Urban Transformation

The cost of rebuilding Ukraine, and other urban transformation stories you need to read

Published · Updated
Smoke rises after a missile strike, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine.

The cost of reconstruction and recovery after two years of war is in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Image: REUTERS/Anna Voitenko

Lisa Chamberlain
Communication Lead, Urban Transformation, World Economic Forum
This article is part of: Centre for Urban Transformation
  • This monthly round-up brings you some of the latest news on cities and urbanization.
  • Top city and urbanization stories: Report puts cost of Ukraine reconstruction at $486 billion; Best-performing cities in the US revealed; Paris votes to be more bike-friendly.
  • For more on the World Economic Forum’s city-focused work, visit the Centre for Urban Transformation.

1. $486 billion to rebuild Ukraine – report

Saturday, 24 February marks two years since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in 2022.

The World Bank, United Nations and European Commission estimate the cost of reconstruction and recovery after two years of war to be around $486 billion, according to a new joint report. This is an increase of $75 billion from last year.

Direct damage from the war has reached almost $152 billion, the third Rapid Damage and Needs Assessment found.

Included in the losses are around two million housing units destroyed or damaged – 10% of Ukraine's housing stock of Ukraine – as well as vital infrastructure, such as 8,400km of motorways and major roads, and almost 300 bridges.

Comparison of damage in RDNA2 and RDNA3
How costs to rebuild Ukraine have increased over the past year. Image: World Bank

At the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting in Davos, members of the Davos Baukultur Alliance met to mobilize support and provide expertise to help back reconstruction efforts.

The Alliance is collaborating closely with Anastasia Bondar, Ukraine’s Deputy Minister for Culture and Information Policy to convene key rebuilding experts and supporters.

Speaking to the Forum, Bondar said: "The idea is to build back better. We will be competing for those people who fled to come back ... We need to get those people back and we want them back. We have to provide something that is more attractive compared to what we had before."

2. Best-performing US cities revealed

Austin-Round Rock and Idaho Falls have topped the list of the US' best-performing cities in 2024.

The rankings, compiled by thinktank The Milken Institute, are split into large and small cities, which are then rated against 13 measures that fall into three categories: labour market performance, high-tech impact and access to economic opportunities.

Austin-Round Rock regained the top spot as the best-performing large city for the first time since 2013, due to rapid growth in jobs, wages and technology.

Idaho Falls, the best-performing small city for the second year in a row, has "experienced balanced growth, with a strong performance across all components of the ranking".

The measures include community resilience and households with affordable housing costs.

To put a spotlight on the challenges around urban affordability, the World Economic Forum's Global Future Council on the Future of Cities has published a collection of articles, Reshaping affordability: interventions for inclusive and liveable cities. They provide powerful ideas on land use, sustainable communities and inclusive design to make cities affordable.


How is the World Economic Forum supporting the development of cities and communities globally?

3. News in brief: Other top city and urbanization stories this month

Parisians have voted in favour of increasing parking charges for large SUVs. The referendum aimed to discourage bulky and polluting cars, as the city aims to become fully "bikeable". The fees will triple to €18 ($19) per hour for cars over 1.6 tonnes. Last year, residents voted to ban e-scooters.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told a Senate Banking Committee hearing on 8 February that regulators are working with banks to tackle risks resulting from increased vacancy rates in office buildings in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic coupled with higher interest rates for refinancing loans.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has announced plans to provide AI skilling opportunities to two million people in India by 2025. The programme will focus on skilling people in tier-2 and tier-3 cities, as well as rural areas, to promote inclusive socio-economic development.

Work has finished on a single-storey data centre in Germany reported to be Europe's biggest 3D-printed building, at just under 600 square metres.

Flights to and from the international airport in Viet Nam's capital Hanoi were delayed or diverted due to heavy fog and worsening air pollution on 2 February. Measurements of PM2.5 particles were reported to be at an extreme high of 257 micrograms per cubic metre.

4. More on urban transformation on Agenda

The construction and operation of buildings constitute 36% of global energy use, according to the United Nations. As the life of a building can span many decades and even centuries, we must build and rebuild smarter. Antonio Gómez-Palacio, Partner and Chair of DIALOG Design, explains how deep retrofits repurposing old buildings - can help mitigate climate change.

Research and practice increasingly point to the role of cities in promoting health equity or reversing health inequities. Place-based strategies to address health inequities can lead to meaningful improvements for vulnerable populations. Read here about the two big advantages cities have when it comes to boosting health equity for vulnerable populations.

Housing prices between 2012 and 2022 have increased by 120% in Lisbon, Portugal. Its mayor, Carlos Moedas, explains how the city has seen early success with its strategy to revamp affordable living for locals and has adopted key principles to channel real-estate investment into tackling the housing crisis.

1. $486 billion to rebuild Ukraine – report2. Best-performing US cities revealed3. News in brief: Other top city and urbanization stories this month4. More on urban transformation on Agenda

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