Taking stock of the Grand Bargain process: PHAP's Geneva Humanitarian Connector initiative supports IRIN and GPPi discussion

Is the humanitarian sector on the right track to fulfilling the promises of the Grand Bargain? One year after the World Humanitarian Summit where the Grand Bargain was adopted, IRIN and the Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi) co-hosted an event to discuss progress and setbacks in the proposed reforms of humanitarian financing. The discussion was made accessible to a global audience through PHAP’s Geneva Humanitarian Connector initiative.

Moderated by IRIN's Senior Editor Ben Parker, the discussion featured Kate Halff, Executive Secretary of the Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response (SCHR), and András Derzsi-Horváth, Project Manager at GPPi and one of the authors of their newly released “Independent Grand Bargain Report.”

András Derzsi-Horváth began by presenting the key findings of the publication, which mapped the progress made by Grand Bargain signatories (based on self-reports, interviews, and consultations) and laid out a number of recommendations. On average, the analysis revealed, each signatory had taken action on 40% of all commitments made, although advancements were unevenly distributed among the different “work streams” defined in the agreement. “There is a risk that the initiative develops into a pick-and-choose deal, and this is problematic,” as explained by Derzsi-Horváth, in that “it may lead to more powerful stakeholders imposing their own agendas on others”. Endorsed by 52 stakeholders including donors, governments, NGOs, and international agencies – which represent the majority of actors in international humanitarian response – the Grand Bargain remains hindered by a lack of strong leadership, declining political commitment, and the fact that key governmental and non-governmental actors have not yet signed up to the process.

Kate Halff commented on the event organized by the United Nations' ECOSOC the day before, during which Grand Bargain signatories gathered to discuss implementation at the one-year milestone. “We thought we were losing political momentum and I think yesterday demonstrated that we haven’t lost it,” Halff said. With a high level of representation, the meeting had focused on defining goals and priorities for the process, how to best balance responsibilities between headquarters and field levels, and steps for further increasing the engagement of signatories.

A lively discussion with the audience touched upon several other aspects of the initiative, including accountability, the inclusion of non-signatories in achieving the goals of the process (should more signatories be a priority, or should the focus be on engaging the current ones?), and the localization of resources (are stakeholders doing enough to support humanitarian operations at the local level?).

A recording of the session is available on YouTube.


The live streaming of the event was organized through the Geneva Humanitarian Connector (GHC), an initiative of PHAP supported by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.