Ukraine is experiencing one of the most severe HIV/AIDS epidemics in Europe and the former Soviet Union, with an estimated 230,000 people aged 15 and over living with HIV at the beginning of 2012. Data suggest that half of all individuals infected with HIV are unaware of their status and unable to take adequate measures to preserve their health or prevent further transmission. Evidence suggests that the number of newly-registered HIV cases in the country is stabilizing and HIV incidence among people who inject drugs is also stabilizing. However, HIV transmission to the sexual partners of IDUs and into the general population remain areas of great concern.
Ukraine’s economic crisis exposed the legal, regulatory and institutional weaknesses in the financial sector. Implementation of international standards in the banking, capital market and pension sectors is necessary to encourage domestic and international investment, achieve stable economic growth and build confidence in financial markets.
Economic governance - the institutions and systems that support economic activity - is necessary for broad-based economic growth. Without secure property rights and accessible and fair legal systems there is no incentive to save and invest. Economic governance in Ukraine must advance the interests of small and medium enterprises or average citizens to achieve stability and prosperity.
Ukraine’s capacity for sustainable, broad-based growth is stalled by:
- unpredictable and incomplete agricultural policies,
- limited financial services for agriculture, and
- a weak market infrastructure that leads to low yields and reduces the competitiveness of small and medium producers.
Ukraine’s economy is one of the least energy efficient and most emission-intensive in the world. As a result, the country is a major contributor to global climate change. In order to produce a unit of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Ukraine emits more anthropogenic greenhouse gases than almost any other country. Ukraine’s high GHG emissions are related to its energy intensity, which is over three times higher than the European Union (EU) average (International Energy Agency (IEA), 2012). Ukraine’s inefficient energy use impedes economic growth, leaves the economy highly vulnerable to price shifts, draws governmental and private sector resources away from other priority issues, and creates dependence upon foreign energy suppliers.
Public opinion polling indicates that Ukrainian citizens lack confidence in the justice system. Widespread corruption in the Rule of Law sector has constrained progress in democratic institution-building, integration into European institutions and economic reform. Judicial reform remains highly politicized. The judicial reform will not enjoy public trust until these institutions are demonstrably independent, impartial and accountable. Legislative reform is advancing, but many key challenges remain, including:
- Lack of transparency, effectiveness and efficiency in court operations;
- Lack of leadership in promoting judicial independence;
- Limited training opportunities for judges and court stuff;
- Low level of public trust and confidence in the judicial system.
Effective governance is critical to ensuring the delivery of basic government services and the fair, transparent and inclusive representation of citizen’s interests. Legislative action is needed to balance relations between institutions of governance and strengthen the political system. To further consolidate democratic advances, Ukraine needs a pluralistic and open party system accountable to citizens, a stable electoral system that allows for fair and competitive elections and an improved legislative process that includes civil society participation
The growth of local government remains stifled by the limited resources that municipalities have at their disposal to build and operate basic services and infrastructure. Local governments need to attract domestic and foreign capital investment and to learn to manage their budgets effectively, while becoming more transparent and accountable to their citizens.
As a post-Soviet country that has witnessed dramatic economic decline, Ukraine faces several unique challenges. Almost 30 percent of Ukraine's population lives below the poverty line. Limited economic opportunities compel men and women to look for work abroad, which places them at high risk of exploitation.
Citizens and civil society organizations are increasingly active in engaging government policy makers, but they often lack the advocacy skills and influence to advance the country’s reform agenda. NGOs need long-term solutions for their institutional sustainability, as they still rely heavily on international donor funds due to underdeveloped domestic donor support.
Last updated: January 27, 2015