In Ukraine, climate change already is and increasingly will negatively impact ecological, socio-economic, and political systems and severely alter the face of our cultural landscapes. Human wellbeing and the welfare of communities are at stake.
For Ukraine and the biosphere reserves, the following threats and risks induced by climate change are serious to very serious:
- The occurrence of extended dry seasons, higher temperatures and more intense drought events will impact the hydrological regime, cause aridization and increase the risk of wildfires, peatland fires, and losses in forestal, agricultural and other economic sectors. Human health is prone to be directly affected by potential water supply shortages, heat stress, and food crises.
- An increasing occurrence of windstorms poses a direct threat to both natural ecosystems and human infrastructure and wellbeing. Paired with diminishing natural windbreaks by forests and other vegetation types due to overlogging, clear-cutting and surface sealing, the potential for destruction is elevated.
- Increasing number of heavy rainfall events, leading to flooding, mudflows, and landslides.
- More frequent events of forest and crop diseases and pests.
- Changes in natural zones, prompting an alteration in species composition of flora and fauna.
- Anthropogenic activities paired with climate change diminish ecosystem functionality by, inter alia, causing loss of biodiversity which inevitably leads to cascading effects in food webs, putting at risk supply of agricultural produce and other ecosystem services.
Thus, climate change poses a vital challenge for the survival of all species, putting the human being in a position of responsibility for adequate action. It is not only an ethical question regarding other beings and future generations but also one of our own, current wellbeing. The protection and recovery of the Ukrainian biosphere are fundamental to achieve sustainable social and economic development. Climate change threatens to offset actions towards sustainable development according to the Sustainable Development Goals, especially if disconnected from ecosystem-based solutions.
Yet, ongoing wars, focus on profit maximization, and structural corruption draw attention and resources from such efforts. This makes the need for a fundamental change in managing approaches self-evident and necessary. We now want to face this challenge by uniting our efforts for finding and developing practical, ecosystem-based solutions and progress towards a resilient Ukraine in times of climate change, major political uncertainty, and conflict. We need an honest and informed dialog for such a transformational change in both our perspectives and actions.