of European Youth Council and Gustaf Göthberg, Member of the Swedish Moderate Party. Moderator Johannes Tralla. The debate at the Estonian Opinion Festival is supported by European Commission Europe for Citizens programme and is part of the EU Solutions Lab project. Similar debates take also place in Latvia and Lithuania.

18.00-19.30 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. 

18.00-19.30 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. Come and take the initiative with us! Participants: Pirkko Valge (Good Deed Foundation), Martin A. Noorkõiv (Domus Dorpatensis, Good Citizen), Pascal Herry (European Commission), Marta Pardavi (Hungarian Helsinki Committee). Moderator Mall Hellam (Open Estonia Foundation).


Saturday 10th of August

14.00-15.30 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. Join us and let’s rethink the city! Participants: Teet Raudsep (Ülemiste City), prof. Jarek Kurnitski (TalTechCity), British expert Dr Jacqui Taylor (Smart City Tsar), Grete Arro (Tallinn University research fellow). Moderator: Rode Luhaäär (CEO & Co-founder, Paytailor)

15.00-16.30 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) and others. Moderator: members of AIESEC.

The festival is supported by the National Foundation of Civil Society, University of Tartu, Estonia 100, Swedbank, Telia, the British Embassy in Estonia, city of Paide, Association of Local Governments in Järva County, European Parliament Information Office, and the office of the European Commission in Estonia. The Opinion Festival is a part of the Nordic network of festivals called Democracy Festivals.

Photos: Opinion Festival

Discussions of the Opinion Festival focus on the future

The seventh annual Opinion Festival taking place in Paide in August focuses on the future, asking questions about how to be prepared for changes as an individual and a society as a whole. The festival focuses on a science-based approach to topics that are important for society, sustainable development and an aware approach to life.

“Every discussion within the Opinion Festival creates a better understanding of what are the important questions for Estonian people today and how we can best deal with coming changes as individuals and as a society,” said Maiu Lauring, the Head Organizer of the festival. “Future is uncertain and conflict doesn’t help, but on the contrary, makes it more difficult to rise to the challenge. The Opinion Festival wishes to bring together people from different communities, create an opportunity for face-to-face interaction and calm and fruitful discussions,” Lauring added.

During this year’s festival there is a stronger focus on the role of scientists in public discussions. Scientist will have the main stage Meie Tulevik (‘Our Future’ in Estonian). There will also be fields of discussions dedicated to science and fresh science. “The foundation of science is a fact- and evidence-based world view. Taking this into consideration, the role of scientists is not only to further their own field of study, but also to create a shared space for communication in society. In order for us to make unanimous and smart decisions for the future we need to first find a common language,” said Kadri Asmer, the Project Manager of Estonia’s National University 100.

From the suggestions sent in, 160 discussions were chosen for the programme of the festival. These discussions handle climate, energy, economy, education, science, Estonian language and culture, health, technology, etc. The festival programme, which is the result of the collaboration of tens of organizations and people, can be viewed here: These discussions either introduce a phenomenon, seek a solution for a problem or take an analytical look at existing knowledge. Several discussions have set a specific goal, such as a compiling list of proposals or suggestions.

The festival also offers a varied cultural programme organized by the Paide Cultural Centre. During the festival you can see performers such as Kaido Kirikmäe, Mari Kalkun, and Robert Jürjendal, and the Weekend Guitar Trio. The festival will be concluded by Lenna’s concert in Paide city centre.

The Opinion Festival takes place on August 9th and 10th in Paide. The festival brings together people from different communities who care about Estonia and the world in order to have balanced discussions and create better understanding of ourselves, each other, and the world. The festival is supported by the National Foundation of Civil Society, University of Tartu, Estonia 100, Swedbank, Telia, the British Embassy in Estonia, city of Paide, Association of Local Governments in Järva County, European Parliament Information Office, and the office of the European Commission in Estonia. The festival is free for visitors.