Director (Division of Water Sciences & Secretary of International Hydrological Programme (IHP))

United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
Paris, France
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
International Organization
Experience Level: 
Senior (10+ Years)
Degree Required: 
Advanced Degree (Master's or JD)


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The Division of Water Sciences comprises three Sections covering:

– Hydrological Systems and Water Scarcity,
– Groundwater Systems and Settlements,

– Eco-hydrology, Water Quality and Water Education.


The Division is responsible for the International Hydrological Programme (IHP) of UNESCO, an intergovernmental Programme for freshwater science and education and its secretariat, and for the UNESCO World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP). The Division aims to support Member States at national, regional and global levels in advancing science and capacity for sustainable management of fresh water. The Division coordinates programs in freshwater sciences for the implementation of the IHP strategic plan, in line with water relevant international commitments such as the Agenda 2030, in particular SDG 6, the Paris Agreement, the Sendai Framework, and the New Urban Agenda with special emphasis on UNESCO’s two global priorities, Africa and Gender.


Under the overall guidance and supervision of the Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences and based on the principle of delegation of authority, the Director will lead the Division of Water Sciences to ensure the efficient planning, management and implementation of the freshwater programmes of UNESCO. He/she will supervise the 3 Section Chiefs and coordinate with the UNESCO Field Units. He/she will serve as Secretary of the International Hydrological Programme. As a key member of the Senior Management Team of the Sector, he/she will advise ADG/SC on strategic, technical, operational, human resource and budgetary issues, and provide strategic guidance and direction to all UNESCO Freshwater programmes ensuring effective mechanisms and procedures for cooperation within UNESCO and within the UN system.  In addition, the Director is responsible for coordination with the UNESCO water family and freshwater activities (category 2 centres, Chairs, IHP committees, etc.).


In particular the incumbent shall: 

  • Act as Director of the Division of Water Sciences and the Secretary of the International Hydrological Programme, provide intellectual, strategic and operational leadership in the freshwater related programme delivery; Ensure that all UNESCO freshwater activities including those performed by the UNESCO water family are in coherence with the programme on freshwater set by UNESCO Member States through the IHP strategic action plans; support and facilitate IHP Phase IX (2022 -2029) and the following IHP phases; 
  • Develop collaborative action within the network of water-related centres and chairs as well as with partners/members of the different IHP initiatives and networks; Identify and develop new activities of strategic importance; Design and implement comprehensive plans for strengthening coordination of all freshwater activities in accordance with the instructions given by the General Conference, by the Executive Board and by the Director-General of UNESCO; 
  • Ensure coordination and cooperation with other United Nations agencies, in particular within the United Nations frameworks such as UN Water and ensure contributions to all UNESCO and UN-wide reporting requests; 
  • Provide strategic input for the preparation of the eight-yearly medium-term strategy and the biennial programme and budgets of UNESCO, in line with international commitments such as the Agenda 2030, the Sendai Framework, the Paris Agreement and the New Urban Agenda and the recommendations by the IHP governing bodies;  
  • Act as Secretary of the International Hydrological Programme (IHP): Oversee the preparation of the meetings of the Intergovernmental Council of the IHP, of its committees and its Bureau, providing the Secretariat for these meetings and, if required, represent the Director-General at them;   
  • Establish and maintain good relations with Member States for the purpose of promoting their involvement in the activities and, in particular, ensuring liaison with the National Committees for IHP and developing exchanges of information among these Committees; 
  • Identify and create opportunities for resource mobilization and actively raise extra-budgetary funds in consultation with SC Field Office colleagues; Prepare sound proposals for fund raising at the government and private sector level and ensure UNESCO’s participation in the design and implementation of projects/activities benefiting from major international, regional and national financial mechanisms; 
  • Manage the Division’s human and financial resources, including provision of leadership, on-time performance feedback, coaching and well-being support to staff. Develop and maintain effective communication channels with Division staff and establish mechanisms for building, enhancing and promoting teamwork and cohesiveness in a complex and priority-shifting environment. Promote good practices in people management.

For further information on the specific above-mentioned programmes, candidates may consult our website:, and/or the following documents: 37 C/4 (UNESCO’s Medium-Term Strategy, 2014–2021) and 39 C/5 (Approved UNESCO’s Programme and Budget for 2018–2019).





  • Advanced university degree (Master or equivalent) in one of the fields of fresh water and natural sciences.

Work Experience

  • A minimum of 15 years of progressive professional experience at the appropriate management level within the United Nations system or within other international institutions, including a wide experience in development issues related to UNESCO’s areas of competence, in association with national and international organizations. 
  • Experience in advocacy, resources and partnership mobilization.  
  • Specialization and/or substantive experience in the area of natural sciences, especially in areas directly related to the post as well as an established scientific reputation in environmental research, evidenced by scientific publications and records.  
  • Experience in the field of international relations and diplomacy, multilateral cooperation, development.  
  • Broad knowledge of water and environmental issues.


  • Knowledge of, and commitment to, the Organization’s mandate, vision, strategic direction and priorities. 
  • Good knowledge of UNESCO programmes and policies and of international development policies and institutions.  
  • Demonstrated strategic planning and management abilities, including capacity to administer extensive programmes and financial resources.  
  • Leadership capacity, high sense of objectivity and professional integrity, diplomacy, tact and political astuteness.  
  • Proven ability to work collaboratively and to build relationships with diverse groups of organizations and individuals relevant institutions, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, including through networking; ability to participate effectively in high-level negotiations with internal and external partners.  
  • Analytical and organizational skills, including in establishing plans and priorities, and in implementing them effectively, as well as in devising implementation plans.  
  • Proven skills in administration and the management of financial and human resources.  
  • Capacity to provide intellectual leadership to guide staff, as well as ability to build trust, manage, lead and motivate a large and diversified body of staff in a multicultural environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity.  
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills with strong representational abilities.  
  • Ability to communicate effectively and persuasively, both orally and in writing, in front of a broad range of constituents, as well as the news media. 
  • Sound judgment and decision-making skills. 
  • Ability to identify key strategic issues, objectives, opportunities and risks. 
  • Proven experience in raising-funds.


  • Excellent knowledge and drafting skills in one of the working languages (English or French) of the Organization. A good knowledge of the second one is strongly desirable.




  • Ph.D. in natural sciences and other degrees or short- to medium-term training in disciplines relevant to the post.

Work Experience

  • Experience in conducting policy dialogue at government and non-government levels or public and private sectors. 
  • Experience in research work and/or teaching at university or in a research institution. 
  • Experience in the field. 
  • Good knowledge of the United Nations system.


  • Knowledge of other official UNESCO languages (Arabic, Chinese, Russian and Spanish).