For the Ukraine Recovery Conference to have a lasting effect, continuity, follow-through and honest accounting are needed.

Unsurprisingly, the organizers of this year’s Ukraine Recovery Conference tout the mammoth gathering as a major success: 3,400 participants, 60 countries represented, 110 agreements signed, €16.8 billion mobilized for Ukraine—those are indeed impressive numbers. But do they really add up to “mission accomplished”?

This was undoubtedly the most inclusive gathering of its sort to date. During the first recovery conferences, communication was largely one-way. Someone held the microphone, others listened. In Berlin, everyone talked to everyone. A dedicated Recovery Forum was the center of a huge networking event. And everyone was there: not just governments and international financial institutions, but also businesses (including defense), cities and regions, academia, and civil society. Nothing could have represented the “all-of-society” approach better. If recovery is to become a self-sustaining process, it will need more such global matchmaking opportunities.

When it comes to the billions to be moved toward Ukraine, the picture is still murky. The international community has a time-honored tradition of inflating financial commitments or failing to follow through on them. It is therefore necessary to look more closely, especially where it counts most—in the energy sector. Ukraine has lost nine MW of installed power-generation capacity since March 22, when Russia began to escalate its attacks on the power infrastructure. It will be impossible to close this massive capacity gap by winter, and the existing grid will allow for only limited electricity imports from Europe. During the conference, officials from multiple countries could be seen scrambling for solutions—even short-term fixes. Such emergency efforts are most welcome, but they would benefit from straightforward communication. The Berlin statement of the G7+ Energy Coordination Group leaves open what commitments were made at URC2024. Instead, it refers to what has been pledged “so far” or “following the latest attacks”. This obfuscates the line between fresh and old money. Similarly, the “Co-Chairs’ Statement”, a summary of the conference, is long on narrative and short on numbers about new commitments.

As they collect information about what happened in the various workstreams of this gigantic conference, the German and Ukrainian governments should make an effort to be transparent about agreements and numbers. This will make it easier to monitor the implementation of each individual measure—something that the German government has announced it wants to do. The Multi-agency Donor Coordination Platform should also ensure that stakeholders deliver on commitments made in Berlin. In a sign that continuity is being established, the Italians, hosts of the next Ukraine Recovery Conference, plan to adopt the intellectual framework (“The four dimensions of reconstruction”) that the Germans have introduced. Continuity will certainly be needed. The recovery of Ukraine will be a decade-long process. 

Read more analysis of the 2024 Ukraine Recovery Conference by Liudmyla Kurnosikova