9:30—11:00 AM Washington DC Time

Rethinking Humanitarian Reform: What Will it Take to Deliver a People-Driven System?


  • Alix Masson, Advocacy Lead, NEAR Network

  • Patrick Saez, Senior Policy Fellow, CGD

  • Annika Sandlund, Head, Partnerships and Coordination, UNHCR

  • Danny Sriskandarajah, Chief Executive, Oxfam GB


  • Heba Aly, CEO, The New Humanitarian​​​​​​


Global need for humanitarian aid is at an all-time high, driven by protracted conflicts, climate change, pandemics and increasing inequalities. But the humanitarian system is under pressure politically and financially. The legitimacy of the supply-driven system is increasingly questioned by many including aid recipients themselves. Agencies and donors have strived to constantly improve the collective response to crises. The most recent agenda for change agreed at the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit led to individual commitments to improve efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability.

However, reform efforts have fallen short of transforming a business model that is based on discretionary donations to a narrow set of international actors. The system needs to adapt to the challenges and capacities of the 21st century. Covid-19 should have been a watershed moment for putting locally-led efforts at the center of humanitarian response. But instead, agencies and donors retrenched to familiar practices that put frontline actors last.

Over the past three years, the Center for Global Developed has sought to understand how operational practice, financial incentives and governance structures have entrenched power imbalances, and proposed a series of actionable steps. Join us for a discussion on what’s needed to deliver our vision of a people-driven system. We will bring together high-profile representatives from donors and humanitarian NGOs to identify signs of progress and how to drive change further.

If you have questions for our panelists, please submit them to [email protected], tweet @CGDev #CGDTalks, or submit your comments via YouTube.

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