The Green Recovery of Ukraine: a Challenging but Non- Negotiable Way to Succeed in the World of Tomorrow
The Russian war against Ukraine has had a heavy toll on the country and its population - entire towns levelled to the ground, thousands of people killed, millions forced to flee their homes, and residential areas, large industrial plans, energy facilities, and critical infrastructure destroyed or severely damaged. One of the biggest victims of the Russian aggression is nature, which has suffered considerable losses in the last eleven months, particularly in the east and south of Ukraine, including Azov and Black Sea waters.
According to the State Environmental Inspectorate of Ukraine, 280 thousand m3 of soil have been contaminated with toxic substances and 11 million m3 polluted with exploded ordnance and other remnants of warfare. 686 thousand tons of oil products burned out when Russians stroke oil depots, refineries and similar objects, substantially raising air pollution and contributing to carbon emissions. Almost 60 thousand hectares of forests have been burned with respective wildlife losses. 1.6 thousand tons of hazardous substances ended up in water bodies. The Inspectorate estimates the damage to Ukraine’s air, land and water resources, as of the beginning of 2023, at 1.7 trillion UAH (42 billion USD).1 However, the real numbers are probably much higher, as assessing the actual environmental situation in occupied territories and active hostilities zones is difficult. Some of the damage is irreversible, and the negative effects of environmental degradation will linger and affect the life of the next generations in Ukraine and beyond. The current environmental degradation builds onto Ukraine’s pre-war environmental challenges, such as air and water pollution, resource-intense production, energy-inefficient housing and transport, land degradation due to unsustainable farming practices, and many others. Although Ukraine has been undertaking demanding reforms in environmental protection, energy efficiency, and renewable energy development following the EU-UA Association Agreement, the to-do list of European integration reforms in these areas remains quite long. In particular, in the environmental sphere, the European Commission has recently assessed the state of Ukraine’s alignment with the EU acquis as “being at the early stage of preparation”.
Read more in the policy brief below.