Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the Grand Bargain
What is the Grand Bargain?
The ‘Grand Bargain’ is an agreement between the biggest donors and aid organisations that aims to get more means into the hands of people in need. It is essentially a ‘Grand Bargain on efficiency’ between donors and humanitarian organisations to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of humanitarian action. The Grand Bargain is the only agreement that has brought together donors and aid organisations, and it envisions a ‘level playing field where all meet as equals’. It also promotes a ‘quid pro quo’ spirit of reciprocity as both sides commit to contributing their share.
The Grand Bargain is intended to complement efforts to shrink needs and to broaden the resource base to enhance collaboration and trust among humanitarian actors.
The Grand Bargain necessitates a series of changes in the working practices of donors and aid organisations that could deliver additional resources for people in need of humanitarian aid. These changes include gearing-up cash programming, greater funding for national and local responders, improving transparency and cutting bureaucracy through harmonised reporting requirements.
The Grand Bargain sets out 51 commitments, distilled into 10 thematic workstreams (eight after the first quarter of 2018, when workstream 10 was closed and streamlined as a cross-cutting commitment within the other workstreams; and workstreams 7 and 8 were merged). The workstreams aim at organising strategically the work towards delivering the 51 commitments, and include, increasing multi-year planning and funding, and improving joint and impartial needs assessments.
What is the Grand Bargain 2.0?
As the Grand Bargain entered its fifth year in 2021, the Signatories made a decision on the evolution of the process moving forward. Ahead of the Grand Bargain Annual Meeting 2021, the Signatories endorsed the Framework and the annexes for the Grand Bargain 2.0.
The Grand Bargain 2.0 Framework and its annexes have been developed together with the Signatories in a participatory, transparent and inclusive process, led by the Facilitation Group. The Signatories have demonstrated a high level of interest and commitment for the Grand Bargain 2.0. An extensive consultative process was launched in September 2020 which included surveys for both Signatories and non-Signatories, constituency consultations (ongoing since November 2020) and workstream consultations (March 2021) and a series of Sherpa level meetings of the Facilitation Group and a Principal level meeting on February 1st.
What are the origins of the Grand Bargain?
The Grand Bargain was first proposed by the former UN Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing in its report “Too Important to Fail: addressing the humanitarian financing gap” as one of the solutions to address the widening gap between humanitarian needs and available resources.
Its recommendations - issued in January 2016 - included measures to reduce the need for humanitarian action through investments in preparedness, risk-reduction and mitigation. Avenues to deepen and broaden the resource base for humanitarian action were also proposed, along with “a Grand Bargain on efficiency”. The latter included a call to aid organisations and donors to work more closely together, as well as specific commitments for both constituencies. “The Grand Bargain – A Shared Commitment to Better Serve People in Need” was officially launched at the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016 and Signatories committed to specific actions, grouped in 10 work-streams and 51 commitments. The 10 workstreams are:
- Greater transparency
- More support and funding tools to local and national responders as directly as possible
- Increase the use and coordination of cash-based programming
- Reduce duplication and management costs with periodic functional reviews
- Improve joint and impartial needs assessments
- A participation revolution: include people receiving aid in making the decisions which affect their lives
- Increase collaborative humanitarian multi-year planning and funding (in 2018 it was merged with workstream 8)
- Reduce the earmarking of donor contributions (in 2018 it was merged with workstream 7)
- Harmonise and simplify donor requirements
- Enhance engagement between humanitarian and development actors (in 2018 it was closed and streamlined as cross-cutting commitment within the other work-streams)
It is anticipated that the implementation of the sum of the Grand Bargain commitments will result in better humanitarian aid moving from a supply-driven model dominated by aid providers, to a demand-driven model, more responsive to the people being assisted. Humanitarian actors will also become more efficient in working together.
Since its launch, many Grand Bargain Signatories have actively taken steps to institutionalise the commitments and integrate them into their policies and strategies, and in some cases, into activities in the field. Concrete results have also been yielded in some of the Grand Bargain workstreams, particularly in increasing the use and coordination of cash programming; advancing common standards and coordinated approaches for community engagement and ‘a participation revolution’; testing a common template for harmonised and simplified reporting; and advancing the provision of multi-year planning and financing. Examples of concrete Grand Bargain actions can be found here.
What is the structure of the Grand Bargain?
The Signatories created a light set of institutions to maintain the momentum of the process. Each workstream is led by two Co-convenors - typically a donor and an implementing organisation - who work towards advancing specific Grand Bargain commitments. The Co-convenors prioritise and streamline their activities within their respective workstreams, whilst also striving to work closely with other Co-convenors to reinforce workstream linkages and synergies where they appear.
