Facilitator/Researcher – Environment and Emergencies Preparedness Network and Environmental Mainstreaming

United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment)

Panama City, , PA

Result of Service

Under the direct supervision of the regional humanitarian affairs officer, facilitate the organisation and function of the Environment and Emergencies Preparedness Network, through liaison with countries, UN Environment Latin America and Caribbean Office, the UN Environment / OCHA Joint Unit and other agencies as necessary. Provide a backstopping function to the regional Disasters and Conflicts team during periods of emergency response.

Work Location

Home-based, Latin America and the Caribbean

Expected duration

5 months

Duties and Responsibilities

Environmental emergencies caused by natural and/or man-hazards already cause significant environmental damage, harm to human health and livelihoods and massive economic losses every year. Exposure to these hazards is increasing under rising urbanisation, overpopulation and climate change . Climate change acts as a threat multiplier , driving conflict, insecurity, labour migration and associated human mobility . In the first half of 2019, seven million people were displaced by disasters, almost twice as many as those displaced by conflict .

The environmental impacts of disasters and emergencies further undermine affected people’s coping strategies, further increase their humanitarian needs and weaken their resilience. Those environmental impacts may leave behind environmental legacies and set back sustainable development and good environmental management. As the UN system seeks to address the Sustainable Development Goals, addressing the environmental dimensions of emergencies and reducing the risk of future environmental emergencies becomes increasingly important.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, hurricanes and earthquakes result in the generation of huge volumes of disaster waste, as was the case in Bahamas (2019), Cuba (tornado, 2019) Dominica (2017) and Ecuador (2016). Volcanic eruptions result in contamination of water sources and agriculture with toxic chemicals, affecting human health and livelihoods, as happened in Argentina in 2011. Industrial / chemical accidents have included pesticide spills (Guatemala 2015), fires at storage sites for decommissioned transformers (Paraguay 2015), oil spills and unstable dams (Colombia 2018). The UN Environment response model relies on the deployment of technical experts to address the environmental impacts of emergencies, while building country capacity to reduce risk and be better prepared.

In 2019, the intersessional meeting of the Forum of Ministers of Environment requested UN Environment to begin work to set up an intergovernmental network on environment and emergency preparedness. Modelled on the regional Chemicals Network and Environmental Education Network, this group would be composed of focal points in ministries of environment and country civil protection / civil defence / emergency management agencies. It is expected that the network does not initially include representation of all countries in the region, given that political and technical interest may need to build up over time. Membership of the network would be voluntary and require a low time commitment, at least initially. Over time, the network would:
• Aim to raise awareness within environment ministries and other arms of government of the relationship between environment and emergencies and UN Environment response and risk reduction services;
• Raise the profile of risk reduction and preparedness for the environmental dimensions of emergencies in the regional political and technical agenda;
• Contribute to the implementation of the 2020 Agenda and other relevant frameworks ;
• Facilitate the elaboration of decisions on relevant issues to be put to the Forum of Ministers of Environment;
• Link to other relevant intergovernmental spaces, such as the “MIAH” (Mecanismo Internacional de Asistencia Humanitaria, or International Humanitarian Assistance Mechanism, an intergovernmental space similar to the Forum of Ministers but for country civil protection / disaster risk management agencies, with OCHA providing secretariat services);
• Strengthen exchange of best practice and capacity building, including via South-South Cooperation, in risk reduction and preparedness.

UN Environment needs a home-based consultant to conduct outreach to ministries of environment (and possibly civil protection agencies), conduct a capacity development needs survey, develop membership of the network and the network workplan, facilitate the development of the network’s workplan and terms of reference / rules of operation, provide online capacity building through webinars and promotion of training and learning opportunities and facilitate the development of (inputs to or) a decision on environmental dimensions of emergencies and crises for the Forum of Ministers of Environment 2020 (the latter point subject to continued political interest). The consultant will also provide research support to the development of guidance on the incorporation of environment into humanitarian planning, notably through research into relevant indicators and datasets and in coordination with the senior consultant hired by the UN Environment / OCHA Joint Unit. If timelines coincide, the consultant will facilitate inputs from the Network into the development of the UNEP Medium Term Strategy / UNEA / regional strategy as appropriate.

During emergency responses, the consultant may also provide backstopping to the regional Disasters and Conflicts programme team. The precise nature of the support may vary according to the emergency and technical support required. Other small activities within the framework of the objective of the consultancy may be added by agreement. These may include press releases or similar.
Precise tasks and product deadlines may vary by mutual agreement, due to the changing work circumstances associated with COVID-19 and its effects on the implementation of UNEP’s work, as well as changes in regional events.

This consultancy follows on from a consultancy which began on 1st March 2020 for six months as a separate job opening. The selected consultant must be able to start work on 1st September 2020. All products of the first consultancy will be made available to the consultant after signature of contract. Products outlined cover the final months of the work to be delivered by the consultant to be recruited.

Qualifications/special skills

– Familiarity with the latest developments in environment and humanitarian action;
– Knowledge of humanitarian standards, tools and guidelines, and their linkages to environment. These include SPHERE standards , Core Humanitarian Standard , Environmental Markers, cluster/Sector specific guidelines, disaster waste management guidelines , CAP guidelines, etc;
– Experience conducting surveys and negotiations with a wide range of actors to identify common positions and trends and propose mutually convenient solutions;
– Knowledge of MS Office and ability to operate standard IT and communications equipment;
– High motivation coupled with an ability to improvise effectively in rapidly changing situations with minimal guidance and support;
– Capacity to provide comprehensive support to processes and projects;
– Influencing skills to negotiate and convince a diverse range of actors (environment, civil protection, other UN agencies, media) of the importance of incorporating environment into humanitarian action.

– Experience in coordination of small projects;
– Knowledge of environmental work in a humanitarian/relief context and / or post-crisis setting;
– Experience using Geographic Information Systems (ArcGIS or similar);
– Experience in the design and development of webinars and/or e-learning;
– Experience in setting up international networks of delegates;
– Experience of facilitating capacity building at a distance;
– Experience in political negotiation or international relations.

Academic Qualifications:
– First level university degree in environmental science, natural sciences, social anthropology, disaster management, international development, international law (with emphasis on environment or disaster management) or international relations (with emphasis on environment or disaster management), or another demonstrably relevant field is essential;

– Advanced university degree (Master’s degree or equivalent) in environmental science, natural sciences, social anthropology, disaster management, international development, international law (with emphasis on environment or disaster management) or international relations (with emphasis on environment or disaster management), or another demonstrably relevant field.

– An advanced university degree and minimum one year’s professional experience in related areas (environmental science, natural sciences, social anthropology, disaster management, international development, international law (with emphasis on environment or disaster management) or international relations (with emphasis on environment or disaster management), or another demonstrably relevant field);
– A first level university degree in the same fields and minimum four years’ professional experience.

Fluent English and Spanish