The war in Ukraine is not only razing entire cities and destroying infrastructure with widespread casualties, it is negatively impacting the environment, poisoning waterways and threatening ecosystems for generations to come. This was the topic of concern for an online conference organised on 6 May by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) together with the Professional Association of Environmentalists of Ukraine (PAEU) and the National Centre for Sustainable Development, with the financial support of the European Union.
The conference also explored ways to ensure the Ukraine’s green economic recovery as soon as conditions allow.
Olena Ruditch from the UN Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme said threats to Ukraine’s ecosystems need to be addressed immediately. “The environmental consequences of the war are devastating, and threatening people’s health far beyond the border’s of Ukraine,” she said. “The challenges and risks continue to grow, and we must keep environmental safety and security on the agenda.”
Conference participants also discussed the development of methodologies for calculating environmental damage and critical changes to ecological legislation during martial law, the need for deregulation, and how to engage the cooperation of all stakeholders.
The environmental consequences of war are often widespread and devastating with cascading effects. The use of explosive ordnance in urban areas, for example, creates vast quantities of debris and rubble, which can cause air, water, and soil pollution. Damage to light industry and environmentally sensitive infrastructure such as water treatment plants and water sanitation utilities could create problems that can take years to remediate. Depleted uranium, a toxic chemical that is hazardous to human and animal life, is often used for tank armour, armour-piercing bullets, and as weights to help balance aircrafts.
Four United Nations agencies are implementing the United Nations Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme in Ukraine, which is funded by the European Union as well as other international partners.
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