Representatives of the PPP Agency participated in the 7th UNECE International Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) Forum

Published on: 08.05.2023
Category: PPP News

Representatives of the PPP Agency participated in the 7th UNECE International Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) Forum. The hybrid event – with in-person and online participation – will be held in Athens (Greece) from 3 to 5 May 2023 and is organized by UNECE in coordination with the Municipality of Athens, and with the support of the Government of Greece.

Against the backdrop of the ongoing climate emergency, the war in Ukraine, and the enduring effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, embracing sustainable infrastructure that is green, circular, inclusive, resilient, fiscally sustainable, and of high quality where people are the main beneficiaries is now more than ever crucial to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With the failure of the global financial system to effectively cushion the impacts of the current global poly-crises, there is an urgent need for a significant increase of finance for sustainable development.

The 7th UNECE International Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) Forum addressed a number of current and emerging challenges and opportunities at global, national and city levels, focusing principally on the important nexus of green and digital transformations in PPP and infrastructure projects that contribute to the SDGs. The Forum also highlighted how a number of the ongoing global challenges could be addressed through PPPs for the SDGs in areas such as: 

  • sustainable PPPs for post-war and disaster reconstruction and economic recovery,
  • transition to a circular economy,
  • green PPP procurement, and 
  • women’s empowerment.

More than 500 experts and practitioners of PPPs from a wide range of sectors and industries from more than 80 countries of the world took part in more than 30 sessions of the forum, whose contribution to the discussion emphasized the role of PPPs for the SDGs on the implementation of sustainable infrastructure projects to create value for people and the planet.

On May 3, the first High-Level Political debate was devoted to PPPs for the SDGs as catalysts for digital and green transformations in support of sustainable development, economic recovery and reconstruction.

Speakers discussed the following issues:

  • To what extent can PPPs be used to accelerate the post-war and post-natural disaster reconstruction of vital sustainable infrastructure? 
  • How can PPPs in support of the SDGs benefit from digital and green transformations? 
  • What concrete measures can be taken to offset the challenging market conditions faced by low and middle-income countries to access sustainable finance for their infrastructure needs?

Ms. Mehita Fanny, Manager PPP Europe, IFC, emphasized the importance of actualizing efforts at the global level to accelerate progress towards sustainable development, economic recovery, and reconstruction and also noted the important role of development agencies, international financial organizations (IFIs) and development finance institutions (DFIs), in particular international development banks. Thus, in particular, international financial organizations (IFIs) and development finance institutions (DFIs) should assist the public sector and support governments in preparing to implement PPPs for the SDGs, sustainable development, economic recovery, and economic recovery and reconstruction.

Ms. Mehita Fanny emphasized that, in general, “sustainability” is not only about resilience to climate change, it is also about inclusiveness and sustainable/strong cooperation of all stakeholders.

“The world is a global place – all PPPs play a role in advancing the global economy…..The public sector needs to crowd in the private sector……so the private sector needs to be incentivized by a public sector which has improved its economic efficiency to develop PPPs that contribute to economic growth.”

Mr. Ziad-Alexander Hayek, President, World Associate of PPP Units (WAPPP), emphasized the need to analyze the current financing deficit and why the share of PPP projects in the overall project financing is not so high. Mr. Ziad-Olexander Hayek emphasized that it is very important to increase the institutional capacity of the public sector and to engage consultants for the preparation and qualitative structuring of PPP projects. Local capital markets’ presence and/or development in countries is also important.

Ms. Helga Van Peer, Lawyer, Mediator and Independent Board Member, focused the attention of those present on the advantages of the programmatic approach to PPP, compared to the implementation of separate unrelated projects; the importance of forming a PPP project pipeline to ensure the attention of the private sector and international financial organizations (IFIs) and development financing institutions (DFIs), including international development banks.

Wars and natural disasters are terrible, but they also offer opportunities to build back better.”

