The sixth German-Ukrainian Municipal Partnership Conference took place in Leipzig from 13 to 15 November 2023 under the motto "Together for Europe: Solidarity, Reconstruction, Future Prospects". The event impressed participants with a varied programme of expert input, networking opportunities and practical experience. The event was organised by Engagement Global with its Service Agency Communities in One World (SKEW).
Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who together with President Volodymyr Selenskyj has assumed the patronage of the German-Ukrainian municipal partnership network, and Federal Development Minister Svenja Schulze emphasised the importance of the now approximately 190 partnerships between German and Ukrainian municipalities with their presence. Both Schulze and Steinmeier showed great interest in the utility platform. Schulze emphasised the achievements of the municipal companies in her closing remarks at the conference.
On the second day of the conference, 14 November, the utility platform, together with representatives of several utility partnerships and the Ukrainian water association Ukrvodokanalekologiya, led one of the seven expert forums on the topic of "Water and sanitation supply in Ukraine - Which partnership approaches help during the war and during reconstruction?". After the first utility partnership between Dresden and Lviv had already been established between Germany and Ukraine before the outbreak of the war, it quickly became clear, particularly as a result of the war, that German utilities could support Ukrainian water suppliers by supplying technical equipment. 16 solidarity utility partnerships between German and Ukrainian water suppliers have been established since February 2022. The expert forum presented practical examples from the partnerships and discussed with over 60 participants how the partnerships can help during the war and with reconstruction.
Firstly, Paulina Spiller (GIZ) and Linda Engel (SKEW) from the utility platform team presented the project, in particular the solidarity partnerships with Ukraine. Christian Güse (VKU) also presented the donation hub, which additionally supports Ukrainian water suppliers in times of war with donated equipment from German operators. This joint campaign by VKU and GIZ is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Dmytro Novytskyy from the Ukrainian water association Ukrvodokanalekologiya then spoke and reported on the precarious situation of water companies in Ukraine. 5 million Ukrainians have no access to drinking water as large parts of the water infrastructure have been damaged in the war. Thanks to the cooperation within the framework of the operator partnerships with, for example, HAMBURG WASSER and Stadtentwässerung Dresden, GIZ, VKU and other German stakeholders, this effect can be at least partially counteracted.
Three German utility partnerships then took the floor to present their practical work in the partnerships with Ukraine.
Kristin Michalek-Götz (Stadtentwässerung Dresden) and Dmytro Vankovych (Director, Lvivvodokanal) presented their work in Lviv, Nadvirna and Ternopil. Activities in this partnership were discussed during visits to Germany and virtual meetings and include work on blackout concepts, aid convoys from Dresden to Lviv with urgently needed technical equipment, various training and laboratory courses especially for women and consultations on the construction of wastewater treatment plants in Nadvirna and Ternopil.
Oleksii Zhukov (Miskvodokanal, Sumy) and Olaf Sonnenschein (OOWV) reported on their Ukrainian colleagues' trips to Germany and procurements such as a robotic vehicle for sewer inspection and a suction vehicle for sewer cleaning. At the same time as the partnership conference, the OOWV had guests from Chernihiv and Sumy visiting. In addition to visiting various facilities, a delegation also travelled to the "Rebuild Ukraine" trade fair in Warsaw, which was taking place at the same time.
Frank Zierath (Plant Manager of the WABAU plant in Baruth (Mark)) reported on his trip to Ukraine at the end of October 2023. Despite the war, Frank Zierath did not hesitate to travel to his partner utility in Husiatyn after the partnership had only been established in September 2023. A visit from his Ukrainian colleagues in Baruth is planned for next year to view the plant's facilities. The procurement of a photovoltaic system, a well pump, an emergency power generator and an elevated tank is planned by April 2024. When asked why they are involved in Husiatyn, Frank Zierath answers with Kilian Kleinschmidt's book title: "Because it's about the people".
After the presentations, there was a lively discussion in the expert forum, which showed that there is a great deal of interest in utility partnerships.
The PowerPoint presentations of all speakers can be downloaded here as a PDF in Ukrainian and English, some in German.
On the last day of the conference, Gunda Röstel, Chairwoman of the German Water Partnership GWP, also publicly presented the utility platform at the press conference. Alongside Svenja Schulze, Development Minister, and Vitali Klitschko, Mayor of Kyiv, among others, Gunda Röstel succinctly summarised the work of GWP and the utility platform: "Germany not only supplies tanks, but also waterworks!"
Strong partnerships to power reconstruction
Voices from the 6th German-Ukrainian Municipal Partnership Conference in Leipzig 2023 (SKEW)
Ukraine conference in Leipzig Municipal partnerships for reconstruction, Joint press release of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the City of Leipzig, 15 November 2023