Policy Specialist (Climate and Security Risk)

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
New York, NY, United States
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
International Organization
Experience Level: 
Mid-Level (5-7 Years)
Degree Required: 
Advanced Degree (Master's or JD)
Languages Required: 


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Recognizing climate change as a “threat multiplier”, addressing and coordinating UN efforts on climate related security risks is becoming increasingly important. UN Member States have progressively called for dedicated focus on these issues, including through the passing of UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions on Lake Chad and Somalia, as well as a UNSC presidential statement on West Africa and the Sahel. These resolutions and statements emphasize the need for adequate risk assessments and risk management strategies by governments and the United Nations relating to climate change and security.


The Coordination Specialist for strengthening the UN’s capacity to address climate related security risks (hereinafter Coordination Specialist) will focus on supporting the joint UN initiative/mechanism to strengthen the UN’s capacity to address climate related security risks.


On United Nations development Programme (UNDP):


The Bureau for Policy and Programme Support (BPPS) has the responsibility for developing relevant policies and guidance to support the results of UNDP’s Strategic Plan 2018-2021. BPPS’s technical teams provide advice and assistance to UNDP Country Offices on policy and programme issues, represent UNDP at multi-stakeholder forums and advocate UNDP’s corporate strategies. BPPS ensures that issues of disaster and climate risk are fully integrated into UNDP’s development programmes. BPPS supports UNDP and partners to be more innovative, knowledge- and data-driven including in its programme support efforts. BPPS also works closely with UNDP’s Crisis Response Unit (CRU) to support emergency and crisis response.


The Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction Team (CDT) leads the development and coordination of policies and programmes in climate change adaptation and mitigation, energy, disaster risk reduction, disaster/climate risk management and post-disaster recovery. The CDT specifically aims to incorporate disaster/climate risk reduction and management concerns into the sustainable development and resilience building interventions. On one hand, CDT’s Risk Assessment thematic area seeks to risk-inform UNDP’s developmental policies and programmes. On the other, it seeks to assess the existing and emerging disaster and climate risk context to develop actionable risk information to provide the requisite evidence-base to risk-inform the national, sub-national and sectoral development processes and financial allocations.


Under the direct supervision of the Director of the Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction Team and close collaboration with the Team Leader on conflict prevention.,s/he will be located at UNDP HQ in New York. 


The CDT teams/cluster at HQ are organized into a number of substantive technical teams corresponding to UNDPs areas of work on climate change, disaster and climate risk management, energy, disaster recovery.

  • Climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction: climate change and drought are acting as a risk multiplier to social instability and conflict in the region, threatening to roll back development gains and entrench poverty. UNDP supports capacities to implement national NDC climate plans, the Paris Climate Agreement and Sendai DRR Framework, in ways that bring dividends to all SDGs. 
  • Climate change mitigation and sustainable energy: support is aimed at helping countries scale-up renewable energy solutions and expand energy access for the poor; designing new low-carbon development strategies; and reducing the energy intensity of urbanization and growth in key sectors of industry, buildings and transport.
  • Resilient recovery and building back better: UNDP places top priority on responding to climatic disasters like drought and flood events, and supporting resilient forms of recovery so partners can build back better from conflicts and disasters in a way that integrates future risks from climate change and engages sustainable energy solutions.

On conflict prevention, UNDP is organized in a substantive technical team under the larger governance and peacebuilding team/cluster and focused on promoting social cohesion by empowering nations and communities to become inclusive and resilient to external and internal shocks. This is mainly done by supporting and strengthening key relevant governance institutions by focusing on:

  • Capacities for conflict prevention and management: UNDP supports setting up of regulatory frameworks and institutional mechanisms that help actors pre-empt future conflict, manage ongoing tensions, and reach political agreements. Building leadership capacities that engage civil society and marginalized communities, including women, to mitigate violence and reach shared agendas through participatory approaches forms the core of UNDP's conflict prevention approach.
  • Facilitation, dialogue and consensus building: UNDP supports government and key actors in setting up inclusive and participatory mechanisms and structures for shared agenda setting, dialogue and consensus building.