One of the highlights of this year has been the “UNECE PPP and infrastructure award 2023”, where PPP and infrastructure projects that showcase SDG-compliant design, construction and operation elements, competed. Several projects have been selected by an International Jury, with a strong emphasis on their contribution to the circular economy agenda. Selected projects were evaluated using the UNECE PPP and Infrastructure Evaluation and Rating System (PIERS): An Evaluation Methodology for the SDGs – an Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) self-assessment tool available to governments and other stakeholders – to assess their compliance with the circular economy and the principles and five outcomes of the PPPs for the SDGs approach, namely:

  1. Increase access to essential services and lessen social inequality and injustice.
  2. Improve economic effectiveness (including women’s empowerment) and fiscal sustainability of projects.
  3. Enhance resilience in projects and more care with the environment.
  4. Promote replicability and the development of further projects.
  5. Fully involve all stakeholders in the projects.

So, this year’s focus is on the contribution of PPPs and infrastructure projects to the circular economy agenda (reducing the use of primary materials, reusing existing resources, repairing existing products, recovering assets, recycling components, and recovering energy from the non-recyclable waste while maintaining a local approach and restoring natural systems where possible). The projects showcased at the forum on May 3 have been selected by an International Jury from among 70 projects submitted to the UNECE secretariat.

Special commendations for projects excelling in specific elements of the PPPs for the SDGs approach:

• Argentina: Cordoba Rural Roads (“Stakeholder Engagement”). The project is managed by Consorcio Caminero Único, consisting of 4 representatives of rural organizations and 2 representatives of the province. The project is scalable and replicable, and stakeholders participate in the project’s design, development, and operational phases.

• Germany: A6 motorway (“Environmental sustainability and resilience”). The project is designed with sustainable development trends in mind: innovative asphalt (which can be recycled), modern energy systems to power the service depot, incentives to reduce the use of diesel fuel, smart infrastructure, and artificial intelligence for improved recording of road conditions.

• Greece: Karditsa Irrigation Rehabilitation (“Environmental sustainability and resilience”). The project will be implemented on an availability-based PPP model. The project will be financed by private and EU funds, while the government will participate in financing the project through the Recovery and Resilience Fund (RRF).

• India: Pune Elevated Metro System (“Access and equity, and Environmental sustainability and resilience”). The project envisages the construction of a 23.3 km suspended metro line with 23 stations that will connect Hinjewadi to the city center of Shivajinagar. The concession agreement for 35 years and 4 months was signed on September 21, 2019.

• Lithuania: school reconstruction (“Environmental sustainability and resilience, and Replicability”). The project was implemented in three cities in the Kaunas region to provide additional access to education for 540 children, update the education infrastructure and increase the availability of social services in the region. The PPP contract lasted 15 years, with 2 years for design and construction and 13 years for operation and maintenance. The project reduced CO2 emissions and increased the energy efficiency of the old buildings from class G to class A, while the newly built adjacent schools meet the Near Zero Emissions Building (NZEB) standard with class A++ energy efficiency.

• Mali: Mali National Park (“Replicability”). The project aimed to create an open and green space of 103 hectares for the more than 2.5 million residents of Bamako. The private partner is the Aga Khan Trust, and the public partner is the Government of Mali. The project achieved financial and economic autonomy ten years after Mali National Park opened to the public; the project generates cash flows through user fees for entrance tickets and through fees from businesses that use the park’s social, economic, cultural, and leisure facilities.

Finalists of the UNECE PPP and infrastructure award 2023 (in alphabetical order by country):

• Brazil: Novo Socioeducativo (Juvenile Justice Centres). This is a large-scale project that involves the creation of juvenile detention centers on PPP based. A PPP implementation model is proposed, in which the private partner will be responsible for construction, operation, maintenance and service provision (providing full-fledged social support and rehabilitation of juvenile offenders, as well as reducing the risk of re-offending). The project will be financed by private investment, while the Federal Government (will provide capital contribution for CAPEX); National Development Bank (Brazilian Development Bank – BNDES) and/or financial institutions (will provide long debt) and state governments (availability payment). CAPEX: from 8.9 to 10.4 million dollars USA. The project aims at providing better quality juvenile justice services for the youth during a long-term contract (30 years), opening new windows of opportunity for vulnerable youth to break the infraction trajectory and reintegrate into society (30 hours per week of school activities, Professional qualification focused on the jobs of the future and career guidance, partnerships with universities, institutions and companies, follow-up by the team and financial support grants, etc.).

