Senior Adviser Innovation (Wash Hub)

United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)

Copenhagen, Denmark 🇩🇰

Job no: 555205
Contract type: Fixed Term Appointment
Duty Station: Copenhagen
Level: P-5
Location: Denmark
Categories: Innovation

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. To save their lives. To defend their rights. To help them fulfill their potential.

Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, every day, to build a better world for everyone.

And we never give up.

For every child, innovation…

The Office of Innovation (OoI) works to catalyze UNICEF’s and all its partners’ expertise and resources against key children-outcomes bottlenecks, with a view to continuously ideate and scale the most effective solutions with transformational potential at scale against the child related SDGs.

The office is doing this by continuously exploring new ways of accelerating results for children, investing across a range of early stage solutions, and harnessing internal and external expertise towards continuously iterating and finetuning the most promising solutions for children through a systematic portfolio management approach, and leveraging all stakeholders’ innovation energy, knowhow and resources from intergovernmental, multilateral, private sector and non-governmental fora (think tank, academia).

The Office of Global Innovation is a creative, interactive, and agile team in UNICEF. We sit at a unique intersection, where an organization that works on huge global issues meets the startup thinking, the technology, and the partners that turn this energy into scalable solutions.

Sustainable WASH Innovation Hub:

The vision of the UNICEF Sustainable WASH Innovation Hub is to be a global home for building, accelerating and scaling transformational climate resilient solutions for a WASH secure future of universal and equitable access to services, addressing the full ambition of the SDG6.

UNICEF Sustainable WASH Innovation Hub will source, pilot and scale transformational and frontier climate resilient innovations that respond to key programmatic challenges that, if solved, will unlock faster progress for a water secure future for children and young people. 

One of the key global challenges that the hub will tackle through exploration and scale of innovative solution will be tackling foreseen climate change impacts on WASH services and delivery access. The Hub will also support research and innovation on the links between climate change and water, sanitation and hygiene with the view to improve our understanding of the sanitation sector’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions (and how they can be minimized), or to develop better monitoring mechanisms for the sustainability of aquifers in developing countries, in the context of increased groundwater extraction.

The hub will bring together a passionate community of strategic partners including children and young people, academia, private entrepreneurs, public policy makers, social development and humanitarian actors, and our global UNICEF WASH / CEED and innovation colleagues in 150+ countries.  Collectively we will co-create, advocate, enable, convene, and motivate for innovative sustainable solutions to long-standing barriers and emerging opportunities for a WASH secure and climate resilient future for every child.

The UNICEF Sustainable WASH Innovation Hub will be part of a distributed network of global thematic innovation hubs that are aligned to the central UNICEF Office of Innovation (OOI) in Sweden. The OOI architecture works in close partnership with child impact local ecosystems in countries across the world, while simultaneously engaging some of the most impactful global innovation ecosystems.

How can you make a difference?

The Senior Adviser Innovation WASH Innovation Hub will be reporting to the Office of Innovation Director and will work in close partnership with WASH PG, CEED network, UNICEF WASH Network and GTTs, and with colleagues in OoI Core Office in Sweden. Complementarily, the Chief of WASH Innovation Hub will work closely with other parts of the UNICEF HQ offices, country and regional offices to build a sustainable pipeline of WASH innovations, bridging the gap between public and private actors through innovative processes, business models, deployment models to generate exponential impact for children and young people, girls, and women in the COVID-19 era and beyond.

Overall, this position is responsible for:

Vision, Strategic Planning and KPIs

  • Transform the vision for the Sustainable WASH Innovation Hub into concrete action plan with tangible deliverables; a pathway to position the Hub as a key player within the global WASH innovation ecosystem; a growth strategy for mobilizing resources and increasing the Hub’s reach; budget and KPIs that reflect impact driven innovation approach.
  • Working with Programme-Group WASH colleagues (in the hub and in WASH roles across UNICEF) to build a shared understanding for how innovation in WASH will deliver against the long-term vision of Reimaging WASH – Water for All, ensuring this is translated into a disciplined approach to innovation focused on concrete and actionable problem statements, which inform planning, prioritization and reporting for all of the Hub’s activities.

