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September 2023 at the Freie Universität Berlin

Our second meeting, was organized by Mariia Fatulaeva (U. Bern), Mihai Varga (FU Berlin), Alexander Vorbrugg (U. Bern), and Jiayi Zhou (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute). Network participants included Angelina Davydova (Ukraine War Environmental Consequences Group), Tetiana Grabovska (Bila Tserkva National Agrarian University, Ukraine), Robert Kindler (FU Berlin), Kateryna Polianska (ICO Environment-People-Law, Ukraine), Maria Tysiachniouk (U. of Eastern Finland).

We developed a network structure prioritizing the following topics: (1) First, the on-the-ground needs of communities and producers in Ukraine are hardly known and require immediate attention. Many communities have initiated reconstruction efforts to regain living and cultivation areas or restore food supply chains; they face enormous decontamination and de-mining challenges and problems accessing critical inputs for resuming agricultural production, including fertilizers, petrol, and electricity. (2) Second, many of the transnational and transregional repercussions of the crisis remain underexplored. Our focus here lies on war-caused reconfigurations within Eastern Europe and Central Asia, which have witnessed steep increases in food prices, massive disruptions to food trade route and food production supply chains, and a sidelining of sustainable development and climate and environmental objectives. (3)Third, agriculture has featured more as an issue of domestic and international food security and less as an area of Building Back Better (to use the terminology of the UNDRR). However, agriculture and environmental issues are critical intervention areas for many reasons: soil erosion and other degradation of farming conditions have been an issue in Ukraine already before the start of the current invasion; the war has had an immense impact on soils, water, flora and fauna, but also agricultural workers, across vast stretches of land; restructuring food systems remains a central and immense challenge for biodiversity and climate worldwide including in Ukraine - as one of the world's top food producers. (4) Fourth, preliminary research has focused on the war’s consequences for civil society engagement, including environmental activism. Exchange among researchers, environmental activists, and journalists is important to understand the environmental movement’s overall transformation due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, including the transformation of the Russian environmental movement. This will help build more efficient cross-border networks to cope with particular environmental issues. (5) The war poses challenges for conducting research, collecting and accessing data, and collaborating transnationally. Researchers and activists in Ukraine working under war conditions face unprecedented challenges as the scope of the problems caused by the war often overwhelms established capacities for dealing with them.

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