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.


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.