Hub Set Up

  • Under the guidance of the Director of Innovation, leads in strategic decision making relating to the establishment of the physical presence and infrastructure for the WASH Innovation hub, alongside the Innovative Finance Hub and the Learning Innovation Hub.
  • Prioritize and oversee recruitment of staff into the Hub and the outsourcing of activities to external vendors.
  • Build and manage the team being recruited into the Hub who are supported to deliver results, working with the guidance and support of colleagues from the Office of Innovation Core Team in Sweden.
  • Build Hub branding and identity in collaboration with P5 Senior Advisor (Partnership & Comms), Stockholm.

WASH Innovation Portfolio

Through supervision of the Innovation Portfolio Manager:

  • Oversee the review and development of the WASH innovation portfolio ensuring the right scaffolding and support is in place to attract, select and grow game changing solutions (data, digital, product, behavioural science) with high potential for impact and scale.
  • Ensure appropriate sourcing tactics are in place, including building structured pathways between Venture Fund investments and the WASH Innovation Portfolio.
  • Provide thought leadership on innovative ways to scale up solutions through business model design, technology transfer, and other
    alternative pathways to ensure equitable access to the best solutions for all children.
  • Advise on human centered design and state of the art user experience for developing engaging and impactful solutions for different contexts and settings in the global south.

Exploration Pillar:

  • The WASH exploration pillar will systematically look for climate resilient transformational WASH solutions by engaging the rich
    ecosystem of innovation networks. This pillar will also engage partners and actors outside of the traditional sphere by unleashing youth and frugal innovators’ creativity. It will encourage the development of new innovative solutions where there is a gap in the market thanks to shared valued partnerships.
  • Oversee the strategic work of the Hub’s Exploration Pillar by co-creation of new solutions by i) bringing together UNICEF expertise in the field, with academia, entrepreneurs, corporations around specific WASH challenges and untapped opportunities; ii) looking for transformational WASH solutions outside of the traditional sphere by unleashing youth creativity, nurturing evidence driven multi-stakeholder governance and connecting with global WASH innovation aggregators.
  •  Provide advice on best innovation practices for co-creation with multiple stakeholders and agile methodologies to successfully design, pilot and test new solutions from scratch.

Rapid Acceleration Pillar:

  • The rapid acceleration pillar will play a key role in ensuring that by 2026 innovative portfolio solutions that have demonstrated evidence of results in at least three national contexts, have reached at least 1M children and young people and have a demonstrated potential to improve the lives of at least 10M children and young people, are supported technically, financially and accelerated by shared-value partnerships, connections to the wider ecosystem and scalable deployment models.
  • Through supervision of the Innovation Portfolio Manager and WASH/CEED Specialists both in the Hub and in field locations (who will be working in close partnership with Programme Group colleagues in HQ, ROs and COs):
    • Oversee the development and implementation of strategies to support Country Offices and Regional Offices in their process to support their local ecosystem to adapt, absorb and scale innovative solutions.
    • Design and implement strategies to engage Country Offices and other stakeholders, including young people, ensuring close ties to UNICEF programming and the global south and to gather insights on main needs, challenges, barriers that can inform all the Hub activities.

Continuous Learning Pillar:

  • The continuous learning pillar will be key in managing, sharing, analysing and compiling insights gained during the incubation, adaptation and acceleration of innovative solutions. The continuous learning pillar will be instrumental in embedding new models in
    UNICEF traditional processed and procedures at the country office level
  • Through supervision of the Innovation Evidence Specialist, ensures that:
    • Innovative solutions that the Hub invests in have demonstrated evidence of impact for children and young people.
    • Innovative processes are well-documented and recorded so to enable replication by colleagues across UNICEF.

Hub Global Network & Thought Leadership

  • Build a network of thought leaders and strategic key partners in the WASH, frontier technology & impact investment
  • Oversee the development of thought provoking research at the crossroad of WASH, climate, technology and other transversal disciplines.
  • Participate in relevant events globally, both from public and private sector.

Partnerships & Communications

  • Working in partnership with PPD, and Danish National Committee build and maintain a strong relationship with key government stakeholders in Denmark.
  • Based on the agreed vision for the WASH Innovation Hub, work closely with OOI senior leadership -Director and Strategic Partnership team on an ambitious and strategic partnership and communications strategy for the WASH Innovation Hub, and anticipate impactful and bold new partnerships with potential transformational impact in the WASH sector.
  • Within the Danish ecosystem, represent UNICEF WASH Innovation hub as thought leaders in WASH innovation and innovation for children, including participating in relevant events and media opportunities in Denmark and globally as required.
  • Support the hub in building partnerships with key ecosystems for climate resilient WASH innovation in the global south.
  • Support the prospecting and stewardship of major partners for the WASH Innovation Hub.