Conflict analysis and assessment: UNDP supports the mainstreaming of conflict prevention in development within the UN system through conflict analysis and assessments.


The successful applicant will serve as lead representative of UNDP in the joint UNDP-UNDPA-UNEP project “Strengthening the UN’s capacity to address climate related security risks”, and focal point for UNDP in New York on the climate change and security nexus. 

The project “Strengthening the UN’s capacity to address climate related security risks” serves to establish an interagency coordination mechanism, consisting of 3 P4 positions within United Nations Environment Programme, UN Department of Political Affairs and the UN Development Programme. The focal points will serve to promote inter-agency coordination and support the development and awareness-raising of research reports and risk assessments on climate change and security, as well as support the incorporation of climate-security references in UN reports and UN political analysis for early warning and prevention, where appropriate.


This coordination mechanism will be supported by an external expert working group, hosted and coordinated by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).


It is expected that the project will contribute to the following activities and outputs:

  • Development of risk assessment reports for a select number of countries and regions.
  • Development of an overarching compilation report on climate related security risks, tentatively to inform the 2019 UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit in New York.
  • On-going coordination and information sharing on climate security related risks within the UN system.
  • On-going awareness raising, including at the COP24/COP 25, the 2019 UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit, the 2019 planetary security conference and other relevant events.
  • Support relevant entities/team within UNDP in developing tailored climate sensitive approaches and mainstream climate change in overall prevention work.

Under the direct supervision of the UNDP Director of the Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction team, the incumbent will perform the following duties:

  • Inter-agency coordination support;
  • Support development and coordination of advocacy, research and reports associated to the project, including for the 2019 UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit;
  • Policy and programme support for assessments and research at the country level;
  • Awareness raising and knowledge management.


Duties and Responsibilities


The Coordination Specialist is primarily responsible for UN inter-agency coordination on climate related security risks, support to the coordination of research inputs and compilation of climate-security risk assessments.  


The Coordination Specialist will work closely with UNDPA and UNEP Coordination Specialists in the interagency coordination mechanism.


1. Inter-agency coordination support (30%)

  • Assist in setting up an inter-agency coordination mechanism that promotes UN policy and programme coherence on climate-security, comprising UNEP, UNDP and DPA. 
  • Serve as lead representative of UNDP in the joint UNDP-UNDPA-UNEP project “Strengthening the UN’s capacity to address climate related security risks”, and focal point for UNDP in New York on the climate change and security nexus.
  • Provide inter-agency coordination for the compilation of inputs for specific research, regular UN reports (e.g. reports of the Secretary-General), General Assembly and UN Security Council resolutions and reporting, as well as specific risk assessment reports commissioned under the coordination mechanism. The candidate will also provide inputs to the work of relevant UN working groups, such as the Working Group on “Climate Change, Sustainable Development, Peace/Security, Human Rights and Humanitarian Nexus” under the UN System Strategic Approach on Climate Change Action.      
  • Develop or foster partnerships with relevant UN agencies, development partners, government institutions, bi-lateral and multi-lateral donors, private sector, civil society, and academia pertaining to the climate change and security nexus.
  • Ensure coordination and synergy between the different offices within UNDP working on issues related to climate change, conflict prevention and security, and provide analysis, monitor and evaluate the integration of climate security risk considerations within UNDP’s policies and programmes.

2. Support development and coordination of advocacy, research and reports associated to the project, including for the 2019 UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit (30%)

  • Coordinate the inputs for the preparation of a comprehensive structural risk report that will be launched during the summit and guide the Climate Summit agenda on climate related security risks. 
  • Provide substantive guidance to the formulation and development of advocacy and research elements of the project “Strengthening the UN’s capacity to address climate related security risks”.
  • Coordinate launch and communication processes for upcoming research and risk assessment reports on climate-security. 

