Environmental sustainability and governance have not yet played a sufficiently prominent role in Recovery or Restoration dialogues, considering Ukraine’s commitment to the EU integration process, the Paris Agreement and the new UN Global Biodiversity Framework. While climate and nature might not seem a major priority during wartime, incorporating these into the planning process will help Ukraine along its pathway to a future-proof recovery and compliance with international obligations. It will also accelerate Ukraine’s journey to joining the EU and help ensure its economy is competitive once integrated in the bloc.
How to elevate issues of environmental governance within Restoration planning, including the forthcoming Ukraine Recovery Conference in London, was at the core of the workshop in Berlin on 26 May 2023 co-hosted by the Basel Institute on Governance, WWF Central and Eastern Europe, and Member of the European Parliament Viola von Cramon-Taubadel.The workshop brought together leading voices from Ukraine’s government, international donors and partners, civil society and business, who discussed what it would take to help Ukraine move toward a sustainable, climate-neutral and nature-positive post-war future. In essence, toward a dynamic economy within the EU powered by renewable energy and industries producing sustainable agricultural and wood products.
The participants concluded that in order to honour the sacrifices of Ukraine and Ukrainians, we must do everything possible to make the country environmentally safe for future generations. This is a critical moment when we must ensure the post-war Restoration helps meet Ukraine’s environmental goals. And it is absolutely essential not just for Ukraine, but for Europe and beyond. As the largest country in the region, Ukraine's future environmental, social and economic resilience impacts overall resilience.
This will require climate, nature and environmental concerns to be elevated to central tenets of Restoration planning, underpinned by a solid governance system. That would ease the flow of international recovery funds linked to green criteria and good governance requirements, and make investments more secure.
Specifically, this means:
- Extending governance reforms to the environmental sector: Ukraine has made significant strides during war time to address governance, transparency and integrity concerns. These reforms are not yet equally spread, however. Consistently extending these reforms to the natural resource and environmental sectors would be a crucial prerequisite to creating a competitive post-war economy.
- Ensuring a greater prominence of environmental considerations in Restoration planning efforts that are already underway. Among other benefits, this would reduce the need for the adjustments that will inevitably be required as part of EU integration.
- Continuing to engage civil society actors in the Restoration planning efforts, ensuring various relevant sectors, including environmental actors, are engaged.
- Fully utilising Ukraine’s impressive technical know-how to ensure transparency, accountability and environmental compliance.
Viola von Cramon-Taubel, Member of European Parliament, said: “The upcoming Ukraine Recovery Conference in London on 21 and 22 June will focus on mobilising private-sector investment. We urge participants to tie discussions on such investments to governance reforms to foster public participation, the rule of law, innovation and sound development planning. All over the world, we are seeing the devastating consequences of climate change, environmental degradation and corruption. This is Ukraine’s chance to get ahead on all three.”
Irene Lucius of WWF Central and Eastern Europe said: “According to the 2023 World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report, climate action failure, extreme weather and biodiversity loss are the top three environmental global threats over the next decade. Not only does Ukraine’s resilience to a changing climate depend on a healthy environment. Businesses, banks and donors are also well advised to build environmental sustainability and anti-corruption principles into their Ukraine programmes if they want to see a long-term return on investment. However, in the realities of war and post-war economies, there is a risk of insufficiently incorporating environmental governance into the Restoration efforts.”
Juhani Grossmann of the Basel Institute on Governance said: “Ukraine is already wholeheartedly rejecting its Soviet legacy in favour of European integration, with a tremendous commitment to governance reforms in an exceptionally difficult time. Disrespect towards nature is an unfortunate part of that legacy. By demanding high environmental standards in the Restoration process – and enforcing these standards transparently – we can achieve a post-victory Ukraine that is worth living in.”
The organisers of the workshop therefore urge all involved in the Ukraine Recovery Conference and related dialogues to ensure that sustainability and governance are key elements of the Restoration agenda.
- The Ukraine Recovery Conference will take place in London on 21 and 22 June 2023.
- Further information in the report by WWF and Boston Consulting Group: Ukraine - A Sustainable Economic Recovery for People and Nature
- On forestry governance issues, see the Basel Institute on Governance working paper: How corruption threatens the forests of Ukraine: typology and case studies on corruption and illegal logging.
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