Skip to content
The village of Novoselivka, near Chernihiv, Ukraine. Photo: Oleksandr Ratushniak / UNDP Ukraine

Rebuild better for a sustainable future

Ukrainian scientists and members of society should consider the post-war reconstruction in Ukraine as an opportunity to introduce new scientific concepts, sustainable technologies and standards into everyday practices and to rebuild the country in order to ensure a better future for the next generations.

Journal Article

Published on 12 April 2023

Utkina K, Otto IM, Churkina G (2023) Rebuild better for a sustainable future. PLOS Clim 2(3): e0000165.

While it is important to recognize how as destructive the war in Ukraine has been and continues to be, it is just as important to start planning to rebuild the war-affected areas. Since the construction industry is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), and the lifespan of buildings and infrastructure extends beyond 50 years, it is essential to include net-zero climate targets in the post-war reconstruction.

One possible step that can be taken to meet the climate policy goals is to use construction materials, where the manufacturing and use have a balancing effect the GHG emissions. These construction materials store carbon, and their manufacturing is associated with low GHG emissions.

To give an example, timber can be considered as an alternative material in place of traditionally used cement and steel. The total carbon stored in newly built urban infrastructures worldwide over the next 30 years would sum up to 2–20 Gt if 90% of these would be built with timber, to 1–11 Gt in the 50% timber scenario, and to 0.25–2.3 Gt in the 10% timber scenario.

However, few Ukrainian city planners and decision-makers have knowledge of climate policy goals or possible climate mitigation and adaptation options. Ukrainian scientists currently living abroad can play important roles in the knowledge transfer.