By Anna Ackerman, Nataliya Andrusevych, Oleh Savyskyi
As Russia’s war on Ukraine enters its ninth month, damages to the Ukrainian economy, infrastructure, and environment continue to accumulate. In addition to the human toll—the thousands of Ukrainians killed or injured and the millions displaced—the monetary costs are in the hundreds of billions of dollars and the prospect of attracting substantial foreign investments during wartime looks bleak.
Notwithstanding limited financial and human resources, Ukrainians are already working on reconstruction and development planning. Some of them endured Russian occupation and have begun to physically repair, rebuild, and rehabilitate their communities. Others have welcomed an influx of internally displaced persons who need a place to live, to work, and to take their children to schools. Ukrainians living near the frontline need to ensure their most critical infrastructure is resilient to constant enemy attacks.
Restoring the country and helping communities rebuild will cost a lot, and discussions about how and by whom reconstruction will be funded have already started. On October 25, the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen chaired the International Expert Conference on the Restoration, Reconstruction and Modernization of Ukraine in Berlin, where President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered a keynote speech. The leaders of Germany and the European Union, as well as leading international experts, made it clear that Ukraine needs to make radical changes and fully implement European integration reforms during reconstruction.
Over time, institutional funding and private investments should create a balanced economic development process. As underlined by officials, the process will have to be aligned with accession to the European Union and goals of the European Green Deal, the economic development program to make Europe climate neutral by 2050. With support from the European Union, Ukraine can become an important partner to other member states in achieving that ambition.
Planning for recovery in the midst of war. In April, President Zelenskyy set up the National Council for the Recovery of Ukraine from the Consequences of the War. Later the government presented the vision and basic principles of the recovery during the Conference on Recovery in Lugano, in addition to a draft recovery plan for 24 sectors, including infrastructure, economic recovery, energy security, environmental security, and health. Although the draft plan contains a number of green elements and a separate block on environmental security, it lacks a coherent green vision and cross-cutting elements related to the goals of climate neutrality and decarbonization.
Many active citizens and officials involved in reconstruction planning understand that in rebuilding they should strive to become highly resilient to future crises, ensure advanced protection for the population, and rebuild to the best environmental and efficiency standards simultaneously. To achieve this, a group of more than 50 nongovernmental organizations are advocating for a recovery that prioritizes development of the green economy and integration of environmental and climate policy in all sectors.
The post-war reconstruction of Ukraine is not only about not the rapid reconstruction of destroyed infrastructure, industry, or residential buildings. The post-war recovery will have a significant impact on the country’s development in the medium- and long-term and will determine the direction of development for many years. That is why post-war recovery planning should be green.