• Nepal: Waste-to-Energy in Dharan. It is an integrated waste-to-energy (WtE) project placing sustainability at its core in managing municipal solid wastes (MSW). The public partner is the Alternative Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC) under the Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation of Nepal and Dharan Sub-Metropolitan City (DSMC). Based on the 20-year concessional agreement, the task of AEPC was to provide technical and financial assistance (in the form of a performance-based grant jointly with the World Bank) with periodic quality assurance and impact monitoring services. The municipality was responsible for coordinating with concerned authorities for infrastructure requirements, including road, water, and electricity for the project site. The municipality also collects and delivers waste to WtE plant for the first 5 years of the concession period and manages the landfill while playing a lead role in coordinating with local communities to mitigate any social and environmental risks, if any. The task of the private partner was to design, build, finance, operate, own, and transfer (DBFOOT) the concession facility at the end of the contract period. The start of concession activities is in January 2022.

• Slovenia: Energy Retrofit of Buildings in Ljubljana. The project involves the modernization of buildings, installation of energy-efficient heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, as well as replacement of lighting equipment with more energy-efficient ones, etc. The City of Ljubljana – Energy Manager acted as a public partner. The financial concept of the project is based on Energy Performance Contracting (EPC) approach. EPC is a form of creative financing for capital improvement that allows funding energy upgrades from cost reductions. Under an EPC arrangement, an external organization (Energy Service Company – ESCO) implements a project to deliver energy efficiency or a renewable energy project, and uses the stream of income from the cost savings or the renewable energy produced to repay the costs of the project (including the costs of the investment). Essentially, the ESCO will not receive its payment unless the project delivers energy savings as expected. The project`s CAPEX was financed: 40–49% grants – EU Cohesion fund and the City; 60–51% equity and debt of the private partner. Funding sources: availability payment – financed by future savings. innovative aspects of the EPC approach are the energy savings guarantee provided to the public partner and the payment of fees proportional to the energy efficiency performance.

• Spain: Endolla Barcelona (Electric Vehicle Charging Network). The project’s main goal is to create a network of charging stations for electric vehicles throughout the city to make electric transportation more accessible and attractive for residents and visitors of Barcelona. The project started in 2016 at the initiative of the city authorities of Barcelona and with the support of the European Union. As part of the project, more than 600 charging stations have been installed throughout the city (as of 2022), including on main streets, parking lots, shopping centers, and public spaces. These charging stations charge all types of electric vehicles, including high-power charging that allows cars to be charged in minutes. To ensure accessibility, a mobile application was developed that allows users to find the nearest charging station and check its availability. There are currently 6.5 charging points per square kilometer around the city, one charging point for every 11.4 electric vehicles. Thus, Barcelona is the second largest city in Europe regarding the number of charging points per km2 after Stockholm and the fourth in terms of points per inhabitant after Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Oslo.

• Türkiye: 1915 Çanakkale Bridge. The project includes the construction of a 3.6 km long bridge (the longest suspension bridge in the world by the length of the main span), along with 4.6 km of approach viaducts and a 101 km long motorway that will connect the city of Çanakkale in western Turkey with the city of Savron in the East. The project is designed to support regional development and provide more efficient transport infrastructure in Turkey. On March 18, 2022, the bridge was put into operation, in fact, the start of operation took place 18 months earlier than planned. The project has 12 international finance awards due to its multifaceted financing structure and rich resource diversity. Shareholder equity: four sponsors of the Joint Venture provided cash capital to cover the development, procurement, construction, and financing expenses during the construction stage. Project finance loan: the long-term loan for a total sum of 2.265 billion euros is provided by 25 different banks from 10 different countries to cover the development, procurement, construction, and financing expenses during the construction stage. Tariffs: users of the project are charged with a pre-determined tariff. Revenue from the tariff compensates for the operating expenses. Traffic guarantee: Republic of Türkiye Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure (public authority) guarantees a level of traffic flow. If the guaranteed level is not reached, the public authority compensates for the gap. Revenue from traffic guarantee covers the debt service.

