Artists and environmental activists have created a large mural depicting a peaceful, green future for Ukraine outside a major international conference to discuss the country’s reconstruction in London.
The UK Government is hosting the final day of the Ukraine Recovery Conference today, which aims to mobilise financial support for the rebuilding of Ukraine after more than 16 months of full-scale war with Russia. The prime ministers of Ukraine and the UK attended the conference in North Greenwich along with high-level envoys from governments and international institutions.
As delegates arrived for two days of talks, a team of artists and activists just outside the conference perimeter put paint brush to canvas. The mural depicts a hopeful vision for Ukraine’s future with sunflowers – Ukraine’s national flower – growing from the rubble and renewable energy providing secure, low-carbon energy for communities.
US muralist Nicki Deux co-created the mural with Ukrainian environmental groups including Ecoaction, Ecoclub, Razom We Stand and Greenpeace to send a clear message to those attending the conference that Ukraine’s green recovery cannot wait.
Despite the war in Ukraine intensifying in recent weeks, many city and local authorities have already started trying to improve the lives of local residents by restoring water and electricity supplies and rebuilding hospitals, schools and other key infrastructure.
Denys Tsutsaiev, a campaigner with Greenpeace Central and Eastern Europe based in Kyiv, said: “The rebuilding of Ukraine cannot wait. We are here to highlight the incredible efforts that are being made in towns and cities across my country in the most challenging circumstances imaginable. Solar panels are sprouting from hospital roofs like the first leaves of Spring. I call on all cities and national governments to support their efforts to join Ukraine’s green recovery.”
Kostiantyn Krynytskyi, head of energy department at Ukrainian NGO Ecoaction, said:
“With Russia’s full-scale invasion and massive attacks against our critical infrastructure, decentralised energy solutions in communities became life-saving. Social surveys show that the vast majority of Ukrainians understand now that decentralised renewables provide the path towards the country’s energy resilience. Additionally, scaling renewable energy technologies will help Ukraine to achieve the climate goals of the Paris Agreement. “
Natalia Kholodova, project coordinator at the NGO Ecoclub, said: “Ukraine’s recovery should be based on sustainable principles, by developing renewable energy sources. NGOs should actively cooperate with municipalities in Ukraine and help them implement projects that will make them energy independent and increase their energy security. As of June, Ecoclub has already installed solar panels on hospitals in Dubno, Sumy, Zhytomyr, and Zviahel. Reconstruction has already begun, so accelerating the green recovery process also depends on the support of governments around the world.”
Oleh Savytskyi, Campaigns Manager of Razom We Stand, said: “We need to rebuild the country in a sustainable, fair and inclusive way – by establishing new clean industries and boosting renewables development in the framework of the European Green Deal. The reconstruction of Ukraine should be creating thousands of well-paid green jobs and delivering new infrastructure, markets and a business environment that works for everyone, especially small and medium size businesses. Green reconstruction should serve the needs of all Ukrainian people, both present and future generations. Moreover, Ukraine’s new clean infrastructure development should become a global lighthouse case for phasing out coal, oil and gas. We can and should show how to put an end to global addiction to fossil fuels”.
Nicki Deux is an international muralist from Miami with five acres of experience. Nicki learned to paint murals from her grandmother by colouring in her lines. Also the daughter of a builder and Girl Scout leader, Nicki’s family and Scout family helped her create a collaborative and sustainable mural process to align her art career with her values as a Scout leader. Nicki believes art is therapy and the best murals service the mental, social and environmental health of the community. She has been teaching participatory eco-muralism since 2009. Nicki studied Fine Art, painting and illustration in the US for over 15 years. She moved to the UK to earn a Masters degree in Design for Social Innovation and Sustainable Futures from the University of the Arts London, where she now teaches design. Nicki wrote a handbook on ethical and participatory muralism: The Cure-All MurALL.
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