FOCUS: Looking East
Looking ahead

Growing and going

Sustainable mobility solutions take on added importance in a rapidly urbanising Ukraine

July 24, 2017 | By Nathan Johnson

In recent decades, Ukraine has experienced pronounced and complex levels of demographic change. The country’s rural population has been in steady decline, and low fertility rates and out-migration have seen the overall population decrease as well. But the changes are not uniform geographically, as there has also been a large movement of the population from eastern Ukraine to western Ukraine, which has swelled the population of Kyiv and a few other western cities in the country. According to Ukraine: Urbanization Review, a 2016 publication from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), “In the strict sense of the term, Ukraine continues to urbanize despite an overall decline in its urban population (as rural population has declined even faster).”

Nonetheless, the EBRD study continues, “few people [in Ukraine] are moving to seek new economic opportunities. Instead their movement seems to be catalysed by low levels of social spending in their home regions (push factors).” For the cities in Ukraine that are growing—especially in the western part of the country—solutions will be needed not only to accommodate the larger populations, but to facilitate urban infrastructure that is conducive to providing new arrivals with fresh opportunities. And sustainable transport solutions will play a vital role in going forward.

As a country that is going through several significant changes, Ukraine has several challenges and opportunities to consider in terms of developing awareness and infrastructure related to sustainable mobility. When the REC hosted the Sustainable Development Forum (SDF) on October 20–21, 2016, it became clear that the country has real potential to make the most of its strong public transport network and low levels of car ownership, and could do so through careful planning and through obtaining the financing to invest in a wide range of short-term and long-term measures.

Momentum for mobility

During the “Mobility” session at last year’s SDF, participants identified four main areas of concern for city administrations in the realm of public transport, namely:

  • obtaining financing for new public transport fleet investments (e.g. trolley buses, trams, e-buses);
  • generating revenue;
  • meeting environmental standards; and
  • route mapping, scheduling and optimisation.

There are many experts ready and equipped to share their knowledge with Ukrainian cities and to work towards developing integrated mobility plans. Two ways of getting the ball rolling are: joining the European Commission’s CIVITAS Initiative; and getting involved in the EC’s EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK (EMW) campaign to encourage more active forms of mobility and alternatives to traditionally fuelled vehicles. Furthermore, Bonn-based development agency, GIZ, already runs an assistance programme called “Integrated Urban Development in Ukraine” that helps to identify and realise sustainable mobility investments in the cities of Chernivtsi, Poltava, Vinnytsia and Zhytomyr. GIZ has also established the Ukrainian Center for Cycling Expertise. The German city of Leipzig too is actively involved in supporting German know-how transfer to Lviv through its “Strasse für alle” project.

At European level, the EIB’s “ELENA” facility provides technical assistance for developing bankable investment proposals to help cities access loans, while EBRD loans and the UNFCCC Climate Change Paris Agreement supports clean mobility in economics in transition through it Green Climate Fund and Joint Crediting Mechanism (JCM). Finally — although this summary is far from exhaustive — the Eastern Alliance for Safe and Sustainable Transport, an independent UK-based charity, has built a vibrant network of NGOs across Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus and Central Asia, contributing to significant road safety reforms in the region.

For its part, the REC’s Smart Cities and Sustainable Mobility unit, which currently hosts both the CIVITAS and EMW secretariats, would like to contribute to the country’s development by building the capacity of transport practitioners and decision makers in Ukraine to realise sustainable urban mobility through international and national dialogue.

“In the long term, dialogue and know-how exchange will enable participating cities to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, become more energy efficient, raise health levels and improve air quality, while at the same time making a shift towards alternative fuels and renewable energy sources in line with EU targets and legislation,” says Jerome Simpson, the unit’s team leader. 

Already on board

Thanks to last October’s Sustainable Investment Forum, The REC learned that Cherkasy, a city in central Ukraine, has already established several priority tasks related to sustainable mobility, such as: reducing the number of buses and increasing the number of trolley lines (i.e. transitioning from fossil fuel to electricity); optimising the route system, through a series of public hearings, that will improve the environmental situation in the city, decrease the number of car accidents and significantly increase transport possibilities for passengers with disabilities; obliging bus companies to meet European standards (i.e. not lower than “Euro 4”) as a requirement for tendering; implementing a cashless payment system for travel; and introducing GPS-monitoring of vehicle traffic and establishing a single municipal public transport company.

These are all exciting developments and sound an optimistic note for Ukrainian cities preparing to tackle new urbanisation-related challenges. In the meantime, cities from Ukraine are encouraged to visit the CIVITAS website for news of a call for applications inviting cities led by a secretariat to establish a common language-based network called “CIVINET”. The call, which offers approximately EUR 10,000 for a network’s 18-month activity plan, has just been published: the deadline for submissions is October 6, 2017. Eleven CIVINETs already exist and are detailed here.

Further information is available from Anna Ruban:
Tel: +36 26 504 060

TAGS: Ukraine | Sustainabile mobility | Urban sustainability | Smart cities