Roundtable discussion of the day was devoted to the topic «From Guiding Principles to PPP/Concession Legal Frameworks: A complete range of UNECE substantive products and their impact on the development and implementation of PPPs in support of the SDGs». Since 2015, the UNECE PPP program developed the ‘PPPs for the SDGs’ approach, an enhanced model of PPPs designed to implement the SDGs and be ‘fit for purpose’. In ensuring value for people and for the planet, this approach is designed to overcome some of the weaknesses of both traditional (public) procurement and some PPP models. To ensure its implementation in countries, the UNECE has developed and published several policy documents and practical tools endorsed as Standards and Best Practices by the member States culminating in 2022 with: 

1) UNECE PPP and Infrastructure Evaluation and Rating System (PIERS): An Evaluation Methodology for the SDGs

2) Standard on Public-Private Partnerships/Concession Model law

At the end of the day, Parallel sessions were devoted to the following topics: «Implementing UNECE PPPs for the SDGs guidelines to promote the circular economy in countries», «Climate finance: Ready-to-finance green PPP projects», – and roundtable discussion on selected PPP case studies. 

On May 4, the Political debate focused on the vision for rebuilding Ukraine’s core infrastructure in line with the UNECE PPP for the SDGs approach. The impact of the war in Ukraine has triggered a massive humanitarian crisis that has devastated lives and destroyed vital infrastructure. Reconstruction and recovery efforts will require billions of dollars, and PPPs will play a significant role in bringing together resources and expertise from the public and private sectors. One of the main challenges is increasing the confidence and attracting the interest of investors in PPP and infrastructure projects procured and implemented in full alignment with the 2030 Agenda. This political debate will address how some of the UNECE PPP tools – including PIERS and the standard on a zero-tolerance approach to corruption in PPP procurement (ZTC) – can play a useful role in supporting Ukraine’s post-war efforts to rebuild its core infrastructure.

Mr. Richard Threlfall, Global Head of Infrastructure, Government and Healthcare, KPMG, discussed the pros and cons of fast-tracking PPP infrastructure projects (sustainable, climate-resilient, inclusive, green, circular).

Ms. Anna Yurchenko, Deputy Minister for Communities, Territories and Infrastructure Development of Ukraine for European Integration, presented the main principles of the infrastructure reconstruction strategy in Ukraine (which will be based on innovation, social responsibility) and identified the main prerequisites for the successful use of PPPs in Ukraine, in particular: strong institutional capacity and support of international financial organizations (IFIs) and institutions development financing (DFIs), including international development banks; payment guarantees for private partners; insurance against repeated military action risks; a clear and consistent list of viable projects; optimized and standardized transparent investor selection procedures; available tender documentation templates for a group of projects.

Also, Ms. Anna Yurchenko told about about the role of the State Agency for Restoration and Infrastructure Development of Ukraine, which will be responsible for implementation of country recovery projects.

On December 12, 2022, IFC signed a memorandum with the Government of Ukraine on cooperation and assistance in structuring restoration projects and developing the PPP mechanism in Ukraine. A professional team of experts from various fields was involved in helping Ukraine in selecting projects and finding sources of funding for their implementation. The Ministry of Economy, as the body responsible for attracting investments and forming policies in the field of PPP, supports and cooperates with the team of experts in every possible way. PPP Agency, the Ministry of Reconstruction, and the team of advisers of the Ministry of Reconstruction (SPILNO) are also actively involved. Ms. Anna Yurchenko talked about selecting potential sectors and PPP projects at the central and local levels.

Mr. Tony Bonnici, UNECE, spoke about the work of the Working Party on Public-Private Partnerships of the UNECE Committee on Innovation, Competitiveness and PPPs and the support of the Government of Ukraine in the analysis of legislative changes in the sphere of PPPs and the identification of potential PPP projects for the SDGs. So, in particular, key assistance included:

  • preparation of Gap analysis of the PPP legislation in Ukraine in alignment with UNECE PPP for the SDGs approach,
  • preparation of recommendations on applying the UNECE PPP Evaluation Methodology for the SDGs (PIERS) to prepare, design and finance priority PPP projects in the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine (the corresponding study was prepared in December 2022).

