– Activists from Greenpeace raised a replica wind turbine, close to the venue of the Ukraine Recovery Conference today in Lugano, in a call for recovery efforts to be based on sustainable energy systems, not nuclear or fossil fuels. As donors meet to discuss reconstruction after the Russian invasion, Greenpeace together with Ecoaction and more than 45 Ukrainian civil society organisations is calling for a green reconstruction plan.
Ukrainian non-governmental organisations have developed guiding principles to ensure that Ukraine’s green post-war reconstruction delivers sustainable economic development and is beneficial to people and nature.
Natalia Gozak, executive director of Ecoaction, based in Kyiv, said: “It is common sense that Ukraine should not rebuild its infrastructure to the old Soviet standards. As a potential EU candidate country our long-term goal must be achieving climate neutrality by 2050. This means a green and sustainable post-war reconstruction that balances economic, social and environmental health. We will need to rebuild our cities with the highest energy efficiency standards and in a climate-smart way. We can’t be dependent any more on fossil fuels. We need to restore damaged ecosystems and boost clean industry. Decades of hard work are ahead and we cannot afford to plan it wrong from the start.”
The European Centre for Economic Policy Research estimates the current cost of reconstruction in Ukraine to be around USD 500 billion and 1000 billion, rising as the war continues. This amount includes investments, grants, knowledge and technology transfer, capacity building, human resources, coordination and planning as well as transparent donor-country coordination.
The war in heavily industrialised parts of Ukraine has increased environmental risks. Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, Zaporizhzhia, remains under Russian occupation and the safety of its operation under threat. Large land areas may be contaminated with hazardous chemicals. Other risks include water pollution, natural habitat destruction and greenhouse gas emissions, impacting people’s health and food supply as well as climate and biodiversity in Ukraine and beyond.
Denitza Petrova, campaigner with Greenpeace Central and Eastern Europe who was part of the action today said: “The terrible destruction of Ukraine’s infrastructure, economy and society by the Russian military must stop. In supporting the rebuilding of Ukraine, the European Union and international community must ensure the highest principles of sustainability are at the core of reconstruction efforts. Full participation of civil society is essential for an equitable and resilient recovery of Ukraine and protection of the environment. It’s crucial that international donors invest their money in green and sustainable recovery, not nuclear and fossil fuels.”
As major cities destroyed by Russia (like Chernihiv, Mariupol, Kharkiv) are rebuilt, reconstruction must focus on using sustainable technologies such as solar power, zero-energy buildings and urban planning that puts people and nature at the centre, say campaigners. In addition to the environmental benefits, sustainable energy supply also promotes energy independence.
Iris Menn, executive director of Greenpeace Switzerland, said: “Switzerland and all governments involved must support an ecological, sustainable and socially equitable reconstruction of Ukraine at every opportunity. This starts today in Lugano.”