Covid, conflict and climate change have focused attention on the inequities of the world as never before. As leaders of international non-governmental organisations (INGOs), we’re working with national and local organizations 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.
To achieve this, we need to build a stronger aid ecosystem based on the principles of solidarity, humility, self-determination, and equality.
Aid must work more effectively for those it is intended to help and reflect the challenges the world will face in the future. This means creating genuine partnerships with local and national organisations and governments, and shifting more power, decision-making and money to those in places affected by crisis and poverty. Only through such partnerships will we remove any dependency on aid and continue to build the strength of the communities we strive to support.
Being locally led and globally connected will mean we can have bigger, longer-lasting impacts on people’s lives. There are times when INGOs should complement local knowledge, expertise and relationships with our resources and skills, but we need to know when to step away as well.
We also need to change the way we present our work to the public. We sometimes portray people living in poverty in the Global South as “different” to ourselves – as helpless victims in need of saviours. This ‘white saviourism’ reinforces stereotypes whereby we give, and they passively receive. The reality is quite different. The best results are achieved when people in their communities lead the decision-making. That is why we’re pledging here not only to work more closely with communities, but also to tell their stories more respectfully.