Margus Gering to Head ESTDEV’s Ukrainian Development and Cooperation Programme
Margus Gering, former Deputy Head of the Estonian Embassy in Kyiv, is starting a new role as Head of Ukrainian Development and Cooperation Programme at the Estonian Centre for International Development (ESTDEV).
Gering will be responsible for the €9.5 million programme, of which close to €5 million has been allocated for reconstruction projects.
“Ukraine was the first country to which Estonia began providing foreign aid, 25 years ago. Today, Ukraine’s reconstruction is one of the topmost priorities – and challenges – of Estonian development cooperation, and is where the lion’s share of funding is channelled. I am delighted that this vital field will be headed by Margus Gering, who is an experienced diplomat with extensive knowledge of Ukraine,” stated Andrea Kivi, Acting Executive Director of ESTDEV.
The war in Ukraine concerns the global community, and Ukraine’s future leaves no room for indifference. “Ukraine needs backing politically, militarily, and economically. Supporting Ukraine through development cooperation and reconstruction sends an important message that Estonia stands firmly by Ukraine as a committed friend and partner. It inspires hope for Ukrainians affected by the war and gives future generations faith in a better and brighter future,” explained Margus Gering.
Gering continued, “Having just returned from Kyiv, I am sincerely heartened that my mission and commitment to help Ukraine will continue in this new and challenging position. My task remains to coordinate development cooperation and reconstruction initiatives, finding ways to amplify Estonia’s reform experiences and innovation as we seek and implement solutions.”
According to Gering, ESTDEV is Estonia’s most capable partner for development cooperation and the reconstruction of Ukraine: “In less than a year, ESTDEV has delivered the first international reconstruction project in Ukraine, the Ovruch kindergarten. We will continue on the same ambitious trajectory, by constructing family-type small group homes for orphaned children in cooperation with the Olena Zelenska Foundation. We will also continue the successfully launched PPP (Public-Private Partnership) collaboration with the private sector and civil society.”
ESTDEV’s Ukrainian Development and Cooperation Programme consists of five focal areas:
(i) restoring war-torn infrastructure, (ii) supporting Ukraine’s integration into the European Union; (iii) accelerating digital development; (iv) improving the quality and availability of primary and vocational education; and strengthening democracy.
In 2023, the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs allocated €8 million to supporting Ukraine. There are currently 27 projects underway in Ukraine, 11 of which are implemented by ESTDEV and 16 of its partners. ESTDEV has also invested €1 million from the European Commission to increase cooperation between Ukrainian national institutions regarding the fight against disinformation. ESTDEV works with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications and the Ministry of Culture to further support Ukraine. Reconstruction projects have also been backed by the Government of Flanders and the Icelandic Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Among other projects to rebuild Ukraine, the construction of the Ovruch kindergarten and the restoration of the Malyn Bridge are nearing completion. ESTDEV has also begun collaborating with the Olena Zelenska Foundation to design and construct family-type small group homes for Ukrainian children orphaned in the war. Next year, Estonia plans to build two of these homes in the Zhytomyr region, the standard design for which was recently determined in an architectural competition.
Operating under the administration of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ESTDEV organises and coordinates Estonian development cooperation and humanitarian aid projects in Europe’s eastern neighbourhood and on the African continent. ESTDEV’s budget for the year 2023 is €22 million.