On 5 – 7 of June 2017 the Humanitarian Leadership Academy, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) of the European Commission and Wilton Park, co-hosted a conference entitled ‘One Year On – The Grand Bargain and Localisation’.
This conference brought together 70 representatives of local organisations in countries affected by emergencies, national governments, regional and international organisations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the diaspora and the private sector for two days of intensive discussions. It aimed to contribute to the discussions about localisation of humanitarian action by providing an opportunity for senior representatives of a broad cross-section of organisations to share successes and challenges encountered by those seeking to promote local ownership and leadership in preparedness, resilience and response.
The conference heard presentations on local leadership of humanitarian action from local NGOs in Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines and Turkey. Further case studies of support for local leadership in humanitarian action were offered by international NGOs, UN agencies and donor governments. These practical examples were complimented by focussed discussion on funding, capacity strengthening and the value of collaboration, cooperation and coordination.
It was clear that the overall aim of the localisation agenda must be to move from a short term, project focus towards a longer-term approach that enables local organisations to build up capacity and meet core costs sustainably, leaving them in a better position to prepare for, and respond more effectively to, future crises. In addition to this it was recognised that international funds remain difficult for local organisations to access, and a more strategic approach to partnerships is required alongside better use of pooled fund mechanisms. The importance of collaboration and cooperation was repeatedly emphasised, and it was noted that organisations operating at the national level need to better engage and work with local organisations to define and achieve collective outcomes.
Across the two days several round-table workshops took place, in which participants developed initiatives which might contribute to the successful promotion of locally-led humanitarian action. The initiatives proposed are: increased investment in systems; the creation of a global facility for local action, investing in and supporting local coalitions; and working across the humanitarian/development nexus to achieve collective outcomes.
A two-page summary of the conference was shared at ECOSOC, and a full report is now available. A roadmap will be created to demonstrate how the conference outputs and proposals will be taken forward by feeding into existing initiatives that are working to advance the localisation agenda, or convening new groups to address any gaps.