Programme Specialist

Harare, Zimbabwe 🇿🇼


Under the overall authority of the Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences (ADG/SC) and the Director of the UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa in Harare, and the direct supervision of the Senior Science Programme Specialist, the incumbent will be responsible for the identification, planning, organization, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and support for UNESCO activities and projects related to the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, the International Hydrological Programme (IHP) and, in particular, the implementation of the action plans and strategies approved by the MAB International Coordination Council (ICC) for biosphere reserves in the sub-region and the implementation of the IHP Strategic Action Plan (IHP-VIII) (Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe). The incumbent will be expected to perform the following essential tasks:

  • Coordinate and monitor the development and implementation of activities and projects related to the sustainable management of natural resources within the MAB thematic and ecosystem networks, in addition to those related to water security within the Southern Africa Region.
  • Identify ecological and water sciences needs, while ensuring their alignment with Regional and National priorities, in order to assist with and contribute to the preparation of inputs for inclusion to work plans, the science activities report for the Southern African Development Community, and official UNESCO documents such as the Medium-Term Strategy (C/4), the Programme and Budget (C/5), and in the case of water sciences, the preparation of International Hydrological Program (IHP) council and bureau related reports. 
  • Provide technical guidance and expert advice to the MAB National Committee in support of periodic reviews and in order to promote the nomination of new Biosphere Reserves, through strenghtened collaboration with the African MAB network (AfriMAB), and proactive involvement with the implementation of the MAB Bureau of the International Coordinating Council (ICC) action plan.
  • Maintain strategic partnerships with other UN Agencies, particularly the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and Multilateral and Bilateral Development partners such as the World Bank Group, the African Development Bank and the European Commission, in order to foster opportunities for joint programming activities related to Natural Sciences, within the context of UN Reform, Common Country Assessments (CCAs), and UN development models, such as  Delivering As One and the UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF).
  • Contribute to the design of resource mobilization and alternative funding mechanisms for the Southern Africa Region by developing concepts and project proposals, and spearheading the implementation of projects which give particular focus to issues such as sustainable water resources management, water security biodiversity conservation, as well as ecosystem and protected area management using the biosphere reserves in the region as experimental sites for research and learning sites for sustainable development.
  • Advanced university degree (Master’s or equivalent) in the field of environmental sciences, earth systems, water science or in another related field of natural sciences. A first-level university degree in combination with two additional years of qualifying experience may be accepted in lieu of the advanced university degree.
Work Experience
  • Minimum 4 years of relevant professional experience in the areas of earth systems, water science, environmental sciences, and/or engineering at the national, regional and/or international level.
  • Proven experience in the field of sciences coordination, programme management and in designing and implementing programmes/projects related to natural sciences.
  • Demonstrated expertise in hydrology or engineering.
  • Good analytical, organizational and project management skills.
  • Excellent coordination and interpersonal skills.
  • Capacity to build and maintain effective working relations with national/local authorities, relevant institutions, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations.
  • Proven ability to communicate and negotiate effectively and persuasively (orally and in writing) with various stakeholders at all levels, within and outside of the Organization.
  • Knowledge of resource mobilization mechanisms.
  • Ability to work effectively in a team and to maintain effective working relations within a multi-cultural environment.
  • Solid IT skills, including knowledge of office software.
  • Excellent knowledge (written and spoken) of English.
  • Advanced university degree (Ph.D. or equivalent) in the field of environmental sciences, hydrology, ecological sciences, and/or civil engineering.
Work Experience
  • Experience working within the UN System and/or an international development/cooperation organization.
  • Demonstrated experience in establishing and maintaining professional networks.
  • Experience in promoting South-South Cooperation in science policy and capacity building at the national and regional level.
  • Relevant experience or training in sustainable development linked with the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  • Good knowledge of UNESCO’s work at the country-level and familiarity with activities of the Natural Sciences Sector.
  • Familiarity with the work and general functioning of international organizations and/or the United Nations System.
  • Knowledge of the geopolitical context of the Region.


  • Good knowledge of other official UN languages (French, Arabic, Chinese, Russian, Spanish).