Mr. Niko Gachechiladze, Director, PPP Agency, spoke in more detail about changes in Ukrainian legislation in the field of PPPs. Today, the legislative progress at the Verkhovna Rada on Public-Private Partnerships is ongoing despite all the challenges and difficulties brought by the war in Ukraine. Objectives of making amendments to the legislation in the field of PPP:

  • Embracing the implementation of Availability based PPP projects, including those with availability payments, in which the state does not transfer the risk of demand to the investor but rather pays for “infrastructure in installments”. Such PPP projects are envisioned to become key to the post-war restoration of Ukraine. Amendments will provide for the possibility of funding PPPs through grants and the services of advisors by donors.
  • The implementation of an electronic trading system for PPPs in line with EU standards.
  • Simplification or partial standardization of the preparation procedure for PPP projects that facilitate the reconstruction of Ukrainian infrastructure in the post-war period and new construction projects related to post-war economic restructuring.
  • Simplification of the general PPP project preparation procedure at the state and local levels.
  • Systematic refinement of the PPP mechanism, based on the experience received during the preparation and implementation of pilot projects in the port, road, railway and airport sectors, in line with the EU Directive.

As currently drafted, PPP Law reflects the UNECE recommendations to the Government of Ukraine, which has been provided over the past three years, as part of UNECE’s assistance to bring PPPs in Ukraine in line with the SDGs. Aligning PPPs with the SDGs is critical in the reconstruction and recovery phase and would ensure that the PPP selection and evaluation process fully reflects the sustainability objectives of Ukraine.

To maintain investors’ interest in the reconstruction program, it is important to supplement the proposed fast-track procedure for PPP projects to restore infrastructure and the economy with tried and tested tools that can enrich the preparation of PPP and infrastructure projects by ensuring that projects are not only economically viable, but they are also environmentally sustainable, inclusive, and fully aligned with the SDGs. 

The PPP Evaluation Methodology for the SDGs developed by UNECE can play such a useful role: to act as a bridge between the proposed fast-tracking procedure in Ukraine and the sustainability of and the investors’ confidence in projects.

Continuation of cooperation with the UNECE secretariat for the implementation of the UNECE PPP Evaluation Methodology for the SDGs (PIERS) in Ukraine will involve the evaluation of at least three pilot reconstruction and recovery projects in Ukraine using the UNECE PPP and Infrastructure Evaluation and Rating System (PIERS) and the organization of a training event for key stakeholders and potential initiators of PPP projects from the public sector to discuss the following questions: “To what extent are these projects implementing the PPP for the SDGs approach?”, “How will evaluating reconstruction and recovery projects contribute to attracting investors and increasing their confidence?”. 

Mr. Niko Gachechiladze also spoke about the fact that the Ministry of Economy, together with partners, is developing the architecture of military risk insurance, particularly investment insurance. The Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), a member of the World Bank Group, is already considering applications from foreign investors to cover investment risks. The Japanese Government recently announced that the country has already contributed the first tranche to the Trust Fund in the amount of 23 million dollars USA to cover military risks when investing in Ukraine. Today, several export credit agencies (ECAs), in particular the British and German ECAs, demonstrate a proactive position and are already ready to provide insurance for their investors. Also, the American International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) received a special mandate and supports not only American companies but also any investors who are ready to invest in Ukraine.

Mr. Jaco Cilliers, Resident Representative, UNDP Ukraine, emphasized the importance of national leadership and a clear strategy for reconstruction and implementation of the National Recovery Plan. Such a plan should be clear, precise, transparent, and accessible to potential investors.

Mr. David Baxter, Chief PPP Advisor, International Sustainable Resilience Center, emphasized that as of March 2023, according to the updated report of the World Bank – Rapid Damage and Needs Assessment (RDNA2) – the cost of rebuilding Ukraine will be in the vicinity of 411 billion dollars USA: 92 billion dollars USA will be for transportation and 69 billion dollars USA for housing. 

Key points of Mr. David Baxter’s speech:

  • Reconstruction will be a massive undertaking – multi-year – multi-sector.
  • There is a need to move away from philanthropy/grant support to concise, meaningful long-term PPP partnerships.
  • PPPs need to be seen as more than a procurement mechanism – they also need to be seen as an SDG delivery tool.
  • There is a need to set specific sustainability and resilience KPIs that prove value-for-money and commercial and economic viability.
  • Efforts require coordination at the national level – between PPP Agency and line ministry and line agencies – need to set priorities and articulate them in a national pipeline.
  • There is a need to exercise extreme caution and due diligence with USPs that must not be allowed to circumvent competitive and transparent procurements.
  • There is a need a coordination donor body to leverage the impacts of donor aid.
  • PPP implementors must work on perceptions – especially regarding the legacy of corruption.