To qualify as an advocate for every child you will have…

Education:  An advanced university degree (Master’s or higher) in one of the following fields is required: Environmental Science, Water and Sanitation, Sustainability or related fields, Innovation-related field, International Relations, Water & Sanitation Innovation or another relevant field..

*A first University Degree in a relevant field combined with 2 additional years of professional experience may be accepted in lieu of an Advanced University Degree.

Experience: A minimum of ten (10) years of relevant professional experience is required at national and international levels in the area of innovation and/or innovation in climate resilient water & sanitation within the private and/or public sector.

  • An in-depth understanding and relevant experience of UNICEF climate resilient WASH & CEED initiatives and programming is highly desired.
  • An understanding of Innovation Portfolio Management and experience of human centered design and design thinking applied to technology and innovation projects will be an asset.
  • Strong experience of team management and team leadership and ability to inspire and lead teams to success.
  • Demonstrated capacity to work effectively in inter-divisional teams in multi-cultural environments.
  • Strong capacity to distill and translate multifaceted and critical issues for organizational attention.
  • Experience in/knowledge of the UN system and knowledge of UNICEF’s work would be an asset.
  • Strategic and global thinking and analytical ability.
  • Excellent organizational, interpersonal and communications skills.
  • Ability to conceptualize, plan and execute ideas as well as to manage projects.
  • Experience of working in UNICEF programme countries.
  • Experience in setting up innovative structure within larger organizations is considered an asset.
  • Experience of building partnerships with the private sector is considered an asset.

Language Requirements: Fluency in English is required. Knowledge of another official UN language is an asset.

For every Child, you demonstrate…

UNICEF’s Core Values of Care, Respect, Integrity, Trust and Accountability (CRITA) underpin everything we do and how we do it. Get acquainted with Our Values Charter:

UNICEF competencies required for this post are…

(1) Builds and maintains partnerships (2) Demonstrates self-awareness and ethical awareness (3) Drive to achieve results for impact (4) Innovates and embraces change (5) Manages ambiguity and complexity (6) Thinks and acts strategically (7) Works collaboratively with others (8) Nurtures, leads and manages people

During the recruitment process, we test candidates following the competency framework. Familiarize yourself with our competency framework and its different levels: competency framework here.

UNICEF is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages all candidates, irrespective of gender, nationality, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including persons living with disabilities, to apply to become a part of the organization.

We offer a wide range of benefits to our staff, including paid parental leave, breastfeeding breaks and reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities. UNICEF strongly encourages the use of flexible working arrangements.

UNICEF has a zero-tolerance policy on conduct that is incompatible with the aims and objectives of the United Nations and UNICEF, including sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment, abuse of authority and discrimination. UNICEF also adheres to strict child safeguarding principles. All selected candidates will be expected to adhere to these standards and principles and will therefore undergo rigorous reference and background checks. Background checks will include the verification of academic credential(s) and employment history. Selected candidates may be required to provide additional information to conduct a background check.


UNICEF’s active commitment towards diversity and inclusion is critical to deliver the best results for children. 

Mobility is a condition of international professional employment with UNICEF and an underlying premise of the international civil service.

Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted and advance to the next stage of the selection process.

UNICEF appointments are subject to medical clearance.  Issuance of a visa by the host country of the duty station, which will be facilitated by UNICEF, is required for IP positions. Appointments may also be subject to inoculation (vaccination) requirements, including against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID). Government employees that are considered for employment with UNICEF are normally required to resign from their government before taking up an assignment with UNICEF. UNICEF reserves the right to withdraw an offer of appointment, without compensation, if a visa or medical clearance is not obtained, or necessary inoculation requirements are not met, within a reasonable period for any reason.

Advertised: 14 Sep 2022 Romance Daylight Time
Deadline: 28 Sep 2022 Romance Daylight Time





IHE Delft Institute for Water Education - MSc in Water and Sustainable Development