Former work stream 7 and 8 have merged in 2018 into the work stream 7+8 ‘enhanced quality funding through reduced earmarking and multi-year planning and funding’. This was intended to consolidate efforts against the respective commitments in the two original work streams, to leverage synergies and to facilitate a more integrated approach to flexible and predictable funding. A work plan was developed by the four original co-conveners, two core commitments were identified and agreement was reached for an annual rotation of co-conveners. The merged work stream has now six co-conveners: Canada, Sweden, UN OCHA, UNICEF, ICRC, and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).
According to the annual independent report (2019), substantial progress was reported by signatories in key areas under this newly merged work stream, particularly in relation to multi-year funding and planning, and there was evidence of a normative shift on both. However, progress in other areas remains uneven and activity or engagement beyond co-convening signatories was limited. Furthermore, most aid organizations stated that they had not received increased multi-year funding in 2018, and several reported a decrease in either the volume they received, or as a percentage of overall funding.
Building on the recommendations made at the Grand Bargain Annual Meeting in June 2019, the co-conveners of the Enhanced Quality Funding work stream, Canada, UNICEF, Sweden, ICRC, NRC and UN OCHA, organised a one-day workshop in September 2019. The purpose of this workshop was to agree on practical strategies and solutions in order to accelerate progress against the Grand Bargain multi-year and flexible funding commitments. The outcome document can be seen here.
The updated Priority Action Plan shows all the objectives and priority actions that will be taken by the co-conveners. To implement the priority actions, NRC is leading the initiative to identify and compile best practices on quality funding from donors, aid agencies and partners. The picnic basket on quality funding will be finalised and shared with the Signatories by June 2020.
Looking ahead, particular efforts are required to ensure appropriate coordination of multi-year funding with multi-year plans at country level. With regard to the commitment to jointly determine the most effective and efficient way of reporting on unearmarked and softly earmarked funding, it will be important to develop a collective agreement on this in a way that increases confidence among donor governments that they can reduce earmarking. Moreover, more collective clarity should arise by defining ‘multi-year’, and how donors are allocating multi-year funding (e.g. to the UN, CERF, NGOs,.). A strategic dialogue is also urgently required between donors and aid organisations to understand the disconnect between donor reporting on multi-year and flexible funds which is increasing and aid organisations’ experience who do not receive increased multi-year funding, including how this relates to passing funds down the chain.
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