WHS, the Grand Bargain, Aleppo and Ukraine: what should the EU’s humanitarian priorities be in 2017?

On 7 March, 50 humanitarian actors from European and Nordic countries met in Stockholm to exchange on key priorities in follow-up to the World Humanitarian Summit, the Grand Bargain on Humanitarian financing and how those are reflected in and impact on operations.

Stockholm roundtble pictures
© Håkan Björk/IAS


Taking advantage of the VOICE Board meeting in Stockholm, VOICE together with its three Swedish members invited VOICE members from the region to participate in an exchange on European and Swedish humanitarian priorities. Key note speakers included Mr Wiberg (Deputy Director of the Department for Conflict and Humanitarian Affairs and Head of Section for Humanitarian Affairs at the Swedish Foreign Ministry), Ms Gariazzo (Director of General Affairs at DG ECHO) as well as VOICE Board members (Nicolas Borsinger, Marek Stys, and Ester Asin Martinez) and our Swedish members IAS, PMU and Church of Sweden. Active participation from a further five Danish, Norwegian and Finnish VOICE members in the day’s discussions helped highlight the continued commitment of participants to effectiveness and efficiency in humanitarian assistance in order to ensure quality, needs-based and principled support to crisis-affected people, and the need for dialogue across sectors on addressing the concrete challenges of linking relief rehabilitation and development.

Amongst the priorities discussed were the upcoming new EU resilience policy, the EU’s financial regulation revision and its importance for implementing the Grand Bargain at EU level, maintaining a principled and needs-based approach, working on forgotten crises like Yemen, recognition of the importance of the EU Consensus on humanitarian aid, and the challenges faced in the field in Ukraine, Sudan, Uganda, Lebanon and Syria when truly wanting to bridge humanitarian and development aid.

The afternoon saw DG ECHO and the Swedish Foreign ministry, present their perspectives and responding to questions on policy priorities and challenges in relation to implementing the Grand Bargain. Participants also provided recommendations on localisation and multi-year planning for the ongoing work of the VOICE Grand Bargain task force on these themes.

Among the messages speakers identified from the day’s discussions:

  • the importance of ensuring national level engagement, from NGOs and MS alike, with their member states and MEPs involved in European policy making.
  • the continued relevance of multi-stakeholder dialogue at national and European level in follow-up to the WHS process
  • in order to ‘leave no one behind’, ensuring that funding instruments can follow and respond to the operational needs in bridging humanitarian and development
  • reducing the gap between resilience rhetoric and resilience practice – particularly as regards risk inclusive development programming
  • highlighting good practice and participants’ awareness of the challenges in terms of localisation and simplification of humanitarian assistance
  • a call for a wider approach to multi-year funding, to cover recurrent/seasonal crises and complex as well as protracted crises.
  • a desire for inclusive multi-year planning, while being aware that the level, type and context of planning will determine NGOs ability to participate.


Click here for the programme

A report of the event will follow shortly.