Mayors, European officials and investment experts gathered in Brussels on 28 November to discuss the economic future of the Kyiv capital region and rally financial support for its reconstruction.
Kyiv Investment Forum participants signed a series of agreements that will prove crucial to sustainable recovery.
Marking a milestone for the embattled capital’s economic future, the European Investment Bank will finance over €450 million to modernise Kyiv’s transport system and encourage the city’s sustainable growth.
Eurocities members committed to several city-to-city cooperation deals: among others, Rome will send power generators and humanitarian aid to Kyiv; Sarajevo pledged to support the Ukrainian capital’s economic, cultural, touristic and educational recovery.
For the first time in seven years, the Kyiv Investment Forum took place outside of Ukraine where – nine months into Russia’s invasion – attacks on power facilities are plunging the country into darkness. The emergency prevented Vitaly Klitschko, the Mayor of Kyiv, from attending the event in person.
Looking beyond the war
Although the Russia-Ukraine conflict shows no signs of abating, participants agreed that now is the time to lay the foundation for the years to come.
“The essential question is: what happens after the war?” said Philippe Close, the Mayor of Brussels. “By organising this investment forum in Brussels…we wanted to find an answer to this question.”
“Our forum is about the future, Kyiv’s future,” Close added.
Klitschko echoed those words. Speaking via video link from Ukraine – where damage to the electricity grid is forcing surgeons to use flashlights in the operating room – the mayor laid out his vision.
“Kyiv needs to become a city with new energy, transport and social infrastructures. It needs to build on cutting-edge technology and innovation. Our focus is on the environment, healthcare, environmental protection; we also want to tap into our unique landscape to create a reputation as a city for healthy living,” he explained.
Didier Reynders, the EU Commissioner for Justice, supported Klitschko’s plan for a modern, forward-looking country.
Reynders offered to extend EU reforms to the embattled country. “We’ll try to take Ukraine through the same process that we are organising for EU municipalities at the moment. I’m thinking about the goals for 2030 and 2050, with the green transition and the digital transition,” Reynders explained.
In the EU’s footsteps
The annual Kyiv Investment Forum took place almost four months after European mayors travelled to Ukraine and signed an agreement supporting sustainable rebuilding in the war-torn country.
Backed by Eurocities, the move provided inspiration for a post-conflict future in Ukraine that would be as climate friendly as in other cities on the continent.
Dario Nardella, the President of Eurocities and Mayor of Florence, emphasised how the capital can pave the way for others to follow. “The long-term reconstruction of Ukrainian cities, starting from its capital Kyiv and surrounding municipalities, can set a major example,” Nardella remarked.
The Mayor of Florence reminded the audience about municipalities’ leading role and actions for a sustainable future. “In the EU, metropolitan areas and cities are advancing more quickly than national authorities when it comes to transitioning to a climate neutral and resilient economy,” Nardella added.
Roberto Gualtieri, the Mayor of Rome, emphasised how cities tackle global crises in an inclusive way, without leaving residents behind. “The challenges of our world are the challenges of the cities: to become climate-neutral, to become digital, but in a way that supports people,” Gualtieri said.
Good practices to inspire Ukraine
Leaders of cities like Helsinki and Paris – both on a sustainable path – pledged to share successful examples and best practices with their Ukrainian counterparts.
A forum side event organised by Eurocities offered a glance into that future. The “Kyiv Agglomeration Sustainable Rebuilding” workshop brought together Ukrainian municipalities and Eurocities members around metropolitan areas’ challenges and opportunities.
For example, while the Kyiv metropolitan is yet to obtain its legal status, it is a de facto reality. Meanwhile, the towns that are part of it have developed a strong territorial identity and network of mutual support.
Urban leaders from Bucha, Ivankiv, Rzhishchiv and Nemishayeve also disclosed their short and long-term needs while their counterparts from Budapest, Prague, Amsterdam, Lille, Lyon and Oslo shared their best practices with the Ukrainian towns.
Oksana Prodan, Chairwoman of the Association of Ukrainian Cities (AUC), said that members of the Eurocities network can foster future rebuilding efforts by assisting with a wide array of tasks: from training municipality employees, to offering best practices on environmental action, to further developing Kyiv’s mobility sector.
Eurocities’ Sandro Da Costa Fernandes contributed to this article.