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EO Clinic: COVID-19 Impact on Air Quality in Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova



EO Clinic support requested by: UNDP Ukraine Office, UNDP Moldova Office
Requesting activity: Collaborative UNDP platform response to COVID-19
Requesting activity type: Technical Assistance (TA)

EO Clinic relevant Thematic Groups: TG2 (Climate Change), TG8 (Transport), TG9 (Urban), TG11 (Non-EO Information and Analytics)

Work Order number: EOC0009
Work Order status: Completed
Work Order start: 2020 Jul 21
Work Order end: 2020 Oct 05


The COVID-19 crisis is transforming the social and economic landscape of many countries, with measures adopted including physical distancing, travel restrictions, transition to teleworking, etc., depending on epidemic phase and local context. With the lockdowns many new business models are adopted, solid supply chains are affected and new approaches are appearing.
COVID-19 in Ukraine: In Ukraine, the national authorities imposed comprehensive quarantine measures at an early stage of the COVID-19 surge. Mobility and transport within and between cities and regions (Oblasts) reduced drastically. Negative effects across the country’s growing economy quickly emerged, as enterprises in large numbers had to halt operations completely or were forced to adapt to a minimum of demand and market activity. The Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry estimates that about 700,000 small and medium enterprises in the service sector and educational institutions which employ 3.5 to 4 million people have closed. Whereas the full impact is yet to be established, diminishing of productive sectors and decline in income from both formal and informal economic activity will cause a significant backlash to progress that has been recorded on important social and economic development indicators, especially at local and regional level.
COVID-19 in Moldova: The impact of the COVID-19 crisis on a small and open economy and a fragile local business community as the one in the Republic of Moldova is expected to be significant. The vulnerable groups in Moldova will disproportionately suffer from the crisis and the losses due to decreased mobility and economic activity. The rising income and non-income inequalities will affect the modest yet positive achievements of the country and its people when it comes to achieving the localised SDGs. With around 1 million of migrant Moldovans abroad, and given the deteriorating conditions in many destination countries, migration is an important crisis transmission channel and declining remittances will hit the local economy hardly.
The Republic of Moldova responded to the COVID-19 outbreak by imposing a set of restrictive measures which covered travel bans in and outside of the country, implementing social distancing and sanitation protocols, as well as restricting on business activities. The policies aimed at reducing the spread of the virus and supporting the nation healthcare system have significantly disrupted public life and economic activity, with World Bank forecasting a 5.4 decrease in GDP due to the Coronavirus pandemic. In the long-term the impact of the pandemic is yet to be determined but the forecasts suggest a sharp deterioration in activity. A fall in remittances will further depress private consumption while the disruption of supply chains and recession in key economic partners will reduce exports. On the production side, the outbreak will reduce reducing domestic output, with HORECA, construction, transport and manufacturing being most affected. The optimistic forecasts suggest that the economy is expected to bounce back to around 4 percent in 2021 and to moderate at 3.6 percent in 2022, however the recovery is conditioned on the capacity of Governments to understand how the crisis continues to affect national business community and society.
Crisis Response: In order to respond to the current crisis, raise awareness of the central and local administrations, support with evidence-based decision making, and assess the impact of the crisis induced by the COVID-19 pandemic, UNDP together with the Ukrainian and Moldovan governments are stepping up efforts to collect new evidence, including from satellite Earth Observation (EO), in a multi-layered and multi-granular information approach.

Problems to be Addressed and Geospatial Information Gaps

Geospatial EO data is missing to a large extent and not yet fully used in Ukraine and Moldova for development purposes. Moreover, given the current COVID-19 crisis, EO and other new types of data is urgently required to provide for: 1) Additional evidence around what is happening on the ground, especially in the absence or delayed collecting of statistical and other public data; 2) Improve situational awareness of the local and regional authorities around COVID-19 and its spread; 3) Support in assessing the immediate and long-term social and economic impact of COVID-19; 4) Support in building an Early Warning System (for the Government of the Republic of Moldova).
In the current COVID-19 pandemic context, the governments of Ukraine and Moldova have expressed strong interest in having the capability to characterise the consequences of the pandemic on environmental conditions (i.e. environmental indictors). One of the information gaps concerns overview and detailed information on the status of air quality and emissions due to transport and industry. The present EO Clinic support will contribute to the work of UNDP and the governments to close this information gap and to better understand the complex “before and after” situation in both countries, created by the limitations in mobility, changes in economic activity, and the additional influx of previously expatriated citizens.

Information Services to be Delivered

  • Service 1: Regional and Local Air Quality Indicators

Project Documents


Sustainable Development
Prime contractor
  • World from Space (CZ)