More detailed recommendations, formulated by Mr. David based on his own professional observations, are available at the link.

Ms. Mehita Fanny, Manager PPP Europe, IFC, noted the importance of coordinating all PPP support and infrastructure projects, incl. donors, to ensure rapid reconstruction. Another important issue, according to Ms. Mehita Fanny, is financial structuring and the search for the best (optimal) combination of sources of state funding, donor funding, and involved private funding.

Separately, the IFC manager focused on the possibility of accelerating the implementation of PPP projects (for example, regarding social infrastructure facilities (schools, hospitals, kindergartens)) by promoting replicability in various municipalities.

Mrs. Mehita Fanny emphasized that the international community sees interest in projects in Ukraine from the side of investors, while all potential investors need guarantees, risk insurance, etc. Now it is impossible to apply the “business as usual” approach, so the IFC supports the Government of Ukraine as a strategic advisor and will continue to support the country.

Ms. Marcos Martinez, Head of PPP Unit, EBRD, spoke about the experience of investment in Ukraine: EBRD is one of the main investors in Ukraine; before the beginning of the full-scale invasion of the russian federation in Ukraine – EBRD invested more than 1 billion euros per year; a total of 532 projects were implemented in Ukraine. EBRD has agreed to commit up to 3 billion euros over 2022-23 to help Ukraine’s businesses and economy keep functioning. 

Ms. Marcos Martinez emphasized that PPP is a mechanism for medium-term planning of infrastructure development projects, this mechanism cannot solve the problems of emergency reconstruction of critical infrastructure.

So, here are the general conclusions of this political debate:

  • PPPs will play an important role in Ukraine’s reconstruction, which will allow the public and private sectors to leverage their resources.
  • Ukraine needs to establish a tangible and prioritized PPP project pipeline.
  • Ukrainian PPP initiatives will need to be focused on long-term delivery that builds better infrastructure that is resilient and sustainable.
  • Institutional capacity building and revisions to the Ukrainian Legal framework (enabling environment) are crucial to ensure a smooth procurement strategy.
  • Perceptions of what is happening in Ukraine need to be managed.
  • Procedures for identifying private partners should be transparent and competitive.

The day’s second Political debate was devoted to attracting sustainable investment in resilient recovery and reconstruction projectsIn post-disaster and post-war contexts, and particularly following the devasting earthquake in Türkiye and Syria, rebuilding resilient infrastructure is a priority that requires the mobilization of colossal financial resources. PPPs can be an important financing mechanism by mobilizing private finance into infrastructure development. However, the challenge is to accelerate the implementation of PPP projects while ensuring that the projects are resilient, of high quality, and are fully aligned with the SDGs.

Dr. Eyüp Vural Aydin, Chairman, Istanbul PPP Center of Excellence, talked about PPP as a solution for crisis management on the example of the disaster in Turkey and disaster risk management strategy for the pre-disaster stage and post-disaster stages. Türkiye experienced a devastating earthquake 3 months ago, and rebuilding damaged infrastructure requires multi-stakeholder engagement. The PPP model is mandatory for disaster risk management strategy, which consists of pre-disaster (mitigation and preparedness) and post-disaster (intervention and rebuilding) phases. Utilizing private companies’ fast and effective response mechanism is essential to the solution and to building better. Dr. Eyüp Vural Aydin demonstrated with the example of the comprehensive reconstruction of the Matsumoto district in Kobe after the Hanshin-Awaji Big Earthquake in Japan, which occurred in 1995, how effective PPP can be in reconstruction processes.

A separate session was devoted to the topic «Promoting economic recovery and planning post-war reconstruction in Kharkiv and Mykolaiv through the use of innovative digital tools and PPPs». Since April 2022, at the request of the Ministry for Communities, Territories Development and Infrastructure of Ukraine, UNECE coordinates UN4Kharkiv and UN4Mykolaiv initiatives which support the preparation of Plans for the Integrated Rehabilitation of Settlements (Territories) of these two cities in Ukraine.

