Even though the Russo-Ukrainian war that started on 20 February 2014 with the annexation of Crimea and escalated on 24 February 2022 by full-scale invasion, is still ongoing, Ukraine is already on the road to recovery. It’s here that the Ukrainian diaspora in Germany can play an instrumental role. This group of individuals, united by their shared heritage and culture, can significantly contribute to rebuilding their homeland, foster greater cooperation between Germany and Ukraine, and generate a lasting impact on the sustainable development of Ukraine.
An effective strategy of diaspora engagement should be grounded on three pillars:
· Networking, Cooperation, and Activism,
· Available Financial Support Instruments, and
Networking, cooperation, and activism are essential for creating a framework for sustainable development. A network of Ukrainian Diaspora Organisations in Germany can serve as the foundation for creating a strong cooperative relationship between German and Ukrainian businesses, and scientific-business-civil society clusters. This network, fortified with active participation and commitment, can enable the implementation of projects aiming at reconstructing Ukraine and improving bilateral cooperation between Germany and Ukraine.
Engagement between these organisations and German governmental institutions is also critical for successful cooperation. The institutions could include entities like the German Agency for International Cooperation GmbH (GIZ), responsible for implementing Germany’s developmental policies.
At the OECD Final Expert Conference “The role of return in Ukraine’s post-war recovery and reconstruction” held in Brussels on 13-14 June 2023, it was stated several times by various government representatives that Ukrainian recovery needs a booster for its economic development. Sustainability cannot be secured without economic growth and opportunities for the population.
Thus, financial support instruments are vital for ensuring the realisation of projects aimed at rebuilding Ukraine. These instruments can include funds for long-term SDG projects of Ukrainian diaspora organisations with local partners in Ukraine, research grants for Ukrainian universities, and funding for innovative German-Ukrainian start-ups, amongst others. Financial support could also cover the establishment of scientific-business-civil society clusters, aiming to foster collaborative research and innovation in various sectors like sustainable urban development, climate change adaptation, and natural resources management.
Besides, creating German-Ukrainian business incubator and accelerator programs can play a pivotal role in nurturing new businesses. Leveraging the existing Ukrainian diaspora in Germany, programs like the Diaspora Tandem Mentorship Program can establish valuable mentorship connections between experienced professionals and emerging entrepreneurs.
A significant portion of the funds should be allocated to infrastructure development, which has been severely affected due to the war. The creation of coworking spaces, reconstruction of communication lines, and other infrastructural facilities can facilitate post-war development in Ukraine. Infrastructure is more than just roads and pipes or premises, it is about creating safe, comfortable, healthy environments in cities and villages.
Sensibilisation is vital to foster understanding and collaboration between Ukrainians and Germans. Cultural workshops, language courses, and cultural exchange programs can promote mutual respect and empathy. It’s important to recognise cultural differences and find ways to bridge these differences for better cooperation. Sensitivity training for employees or partners can be instrumental in fostering a more inclusive and harmonious working environment.
Creating intercultural committees within organisations can further promote dialogue and address cultural integration. In the aftermath of the war, it’s critical to ensure Ukrainians feel valued, respected, and included in their workplaces, and these measures can significantly contribute to achieving that.
The German government has already launched a platform on the recovery of Ukraine “Plattform Wiederaufbau Ukraine” in April 2023. To ensure the above-mentioned plans succeed, it is essential to facilitate collaboration between the Ukrainian diaspora, German institutions, private companies, and Ukrainian civil society on this platform. The platform could host an array of functionalities, like a Ukrainian-German expert pool, a comprehensive organisation database, and an “Idea Bank” for collecting innovative ideas.
In conclusion, the Ukrainian diaspora in Germany has a crucial role to play in rebuilding Ukraine. By leveraging their unique position, diaspora organisations can make significant contributions to sustainable development in Ukraine and enhance bilateral relations between Germany and Ukraine. It’s hoped that the suggestions made in this text, from networking and cooperation to financial support mechanisms, can be incorporated into the overall strategy for engaging the Ukrainian diaspora in Germany in the reconstruction of Ukraine.
If you want to learn more about our research “Report on evaluation of input of Ukrainian diaspora organisations in Germany for reconstruction and development of Ukraine”,,dated May 2023 (financed by GIZ and BMZ), please refer to the authors of this paper via social networks (LinkedIn or Twitter)
Hanna Slobodyanyuk-Montavon, IWEK e.V.
Danylo Poliluev-Schmidt, IWEK e.V.