Grand Bargain (Hosted by the IASC)

Grand Bargain (Hosted by the IASC)

Grand Bargain (Hosted by the IASC)
Grand Bargain

1. What is the Grand Bargain?

The ‘Grand Bargain’ is an agreement between more than 30 of the biggest donors and aid providers 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 includes a series of changes in the working practices of donors and aid organisations that would deliver an extra billion dollars over five years for people in need of humanitarian aid. These changes include gearing up cash programming, greater funding for national and local responders and cutting bureaucracy through harmonised reporting requirements.

The Grand Bargain commits donors and aid organizations to providing 25 per cent of global humanitarian funding to local and national responders by 2020, along with more un-earmarked money, and increased multi-year funding to ensure greater predictability and continuity in humanitarian response.

1.1 The origin

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.  

The High-Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing was appointed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations in 2015. Its recommendations - issued in January 2016 - included measures to reduce the need for humanitarian action through investments in preparedness and risk reduction and mitigation; avenues to deepen and broaden the resource base for humanitarian action and “a Grand Bargain on efficiency” between the largest donors and the main humanitarian organisations to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of humanitarian action, with the following main objectives: 

For aid organisations and donors to work more closely together towards:

  • More financial transparency.
  • More support and funding tools to national first responders.
  • Scale up use of cash-based programming and more coordination in its delivery.

For aid organisations to commit to:

  • Reduce duplication and management costs.
  • Periodic functional expenditure reviews.
  • More joint and impartial needs assessments.
  • A “Participation Revolution”: listen more to and include beneficiaries in decisions that affect them.

For donors to commit to:

  • More multi-year humanitarian funding.
  • Less earmarks to humanitarian aid organisations.
  • More harmonized and simplified reporting requirements.

In February 2016, a series of consultations began under the leadership of Ms. Kristalina Georgieva, who had co-Chaired the High-Level Panel, to decide on a road map to achieve the Grand Bargain objectives. These consultations brought together donors to international humanitarian assistance, the main UN humanitarian Agencies, the Red Cross / Red Crescent Movement and the three NGO Coordination bodies that are represented at the Inter-Agency Steering Committee.

The results of these consultations were presented at the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016, under the title “The Grand Bargain – A Shared Commitment to Better Serve People in Need”. Effectively, each participant in the consultations committed to specific actions, grouped under one or several of the ten Grand Bargain work streams:

  • 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
  • Reduce the earmarking of donor contributions
  • Harmonize and simplify donor requirements
  • Enhance engagement between humanitarian and development actors

The Grand Bargain is part of the humanitarians’ contribution to Agenda 2030.

1.2 Expectations of the Grand Bargain

It is anticipated that the implementation of the sum of the Grand Bargain commitments will result in better aid, with humanitarian action 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 better at working together and with others, based on complementarity and value add, and that the Grand Bargain will result in significant efficiency gains which can be invested in the delivery of aid.

1.3 Translating the commitments into reality: what is happening now and what are the next steps

Since the presentation of the Grand Bargain commitments, each signatory is developing its own plan of action to meet its commitments. Where collective action, or close coordination is required, this is being taken forward within and across the relevant work stream(s), with the facilitation support of the work stream(s) co-convenors. 

Progress will be reviewed at an annual open event dedicated to the Grand Bargain, which is being held on the margins of the ECOSOC Humanitarian Segment.

1.4 Structure and contacts

The Grand Bargain is championed by an Eminent Person, responsible for promoting and advocating for the advancement of the Grand Bargain commitments. Ms. Kristalina Georgieva held this position until the end of 2016. A new Eminent Person will be announced shortly.

A Facilitation Group has been established to provide continued momentum to the overall Grand Bargain process. The composition of this group is reflective of the different Grand Bargain constituencies.

Each work stream is co-convened by one donor government representative and one humanitarian agency or organisation.

The Grand Bargain process is supported by a one-person Secretariat hosted by the Secretariat of the Inter-Agency Steering Committee.

2. 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  signalling that they take the commitments seriously, that they will be transparent in reporting back annually on what they achieve and on what they are still working on.

3. How does my organization sign up? How do I link up with specific work streams?

For Agencies, organisations and institutions that wish to engage with a specific work stream, either to contribute to its work or to implement all or some of its commitments, please contact the Grand Bargain Secretariat.

Please note that you do not needs to have signed up to the Grand Bargain to engage with a specific work stream.

5. How is the implementation of the Grand Bargain commitments being monitored?

Grand Bargain signatories are finalizing self-reports that will provide data for the first annual Grand Bargain report. An independent group of consultants has been tasked with producing the annual report, which has been commissioned by the Grand Bargain Facilitation Group.

6. Where do I find more information about the Grand Bargain?

For more information on the Grand Bargain please contact the Grand Bargain Secretariat.

Upcoming Meetings

There are no upcoming events at this time.

Past Meetings

15:00 to 16:30
9:00 to 17:30
16:00 to 17:00
15:00 to 17:00
9:00 to 17:00


Each Grand Bargain signatory is invited to report annually on its progress to advance and implement the commitments of the Grand Bargain. The self-reporting exercise provides accountability towards the wider humanitarian community, beneficiaries and other stakeholders. It is also used as a starting point for the analysis provided by an independent annual report. This report assesses the progress of each work stream, and of the overall Grand Bargain initiative. 


Paulette Jones

Grand Bargain secretariat
+41 22 917 8214