Andrew Forrest, the Australian billionaire founder of iron ore producer Fortescue Metals Group, has announced the creation of a major fund to restore and upgrade local infrastructure in Ukraine, according to a report by the BBC. Forrest hopes other philanthropists, funds and professional investors will be able to raise up to $100 billion for the modernization of Ukraine’s primary infrastructure, such as energy and telecom networks.
Forrest and his wife have committed $500 million to the fund – the businessman hopes other rich people of the planet and ordinary citizens will follow his example. The fund, named the Ukraine Green Growth Initiative, will be used for for energy and infrastructure projects that will modernize the local energy system and adapt it to higher environmental standards.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has already approved the idea of the fund, noting that infrastructure facilities destroyed by Russian troops will be able to be replaced or upgraded with modern and environmentally friendly equivalents. The Green Growth Initiative was also backed by BlackRock chairman Larry Fink – Forrest’s fund hopes that Fink’s support alone will help attract additional financing. Forrest has also said that he had received support from US President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
“The president [Zelensky] sees that as an opportunity to completely replace old coal-fired [and] nuclear power stations with brand new green energy,” Forrest told the BBC.
“That capital would be available the instant that the Russian forces have been removed from the homelands of Ukraine,” he added.
Forrest is a major lobbyist for emissions reduction and the green energy transition. Some of his initiatives include reducing the carbon footprint in iron ore production and funding the production of green hydrogen.
According to the latest estimates by the Ukrainian authorities, it will take close to $750 billion to fully rebuild the economy, and about $100 billion to rebuild damaged infrastructure alone – an amount that is likely to only increase given the increasing frequency of missile attacks on critical infrastructure in Ukraine by Russia in recent months.