“We are finding a way to continue living”

23 February 2023

The below article was prepared by Sandro da Costa Fernandes for Eurocities.

Andriy Moskalenko is the First Deputy Mayor of Lviv, with the responsibility for Economic Development. In this interview, Eurocities catches up with Moskalenko on how his city is tackling innovation and sustainability at a time when electricity is barely available and hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people are joining the local population. Moskalenko also talks about Lviv’s cooperation with its peers, European identity and the city’s plans after being nominated the 2025 European Capital of Youth.

Funding and fostering entrepreneurship and innovation will be key topics at Eurocities’ upcoming Economic Development Forum. As part of Eurocities’ initiative Sustainable Rebuilding of Ukrainian Cities, Lviv will collaborate with other municipalities in our network to create a sustainable future for Ukraine and its inhabitants, prevailing over Russian aggression.

Here, in Moskalenko’s words, is the view from Lviv these days.

What is the exact situation of Lviv now?

“On 10 and 11 October, approximately 30% of all our power stations were destroyed by Russia, and since then, we have had two other attacks that destroyed 10% of our power stations. So, right now, we have more than 40% of all power stations destroyed.

The first weeks were very difficult
— Andriy Moskalenko

This is not the only problem. All over our country, lots of networks of electricity were destroyed, so we don’t have enough electricity in the country. We have some hours of electricity. Sometimes we have electricity in the morning, and we don’t have it in the evening, or the other way around.

In general, we have more than half a day without electricity. So, we have great respect for our business people and residents, as they find different ways to cope with this situation and they find alternatives.

We have to remember that we are now adapted to the new condition of Ukraine, and we are facing new challenges on a daily basis. It’s not an easy condition, but we are finding a way to continue living. People are tired, but people have energy and energy to support each other. We are driven by our army, as we all know someone who is there fighting.”

How is Lviv managing the people in the city who are displaced from other parts of Ukraine?

“Since 24 February 2022, more than five million Ukrainians have passed through our city, maybe even more. In the first three months, two million displaced people were living in Lviv.

Something can be invented yesterday and tested already today
— Andriy Moskalenko

The first weeks were very difficult, with everyone in the city doing something to help them. Now, there are around two hundred thousand of them in Lviv. We have four modular villages, and the rest of the people live in buildings or campuses, and they can stay as long as they need.

Where are the investments in Lviv coming from at this moment?

“We work on different levels. We engage the national level, but also international companies and funds, in order to think of new projects. If it’s connected to the military, we cannot give much information about the projects, the cities involved etc. There are lots of new initiatives which are crucial for us.

This wave of ideas is the fastest in the world right now, with all the troubles and challenges we have. Something can be invented yesterday and tested already today. We are now focusing on resilience, on alternative ways to provide water supply, heat supply, electricity, and on how to work on these terms and conditions.

We are thankful for all this help
— Andriy Moskalenko

For example, we established a national rehabilitation centre in our city, and we work in our municipal hospital with the best start-up in the world, according to Time, that develops bionic prosthetics.

It’s also important to highlight that such initiatives, companies, and products have to be sustainable.”

What kind of support is Lviv getting from abroad?

“Help comes in different levels. For example, the Mayor of Lviv signed an agreement with the European Commission in order to help our wounded internally displaced people. We also have great work with our sister-city Freiburg. It’s the most active city-to-city partnership we have now. Lviv has also established a new collaboration with Cannes.

Businesses are now very active
— Andriy Moskalenko

With Poland, we will be thankful to them for a long time because different Polish cities have supported us since the beginning. We also cooperate with international partners like UNICEF and the Red Cross. We try to be active, and we are thankful for all this help.”

Given the current situation of the invasion of Russia, what are we talking about when we talk about the economic development of Lviv?

“Businesses are now very active. Besides doing a lot of volunteering, local businesses are working on new projects, organised in several clusters, like a military cluster or a tech cluster, where people unite in order to provide some products which can help our military to defend from Russia, or that would be useful for our internally displaced people, or for the functioning of the city in the conditions we have now.

Every Ukrainian city has a mission
— Andriy Moskalenko

We also have projects with industrial zones. In our cities, there were lots of companies. It’s a chance for them to stay in Ukraine. We can see now a tendency of businesses coming back, and they are restarting their activities.

And right now, we have vouchers to support businesses, to cover, for example, the cost of generators, so that they can continue open.”

How can Lviv be an inspiration or model to other Ukrainian municipalities when it comes to sustainability?

“Since the war, there has been less sense in seeing the cities separately, as there are many displaced people everywhere and also military from different parts of the country based far from their native regions.

We now have a very different reality in Ukraine. Lviv has struggles every day, but imagine the situation of Kherson, for example, or Kharkiv or Mikolaev, where missiles are hitting the ground constantly.

Ukrainian youth did and are doing great things
— Andriy Moskalenko

Every Ukrainian city has a mission. Lviv’s mission now is to help reallocated businesses and wounded people. We are very close to the border with Poland, which is the border with the European Union, and this gives us a special mission too.”

What does the nomination of Lviv as the European Youth Capital 2025 mean for the city?

“It’s not only about Lviv. It’s about all Ukrainian cities. This year, following the Russian invasion, there has been a very strong position of our youth. Some joined the military, and some became volunteers. Ukrainian youth did and are doing great things. It’s a recognition of them.

We have very concrete plans. We will open an office of the Youth Capital in our city in 2023. We have already started working with our ambassadors, who will be spreading these ideas with the values of the European Youth all over Ukraine and all over the world. We will provide activities not only in 2025, and we plan to do these activities in the nearest future to engage more and more young people.”

How do you see the understanding of Ukrainian people as part of the European family?

“Now, everybody feels European. Our country is more united than ever. We fight not only for our territory but also for values and for our dignity. Today, Ukraine is like a wall for European countries because Russia can continue the invasion.

Now, everybody feels European
— Andriy Moskalenko

It’s very important for us to be full members of the European Union. It’s about being together, thinking together and walking together. We know in which direction we want to move. We are paying a very big cost for that, but we are fighting for our future and for the European future.”

Top picture, right-hand side: Andriy Moskalenko, Deputy Mayor of Lviv



Anthony Colclough Eurocities Writer