Oxfam, alongside several other aid and development organisations, is signed up to a far-reaching set of commitments to create closer partnerships with local and national organisations in a drive to shift more power, decision-making and money to the places worst affected by crisis and poverty. This is our Pledge For Change.
The Pledge For Change was launched on Oct 27 2022, and next to Oxfam, counts with the commitment of CARE International, Christian Aid, Plan International and Save the Children International. At the basis is a strong belief that being ‘locally led and globally connected’ will mean bigger, longer-lasting impacts on people’s lives.
The Pledge for Change follows a two year-long process convened by Adeso, a humanitarian and development organisation in Somalia. INGO leaders in the Global North have heeded challenges from their counterparts based in the Global South as part of the process. The Pledge For Change builds on, but at the same time goes beyond existing commitments such as the Charter for Change and the Grand Bargain.
The Pledge for Change focuses on three key areas: equitable partnerships, authentic storytelling, and influencing wider change.
- Equitable partnerships will be our default approach by 2030. National and local organisations will lead humanitarian and development efforts wherever possible. We will help them take control, and we’ll engage directly only when there isn’t enough national or local capacity to meet people’s needs.
- Where there is no partnership, or we’re responding to an emergency, we’ll find ways of working with national and local organisations at the first opportunity. We’ll then support them as they take over the decision-making. Wherever we work, our broad aim is to encourage a more resilient, independent, and diverse civil society that works in real solidarity with international organizations.
- INGOs competing for funds, facilities, and talent can unintentionally weaken civil society in the countries where we operate. In the years ahead, we’ll allocate more resources to help national and local organizations take the lead. We’ll work in partnership with them to make sure they benefit from our presence.
- There will be more collaboration between INGOs to reduce duplication of effort when local organisations are dealing with two or more of us. This should mean a common approach to compliance and due diligence. It could also mean pooling funds and taking other steps to achieve economies of scale.
- We’ll take a more collaborative approach to risk management. We’ll avoid applying stricter risk requirements to our partners than ourselves and look for ways of minimizing the compliance burden on partners.
- We will share the burden of costs in ways that will make our partners stronger and more sustainable.
- Our fundraising and communications will reflect our commitments to anti-racism, locally led initiatives, gender equality and equitable partnerships. We will use our platforms to show the actions led by local communities both during a crisis and as they recover, and the impact made by local organisations.
- We will continue to show the harsh realities of poverty, conflict, hunger, and natural disasters because humanitarian crises should not be sanitised. But we’ll avoid exploitative imagery that portrays people as helpless victims. We will give credit to partners where it’s due.
- We will strengthen efforts to make all our storytelling ethical and safe, based on informed consent and accurate representation. We’ll amplify the stories people want to tell rather than merely speaking on their behalf. We’ll preserve the authenticity of a story all the way through our editorial process, from the gathering of words and pictures to editing, production and publication.
- We will stop using jargon that confuses our audiences, our colleagues, and the communities where we work. We’ll use plain words that can be easily translated from English or French into different languages and readily understood by all.
- We will regularly review our words and pictures, creating a culture of anti-racism, reflection and learning. As language evolves, we’ll invite views from colleagues and local organisations, and remove words that have become outdated or offensive.
- We will use language and imagery to inspire wider cultural change. We’ll co-produce stories, photographs and video with local organisations and talent. Wherever possible, we’ll put local people at the centre of the story.
- Oxfam is dedicated to press for implementation across the sector, track progress and report publicly to show how we are ‘walking the talk’ over the next eight years.
- Our leaders will publicly announce the pledge, spelling out to peers, donors, philanthropists and the private sector why we’ve decided to change the way we work and how we’re going to do it.
- We will argue for these changes to be made across the aid and development sector and we’ll create opportunities for Global South leaders to lead conversations and advocate for change in public platforms.
- We will speak out against any government policies or international action that perpetuate a colonial approach to aid and development.
- We will track our progress in implementing the Pledge for Change 2030 and report it publicly to show staff, supporters, partners, and the global aid system that we’re ‘walking the talk.
- We will share what we learn and demonstrate how we’re shifting power and resources to the Global South with the aim of encouraging other INGOs to follow suit.
“As an organization fighting for a more equal future, we must do all that we can to nurture a vibrant and resilient civil society in the countries where we operate, and engage our supporters in new ways that are based on solidarity across borders. In doing so, it’s only right for us to lead by example."