Senior Programme Officer (Global Drylands Initiative)

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

Nairobi, , KE

IUCN is a membership Union uniquely composed of both government and civil society organisations. It provides public, private and non-governmental organisations with the knowledge and tools that enable human progress, economic development and nature conservation to take place together.

Created in 1948, IUCN is now the world’s largest and most diverse environmental network, harnessing the knowledge, resources and reach of more than 1,300 Member organisations and some 16,000 experts. It is a leading provider of conservation data, assessments and analysis. Its broad membership enables IUCN to fill the role of incubator and trusted repository of best practices, tools and international standards.

IUCN provides a neutral space in which diverse stakeholders including governments, NGOs, scientists, businesses, local communities, indigenous peoples organisations and others can work together to forge and implement solutions to environmental challenges and achieve sustainable development.

Working with many partners and supporters, IUCN implements a large and diverse portfolio of conservation projects worldwide. Combining the latest science with the traditional knowledge of local communities, these projects work to reverse habitat loss, restore ecosystems and improve people’s well-being.

The Global Drylands Initiative (GDI) is part of IUCN’s Global Ecosystem Management Programme and is responsible for IUCN’s programme of work in Hyper Arid, Arid, Semi-Arid and Dry Sub-humid lands. The programme has a growing portfolio of projects in multiple regions that focus on sustainable drylands management, rangeland monitoring and assessment, natural resource governance, and influencing policies and policy implementation for dryland management. The GDI is IUCN’s focal point to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

The principle roles of the Senior Programme Officer (SPO) are to lead the technical implementation of project activities in the field, including rangeland assessments and policy dialogue, to refine rangeland assessment methodologies and participatory approaches, and to ensure their alignment with the GDI programme strategy and IUCN’s wider programme.

The SPO will support collaboration with regions and global thematic programmes and with IUCN Commissions in order to assist the growth of the drylands portfolio. S/he will support the development of strategic external partnerships and fund raising, will represent IUCN and the GDI in external events and policy dialogue, and will lead in selected areas of programme learning, knowledge sharing and communication.

7.1. Implement project activities in the field
a. Implement IUCN’s participatory rangeland assessment methodology in agreed countries in partnership with IUCN country offices, partner organisations and other experts;
b. Implement participatory Community Rangeland Management in agreed countries in partnership with IUCN country offices and partners;
c. Train IUCN staff and partners in participatory approaches and other IUCN tools and methodologies;
d. Lead policy dialogue and advocacy events organised through field based GDI projects, and contribute to the global policy dialogue of GDI, for example at UNCCD fora;
e. Capture and document lessons from project activities in order to refine methodologies and approaches, and to ensure their alignment with the GDI programme strategy and IUCN’s wider programme;
f. Lead the development of agreed publications and project communications.

7.2. Support project managers to effectively manage their projects
a. Assist project managers to develop strategic and operational work plans for the delivery of projects;
b. Ensure effective internal communication on all project-related activities, including project representation and field work;
c. Provide appropriate input to monitoring and evaluation of project activities, including development of monitoring plans and capturing and storage of project data and lessons;
d. Supervise project managers to prepare high quality project progress reports.

7.3. Collaborate with country and regional programmes and with IUCN Commissions in order to support growth of the drylands portfolio
a. Maintain positive working relationships with IUCN regional and country programmes and other global thematic programmes (as relevant) to ensure smooth delivery of project activities and to maintain a spirit of collaboration on drylands issues;
b. Provide technical support, as agreed with the GDI coordinator, to country and regional programmes to develop funding proposals;
c. Collaborate with IUCN Commissions, in agreement with the GDI coordinator, for delivery of project activities (e.g. rangeland assessments) and for capturing lessons and engaging in policy dialogue.

7.4. Represent IUCN and the GDI in external events and policy dialogue
a. Effectively represent IUCN’s global programme, and specifically the Global Drylands Strategy, in external events under the direction of the GDI coordinator;
b. Provide input to external events to influence dialogue, through presentations, speeches and interventions in plenary;
c. Maintain a current understanding of negotiations at the UNCCD on key issues and IUCN’s position in relation to those issues;
d. Monitor other globally important issues (e.g. climate change & biodiversity loss) to identify emerging issues, threats and opportunities for the drylands programme.

