BWI conference highlights urgent need to prepare for Ukraine’s reconstruction

BWI’s Conference on Reconstruction in Ukraine, held on April 9-10, 2024, in Warsaw, Poland, brought together key stakeholders from various sectors. Attendees included representatives from the Ukrainian trade union PROFBUD, as well as 27 trade unions from 19 countries. Financial organisations such as the EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development), KfW (German Credit Institute for Reconstruction), and NEFCO (The Nordic Environment Finance Corporation) were present, alongside private sector entities like BESIX and Constructiv. Aid organisations such as USAID (United States Agency for International Development), GIZ (German Agency for International Cooperation), FES (Frederich Ebert Foundation), the US Solidarity Centre, and UtoU (Union to Union, Sweden) also participated. Additionally, the conference saw representation from various international organisations, including the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the European Parliament.

The conference sought to address the pressing issues surrounding Ukraine’s reconstruction efforts in the near future following Russia’s invasion of the country. The conference included stories from the days when Russia's full-scale invasion began, mixed with strategy discussions on what to do next.

Vasyl Andreyev, president of the Ukrainian construction trade union Profbud said: “It is hard to find words to describe all the challenges the war presents to people of Ukraine, workers and trade unions. However, we did not give up, but continue to do everything we can to unite and support workers and their families, and to prepare for the construction of a new Ukraine.”

The ILO has estimated that Ukraine will need to add 8.6 million workers to the labour market if it is to meet its annual GDP growth target of 7 percent until 2032. To address this, Profbud is  currently building union training centres to give workers the qualifications to work in the construction sector.

The conference served as a pivotal platform for fostering meaningful dialogue and collaboration among stakeholders. As Ukraine progresses on its path toward recovery and reconstruction, the invaluable insights and recommendations generated during the event will be instrumental in guiding future initiatives. These contributions will be essential in facilitating the successful rebuilding of infrastructure, society, and livelihoods, all greatly impacted by the war.