Skip to Main Navigation
Speeches & TranscriptsJune 21, 2023

Managing Director for Operations Bjerde’s remarks at the 2023 Ukraine Recovery Conference

As Prepared for Delivery

Thank you. Let me start by saying how pleased I am to be here in London and at the URC 2023. Thank you to the Government of Ukraine and to the Government of the United Kingdom. And thank you for the question – “What are some of the most striking things we have seen and learned in assessing Ukraine’s needs and early recovery?".

Well, striking is that we have a brutal war in Europe that has entered its second year and that is caused by the invasion by one country into another. In 2022. That we have humanitarian suffering of great magnitude, as illustrated by poverty having increased in Ukraine five-fold from 5% to 25%. That the needs for reconstruction over the next decade as of February 24, 2023 (a year of war) amounted to $411 bn – about 2 times Ukraine’s GDP in 2021. And that the impacts of Russia’s war on Ukraine are being felt globally with inflation, tight financial conditions, and great uncertainty. 

But striking is also Ukraine’s resilience: Government and services are functioning. Infrastructure services were restored despite the large-scale targeted attack for several months last fall and winter. The budget is well-managed and executed. Reforms are being designed and implemented – one recent reform is the adoption of the REMIT law that improves the electricity market and aligns towards the EU market standards.

Allow me to illustrate the resilience by sharing a few findings from two surveys the World Bank recently conducted:

The monthly Listening to Ukraine Survey focuses on monitoring the delivery of essential social services provided under the World Bank’s PEACE project. The survey with results from April-May found that over 90% of public service workers have experienced no disruption in receiving payment on time. Others with a slight delay. 97% of pensions have been paid without disruption. 92% of school-aged children are enrolled. 2/5 receive fully remote learning – much higher in regions under active hostilities. Most people report that community health clinics are open, even in regions under hostilities.

The surveys are also giving us a glimpse into areas we need to pay attention to: around a quarter of those employed before the war are reported to have lost jobs. Many employed report irregularities in work hours and the nature of work. More than half of those surveyed report reduced pay rates compared to before the war. 6/10 surveyed report that their households are receiving pension payments – indicating that there are many elderly in Ukraine. Remote education is widespread in regions under hostilities which means we can expect learning losses to be high and development gains lost.

The other survey covered firms. More specifically, we surveyed 2,000 domestic firms and 80 multinationals. Of course, firms have suffered lost sales (53%). And have seen drops in employment (26%). But we have seen an amazing resilience. 4 out of 5 firms (80%) say that they have continued to stay open. Only 4% have permanently closed (the rest are temporarily closed).

Firms have adapted: new product mix/markets; embracing ICT; relocating internally; internationals remain committed to working in Ukraine.

Ukraine and the World Bank have a long-standing partnership. We adjusted quickly to shift our support to the war context. Since the start of the war, we have mobilized close to $30 bn. Much of this is from Ukraine’s development partners who support Ukraine through mechanisms established by and in the World Bank. About $23 bn has been disbursed to date. We provide support to the budget for essential social expenditures and to sectors for repair and recovery investments (health, transport, energy, agriculture, housing). We also provide diagnostic support – RDNA1 and 2, the next update will come in early 2024. We recently conducted a very rapid damage assessment of Kakhovka dam which will feed into the next RDNA.

We are working with Ukraine and partners to help build capacity to help Ukraine accelerate recovery. What is most essential now? Focus on tangible results: $14 bn, priority projects, implementation. Coordination: in Ukraine and among Ukraine’s development partners. Mobilization of resources and investment: private sector, smart schemes such as insurance, leveraging. Staying united - as a community and with Ukraine – and for this – again - I welcome the URC and look forward to our discussion.

And, we must always remember that our steadfast support is a vital investment in Ukraine itself but also an investment in global prosperity. 




    loader image


    loader image