Pragmatically Integrating Sustainability Into the Reconstruction of Ukraine

In the third year of Russia's invasion, Ukraine has suffered enormous damages, with some sectors—such as buildings and infrastructure—particularly badly hit. The reconstruction effort presents an opportunity for Ukraine to build the country back better. IISD examines lessons learned from post-disaster recoveries in Europe and outlines recommendations for integrating sustainability into the reconstruction of Ukraine's building sector.

By Samuel Soman on June 6, 2024
  • Post-war reconstruction of Bosnia lacked local ownership and resulted in inefficient planning. Ukraine and the EU are planning to rebuild Ukraine in a more transparent and strategic way, with sustainability elements embedded in the recovery plans.

  • There is a big potential to rebuild Ukraine more sustainably already today. Ukraine and its international partners should consider integration of #energyefficiency into building reconstruction projects already today.

  • After two big earthquakes in 2020, Croatia planned to invest heavily into buildings modernization but did not manage to scale up the recovery. Ukraine could learn from Croatia's mistakes and develop more efficient financial support schemes.

According to the latest estimates, direct damage to Ukraine in the 2 years since Russia's full-scale invasion has reached USD 155 billion, with economic losses amounting to USD 499 billion. Considering an ambitious 10-year plan by the Ukrainian government and the international community, it will cost over USD 486 billion to fund reconstruction efforts. Although devastating, this juncture can be a watershed moment for Ukrainian society to "build back better."

Ukraine aims to capitalize upon its reconstruction to transform its economy and society to become climate resilient and inclusive. However, sustainable efforts may not seem to be a priority to many in the context of the ongoing war. With so much unpredictability, added costs, and long payback periods, sustainable measures may not seem feasible. Nevertheless, this does not have to be the case. Learning from prior post-disaster recoveries, planning at the European Union and national levels can synchronize to effectively allocate resources that maximize the economic and sustainable impacts of reconstruction. This brief investigates the pragmatic implementation of energy-efficiency measures in Ukraine's residential buildings in particular—a tangible topic ready to be implemented during and after the war.