Adaptation Specialist

United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment)

Panama City, Panama 🇵🇦

Result of Service

The main objective of the position of Adaptation Specialist is to provide high quality technical, policy, programming implementation support, as well as knowledge and capacity development services, to UNEP LACO and client countries. The consultant will support UNEP team with resource mobilization efforts in line with country priorities and donor requirements. S/he will have regular contact with country offices and national counterparts regarding UNEP Climate Change Adaptation programmes and projects.

The Adaptation Specialist will perform the following tasks:

Portfolio management:
• Support programme and project identification and development on climate adaptation in cities, nature-based solutions and national adaptation planning processes;
• Provide timely quality information and technical advice on source of funds policies, priorities and activities;
• Identify priorities and entry-points for UNEP assistance;
• Facilitate the process of preparation, design, submission and approval of programme/project concepts and full-fledged proposals for financing;
• Guide country level consultations and conduct and/or reviewing assessments, stocktaking, gap analyses of key institutions to fully embark on medium to long-term planning and budgeting for adaptation aligned to national development priorities (e.g. NAP and NDC) for sectoral and cross-sectoral approaches;
• Identify and source technical expertise and support including assisting with the preparation of TORs, identification and evaluation of experts and reviewing reports; and
• Facilitate relationships with potential financing agencies and institutions.
• Assist with inception, contracting and start-up of programmes/projects including establishment of indicators, benchmarks and work plans;
• Support UNEP LACO and programme/project implementation partners in supervision, implementation, monitoring, evaluation, troubleshooting and adaptive management;
• Maintain high quality of the programme’s implementation delivery, monitoring of results, and reporting requirements to the donors;

Technical Support:
Provide technical support to current and future initiatives including:

(a) Nature4Cities – Increasing resilience through Nature based Solutions in Latin American cities:
• Provide technical guidance to the preparation of project outputs including methodological approach for the vulnerability and risk assessments, policy analysis, development of adaptation plans and NBS options portfolio, among others;
• Support the development of regional documents and activities including comparative policy analysis, factsheets, Community of Practice and the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC);
• Provide technical guidance to international and national consultants recruited to undertake/support the implementation of project activities;
• Assist in the development of Terms of References for consultants and sub-contractors.
• Effectively implement project initiatives with project counterparts and UNEP by complementing existing capacities and providing oversite and support where needed;
• Assist in the elaboration of annual work plans and budgets, as well as manage activities, and monitoring;
• Facilitate technical training and deliver presentations during events and other engagements;
• Conduct field visits to project sites for the provision of hands-on support and quality assurance;
• Ensure technical, administrative, and logistical support is given to the projects;
• Represent UNEP at meetings, technical sessions, project events, ceremonies, and functions.

(b) Fostering climate change adaptation in Panama through ecosystem approach for water security at the water basin level:
• Provide technical guidance to the preparation of project outputs including methodological approach for the vulnerability and risk assessments, development of the decision support system for adaptation planning; identification of EBA measures; among others.
• Assist in the development of publications reflecting project outcomes and key results from the research activities;
• Support the design and delivery of capacity building sessions and materials;
• Assist in the elaboration of Terms of References for consultants and sub-contractors.
• Provide technical guidance to national consultants and implementing partners engaged in the implementation of project activities;
• Assist the development of annual work plans and budgets, as well as manage activities, and monitoring;
• Conduct field visits to project sites for the provision of hands-on support and quality assurance;
• Ensure technical, administrative, and logistical support is given to the projects;

Coordination and Networking:
• Network and foster functional relationships with project counterparts and other key stakeholders;
• Liaise with and ensure strategic partnerships with the responsible Institutions of the beneficiaries at the national and sub-national levels and coordinate with them for the implementation of the Project and the achievement of the expected results.
• Participate and promote dialogue in the community of practices and/or webinars that will be implemented within the project.

Work Location

Panama City, Panama

Expected duration

6 months

Duties and Responsibilities

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.

The UNEP Latin America and the Caribbean Office (LACO), located in Panama City, works closely with the 33 countries of the region and its activities are integrated into the Medium-Term Strategy and the Programme of Work approved by the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA).

The office works towards the implementation of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the new Paris Agreement and the priority actions defined in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) and National Adaptation Plans (NAP) of the region.

In terms of supporting countries in the region attain the global commitments signed within the framework of the Paris Agreement, the Latin America and the Caribbean UNEP Sub-programme on Climate Change aims at strengthening the ability of countries to move towards climate-resilient and low emission strategies for sustainable development and human well-being. In this framework, the UNEP Sub-programme on Climate Change, through its Climate Change Unit, leads and supports several initiatives oriented at designing, promoting and implementing innovative mitigation and adaptation solutions at the national and subnational level, and strengthening the transparency framework of the countries.

The expected accomplishment regarding climate change adaptation is that adaptation approaches, including the Nature-based Solutions (NbS) with an ecosystem-based approach, are implemented and integrated into key sectoral and national development strategies to reduce vulnerability and strengthen resilience to climate change impacts. Furthermore, the UNEP’s Sub-programme on Climate Change is also committed to ensure that cross-cutting issues such as gender equity and women empowerment are effectively integrated in the development of its tasks to guarantee an equitable development in line with its adaptation objectives.

It is estimated that the capital needed to realize the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development worldwide amounts to USD 5-7 trillion a year. Given the scale of capital needed, it is of vital importance to implement market mechanisms to reflect the potential benefits of sustainable investments and attract interest from potential investors. The international community has made clear that the private sector – including financial institutions – plays a fundamental role in the realization of the 2030 Agenda and the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement in the years to come.

