How Will Ukraine be Rebuilt? From Risk Awareness to Sustainable Recovery

We are pleased to introduce to you the fifth paper in a series within the course of the project "Reducing Disaster Risk Vulnerability in Eastern Ukraine - Phase II" dedicated to the analysis of what should be done at the political and managerial levels today in order to launch country’s recovery based on sustainable development approaches, as well as on the “build back better” principle. And even more - to strengthen the organizational, security and economic resilience of the state to future risks and reduce the number of losses and casualties.

War is always a big stress for the country. This is a test of all state institutions for the effectiveness of ensuring security. Although war is not a thing to be under full control, it nevertheless reveals areas of development in the field of public administration, and also gives an impetus for the search for new political and practical solutions that will be aimed at protecting the country and people from the devastating consequences of war. And most of these decisions will be laid down in the process of reconstruction. 

What basic principle should be the basis for the reconstruction of the state?

What should a new infrastructure (including the critical) be like? What issues should be taken into account?

This short article attempts to provide at least an overview of these questions – more precise and specific answers will still require additional work in this direction. However, some general conclusions can already be outlined.

An overview of the legislative framework – what risks were we prepared for?

Here are some examples of legislative acts that show that Ukraine had war threats covered on its agenda, took them into account and evaluated potential war risks in order to identify high-risk facilities. In accordance with this agenda, measures are being taken to maximize the protection of the civilian population and economy from the negative consequences of war.

For instance, the Classification of Emergency Situations defines the following characteristics of man-caused emergencies: 

  • destruction, fires and explosions of arsenals of bases and warehouses where military weapons are stored, including obsolete ones; 
  • poisoning of people with chemical or toxic substances of military origin.

Characteristics of a Social emergency:

  •  an armed attack on military facilities.

Methodology for Identifying Potentially Hazardous Facilities under the number 30700 mentions "accidents at arsenals, ammunition depots and other military facilities with the release of splinters, rocket and conventional shells." The risk is also associated with the production and storage of explosive materials used in production processes, as well as military equipment containing explosive materials that are manufactured, stored or disposed of.

Methodology for Assessing Risks and Their Acceptable Levels to Declare the Safety of High-risk Facilities among the rough list of external influences that can lead to the occurrence of dangerous events, under number 36 indicates "sabotage, war, rebellion that can lead to destruction, make a threat of accidents or such an accident itself." Number 37 indicates "Sabotage, a terrorist act that can be carried out either accidentally or by order of competitors, extortionists, criminal groups, etc.". So, as we can see, the main risks that the state faced in February 2022 were formulated and listed in legislative acts. 

An overview of strategic documents – do they mention risks?

For example, in national-level strategic documents you can often find information about the negative consequences of the war and the corresponding risks for the economic and other areas of development in the context of describing the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. All local Disaster Risk Reduction Strategies that were developed for local communities with international partners’ support also considered the risks of military conflict and its consequences. However, is it possible to manage the risks of military threats? Probably, the answer to this question is a military and political issue, which goes far beyond the scope of this article.

However, according to UNDRR, risk management is becoming an increasingly complex task, given the complexity of causal relationships involved. War and conflict are integral parts of such assessment and the life of humanity.

Current context
The ability of ecosystems to self-renovation is slowly decreasing (for example, population growth contributes to the development of the agro-industry)
Environmental pollution and climate changePopulation growth in some places and depopulation in othersGrowth of the agro-industrial complex and weakening requirements for themUneven incomeMapping complex correlations and feedback loops
Environmental stressors that accompany constructionLoss of biodiversity

Droughts

Heat waves
Complexity of international trade
Market speculation
Sudden and gradual tipping pointsA large-scale event or multiple failures at the same time may suddenly exceed the entire remaining capacityMoving (production)



Market instability
Price spikes
Crop failuresProblems with access to water 
Multiple bread basket failures
System failure
Currency destabilization

Migration
Political destabilization
Civil disorder
War
Food security
Food riots

Table is based on UNDRR materials

From 1946 to 2001 there were about 220 armed conflicts in the world (Panić, 2008) resulting in more than 20 million casualties and 67 million refugees. According to the UNHCR data as of 30th of March 2022, over 4 million refugees estimated to have fled to neighbouring countries since 24 February and rising.

According to the UN analytical report on post-war reconstruction, there are four risk factors contributing to provoking conflict.