Ms. Olga Demianenko, Director, Department for Cooperation with International Agencies and Financial Institutions, Kharkiv City Council, spoke more about the UN4Kharkiv initiative. The result will be the development of:

1. A vision for the Master plan for the city of Kharkiv. The Master Plan is being developed under the leadership of and with substantial expert contribution from the Norman Foster Foundation on a pro-bono basis. Architects, urban planners, and historians of the Ukrainian city are also involved in the work on the city’s General Plan. The team is currently working on a map of the city’s damage – an up-to-date map is available online.

2. The revised draft national framework Plan for the Integrated Rehabilitation of Settlements (Territories) and relevant supporting documents for the draft Plan.

3. A proposal for establishing a mechanism for financing city-level infrastructure projects and a list of potential donors to support city-level projects in Ukraine.

To support the development of the reconstruction Master Plan, UNECE established the UN4Kharkiv Task Force, which now comprises more than 16 UN agencies and international organizations. Through the Task Force, UNECE plays the role of a matchmaker by bringing together international organizations, the best professionals in the world of architecture, planning and engineering, and cities.

Ms. Olga Demianenko emphasized that business involvement is very important for the reconstruction and general support of Kharkiv residents.

Mr. Dmytro Falko, Chairman of the Mykolaiv City Council, presented the Geoinformation System of the city. Even before the full-scale invasion, the Mykolaiv City Council was already developing the city’s geo-information system and planning the reconstruction of the city, considering new realities and economic growth points. In general, the Geoinformation System of the city is a map of the city with high detail, on which various “layers” with the necessary information are superimposed (including information about engineering networks, garbage containers, land plots, etc.); following the devastation caused by the full-scale invasion of Russia, with the financial support of the European Anti-Corruption Initiative, 2 additional layers were added to this map — (1) information on damage to facilities and (2) economic damage assessment.

Currently, with the support of UNECE, a new Master plan for the city of Mykolaiv is being developed as part of the UN4Mykolaiv initiative (with the support of One Works – an international design company in Milan, Italy)  – to build a city with the “Build-Back-Better” approach. The Master Plan is being developed in close cooperation with Ukrainian architects and experts.

As part of the development of the overall Master Plan, the conceptual designs of the first five pilot projects are also currently being developed, among which the following projects are possible for implementation under PPP conditions:

  • construction of a housing micro-district,
  • reconstruction of the first Ukrainian gymnasium,
  • reconstruction of green areas and city park.

In addition, the involvement of the private sector is proposed as part of the implementation of the industrial park project (with an area of 92 hectares), including will create new jobs.

Mr. Alberto Cendoya and Mr. Diego Lopez Urruchi, Norman Foster Foundation, talked about the process of developing the new general plan of Kharkiv and how PPP and innovative digital tools can help in its implementation.

Ms. Ana Paez, Program Manager, One Works, spoke in more detail about the geographic information system of the city of Mykolaiv, about the analysis of data for applying new layers, in particular data on the assessment of damage to objects, and proposals for the restoration of objects. Thus, the entire city territory was analyzed – square by square – including from the point of view of the accessibility of infrastructure for residents, public transport, etc. This made it possible to prepare proposals for a new general plan and detailed planning of individual territories.

At the end of the session, Mr. Vadim Lysenko, Project Coordinator of MineFree Ukraine App, presented the MineFree Mobile Civilian Safety mobile application developed by volunteers of the Swiss charity organization Free Ukraine with the support of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine (SES). The purpose of the application is to increase the level of protection of the civilian population against dangerous explosive devices, the possibility of reporting the detection of ammunition, and inform about territories that pose a potential threat to the population.

Other Parallel sessions of the day were devoted to the following topics: «Green and sustainable PPP procurement for the SDGs», «PPPs for Cities: the role of PPPs in voluntary local reviews based on experience from Japan and other countries», – and roundtable discussion on selected PPP case studies.

