The Grand Bargain’s annual meeting was held from 30th June through 1st July 2022 in Geneva. Several issues were discussed, including the future of the Grand Bargain itself. Michael Solis, our Global Director – Partnership and Localisation, explains.
What is the Grand Bargain?
As part of the preparations for the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016, a high-level panel explored solutions to close the humanitarian financing gap. One of their recommendations included the need for “a Grand Bargain between the big donors and humanitarian organisations in humanitarian aid”.
The Grand Bargain, launched during the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May 2016, is a unique agreement between some of the largest donors and humanitarian organisations who have committed to get more means into the hands of people in need and to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the humanitarian action. The Grand Bargain currently has 2 mutually-enforcing enabling priorities for promoting more efficient and effective humanitarian response: quality funding and localisation/participation.
Currently 64 Signatories (25 Member States, 23 NGOs, 12 UN agencies, 2 Red Cross movements, and 2 inter-governmental organisations) are working to implement Grand Bargain commitments. Trócaire is the only Irish non-governmental organisation that has signed the Grand Bargain.
Prior to becoming a Signatory to the Grand Bargain, Trócaire signed onto the Charter for Change. This is a separate but related network for advancing localisation, and it is comprised of local, national, and international NGOs only.
What was discussed at the Grand Bargain Annual Meeting in June 2022?
The meeting focused on the findings of the Grand Bargain Annual Independent Report 2022 and political actions needed to achieve the two enabling priorities. The report highlights key achievements, as well as challenges to progress in the Grand Bargain.
Progress against Grand Bargain commitments in 2021 included:
- Increased volume of quality funding (that is, funding this is flexible and allocated on a multi-year basis) provided by donors.
- Increased political interest to advance localisation, as well as increased momentum on supporting local leadership capacities.
- Increased willingness of Signatories to provide overhead costs to local actors to strengthen their institutional development.
- A predictable model for cash coordination is now in place, resulting in greater coordination for cash and voucher assistance to populations affected by crisis.
- Launching National Reference Groups in 10 countries to bring the Grand Bargain to the country-level, with enhanced participation of local actors in these spaces.
Challenges in 2021 included the following:
- Though the volume of quality funding has increased, it has not kept pace with increases in global humanitarian requirements.
- Multi-year quality funding tends to get allocated to multilateral organisations such as the UN, rather than NGOs, with very little reaching local organisations.
- The percentage of global humanitarian funding reaching local actors halved from 2020 to 2021, comprising just 2% of humanitarian funding flows.
- The idea of a ‘participation revolution’ in the sector has not progressed; according to perception surveys, recipients of aid still feel unable to influence the aid they receive and remain uninformed about available assistance and how aid is targeted to those most in need.
The report offers numerous recommendations for Grand Bargain Signatories, including:
- increasing the provision and ensuring more equitable distribution of quality funding
- supporting local leadership and enhancing institutional capacities
- giving affected people meaningful influence over aid provided
- enhancing coordination of efforts to maximise multiplier effects
- strengthening the governance and accountability of the Grand Bargain 2.0
- simplifying monitoring and reporting to better track progress.
What are Trócaire’s recommendations for the Grand Bargain?
Trócaire’s recommendations for the Grand Bargain relate to its internal structures and future mandate.
Caucuses: The Grand Bargain’s caucuses can create stronger linkages and improve ways of working, particularly between the Intermediaries Caucus (which explores the evolving role of intermediary agencies) and the new Localisation Caucus (which will address barriers to achieving the 25% direct as possible funding target).
The Intermediaries Caucus can develop an action plan on how to implement agreed commitments on issues, such as: 1) sharing of indirect costs budget lines with local partners; 2) embedding capacity strengthening lines into partner budgets; 3) ensuring local partners are at the table with donors and have increased visibility; and 4) including local partners and communities throughout all aspects of project planning.
National Reference Groups: The National Reference Groups (or NRGs) are the main country-level platforms for engaging with the Grand Bargain. They seek to give voice to those with limited power within the humanitarian ecosystem. They are a space where local actors can engage in open dialogue and challenge Grand Bargain signatories and hold them accountable.
While these groups now exist in 10 countries, there is a need to ensure wider participation and understanding of their work. Donors should commit to participating in these groups, even if only in a select number of countries. The NRGs should also coordinate closely with pre-existing platforms and networks at the country level, including Start Network and the Charter for Change.
The Future of the Grand Bargain: The Grand Bargain Annual Independent Report’s findings illustrated that the work of the Grand Bargain is not yet completed. It is also unlikely that the goals will be achieved in the remaining 12-month period of the Grand Bargain’s current phase. As the Grand Bargain is the only platform of its kind to influence sector level change, Trócaire feels the Grand Bargain must extend its mandate beyond June 2023.
What are Trócaire’s Grand Bargain commitments for the coming year?
Building on its 50 years of experience working in partnership with local organisations around the world, Trócaire has made considerable progress on its localisation efforts and commits to the following over the coming year:
- Continue to uphold a high percentage of our funding that flows directly to local partner organisations, ensuring this remains well above the Grand Bargain’s 25% commitment of direct as possible funding to local actors. Trócaire commits to do this for humanitarian and development funding to its local partners.
- Track progress of the Grand Bargain’s new Localisation Caucus to support increased global commitment to the 25% direct-as-possible funding target to local actors across Grand Bargain Signatories.
- Support women-centred organisations to actively participate in and influence coordination and decision-making spaces, including cluster groups, coordination forums, and Humanitarian Country Teams.
- Proactively engage with the Grand Bargain’s National Reference Groups in the countries where we work and foster the inclusion and active participation of our local partners in these spaces.
- Roll out a new organisational policy on the sharing of indirect costs with local partners. This will help support partners to cover core costs that are necessary for the long-term sustainability of their work and impact.
- Establish organisational Key Performance Indicators for our localisation objectives, including the percentage of funding that supports capacity strengthening and the number of partners supported to access direct funding from donors.
The shifting of power dynamics within the humanitarian sector takes time, but it is a necessary change that can and will result in better and more empowering forms of support to affected populations.
Trócaire believes this is a change worth pursuing and that it is possible to achieve within each organisation, regardless of its size and previously established ways of working. We will continue to advocate for this change, in close collaboration with our local partners, in our ongoing engagements with other Grand Bargain Signatories.
Learn more about our Localisation Strategy.