  1. Low income per capita.
  2. Weak economic growth. 
  3. The presence of socio-economic horizontal inequality.
  4. A large number of valuable natural resources.

These risk factors are even more acute when there is high unemployment, especially among young people. We find it important to take them into account when developing a Recovery Program for the country, as well as strategic documents at all levels (local, regional, national) that will outline the way for the post-war development of the state.

How to transform risk awareness into sustainable recovery?

How to rebuild the country? What should be done at the political and managerial level now in order to strengthen the organizational, security and economic resilience of the state to future risks and reduce the number of losses and casualties?

The answers to these questions are appearing step-by-step in legislative acts. In particular, on March 20, 2022, the President signed the Law of Ukraine "On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine Concerning Environmental Activities and Civil Protection For The Period of Martial Law". This Law was adopted pursuant to the Article 64 of the Constitution of Ukraine, Articles 12-1, 20 of the Law of Ukraine "On the Legal Regime of Martial Law", Presidential Decree No. 64 of February 24, 2022 "On the Introduction of Martial Law in Ukraine". An analysis of the provisions of this Law demonstrates an attempt to restore the country as quickly as possible. In particular, amendments to the Civil Protection Code of Ukraine (Article 8) have expanded the tasks of the Unified State System of Civil Protection (USSCP) in order to:

- restore the country after the war to carry out targeted mobilization aiming at elimination of the consequences of military operations and emergency situations;

- eliminate the consequences of military operations in the settlements and territories affected by weapons of destruction; 

- restore critical infrastructure facilities in the sphere of life support of the population; 

- identify areas requiring humanitarian mine clearance, marking of dangerous areas, and clearance (demining) of territories; 

- involve international assistance to the elimination of the consequences of military operations and emergency situations.

It should be mentioned that such actions will bring the territory of the country into a state suitable for further living and conducting economic activities, but they will not guarantee the implementation of the fourth priority of the Sendai Framework Program for Disaster Risk Reduction (Sendai Framework) - "Build Back Better", as these issues go beyond the scope of civil protection issues and the competence of the State Emergency Service. It is worth mentioning that since December 2022, Ukraine has been operating a program for the recovery of Ukraine (financial agreement between Ukraine and the European Investment Bank), however, this program does not apply to actions necessary for the recovery of Ukraine after the war. (1)

In addition, on March 16, 2022 the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine introduced amendments to the institutional component. For example, in the structure of the Secretariat of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine the "Government Commissioner for investments" was replaced with "Government Commissioner for investments, attracting financial assistance under martial law, forming a fund for economic recovery and transformation, a fund to support small and medium enterprises, a fund to restore the property and destroyed infrastructure, a fund to service and repay public debt, an Army Support Fund, a Humanitarian Fund". It is a good idea for the new Commissioner together with the Directorate for coordination of state policies and strategic planning to work jointly to develop the state Ukraine Recovery Programme "Ukraine 2050". To create an efficient and realistic program, coordination and cooperation of all members and structural units of the Government of Ukraine are necessary. The need for such a program is determined by the creation of funds for the restoration of Ukraine (which we fully support)

However, we believe that in this context there is still some room for development and opportunities for more actions. Now we should think about a Ukraine Recovery Program and take into account all previous plans to implement the principles of sustainable development in Ukraine, as well as lessons of this war. In particular, we should think about the procedure for using resources from these funds, fundraising, etc.

The key to this strategy should be to define the criteria of the concept of "Build Back Better". After all, the experience of the war shows a large number of logistical issues – the transport system needs to be radically improved. Increase the number of routes and roads, including railways and underground ones. Large cities that have become traps for a large number of people can be partially restored. There should be focus on the restoration and expansion of small villages and towns. A special issue is further economic development. Today the idea of a "Marshall Plan" for Ukraine is being discussed in the media, but in addition to it, Ukraine needs new vision of reforms, reconstruction and sustainable development. Financial assistance will contribute to rapid development only if there is a well-developed Recovery Programme and a clear action plan. Currently, Ukraine does not have such a program and plan, but right now the need for its development has become more acute.

As we mentioned before, taking into account the issues of civil protection, human safety during man-caused hazards, and environmental safety as components of national security is possible if all stakeholders involved strictly comply with standards for all types of safety. Moreover, it is the civil and human safety during man-caused hazards, and environmental safety that contribute to the continuous search for the best solutions to achieve goals, and one of the tools for ensuring safety is control (including environmental control).