Side event of the day was organized by the Sustainable Infrastructure Foundation and dedicated to the multilateral platform for preparing and managing sustainable infrastructure development projects  –  SOURCE. To strengthen the technical potential in Ukraine in the field of preparation and management of PPP projects, the SOURCE platform is being integrated and adapted to the Ukrainian context. It is expected that after the adoption of the bill on amendments to some legislative acts on PPPs, the next phase of platform integration will begin, including in terms of preparation and management of PPP projects for infrastructure reconstruction and economic recovery.

The following two policy debates of the day focused on Greece’s experience in delivering PPPs aligned with the SDGs and on Sustainable infrastructure priorities in Athens. In particular, the role of the Greek PPP Unit in setting general sustainable policy and in coordinating the implementation of infrastructure projects geared towards sustainability and the role of individual municipalities in ensuring compliance with SDG infrastructure projects were discussed.

On May 5the High-Level debate focused on questions about digital and green transformations in PPPs for the SDGs. As part of the discussion, it was presented how digital solutions and technologies can, in many ways, enhance the delivery, performance, and sustainability of PPP projects in support of the SDGs. Key issues discussed by the speakers:

  • How do green and digital transformations interact? 
  • How are they relevant to the PPP process? 
  • What are their respective challenges?

The debate also discussed the impact of the Internet, data, artificial intelligence, and other transformative technologies on the SDGs.

Ms. Ebru Özdemir, Chairperson, Limak Group of Companies, noted that according to the UN, 5 to 7 trillion USD per year till 2030 is needed to achieve SDGs globally – the responsibility of which does not solely lay with governments.

As part of the following Political debate, the speakers discussed the issue of improving the delivery of PPPs through digital transformation. PPPs are complex and time-consuming, and new digital technologies and solutions can help streamline the PPP project cycles, especially the identification and preparation stages. The debaters discussed the opportunities to improve each stage of the PPP lifecycle, from pre- to post-competition (tender), using data, information technology, and other digital approaches. It was also discussed how digital transformation could be harnessed through the PPPs for the SDGs approach to best promote the development of sustainable and green digital ecosystems. At the same time, digitalization will include financing tools and the development of digital infrastructure, including digital platforms necessary for preparing for implementing PPP projects in a digital environment.

A separate Political debate was about PPPs in digital infrastructure: telemedicine and other digital public service. Access to key public services remains challenging for millions of citizens in many low and middle-income countries. However, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) can enable access to key public services and accelerate PPP and infrastructure projects. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the pace of the development of cutting-edge digital and ICT solutions across multiple industries, including healthcare. These advancements have facilitated sustained access to critical services, even amidst social distancing measures, and offered valuable lessons that can be applied to further attaining the SDGs. As part of this policy debate, participants discussed how ICT could facilitate and accelerate sustainable and cost-effective solutions in PPP projects, thereby improving access to public infrastructure and quality public services. 

Ms. Tamara Sunbul, Medical Director, Clinical Informatics, noted that PPPs could bring together the expertise and resources of both the public and private sectors, which could help accelerate the deployment of digital infrastructure and improve the quality of public services. Telemedicine, in particular, has emerged as a critical area for PPPs in digital infrastructure. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of remote healthcare services, especially for patients in remote or underserved areas. PPPs can help expand access to telemedicine services, providing patients with access to healthcare providers and medical resources from the comfort of their own homes.

At the same time, certain concerns were also expressed during the debate regarding the potential risks and challenges associated with PPPs in digital infrastructure. One concern is that PPPs may prioritize profit over public service delivery, leading to unequal access to digital public services. Additionally, PPPs require careful planning and management to ensure that they deliver value-for-money and that risks are shared between the public and private sectors in a fair and transparent manner.

Parallel sessions of the day were devoted to the following topics: «Halfway to 2030: Infrastructure finance in PPPs for the SDGs », «Women’s empowerment in green PPP projects for the SDGs», «UNECE work on digital transformation: practical best practice guides», – and roundtable discussion on selected PPP case studies.

The forum concluded with a Ceremony and presentation of certificates and a Concluding policy debate, during which participants discussed the importance of joining forces with other partners to enhance member States’ capacities to implement PPPs for the SDGs.

Ms. Mehita Fanny, Manager PPP Europe, IFC
Mr. Niko Gachechiladze, Director, PPP Agency