April 13, 2023
Maria A. Longi
Coordinator for U.S. Assistance to Europe and Eurasia, U.S. Department of State
Head, Ukraine State Agency for Restoration and Infrastructure Development
Principal Vice-President, Global M&BD, Major Project Development Manager, Bechtel
Regional President for CEMEA, Visa
Dr. Ivana Zuzul
Senior Director, Europe, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
To facilitate the reconstruction of Ukraine, both the government and the private sector will be investing heavily in the country, with an emphasis on Ukraine leading the effort. However, for the effort to be successful, international partners must establish guidelines for project selection, funding, and implementation, while the Ukrainian government creates institutional capacity to carry out the projects effectively.
During the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s U.S.-Ukraine Partnership Forum, global leaders discussed how Ukraine and its partners can learn from past rebuilding efforts to ensure long-term success and how U.S. companies can contribute to best practices for reconstruction.
Ukraine and Its People Continue to Persevere Amid the War
From the onset of the war, Ukraine has continued to withstand its impact with resilience. As Mustafa Nayyem, the Head of the Ukraine State Agency for Restoration and Infrastructure Development, highlighted, understanding Ukraine is different than other counties is a critical aspect of a successful reconstruction process for the country.
“The main difference is Ukraine is not a failed state,” Nayyem said. “From the start of the war, we [have] still [been] working — [our] bank system, government, local authorities, everything is working despite [the] war. That means when you're coming to restore something in Ukraine or rebuild something, you encounter all [of these complexities] of the projects… [such as] regulation, procedures, legislation framework — everything you have in other European countries.”
Leaders Should Look to the Past and Future for the Betterment of Ukraine
To ensure the long-term success of Ukraine, Maria A. Longi, the Coordinator for U.S. Assistance to Europe and Eurasia at the U.S. Department of State, shared lessons learned from prior reconstruction efforts, which should be applied now. Those lessons include remembering Ukraine is in charge of its reconstruction, and all reconstruction programming should be done in a transparent and accountable way.
“We need to support certain sectors upfront and with great attention, including the energy sector and some technology sectors, because those are going to form the basis for private sector development and the spurring of the economy as it recovers and grows,” Longi said. “The recovery and reconstruction of Ukraine is not just about infrastructure — it's about the Ukrainian people as well. Their health, education, and participation in the reconstruction, and the prioritization of [the] activities we are all going to be helping Ukraine in … needs to be front and center and a part of our reconstruction efforts.”
Susannah Kerr, Senior Vice President and General Manager at Jacobs, acknowledged it is less about using the past lessons and more about looking at this as a “once-in-a-generation challenge.”
“The focus can't be upon the word reconstruction — I think we're really looking at future creation,” Kerr said. “It's a new economy… a new type of environment, and… an opportunity for Ukraine [to] lead the way.”
Prioritization Programs and Public-Private Partnerships Can Support Ukraine
To alleviate the struggles of the Ukrainian people, Andrew Torre, the Regional President for CEMEA at Visa, shared how his company’s public-private partnership has supported Ukraine through advancements in technology and accessibility.
“[The Ukrainian government] realized that to be able to have an impact, they needed to get every consumer — every citizen in Ukraine — digitally connected,” Torre said. “So we've been working with them on, if someone is not financially included today, what can we do? How can we get them to have a banking credential and be included?”
“We've been able to work with the government to issue 12 million of these new credentials,” he continued. “And that work has been really impactful, really consequential on the ground for people who need it.”
However, expanded efforts will only continue to deliver an impact if they focus on the priorities of Ukraine and create prioritization programs based on those specific needs.
“How do the aid agencies and donor countries support a program that is ultimately Ukrainian-led that can… create the foundations for the infrastructure development or rebuilding of it?” asked Andrew Patterson, the Principal Vice-President, Global M&BD, and Major Project Development Manager at Bechtel. “Aid agencies, donor money, [and] private sectors are going to be looking at what is that clear path of prioritization — with the amount of critical needs that [Ukraine has] and the devastation that's happened — [to] understand where the private sector can pursue projects and how we [can] help develop capacity inside the government to go deliver these.”