We would like to remind you that due to the introduction of martial law in Ukraine, the constitutional rights and freedoms of a person and citizen provided for in the Articles 30–34, 38, 39, 41–44, 53 of the Constitution of Ukraine may be restricted temporarily for the duration of the legal regime of martial law. There are also temporary restrictions on the rights and legitimate interests of legal entities within the limits and to the extent necessary to ensure the possibility of introducing and implementing measures of the legal regime of martial law, which are provided for in Part one of Article 8 of the Law of Ukraine "On the Legal Regime of Martial Law". As we can see, Articles 66, 50, and 16 of the Constitution of Ukraine have not been changed. Ensuring the right to a safe environment is still relevant and should become the cornerstone issue, as well as the obligation not to cause harm to the environment. 

Therefore, the termination of scheduled and unscheduled measures of state supervision (control) and state market supervision for the period of martial law, introduced by Presidential Decree No. 64 of February 24, 2022 “On the Introduction of Martial Law in Ukraine” can only be a temporary measure necessary in an emergency. After all, the results of scheduled control are a tool for identifying sensitive issues and finding the best solutions. In addition, the control actions of official authorities will be able to properly create evidence for recording violations of war crimes, losses and damage caused. In its turn, the information and data collected during the control activities will be taken into account for the planning of reconstruction activities.

Unfortunately, we have no experience in planning the reconstruction of a country. But there is no doubt that the state should take the leadership in this process and ensure proper coordination. And here are the first steps. In particular, Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine No. 326 of March 20, 2022, approved the Procedure for assessing damage and losses caused to Ukraine as a result of the armed aggression of the Russian Federation. Analysis of the content of this Resolution confirms that without being aware of the scale and the need for restoration, it will be difficult to estimate losses, and as a result, there will be difficulties in planning recovery, defining the approach to this process and its principles.

What basic principle should be the basis for the restoration of the state? We suggest considering the principle "Build Back Better", which is laid down in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, as the basic one. This principle comprehensively reflects the idea of sustainable development and a risk-based approach to recovery. It should become the main value and methodological guidance in the development of the Ukraine Recovery Program and the respective action plan. It is reasonable to start developing these documents now at the level of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine with the broad involvement of all stakeholders. We would like to add that a compulsory stage in elaboration of such documents should be their strategic environmental assessment.

So, the general algorithm of actions suggested:

  1. Creation of a national system for recording and documenting the facts of destruction (primarily critical infrastructure facilities), movement of businesses and people, etc. It is advisable to provide such recording by creating a) an organizational and legal component of such a system – strengthening the role of regulatory authorities, providing them with security guarantees, adjusting the forms of inspections and methods of fixing violations, and b) an information and technical component - creating an online database that should be administered by the State Emergency Service, but which would be accessible by other state authorities (first of all, the Ministry of Communities and Territories Development and Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of Ukraine) and international partners;
  2. Legal and regulatory adoption of the "Build Back Better" principle as the key principle of recovery;
  3. Conducting an assessment of the damages caused and making decisions on the feasibility of restoring facilities;
  4. Determining financial sources and material resources for recovery based on the "Build Back Better" principle;
  5. Coordination and unification of civil and human safety requirements in the context of man-caused hazards, as well as environmental safety demands to take into account the principles of sustainable development in decision-making;
  6. Elaboration (based on scientific outcomes) of state programs for the application of the best available technologies considering available local resources (National State Academy of Ukraine together with Ukrainian scientists should be involved).

Finally, it is worth mentioning that the reconstruction process should be implemented with broad discussion and the involvement of the international community and the general public.

"The principle "Build Back Better" should become the main value and methodological guidance in the development of the Ukraine Recovery Programme and the respective action plan."

Sofia Shutyak, Strategic Analyst of the project "Reducing Disaster Risk Vulnerability in Eastern Ukraine (Phase II)"

This study was possible with the final support of the European Union through its Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations.

This document highlights humanitarian assistance activities funded by the European Union. The opinions expressed are those of the author(s) only and should not be considered as representative of the European Commission’s official position, the European Commission is not responsible for the use of information in the document.

  • The project is aimed at supporting multi-industry investment sub-projects in the field of municipal and social infrastructure aiming at overcoming the consequences of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, which devastated parts of this region between March and early September 2014 and continues to this day.

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