The Pledge for Change represents a mutual commitment towards building a stronger aid ecosystem based on the principles of solidarity, humility, self-determination and equality.

Overview

The Pledge for Change is a series of three commitments aimed at re-imagining the role of international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) in the global humanitarian aid and development system. By signing on to the Pledge for Change – as a signatory or supporter – the goal is to shift the power more directly to local organisations in the global south, while building a stronger aid ecosystem based on the principles of solidarity, humility, self-determination, and equality.

Background

Pledge for Change leadership retreats began in January 2021, at a pivotal moment when the conversations about Decolonise Aid, Shift The Power, and Rethink Humanitarianism gained momentum. Adeso and like-minded INGO partners wanted to capitalise on this momentum and to centre the global majority’s voices at the heart of the power-shifting agenda and decision-making on the future of aid. The process involved C-suite leaders from several large INGOs who were ready to work on radically altering fundamental INGO business models and practices. The objectives for the monthly retreats were to reflect on personal and institutional journeys, to re-imagine the roles of INGOs in the global aid system, and to strategise ways to make significant steps towards decolonisation. Several working groups were formed to support the development of pledges in parallel to the leadership retreats. The overall goal for the public pledges is to dismantle the barriers that continue to prevent INGOs from decolonising their institutions and creating lasting and significant change by reorienting towards global solidarity and power-aware and equitable partnerships.

The retreats convened by Adeso, with leadership from Degan Ali and support from the Centre for Humanitarian Leadership and advisors from the Global South allowed for an opportunity for INGO CEOs to share challenges and bright spots and to receive peer feedback from Northern and Southern colleagues CEOs heard directly from Global South leaders and partners about why this change is necessary. The Pledge for Change process, from the start, was also designed to provide positive peer pressure to organisations and leaders who are at different starting points and are seeking to “catch up” and make progress on external and internal commitments.

The Pledge for Change builds on previous commitments made by our sector, for example the Charter for Change and the Grand Bargain, in pursuit of the Global Goals agreed by world leaders in 2015. While those initiatives focus on the role of INGOs, the Pledge for Change emphasizes the part to be played by local organisations and the rights, needs and priorities of local communities.

Since the Pledge for Change was publicly launched in October 2022, many internal changes have been driven by current Signatories who are reviewing their operational, programmatic, and other practices. Adeso hopes that Signatories will lead the sector with the help of this global pledge for large-scale, systemic change in how donors and humanitarian and development organisations operate and how they impact partners and communities around the world. As leaders they are working with national and local organisations worldwide for a fairer future in which all people’s needs are met and their rights upheld, governments fulfill their responsibilities and civil society flourishes.

 

Pledge for Change Secretariat

The Pledge for Change’s Secretariat is hosted by Adeso.

The Secretariat consists of two key positions within Adeso: Global Director of the Pledge for Change and Pledge’s Program Officer.

Kate Moger, Global Director of Pledge for Change
Kate Moger, Global Director of the Pledge for Change.

 

Sidhee Patel, Program Officer of Pledge for Change
Sidhee Patel, Program Officer of Pledge for Change

 

 

 

 

Locally led,
globally connected.

The Pledge for Change grew organically through informal conversations between dedicated leaders representing civil society in the global north and global south.

We wanted the Pledge to be different from past processes for change in aid. First off, all activities were led by the global south - with Adeso convening the group and other activists giving feedback and sign-off to the pledges as they were being developed. Secondly, it started as a small group of CEOs that have a personal commitment to decolonization and who sought a space to imagine change with their peers. It was a manageable number of people to coordinate and all members really had a say in the final product. Finally, the accountability mechanisms will be designed by global south activists and organizations to ensure that INGOs are being held accountable to their partners and the communities.

Degan Ali

Adeso

The global aid system is currently not reflective of our common humanity and solidarity - and it often ignores its history and complicity in upholding unjust and unequal power systems. This pledge articulates critical intentional thoughts, actions and behaviors that are past overdue to reform this system. If all actors abide by the pledge, it would be an important step to decolonize aid and create a more just and equitable development community. This is why Purposeful is proud to sign on and be part of this much needed process.

Chernor Bah

Purposeful

“Locally led and globally connected is at the heart of Plan International’s new Global strategy “ All Girls Standing Strong” and that because we know that localisation is essential to ensure we achieve a just world for all children. By setting aspirational targets, Pledge for Change is critical to ensure the change that is needed actually happens. It challenges us to deliver on our Pledge and encourages others to start the journey.

