Programme Specialist

United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

Paris, France 🇫🇷

Post Number : SC 474

Grade : P-4

Parent Sector : Natural Sciences Sector (SC)

Duty Station: Paris

Job Family: Natural Sciences

Type of contract : Fixed Term

Duration of contract : 2 years

Recruitment open to : Internal and external candidates

Application Deadline (Midnight Paris Time) : 27-SEP-2021

UNESCO Core Values: Commitment to the Organization, Integrity, Respect for Diversity, Professionalism

Under the overall authority of the Assistant Director-General, Natural Sciences (ADG/SC), guidance from the Director of the Division and Secretary of the Man and Biosphere (MAB) programme, and direct supervision from the Chief of Biosphere Network and Capacity Building section, the incumbent will be responsible for the development, coordination, implementation and management of thematic and regional programme and activities related to MAB strategic priorities and programmatic priorities along the line of the MAB strategy and World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) action plan and Lima Action Plan.

The incumbent will deliver visible and high-quality expected results on assigned thematic areas to Member States. S/he will design the relevant strategies, policies, objectives, and deliverables and define priorities and manage extrabudgetary resources and related project. S/he will advocate organizational involvement and advise Member States on assigned thematic and regional responsibilities and provide technical backstopping to Field Offices.

The incumbent will ensure the implementation of work plans and the achievement of related outcomes described in UNESCO’s medium-term strategy and in the MAB implementation strategy. More specifically, the incumbent will:

  • Design, develop, coordinate, implement and monitor programmes and project activities along the line of MAB strategic action plan and related operational plan of the WNBR, focusing on priority areas related to biodiversity issues and sustainable management of socio-ecological systems as outlined in the UNESCO Programme and Budget.
  • Oversee organisation and production of documentation for statutory meetings; support the process of new biosphere reserve nominations and assure their monitoring with respect to the periodic review process.
  • Coordinate and implement activities within the framework of MAB initatives related to networking and capacity building in close partnership with UNESCO Field Offices.
  • Assist Member States, MAB national committees and stakeholders  in the implementation of the MAB programme priorities outlined in the MAB strategy and action plan. Maintain relevant MAB data base by ensuring regular gathering of updated information of the thematic and regional network.
  • Support inter-regional and international activities and exchange of best practices within the MAB programme and its WNBR to build capacity of Member States especially in the region and thematic areas under her/his responsibilities.
  • Coordinate production of high-quality scientific knowledge base, data, tools and methodologies to support the implementation of the MAB programme and sustainable management of biosphere reserves.  
  • Coordinate publication and dissemination of guidelines and other policy and capacity development materials, documents, and technical products to enhance knowledge sharing within the MAB networks.

COMPETENCIES (Core / Managerial)

Accountability (C)Innovation (C)Knowledge sharing and continuous improvement (C)Results focus (C)Teamwork (C)Building partnerships (M)Planning and organizing (C)Making quality decisions (M)Leading and empowering others (M)

For detailed information, please consult the UNESCO Competency Framework.



  • Advanced university degree (Master’s or equivalent) in ecological and/or environmental sciences or a related field within the natural sciences.

Work Experience

  • ​​​​​​A minimum of 7 years of relevant professional experience in the areas of Environmental Sciences research and education, of which preferably 3 years acquired at the international level.
  • Proven capacity to organize and conduct research and training at international level and in project formulation, implementation and evaluation.
  • Track record of relevant scientific publications related to ecological sciences.
  • Demonstrated professional experience in proposal writing, resource mobilization and partnership building.

Skills and competencies

  • Good conceptual, analytical, research and organizational skills.
  • Strong analytical, negotiating, communication and advocacy skills.
  • Ability to carry out quality research and produce papers related to ecological related issues such as climate change.
  • Excellent drafting skills with ability to produce high quality reports and papers on scientific, technical, and strategic issues.
  • High level of autonomy.
  • Proven ability to plan and organize training courses, projects and workshops on sustainability science and related technologies relevant to ecological issues.
  • Demonstrated capacity to provide guidance and to motivate a multicultural team with sensitivity and respect for diversity.
  • Ability to communicate (written and oral) and negotiate effectively and persuasively with various stakeholders, within and outside the organization and through various channels including the web and social media.


  • Excellent knowledge (written and spoken) of English.



  • Advanced university degree (Ph.D or equivalent) in the field of environmental sciences with a major in ecology.

Work experience

  • Experience within a United Nations agency or programme or within an international organization.
  • Experience in the planning and organization of training sessions and international scientific and technical workshops and seminars focusing on ecological processes and envirnomental sciences.

Skills and competencies

  • Ability to work effectively in a complex and changing environment.
  • Ability to work in close partnership with a wide range of national, regional and international scientific organizations, professional organization especially related to hydrological processes, climate change and adaptation.
  • Familiarity with the UNESCO – MAB Programme, World Network of biosphere reserves (WNBR) and knowledge of UNESCO’s work and programmes in the area of Natural Sciences.


  • Good knowledge (written and spoken) of French.
  • Knowledge of another official UNESCO language (Arabic, Chinese, Russian or Spanish) is an asset.


UNESCO’s salaries consist of a basic salary and other benefits which may include if applicable: 30 days annual leave, family allowance, medical insurance, pension plan etc.

For full information on benefits and entitlements, please consult our Guide to Staff Benefits.


Please note that all candidates must complete an on-line application and provide complete and accurate information. To apply, please visit the UNESCO careers website. No modifications can be made to the application submitted.

The evaluation of candidates is based on the criteria in the vacancy notice, and may include tests and/or assessments, as well as a competency-based interview. 

UNESCO uses communication technologies such as video or teleconference, e-mail correspondence, etc. for the assessment and evaluation of candidates.

Please note that only selected candidates will be further contacted and candidates in the final selection step will be subject to reference checks based on the information provided.

UNESCO applies a zero tolerance policy against all forms of harassment.

UNESCO is committed to achieve and sustain gender parity among its staff members in all categories and at all grades. Furthermore, UNESCO is committed to achieving workforce diversity in terms of gender, nationality and culture. Individuals from minority groups, indigenous groups and persons with disabilities, as well as nationals from non-and under-represented Member States (last update here) are equally encouraged to apply. All applications will be treated with the highest level of confidentiality. Worldwide mobility is required for staff members appointed to international posts.

UNESCO does not charge a fee at any stage of the recruitment process.