7.5. Support the development of strategic external partnerships and fund raising
a. Take advantage of external events to develop networks and to identify potential partnerships for fund raising, for collaboration, and for learning and advocacy;
b. Identify new and strategically relevant funding opportunities and agree with colleagues over prioritisation of fund raising;
c. Take the lead in developing at least 2 agreed funding proposals per year, ensuring where possible the participation of IUCN constituencies;
d. Maintain a strong understanding and ownership of the GDI strategy and provide regular input to strengthening and monitoring of the strategy.

7.6. Lead in selected areas of programme learning, knowledge sharing and communication.
a. Collaborate with the GDI team to identify priority areas for learning, including on emerging issues;
b. Take the lead on agreed issues to produce relevant learning documents, including short memos (e.g. for rapid updates on emerging issues), internal reports and external publications;
c. Draw on the expertise of commissions and other partners to ensure learning products are state of the art, highly relevant, and accurate;
d. Publish, or contribute to publication of, at least one peer reviewed paper per year.

7.7. Comply with IUCN policies, procedures and positions
a. Understand and comply with IUCN policies and procedures in all aspects of work;
b. Comply with project agreements, project documents (e.g. contracts, MOUs, PAIAs etc.), annual work plans and budgets in the delivery of assigned projects and activities;
c. Ensure that all project activities delivered meet the quality required by IUCN and project partners;
d. Follow all procedures in project development and ensure adherence with environmental and social safeguards and other IUCN policies.

7.8. Other duties
a. Carry out other relevant tasks assigned by, and mutually agreed with, the line manager.

  • A Masters Degree in Natural Resource Management, or its equivalent, with a specialization in drylands, rangelands or a related field;

• At least 8 years’ work experience in managing and coordinating projects, primarily in the conservation or sustainable development field, in more than one country;

• Proven ability in fundraising and resource mobilization;

• Proven experience in participatory natural resource management;

• Experience in natural resource assessment and rangeland assessment;

• Proven ability to organize and facilitate multi-stakeholder participatory processes;

• Demonstrated ability to write high quality technical reports and non-technical communications within tight deadlines;

• Demonstrated capacity to work in a multi-disciplinary and multi-partner environment;

• Strong networking and communication skills and ability to work with different partners and stakeholders;

• Fluency in spoken and written English, working knowledge of French or Spanish desirable;

• Excellent computer skills, including Microsoft Office package and internet;

• Adheres to IUCN ESARO core values of Transparency, Inclusiveness, Professionalism and Accountability;

• Excellent interpersonal skills and a strong team player with proven communication and diplomacy with the ability to work effectively with multicultural and multidisciplinary teams with sensitivity and respect for diversity;

• Highly motivated and results-oriented individual;

• Demonstrated ability to work with limited supervision to prioritize tasking and manage workflow in a high pressure environment;

• Must be a proactive individual who is able to energize and motivate teams;

• Committed to continuous learning and proactive and mature attitude towards self-development;

• Be willing to undertake frequent travel (approx. 40% of their time).


Applicants are requested to apply online through the HR Management System, by opening the vacancy announcement and pressing the “Apply” button.

Applicants will be asked to create an account and submit their profile information. Applications will not be accepted after the closing date. The vacancy closes at midnight, Swiss time (GMT+1 / GMT+2 during Daylight Saving Time, DST).

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About IUCN

IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges.

IUCN works on biodiversity, energy, human livelihoods and greening the world economy by supporting scientific research, managing field projects all over the world, and bringing governments, NGOs, the UN and companies together to develop policy, laws and best practice.

IUCN is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental organization, with more than 1,200 government and NGO members and almost 11,000 volunteer experts in some 160 countries. IUCN’s work is supported by over 1,000 staff in 45 offices and hundreds of partners in public, NGO and private sectors around the world.