UNESCO Report “Analysis of war damage to the Ukrainian science sector and its consequences”

A study published by UNESCO and the Junior Academy of Sciences of Ukraine takes stock of the damage caused to the Ukrainian science system by russia’s war of aggression in violation of international law and the expected costs of reconstruction. The study also looks at other consequences of the war for Ukrainian science.

The study reports 1,443 damaged or destroyed buildings at 177 scientific institutions over the past two years. Not all buildings can be assessed,
however, as many are located in territories temporarily occupied by the russian federation. Furthermore, over 750 scientific and technical devices were damaged or stolen. The total cost to restore this essential research equipment is estimated at USD 45.9 million.The scientific infrastructure of the Kharkiv region was hit the hardest, particularly at the Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University and the O. M. Beketov National University of Urban Economy. The study estimates the cost of restoring Ukraine’s destroyed and damaged infrastructure at USD 1.21 billion (approximately EUR 1.11 billion) – of which around USD 980 million is attributable to universities, which suffered the greatest damage.

In addition to the destroyed infrastructure, the war has had a massive impact on the situation of researchers throughout the country. In February 2022, the public research sector employed 88,629 researchers. Since then, the study estimates 10,429 researchers from 524 institutions and universities have been forced to relocate either within Ukraine (4,887) or abroad (5,542). Germany and Poland currently host the most Ukrainian researchers in exile. Overall, the number of researchers employed in the public research sector in Ukraine has fallen by 5.3 percent since the beginning of the war.

The increasing shortage of funds in the country’s science budget is also making itself felt. According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, spending on R&D fell by 38.5 percent between 2021 and 2022, from USD 2.02 billion to USD 1.24 billion. Since 2021, the budget of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, representing 450 affiliated institutes, has almost halved (decreased by 48%). Average monthly salaries have dropped by 39% and many researchers have been forced to work part-time.

18 scientific institutes have had to relocate from the temporary occupied territories by russian forces. The situation around the Institute for Safety Problems of Nuclear Power Plants, near Zaporizhzhia, is of particular concern. Essential monitoring equipment has been stolen or destroyed, including a unique radiological laboratory which controls radiation levels, representing a major security threat not only for Ukraine.

This assessment has been prepared by a team headed by Professor Stanislav Dovgyi, President of the Junior Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, and comprised of Oleksandr Stryzhak, Ivan Ryabchyi, Vitalii Prykhodniuk, Viacheslav Gorborukov and Maksym Nadutenko. The Junior Academy of Sciences of Ukraine also provided analytical materials and graphics for this assessment. The following team from the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine also contributed to the report: Dmytro Kurbatov, Oleg Taranov and Zoya Petrenko. A third team made up of Viacheslav Bohdanov, Oleksandr Osins’kyy and Tetiana Harbuz from the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine made an additional contribution.