Chief Scientist

Nairobi, , KE

Special Notice

1). Staff members are subject to the authority of the Secretary-General and to assignment by him or her. In this context, all staff are expected to move periodically to new functions in their careers in accordance with established rules and procedures.
2). All applicants are strongly encouraged to apply online as soon as possible after the job opening has been posted and well before the deadline stated in the job opening. Online applications will be acknowledged where an email address has been provided.
3). If you do not receive an email acknowledgement within 24 hours of submission, your application may not have been received. In such cases, please resubmit the application, if necessary. If the problem persists, please seek technical assistance through the Inspira “Need Help?” link.

Org. Setting and Reporting

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment. This post is located in the Executive Office, at the Nairobi duty station. Under the overall guidance of the Executive Director and the Deputy Executive Director.


1) Advise the Executive Director and Senior Management on:
• Scientific aspects of UNEP’s strategic priorities and programme of work asset out in UNEP’s Medium Term Strategy;
• Incorporate relevant science in UNEP’s work across the six priority areas and ensure coherence;
• Strengthen UNEP’s credibility and visibility in the scientific arena;
• Ensure use of sound science and technology in UNEP initiatives;
• Ensure appropriate communication and collaboration links among UNEP, internationally coordinated research programmes, and global observing systems of key environmental variables;
• Manage evolution of the international research agenda, by identifying gaps in environmental knowledge, data and current research from a UNEP perspective;
• Manage relevant emerging issues;
• Advise effective methods for ensuring that policy relevant findings are disseminated to various stakeholders;
• Ensure mainstreaming science and technology elements in the implementation of the Bali Strategic Plan on Technology Support and Capacity Building;
• Coordinate Influencing the design and implementation of research programmes;
• Ensure engagement of UNEP with networks of scientists and scientific institutions and with existing scientific panels;
• Ensure further technical in-house capacity that UNEP may need to make a measurable impact on the environment.
2.) Contribute to the implementation of UNEP’s mandate and programme of work delivery through the following roles and responsibilities:
• Promote science that can integrate the environmental, social and economic pillars of sustainable development;
• Prepare regular briefing notes for the Executive Director and UNEP senior management;
• Act as the interface between the Executive Director and scientific advisory committees and groups linked to UNEP.
• Act as the scientific spokesperson for the Executive Director and represent the UNEP at high level scientific and technical meetings and intergovernmental/international fora;
• Provide guidance to UNEP staff and research fellows;
• Engage in dialogue with the international science community;
• Ensure the scientific credibility, legitimacy, relevance and integrity of UNEP’s work;
• Provide scientific guidance to the biennial programme of work development process with Thematic Coordinators of sub-programmes and other entities that review the scientific and technical soundness and consistency of the programme as a whole;
• Advocate effective utilization within UNEP of scientific knowledge, based on the best-available research and data, in addressing global issues on the environment and sustainable development.
• Perform other related duties as required.


• Professionalism: Expert knowledge of a broad range of environmental issues, demonstrated capabilities as evident from published scientific papers and experience from scientific programming, scientific assessments, and provision of scientific advice, as well as work experience in the policy domain; Familiarity with issues of relevance to both developing and developed countries and at different scales from global to local; Clear understanding of the science that can integrate the environmental, social and economic pillars of sustainable development; Shows pride in work and in achievements; Demonstrates professional competence and mastery of subject matter; Is conscientious and efficient in meeting commitments, observing deadlines and achieving results; Is Motivated by professional rather than personal concerns; Shows persistence when faced with difficult problems or challenges; Remains calm in stressful situations.
• Communication: Speaks and writes clearly and effectively; Listens to other, correctly interprets messages from others and responds appropriately; Asks questions to clarify, and exhibits interest in having two-way communication; Tailors language, tone, style and format to match audience; Demonstrates openness in sharing information keeping people informed.
• Leadership: Takes responsibility for incorporating gender perspectives and ensuring the equal participation of women and men in all areas of work; Serves as a role model that other people want to follow; Empowers others to translate vision into results; Is proactive in developing strategies to accomplish objectives; Establishes and maintains relationships with a broad range of people to understand and gain support; Anticipates and resolves conflicts by pursuing mutually agreeable solutions; Drives for change and improvement; Does not accept the status quo; Shows the courage to take unpopular stands. Provides leadership and takes responsibility for incorporating gender perspectives and ensuring the equal participation of women and men in all areas of work; Demonstrates knowledge of strategies and commitment to the goal of gender balance in staffing.
• Judgement/Decision-making: Identifies the key issues in a complex situation, and comes to the heart of the problem quickly; Gathers relevant information before making a decision; Considers positive and negative impact of decision prior to making them; Takes decisions with an eye to the impact on others and on the organization; Proposes a course of action or makes a recommendation based on all available information; Checks assumptions against facts; Determines that the actions proposed will satisfy the expressed and underlying needs for the decision; Makes tough decision when necessary.
• Building trust: Provides an environment in which others can talk and act without fear of repercussion; Manages in a deliberate and predictable way; Operates with transparency; Has no hidden agenda; places confidences in colleagues, staff members and clients; Gives proper credit to theirs; Follows through on agreed upon actions; Treats sensitive or confidential information appropriately.


An advanced university degree (Masters or equivalent) in natural or social science discipline relevant to addressing the current and future environmental challenges or related area. A first university degree in combination with two additional years of qualifying experience may be accepted in lieu of the advanced degree.

Work Experience

Minimum 15 years of responsible experience in substantive areas of requisite competency and professionalism preferably in multicultural institutions processes engaged in scientific research, environmental assessment, environmental monitoring and observing, environmental policy research, scientific programme management or related scientific area. Proven track record in scientific leadership, including a substantial record of publications in leading scientific journals and of providing advisory services to governmental intergovernmental, scientific or industry fora.


English and French are the working languages of the United Nations Secretariat. For this post, fluency in oral and written English is required. Knowledge of another official United Nations language would be an advantage.


Evaluation of qualified candidates may include an assessment exercise which may be followed by competency-based interview.


United Nations Considerations

Candidates will be required to meet the requirements of Article 101, paragraph 3, of the Charter as well as the requirements of the position. The United Nations is committed to the highest standards of efficiency, competence and integrity for all its human resources, including but not limited to respect for international human rights and humanitarian law. Candidates may be subject to screening against these standards, including but not limited to whether they have committed, or are alleged to have committed criminal offences and/or violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law.

The United Nations shall place no restrictions on the eligibility of men and women to participate in any capacity and under conditions of equality in its principal and subsidiary organs. (Charter of the United Nations – Chapter 3, article 8). The United Nations Secretariat is a non-smoking environment.

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