Hundreds of Ukrainian businesses affected by the Russian invasion and ensuing conflict took part in the first of three online lectures on disaster management, resilience building and sustainable growth delivered by an academic expert from Birmingham City University.

Working with the European Business Association (EBA), Professor Maharaj Vijay Reddy, based at the University’s Business School, gave the first presentation on risk and crisis management, with two further capacity building sessions to be delivered in November 2022 and February 2023.

Established in 1999, the European Business Association (EBA) in Ukraine provides a forum in which its members can discuss and find solutions to common problems affecting business. The EBA unites over 1000 companies in Ukraine and is one of the largest and most influential business communities in the country.

The knowledge transfer lecture included strategic directions for conflict and high-risk areas with academic underpinning and practical business recovery examples from previous disasters, war zones and protracted conflict areas (e.g., Japan, Kashmir, Iraq, Columbia and Sri Lanka) and policy guidelines from international agencies such as the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) and United Nations Global Compact.

Ms Liliya Yamborak, Team Leader EBA Management Development Centre, Kyiv, said: “These topics are of great importance for each Ukrainian especially now when people are struggling for freedom and overcoming the crisis in business and keeping their resilience at top level. It is very important to have the exact examples and cases from the previous historic times in order to be well-equipped with knowledge and skills for rebuilding new Ukraine.”

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has led to catastrophic impacts for Ukraine, causing Europe’s largest refugee crisis since the Second World War, a significant loss of lives, a humanitarian crisis, destruction to infrastructure and disproportionate shocks in the demand and supply systems of businesses of all sizes. As of April 2022, the invasion has caused over $564 billion in economic losses to the country (e.g., in terms of GDP, infrastructure, enterprises and loss of direct investment) according to the Ministry of Economy of Ukraine.

Professor Maharaj Vijay Reddy said: “With the ongoing military conflict in several parts of the country and ceasefire talks failing to make progress, the road to peace in the country and socio-economic recovery of businesses are largely unclear. Nevertheless, the need to reduce further economic loss and maintain business stability in Ukraine to avoid stepping into the conflict-poverty trap is growing.”

Professor Reddy’s challenging research projects focusing on earthquakes, tsunamis and conflicts were funded by national and international agencies including UNESCO, Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, and British Council. His interdisciplinary contribution in the fields of disaster risk reduction and sustainable development has attracted the attention of practitioners, professional associations and some of the international policy agencies driving sustainability practices, business resilience and poverty reduction around the world (e.g., UNESCO, UNEP Sustainable Consumption and Production Branch, and United Nations Division for Sustainable Development).

Professor Deborah Lock, Director of Birmingham City Business School, said: “[This is] a balanced programme which I think will prove immensely popular with many businesses and organisations in Ukraine and elsewhere. This also shows our Business School’s commitment to supporting and building capacities of the business communities affected in the conflict”.