The war in Ukraine, resulting in the loss of lives, destruction of land, infrastructure and property, is not only a violation of the UN Charter and international laws but has also put cities and local governments under extreme pressure.
It has become critical to restore and ensure the functioning of basic infrastructure as well as providing housing for residents and internally displaced people.
After an initial engagement with a wide range of stakeholders at the 11th World Urban Forum (Katowice, June 2022), a scoping mission to Ukraine was conducted in October 2022 allowing UN-Habitat to ground truth its proposed support to Ukrainian cities and ensure its alignment with the context, government priorities and the ongoing UN response.
UN-Habitat’s Country Programme Framework for Ukraine was adopted corporately in December 2022. A mission to Ukraine in May 2023 followed by the second in July 2023 allowed to detail agreements and implementation modalities with key stakeholders.
Kyiv Urban Lab will be opened within the frameworks of the project ‘Towards inclusive and resilient urban recovery in Ukraine’. It will facilitate the reconstruction of Ukrainian cities with the help of an enabling environment at the national level, which includes a variety of tools and policies that direct the efforts of regional and local authorities to recovery, linking short-term reconstruction needs with long-term sustainability solutions.
The project “Just transitions: digital tools and capacity for inclusive, smart and resilient urban recovery in Ukraine”, implemented jointly between UN-Habitat, UN OICT and the HafenCity University through the UNITAC structure, will contribute to urban profiling , introducing or upgrading digital technologies and innovation to guide and support local recovery planning. Particular attention will be given to spatial dynamics, participatory processes, transparency and fully equitable and fair access to services.
The project is going to support at least three local governments in Ukraine in strengthening their capacities in the use of data and digital platforms for urban planning, particularly to enable them to formulate urban recovery plans in line with the UN Transitional Framework and national directives and regulations.
The project will include applying open source-based, scalable digital solutions to prioritise urban recovery decisions based on data and evidence, to assess damages and urban functionality while analysing housing, land and property issues and screening risks in a more efficient and timely manner. Combined with the engagement of affected communities using visualization, participation and simulation tools, the project focuses on ensuring the needs of people are considered in urban and recovery planning.
The conflict in Ukraine has caused massive displacement of the population, with some urban centres seeing an outflow of people while others experience an influx. An anticipated return of internally displaced people (IDPs) will create new arrivals that need support in re-establishing the functionality of their cities and their lives. Data and analytical tools can help local governments to better develop reconstruction plans and cope with migrations and support internal displaced persons. For instance, conflict analysis using geo-spatial data and urban data platforms will support to assess infrastructure damages and priorities for recovery, as well as housing, land and property (HLP) analysis and risk screening. Some data is already available or being collected on the movements of people, but the capacity to process and analyse the data is limited.
To best support the local as well as the national governments in their recovery planning efforts, the processes of collecting, sharing and analysing urban data needs to be lightweight, standardized, accurate / timely and accessible to those who are responsible for developing the recovery plans, as mandated by the Government of Ukraine.
In 2023 as a response to this challenge UN-Habitat has prepared and launched two projects: “Just transitions: digital tools and capacity for inclusive, smart and resilient urban recovery in Ukraine”, and ‘Towards inclusive and resilient urban recovery in Ukraine’.
Prior to the conflict, Ukrainian local governments were required to prepare a ‘Сomprehensive Spatial Development Plan’ to support land use and spatial planning and an ‘Integrated Urban Development Concept’ as a strategic planning tool to define long-term, interdisciplinary, spatial and socio-economic priorities. In June 2022, a new law entered into force, requiring regions (oblasts) and municipalities (hromadas) to put in place ‘complex recovery programmes’, for which timely access to critical data is essential.