New research by the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford shows how Ukraine’s unique response to the Russian invasion has set a new blueprint for successfully protecting infrastructure during conflict and catastrophe.
‘What Ukraine Can Teach the World About Resilience and Civil Engineering’ appears in the journal Issues in Science and Technology, a science and technology policy-focused journal from the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and Arizona State University.
Daniel Armanios, BT Professor of Major Programme Management, coauthored the paper with Oxford Saïd MMPM alumnus Jonas Skovrup Christensen and MBS alumnus Andriy Tymoshenko, both based in Kyiv.
In the piece, they translate Ukraine’s practical experience into a set of five ‘propositions’ to inform how other nations can manage their infrastructure amidst disruption and how other organizations such as the World Bank can assist in those efforts.
In particular, the authors propose how a blend of newfound social solidarity, decentralized and agile management, modularity, system wide coordination, informal supply networks, and learning from other crises have resulted in high resilience.
The paper states:
‘There is no denying the physical devastation wrought on Ukraine, with an estimated $150 billion in infrastructure damage, including damage or destruction of about 170,000 residential buildings, according to Kyiv School of Economics in April. This makes the resilience of the nation’s services and utilities even more remarkable. Our point here is not to minimize the pain, damage, and trauma the war has wrought. In fact, what we find remarkable is the opposite: how Ukraine prevented the toll from being far worse.’
‘The success of their efforts demonstrates, in practice, the theories embodied in our five propositions. Each proposition improves understanding of how to make civil infrastructure more adaptable in the face of crises. These lessons could inform the decisions made by funders such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and United Nations when making investments in infrastructure, so they enhance the physical and social networks essential to sustained resilience amid disruption.’
Finding that in armed conflicts, infrastructure is both a target and a defence, the research explores how communities and infrastructure ultimately need and rely upon each other. Additionally, the reciprocal resilience identified between infrastructure and society in wartime can help explain how it can better function during peacetime.