Rose Caldwell

Plan International UK

The Pledge for Change is a historic milestone in the field of humanitarian and development. The bold step taken by leaders and practitioners to use their power to transform themselves and the sector, in order to build a stronger aid ecosystem based on the principles of solidarity, humility, self-determination, and equality. The leaders and practitioners decided to accelerate the change taking different paths to achieve the collective goals of equitable partnership approach; of telling stories in an ethical and safe way demonstrating partners’ resilience and praxis; and wider influencing for change. The ultimate measure and real achievement of this is making spaces and actions on the ground demonstrating the power shift to local actors and amplifying their voices and leadership in various platforms at varying levels.

Loreine B. dela Cruz

Center for Disaster Preparedness Foundation (CDP)

I’m proud to have spent my career working in the non-profit and media sectors focused on telling stories about human rights abuses and inequality and working strategically to address these issues and their root causes. Like many people who work at Save the Children, a passion for positive social change and an equally passionate frustration with inequality, racism, and oppression – and the slow pace of change to address these – is what drives me. Our sector is at a critical juncture in its history: global disparities and social challenges are growing and expanding despite decades of work to address them – even as we’re more interconnected than at any time in history. At Save the Children Canada, we recognize that to sustainably and collaboratively meet these challenges, we must face up to our role in perpetuating some of these inequalities as well as our history as an international NGO based in the Global North, with all the privilege and power that entails. Collaborating with the Pledge for Change process is part of this and participating in it has contributed to our vision for a significant organizational shift to understand and transform unequal power dynamics in all we do.

Danny Glenwright

Save the Children Canada

Signing onto this incredibly important pledge is another step in our journey of shifting the power into the hands of children and their communities. It is only by moving capacity, resources, and ownership to national and local organisations, that we will be able to achieve meaningful and lasting change for children and their communities.

Gwen Hines

Save the Children UK

The Pledge for Change is a critical milestone in moving the system forward from its current state of inertia toward more equitable and decolonised ways of working. The Centre for Humanitarian Leadership (CHL) is incredibly proud to have been a part of Pledge for Change in a supportive and guiding role since its inception. While CHL is not an operational actor, we wholeheartedly endorse the pledge as a lever for systemic change.

Mary Ana McGlasson

Centre for Humanitarian Leadership CHL

I am so glad to see the Pledge for Change launch and to have been able to contribute to this meaningful initiative along with other Global South and Global North leaders. Only courageous leaders who aren't afraid to instigate structural change can build a better and equitable future for all."

Marie-Rose Romain Murphy

ESPWA and of Fondation Communautaire Haitienne-Espwa/The Haiti Community Foundation

CARE International is delighted to be part of this critical and long overdue initiative aiming at shifting power to local organizations and adopting a truly ‘locally-led and globally-connected’ approach to humanitarian response and development. The Pledge for Change will help us learn more meaningfully and transparently from organizations from both the Global South and Global North as we continue to adjust a fast-evolving aid and development ecosystem. This has never been more important as millions are impacted by conflict, climate change and deep inequality. The global majority’s voices must be at the heart of decision-making – this is the main aim of this Pledge.

Sofia Sprechmann Sineiro

CARE International

During my career, spanning over three decades, I have seen several processes aiming at reforming the humanitarian architecture but not changing much in favour of local actors and the affected population. The Pledge for Change gives high hope to the community of local actors as this framework is based on clear and measurable indicators. The pledge holds the senior leadership to account for disseminating the commitments and track the delivery on the commitments. I particularly appreciate the decolonial approach and bringing back ethics in communication, which is not racist and respectful to the people we serve.

Sudhanshu Shekhar Singh

Humanitarian Aid International

The Pledge for Change commitments are not only the right thing to do morally, they are also essential if we are serious about addressing many of the unprecedented challenges the world is facing. International aid needs this long, overdue rethink. It’s time to move beyond the rhetoric into genuine behavioural and systemic change.

Peter Walton

CARE Australia

The humanitarian and development sector is being increasingly challenged for how it exercises its power, practices partnership, and portrays people living in poverty. I welcome that challenge. There is a huge unfinished agenda in International NGOs becoming accountable, localised, and responsive to what affected communities actually want and need. The Pledge for Change is an important step on that journey from rhetoric to action.

Patrick Watt

Christian Aid

“If organisations like ours are to have the radical impact we seek, then it is clear that we must transform the way we work. It is vital that our sector leads by example in making sure that the way we work embodies the values we stand for. That means doing all that we can to nurture a vibrant and resilient civil society in the countries we operate and engaging our supporters in new ways that are based on solidarity across borders.”

Danny Sriskandarajah

Oxfam