Urban solutions in conflict: Ukraine’s cities take their place in URBACT

Edited on 10/04/2024

Ukrainian flag in a sky with clouds.

Two years after the Russian invasion, the URBACT programme is coming to Ukraine.

We are coming up on another year marked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Ukrainian cities are still very much on the frontlines of the armed conflict and dealing with the aftershock and disruption to daily life. 

Since the outbreak of the war, European cities have been very active in providing support to the Ukrainian refugees and cities from Ukraine. Starting this year, Ukrainian cities, along with Moldovan cities, can officially participate in URBACT events, activities and join URBACT networks.

Ukrainian cities are facing a unique set of challenges in a constantly evolving situation. Earlier this week, Head of Department Rostyslav Tomenchuk and Head of Unit Yana Romaniuk took the time to answer our questions about Ukrainian cities, their needs and expectations of the URBACT programme. Tomenchuk and Romaniuk represent the Department for Coordination of International Technical Assistance of the Secretariat of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, which will coordinate the URBACT programme in Ukraine.


1.    It’s been 2 years since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. How would you describe the current situation facing Ukraine’s cities? 

The resilience of the Ukrainian people has been notable, with many continuing to work towards rebuilding their communities despite Russia’s ongoing military aggression against Ukraine.

Ukrainian cities have been coping, with the support of the armed forces of Ukraine and significant international support from our partners. Efforts have also been made to rebuild damaged infrastructure, provide humanitarian aid, and support displaced populations.

More on the mindset and key considerations of Ukrainian cities can be found in URBACT’s interview with Nataliya Lazarenko from the Association of Ukrainian Cities from February 2023.


2.    How have the needs of Ukrainian cities changed since the start of the conflict?

Following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, our regions have faced new challenges such as rebuilding, supporting displaced people, and maintaining essential services (e.g. education, medicine, social protections). 

Looking at national-level priorities for 2024, the Government of Ukraine will continue to focus on:

•    Defence
•    New technologies
•    Humanitarian demining
•    Security (particularly the construction of shelters)
•    European integration of Ukraine


3.    What are Ukrainian cities’ expectations for joining EU programmes like URBACT?

Joining URBACT and other EU programmes can offer significant benefits to Ukrainian cities. Ukrainian cities will be able to gain access to expertise, funding, and networks to aid them in their rebuilding and development efforts. 

Through URBACT, cities join a network with other urban areas facing similar challenges, enabling cities to learn from each other's successes and setbacks through the exchange of ideas and experiences. Ukrainian cities will be able to collaborate with peers to develop solutions tailored to their unique rebuilding needs. They can also benefit especially from access to the latest research, methodologies, and best practices in urban planning, environmental sustainability, social inclusion, and economic development. 

URBACT also opens avenues for funding, which can be critical for Ukrainian cities dealing with the financial strains of rebuilding. This funding can support various projects, from infrastructure development to social programmes, helping cities to implement innovative solutions developed within the URBACT framework.
Ukrainian cities will also be able to share experiences with other European cities, fostering collaboration and support. This exchange of knowledge is crucial for cities looking to rebuild and develop efficiently and sustainably.


United for Ukraine stand during the URBACT City Festival 2022 in Pantin (FR)

United for Ukraine stand during the URBACT City Festival 2022 in Pantin (FR).


4.    In the context of the URBACT programme, are there particular topics that Ukrainian cities want to work on?

Currently, we can say that the regions of Ukraine have confirmed their interest in participating in the programme. All the priorities of the EU Cohesion Policy are important for Ukrainian potential partners. That is, a shared commitment to a more competitive, greener, connected, social and citizen-centred society. Within the framework of these priorities, our partners are already working in cross-border and transnational cooperation programmes and are developing joint project ideas. 

Ukrainian cities are particularly looking forward to training and skill development in areas like project management, stakeholder engagement, and policy formulation. Another a rea of interest is URBACT’s Integrated Action Plans, which are strategic documents outlining a holistic approach to urban development. For Ukrainian cities, these plans could focus on reconstruction, resilience building, and sustainable development, addressing both immediate needs and long-term goals.


5.    In December 2023, EU leaders agreed to start negotiations on the accession of Ukraine. How do you view this process, and what are Ukraine’s priorities?

Our country has come a long way, it is starting negotiations on joining the European Union. The European integration of Ukraine is a priority of the Government Action Plan for 2024. Already in the first half of this year, Ukraine will form a Ukrainian team for the accession negotiations and will prepare the National Programme for the Adaptation of Ukrainian Legislation to EU Law.

Through the Ukraine Facility Programme, Ukraine will receive EUR 50 billion, creating a foundation for the rapid recovery and development of the Ukrainian economy.


6.    How can URBACT and EU cities continue to help their follow Ukrainian cities?

The URBACT programme connects cities with experts in various fields of urban development, with a strong emphasis on building the capacities of local administrations and promoting sustainable development. The continued solidarity and support from European cities will play a crucial role in aiding Ukraine's recovery and rebuilding efforts. Joining URBACT can provide Ukrainian cities with a comprehensive support system to not only aid in the immediate rebuilding effort but also to lay down a foundation for sustainable, resilient, and inclusive urban development over the long term. 


Are you a Ukrainian city or a European city looking to partner up with a Ukrainian city? URBACT looks forward to Ukrainian cities getting involved, starting on 15 April 2024 with the Call for Good Practices.


Submitted by URBACT on 23/02/2024