The Grand Bargain is championed by an Eminent Person, responsible for promoting and advocating for the advancement of the Grand Bargain commitments. In 2021, Mr Jan Egeland, Secretary-General of the Norwegian Refugee Council became the Grand Bargain Eminent Person, taking over from Ms Sigrid Kaag, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation (the Netherlands), who succeeded Ms Kristalina Georgieva, The World Bank in 2019.
The Grand Bargain also includes a Facilitation Group and a Secretariat, which have annual workplans that set out goals and actions for the year.
The Grand Bargain Facilitation Group
Following decisions taken at the Grand Bargain meeting held on Bonn on 5-6 September 2016, a Facilitation Group was established to provide continued momentum to the overall Grand Bargain process.
The composition of the Facilitation Group is reflective of the different Grand Bargain constituencies: donors, UN agencies, Red Cross societies and non-governmental organisations. The members of this group do not automatically represent the views of the whole of their constituencies. Thus, viewpoints and perspectives are solicited from their counterparts prior to taking decisions.
The Facilitation Group is intended to act as a consensus-based governance body of the Grand Bargain process. The main responsibilities of the Grand Bargain Facilitation Group include acting as problem-solving mechanism, analysing issues in order to propose recommendations to the wider Grand Bargain community, supporting activities across workstreams and encouraging coherence through coordination and information sharing, and organising the meetings with the Signatories and Co-convenors, including the Annual Meeting.
The Facilitation Group members over the years were as follows:
2020/2021 Facilitation Group: ECHO, UK, OCHA, WFP, IFRC, SCHR
2019/2020 Facilitation Group: ECHO, UK, OCHA, WFP, ICRC, SCHR
2018/2019 Facilitation Group: USA, Sweden, OCHA, UNICEF, IFRC and InterAction
2017/2018 Facilitation Group: Germany, United Kingdom, OCHA, UNHCR, ICRC and InterAction
2016/2017 Facilitation Group: ECHO, Switzerland, WFP, OCHA, UN Women, IFRC and SCHR
The Grand Bargain Secretariat
The Grand Bargain process is supported by a two-person Secretariat. One of the roles of the Grand Bargain Secretariat is to assist the Grand Bargain Facilitation Group in steering the Grand Bargain process forward through enhanced coordination, information-sharing, communication and advocacy. The Grand Bargain Secretariat also helps to enhance cooperation and communication with Signatories and non-members to make the Grand Bargain process more inclusive and transparent. In 2021, the Grand Bargain Secretariat is supported by ECHO and hosted by the Norwegian Refugee Council/NORCAP.
What does it mean to be a Grand Bargain Signatory?
While the Grand Bargain is not a binding agreement, Signatories to the Grand Bargain are committing that:
- they accept the principles and the spirit of the Grand Bargain;
- they take the commitments seriously;
- they agree to the ‘quid pro quo’ approach;
- they will be transparent in reporting annually on what they have achieved, and on what they are still working on;
- they consent to their self-reports being published on the Grand Bargain webpage.
It is important to note that being a Grand Bargain Signatory means being a member to the whole Grand Bargain process. It is not possible to focus only on specific topics or workstream activities, rather it is necessary to work towards advancing the activities of all ten Grand Bargain workstreams.
How do I link up with specific workstreams?
Member States, agencies, organisations and institutions that wish to engage with the Grand Bargain, please contact the Grand Bargain Secretariat.
How is the implementation of the Grand Bargain commitments being monitored?
Grand Bargain Signatories submit an annual self-report that provides data for the Grand Bargain Annual Independent Report. The self-reports are made public on the Grand Bargain webpage. The Grand Bargain Facilitation Group commissions an independent group of consultants with producing the Annual Independent Report.
How does the Grand Bargain link to other processes and forums?
The Grand Bargain is currently the only platform whereby all relevant stakeholder constituencies (donors, UN agencies, Red Cross/Red Crescent movement, and NGOs) sit and interact on a peer level, in an effort to transform the humanitarian system for more effective and efficient aid.
There has been ongoing formal and informal interaction between the Grand Bargain and other mechanisms where areas of synergies exist, including the IASC and the Good Humanitarian Donor Initiative. For example, regular engagement with IASC is maintained both at the technical level, and at the level of Principals, to build on existing work rather than duplicating it.
How do I become a Signatory?
The access to sign up to the Grand Bargain is open every year from July to January, and closed from February to July, due to the specific nature of the process in that period, which includes the self-reporting and Annual Meeting.
Applicants for new Signatories should submit the application (available here) to the Grand Bargain Secretariat (firstname.lastname@example.org), who will share it with the Facilitation Group members for their consideration.
Where do I find out more about the Grand Bargain?
For more information on the Grand Bargain, please contact the Grand Bargain Secretariat at email@example.com.