Ukraine allies look to rebuild country in more sustainable and greener way

Despite the conflict in Ukraine still raging on, the EU and the government in Kyiv have started preparations for the post-war reconstruction of the embattled country, with the aim of rebuilding it in a better and greener way once the fighting is over.

The European Commission, the Ukrainian government, and businesses gathered in Vilnius, Lithuania, to discuss the necessary preparations, saying that reconstruction plans must already be put in place.

The war - started by Russia - had devastating effects on nature in the country, including the destruction of the Karkhovka dam, which resulted in the worst human-made natural disaster since the Chornobyl nuclear plant incident in 1986.

"We have a unique opportunity to build back better and greener," the European Commissioner for Environment, Virginijus Sinkevičius, told Euronews.

"When we talk about cities that were destroyed, when we talk about the sustainable planning of those cities - the most recent knowledge - I am very pleased to see many architects from Europe who are actually devoting their time.

"We talk about public buildings that were destroyed, they will all have to be energy efficient, all have to be powered with renewable energy," he added.

Ukraine is currently the most mined country in Europe, with around 34 species disappearing due to the fighting. The country's forests have also suffered losses.

But the biggest challenge is not only restoring nature, but to have a climate-neutral economy after the war finishes.

For this, Ukraine needs to transform its energy network and rebuild public and residential buildings in an energy-efficient way.

The reconstruction of Ukraine is a tempting opportunity for many European companies, who have already signalled their interest. Representatives of the construction industry, water and waste management companies also took part in the discussions in Vilnius.

"We are not just talking about international support, like direct support to restore something. No. We are talking about some investments," Ruslan Strilets, Ukraine's Minister of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources, said in an interview.

"First of all we need cooperation with investors and to build new facilities, new technologies, to build new maybe industries, but using the best available industries in the best available way, like in signed European legislation."

According to the European Commission, the reconstruction of Ukraine will have a massive cost, which it says Russia must pay for.

Another challenge for the reconstruction will be to convince the millions of Ukrainians currently living in Europe to move home and contribute to the rebuilding process.