Oksana Udovyk arrived at the INGENIO Institute, a joint research centre of the Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV) and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), last October, thanks to the CSIC programme for scientific cooperation with Ukraine. Until then, Oksana had worked for the United Nations in Kiev on innovation-related projects. But the outbreak of war prevented her from continuing this work.
"I wanted to continue with my studies on innovation, and thanks to the grants promoted by the CSIC for researchers from Ukraine, I found the INGENIO Institute, a reference centre in my field, and here I am, on this campus of the Universitat Politècnica de València, very grateful to be able to work in scientific research and on issues related to sustainability and Ukraine", explained the researcher this morning during a meeting held with Diana Morant, Minister of Science and Innovation, the rector of the UPV, José E. Capilla, and the delegate of the CSIC in the Comunitat de València, Juan Fuster.
The three of them got to know first-hand the different lines of research carried out by INGENIO and the project Oksana is working on, which focuses on the "fair, green and participatory" recovery/reconstruction of Ukrainian cities. In the project, Oksana is supported by four other INGENIO researchers: Guillermo Palau Salvador, Ana Escario Chust, Daniel Cuesta-Delgado and Sergio Segura Calero.
Mapping reconstruction, Ukraine's vision, and climate neutrality
The project, driven and led by Oksana, is divided into three parts: in the first part, the INGENIO team is mapping actors (people and organisations) in Ukraine and abroad involved in the recovery/reconstruction of Ukrainian cities. "This part of the project is significant so that everyone who wants to help in the recovery knows what is already being done, to create synergies with those who are already working towards this goal, thus avoiding building something new from scratch," explained Oksana.
The second part of the project focuses on working with Ukrainian refugees in two EU countries, Spain and Sweden. The aim is to find out what their vision is of how Ukrainian cities should be and how they should be rebuilt so that people who, like her, left the country will want to return.
"We should remember that almost a quarter of the Ukrainian population was forced to flee the country. That is why, when we talk about reconstruction, it is essential to know how they want, how they think the cities affected by the war should be rebuilt, with the perspective of having lived in these European countries for more than a year," Oksana said.
To obtain all this information, the INGENIO researcher also relies on other more artistic activities, such as theatre, so that people can express their feelings in other ways, "because there are things that cannot be expressed in numbers".
In addition, Oksana's research interviews not only people from her own country, but also Spanish and Swedish citizens, to get their opinions about their own cities. "This research can also provide recommendations for new policies and practices for refugee resettlement in Spain, Sweden and other EU countries. The project will enable more inclusive urban planning not only in Ukraine, but also in European cities,' said the INGENIO researcher.
Finally, the third part of the project focuses on recovery towards climate neutrality (net-zero) and creating university-city consortia in Spain, Sweden and Ukraine. "We are looking at the possibility of focusing this work on the specific case of Valencia and Odessa," said Guillermo Palau.
The meeting, held at the Polytechnic City of Innovation, was also attended by the vice-rector for research, Belén Picó, the vice-rector for Internationalisation and Communication, José F. Monserrat, and the sub-delegate of the Government in the Valencian Community, Raquel Ibáñez, among other authorities.