3. Policy and programme support for assessments and research at the country level (10%)

  • Assisting in design of new initiatives where requested to address/manage climate related security risks in fragile contexts, whether globally, regionally or at the country-level, including discussions underway for new initiatives in e.g. South Sudan, Lac Tchad…
  • Provide policy guidance and support globally and at the national level where requested on issues of climate related security risks, including as related to support to or participate in UN envets and policy dialogues. 
  • Guide the quality assurance of the country offices level work and regional programme portfolio on resilience building and climate-security and seek complementarities and integration with ongoing projects and across the office portfolios.
  • Promote and support the tackling of complex prevention and development issues as relevant to the climate-security nexus, in drought and other disaster-affected countries/regions, by complementing efforts to integrate peacebuilding and conflict prevention efforts with resilience building, recovery, long-term development, risk reduction and climate adaptation measures.

4. Awareness raising and knowledge management (30%)

  • Support to preparations for and participation in regional/global UN events and community of practice events/meetings relating to climate related security risks. 
  • Coordinate launch and communication processes for reports and events on climate change and security as relevant.  
  • Support UNDP and UN senior management in leading advocacy efforts on climate related security risk management in various fora and events. 
  • Ensure the timely production of quality briefing notes, speeches and other documents on climate related security risks required by UNDP and UN senior management, tapping into good practices from the UNDP global portfolio.
  • Coordinates and oversees the preparation of reports on project status, budget, presentation to partners and donors, intergovernmental bodies, etc. 
  • Participates in technical level coordination meetings as well and coordinates inputs for the project Partnership Committee.   




Corporate Competencies:



  • Ability to make new and useful ideas work.


  • Ability to persuade others to follow.

People Management:

  • Ability to improve performance and satisfaction.


  • Ability to listen, adapt, persuade and transform.


  • Ability to get things done.




Climate Change and Disaster Rixsk Reduction (General):

  • Knowledge of climate change and disaster risk reduction and ability to apply to strategic and/or practical situations.

Climate Change/Disaster Risk Reduction & Security:

  • Knowledge of climate change & disaster risk reduction concepts and the relationship with peacebuilding and conflict prevention and the ability to apply to strategic and/or practical situations.

Project and Programme Management:

  • Ability to plan, organize, and control resources, procedures and protocols to achieve specific goals.


  • Ability to engage with other agencies, donors, and other development stakeholders and forge productive working relationships.

Knowledge Management:

  • Ability to capture, develop, share and effectively use information and knowledge.

Climate Change Adaptation and Conflict Prevention:

  • Knowledge of climate change adaptation concepts and the application in fragile and conflict affected countries, in relation to conflict prevention, and the ability to apply to strategic and/or practical situations.



Resource Mobilization:

  • Ability to identify and organize programmes  and projects to implement solutions and generate resources.


  • Ability to manage complex relationships through pathways of knowledge exchange, capacity development, funding relationships and strategic engagement.

Trends and emerging areas analytics:

  • Ability to scan the horizon and identify approaches and initiatives to bring into policy and programme design.


Required Skills and Experience



  • Advanced university degree (Master’s or equivalent) in natural sciences, engineering or environmental and/or development, political science, disaster and/or conflict prevention-related fields, with some qualification in a discipline relevant to risk management.


  • 7 years of professional work experience providing policy advice and programme support in the general area of disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation and/or sustainable development is required.
  • Experience in providing policy, programmatic and advisory support and services to developing countries in disaster risk management and/or conflict risk management and experience working in developing country settings is required.
  • Experience in disaster and climate risk management in fragile situation and/or on post-conflict/post-disaster needs assessments is an asset.
  • Familiarity with global policy discussion on disaster risk reduction and/or conflict prevention is an asset.
  • Excellent computer/information systems knowledge is an asset.
  • Familiarity with the United Nations work and role in disaster risk reduction and recovery and conflict prevention, including leading initiatives, resources and tools available for this purpose is an asset. 
  • Understanding of UN/UNDP programming modalities especially UNDP’s work on conflict prevention, disaster risk reduction or climate change adaptation, is an asset.

Language Requirements:

  • Fluency in English and French, both written and oral. 
  • Working knowledge of another UN language is an asset.




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UNDP is not in a position to provide advice or assistance on applying for US citizenship and therefore applicants are advised to seek the advice of competent immigration lawyers regarding any applications.

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