Skip to main content
European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations
Grand Bargain
© European Union, 2018 (photographer: Peter Biro)
Grand Bargain

What is it?

The Grand Bargain is an agreement between humanitarian donors and aid organisations to make humanitarian aid more effective and efficient. It was launched at the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016.

The goal is to reach more people in need and spend less money on administration and overheads, whilst also improving the design and delivery of humanitarian action.

To achieve these goals 51 shared commitments have been established, ranging from  increased use of cash-based programming to harmonised reporting requirements and greater transparency.

Why is this important?

International humanitarian funding is not increasing fast enough to keep up with rising humanitarian need worldwide. This means the way humanitarian aid is delivered must become more effective and efficient.

The Grand Bargain is the only structured initiative that brings together local and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs), donors, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and United Nations (UN) agencies to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the humanitarian action.

This agreement was furthered in 2021 with the Grand Bargain 2.0. This initiative made the process aid delivery even more focused, with high-level political priorities including quality funding, localisation and participation.

The Grand Bargain 2.0 introduced the concept of the political caucus, which addresses humanitarian challenges at the political level. It also proposed the establishment of National Reference Groups (NRGs), led by local and national actors, to help unlock funding and provide greater support to local responders.

In 2023, signatories reviewed the progress made and decided to launch a new Grand Bargain framework for 2023-2026. Signatories agreed to continue delivering on localisation, quality funding and participation as well as to strengthen anticipatory action, financing mechanisms and the Humanitarian-Development-Peace Nexus.

How are we helping?

As a major global humanitarian donor, the European Commission is a leader in the implementation of the Grand Bargain commitments.

From 1 October 2016 to 31 August 2017 the European Commission was a key member of the first Grand Bargain Facilitation Group, re-joining in October 2019. This Group aims to provide continued momentum to the Grand Bargain process via annual meetings as well as coordination and information sharing. In the 2023-2026 Grand Bargain framework, the Facilitation Group has been further embedded in order to strengthen its advisory role to the Grand Bargain leadership.

Since 2020 the European Commission has supported the Grand Bargain Secretariat, which provides the necessary substantive as well as administrative and logistical support to the Grand Bargain process.

The European Commission’s efforts in the Grand Bargain process has led to remarkable progress in the following areas:

  • Needs assessment: Together with UN OCHA, the European Commission is a co-convener of the workstream on Coordinated Needs Assessments. This ensures the needs assessment process is coordinated, impartial, collaborative, and fully transparent. It has led to the development of the Joint Intersectoral Analysis Framework 2.0, which improves the way humanitarian actors jointly plan and respond to crises through a rigorous, evidence-based, and comprehensive joint and intersectoral analysis system.
  • Partnership with local partners: The European Commission recognises that local and national actors are valuable partners in crisis-affected contexts. They are often the first to respond when a disaster strikes, are part of local communities, and are more perceptive of the local cultural and political dynamics. In 2023, the European Commission published a Guidance Note on promoting equitable partnerships with local responders in humanitarian settings. This Note’s goal is to encourage the wider humanitarian community to acknowledge and strengthen the capacity of local and national actors in responding to crises. By doing so, responses can be more inclusive and better address the needs of affected populations.
  • Quality humanitarian funding: In March 2022, Commissioner Janez Lenarčič co-launched the Grand Bargain Quality Funding caucus together with the President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) David Miliband. The multilateral and bilateral discussion that followed resulted in a set of new commitments to improve the quality and amount of humanitarian funding. This means that funding from donors to implementing organisations, will be more predictable, flexible and carry less of an  administrative burden while also allowing for longer-term, multiyear planning. The European Commission is piloting this approach, including through Programmatic Partnerships and contributions to Country-Based Pooled Funds. 
  • Cash programmes: Cash transfers are an effective form of aid, providing people in need with the means and flexibility to take control and prioritise their own recovery. The European Commission’s policy document on cash transfers encourage partners to increase cash programmes and promotes a coherent system for delivering cash assistance and common approach amongst EU funded humanitarian partners.

Last updated: 16/12/2023

Facts & figures

67 signatories to the Grand Bargain, including international humanitarian donors, UN agencies, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, NGOs, and local humanitarian partners. 

3 Grand Bargain Ambassadors (Jemilah Mahmood, Manuel Bessler and Michael Köhler)

51 shared commitments to make humanitarian aid more effective and efficient.

4 caucuses to tackle remaining challenges.