Local, national, or transnational financing, which may be drawn from public, private and alternative sources of financing is critical to addressing climate change because large-scale investments are required to significantly reduce emissions and invest in adaptation measures. The Climate Change Unit is looking for improving its capacities to support private sector financial institutions including banks, investors and insurers to understand and mitigate climate risks, seize the commercial opportunities from climate action, and ultimately take all necessary measures to fully align portfolios with the mitigation and adaptation objectives of the Paris Agreement.

The adaptation team of the Climate Change Unit is implementing a portfolio of projects and continuously developing a pipeline of new projects, both for adaptation planning and for implementation of concrete measures, in the three subregions of the region: Central America, South America and the Caribbean. The adaptation team works in close coordination with the rest of the Climate Change Unit and regional office, UNEP regional, sub-regional and national offices in the region and worldwide, including Headquarters; other UN System Agencies, Programmes and Funds; Regional and Subregional Organizations, countries’ institutions, and national and local organizations; and donors and financing institutions such as the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Adaptation Fund (AF) or the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI).

The adaptation team has an ongoing portfolio and pipeline focused in Nature based Solutions (NbS). Among its successful experiences, adaptation financing at a local scale stands out, through UNEP’s innovative Microfinance for Ecosystem based Adaptation (MEbA) programme, and through medium and large projects for scaling up adaptation financing and microfinancing. Current initiatives include:

  • Nature4Cities – Increasing resilience through Nature based Solutions in Latin American cities (GCF Readiness). The aim of the project is to increase the capacity of participating countries to design and implement Nature- based urban development strategies that ensure urban resilience to climate change.
  • Fostering climate change adaptation in Panama through ecosystem approach for water security at the water basin level (EUROCLIMA+). The aim of the project is to transform the planning processes for adaptation to climate change in the water sector in Panama through enhancing climate information for 10 watersheds, strengthening institutional capacities and demonstrating Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) solutions.

In this context, UNEP LACOis recruiting an Adaptation Specialist to provide support to the adaptation team of the Climate Change Unit to support strategic planning, enhance the project portfolio and coordinate project implementation activities.

The incumbent will be supervised by the Adaptation Programme Officer of UNEP’s Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, and will work at the UNEP LAC Office located in Panama City, Panama, from Monday to Friday, full time.

Qualifications/special skills


  • Master’s degree in environmental and social sciences, climate change, development, international relations, or a closely related field is required.
  • PhD degree in environmental sciences, climate change sciences or related field is desirable.


  • A minimum of 8 years of relevant work experience in the fields of climate change adaptation, ecosystem-based adaptation, disaster risk reduction, climate finance or relevant field is required.
  • At least 3 years of recent relevant professional experience on climate change adaptation in Latin America and the Caribbean region is required.
  • Experience in climate change adaptation project design and formulation for climate funds (Adaptation Fund, Green Climate Fund, Global Environment Facility, others) is required.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of Nature based Solutions in urban and rural contexts is an asset.
  • Demonstrated analytical and writing skills for high-level publications on topics relevant to climate adaptation and nature-based solutions is an asset.
  • Experience in leading consultation processes with Government counterparts on climate adaptation planning is an asset.
  • Demonstrated experience of successfully delivering complex multi-stakeholder projects to time and within budget is an asset.
  • Demonstrated experience in leading strategic technical assessment to governments and international organizations on climate adaptation and/or Nature-based Solutions is an asset.


  • Fluency in Spanish and English is required.


  • Ability to facilitate technical discussions and participatory processes with multiple stakeholders in multicultural environments.
  • Excellent written and communication skills in Spanish and English, with analytic capacity and ability to synthesize project outputs and relevant findings.
  • Demonstrated understanding of development planning and the ability to apply to strategic and/or practical situations.
  • Ability to pick up new terminology and concepts easily and to turn information from various sources into a coherent project document.
  • Excellent technical leadership and understanding of climate change adaptation concepts, principles and policies. Ability to provide guidance on climate change adaptation, especially as it relates to development planning.


  • Professionalism: Ability to apply knowledge of various United Nations administrative, financial and human resources rules and regulations in work situations. He/she shows pride in work and in achievements; is conscientious and efficient in meeting commitments, observing deadlines and achieving results; shows persistence when faced with difficult problems or challenges; remains calm in stressful situations.
  • Establishes and maintains productive partnerships with clients by gaining their trust and respect; identifies clients’ needs and matches them to appropriate solutions.
  • Communication: Speaks and writes clearly and effectively; listens to others, 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 and keeping people informed.
  • Teamwork: Is able to work effectively as part of a multidisciplinary team to achieve organizational goals and to take leadership when appropriate; solicits input by genuinely valuing others’ ideas and expertise; is willing to learn from others; places team agenda before personal agenda; supports and acts in accordance with final group decision, even when such decisions may not entirely reflect own position; shares credit for team accomplishments and accepts joint responsibility for team shortcomings.
  • Planning and Organizing: Develops clear goals that are consistent with agreed strategies; identifies priority activities and assignments; adjusts priorities as required; allocates appropriate amount of time and resources for completing work; foresees risks and allows for contingencies when planning; monitors and adjusts plans and actions as necessary; uses time efficiently.

No Fee







IHE Delft MSc in Water and Sustainable Development