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Informal inter-agency coordination group on environmental assessments for Ukraine

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Background

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has resulted in tens of thousands of lives being lost and the associated humanitarian crisis has led to many besieged and displaced people both within Ukraine and abroad. The economic impacts have also been significant. Recent estimates of the damage, including to infrastructure, housing and non-residential buildings, exceed $400 billion, with vast destruction of homes and infrastructure, including power stations, roads and railways, as well as agricultural land and other productive capacity of the country. 

The war in Ukraine has also caused widespread and severe damage to the environment and inflicted both immediate and longer-term consequences on human health, ecosystems and the Ukrainian economy and beyond. It has also generated a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions. The authorities in Ukraine are active in tracking environmental damage, with the State Environmental Inspectorate taking a leading role, guided by the “Operational Headquarters” of Ukraine.

The Ninth Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference (Nicosia, 5–7 October 2022) saw the adoption of a declaration in which: 

[Ministers] recognize the need to assess the environmental consequences of the military aggression against Ukraine for both the country and the surrounding region, and affirm our support to Ukraine in its reconstruction, including for providing subsequent assistance for restoration. We invite the UNECE secretariat, in cooperation with UNEP, OECD and others, to prioritize assessing the most urgent environmental needs in Ukraine based upon the methodology of the UNECE Environmental Performance Review (EPR) Programme and on the results of ongoing and planned impacts assessments, and to make recommendations to advance a sustainable recovery of the country, in line with the Lugano Declaration and its seven principles adopted at the Ukraine Recovery Conference of 4-5 July 2022.

Following the deliberations at the Ministerial Conference, international partners discussed how best to respond to this request. It was agreed that, before the EPR-like process is launched, a review of ongoing and planned assessments is arranged to see methodologies applied and their functions. An informal inter-agency group was established by UNECE, UNEP and OECD, joined by UNIDO, UNDP, the World Bank, OSCE, the Ramsar Convention Secretariat and the UN Resident Coordinator's Office in Kyiv.

Purpose

Numerous actors, at the international and local levels, are undertaking – or have undertaken – different kinds of impact assessment in Ukraine to gather information on the environmental effects of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The informal inter-agency coordination group on environmental assessments for Ukraine aims to enhance coherence between the assessments, with a focus on the substantive results and methodological approaches applied in carrying them out, and to advise on how to use them to inform policies for the post-war green reconstruction and recovery of Ukraine.

Activities

The inter-agency coordination group meets regularly and organized a first Seminar on Assessments of the Environmental Damage Resulting from the Russian Invasion of Ukraine on 16 February 2023. See this news item.

A second seminar focused on The use of Earth observations and remote sensing, was held on 24 May 2023.

A third seminar on the use of Earth observation techniques for assessing ecosystems damage in Ukraine was held on 22 March 2024 (video recordingprogramme, flyer). A Policy and technical brief on use of Earth observations to assess ecosystems damage in Ukraine was produced as an outcome of the seminar.

An early collection of studies related to the environment in Ukraine is provided here. A Comprehensive Report on Ukraine Environmental Damage Assessments was completed in December 2023 (the annexed spreadsheet with assessments is available upon request). (There is also an earlier inventory from 13 June 2023).

Experts from UNECE and UNEP participated in a meeting of the Scientific and Expert Council of the State Environmental Inspectorate of Ukraine (SEI) considering practical discussion on the draft of air pollution methodology developed by subgroup of the Operative Headquarter of SEI, 28 March 2023.