Programme Specialist (Blue Peace Initiative)

United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF)

New York, NY, US


The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) makes public and private finance work for the poor in the world’s 47 least developed countries. With its capital mandate and instruments, UNCDF offers “last mile” finance models that unlock public and private resources, especially at the domestic level, to reduce poverty and support local economic development.

UNCDF’s financing models work through three channels: inclusive digital economies, connecting individuals, households, and small businesses with financial eco-systems that catalyze participation in the local economy, and provide tools to climb out of poverty and manage financial lives; local development finance, that capacitates localities through fiscal decentralization, innovative municipal finance, and structured project finance to drive local economic expansion and sustainable development; and investment finance, that provides catalytic financial structuring, de-risking, and capital deployment to drive SDG impact and domestic resource mobilization. By strengthening how finance works for poor people at the household, small enterprise, and local infrastructure levels, UNCDF contributes to Sustainable Development Goal-SDG 1 on eradicating poverty and SDG 17 on the means of implementation. By identifying those market segments where innovative financing models can have transformational impact in helping to reach the last mile and address exclusion and inequalities of access, UNCDF contributes to a broad diversity of SDGs.

UNCDF’s Local Development Finance Practice (LD) is a center of excellence and innovative fund for local government finance and local economic development finance in the world’s 47 least developed countries (LDCs). LD promotes and supports transformative investments through local governments and domestic financial institutions (banks, pension funds) in LDCs by piloting and scaling up innovative financing mechanisms and policies in the public and private sectors.

As part of LD’s flagship programme on Municipal Investment Finance, UNCDF has developed expertise in water and municipal investments. LD has partnered with Swiss Development Corporation to launch a new programme called Blue Peace Financing. To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, government efforts alone will not suffice, additional private capital will need to be further deployed towards development. The Blue Peace Financing initiative is focused on developing innovative financial products. that enable transboundary, multisectoral and transgenerational investments leading to sustainable development and peace, using water as an entry point. The innovative finance products will include investments funded with local public finance, private capital both local and international, and investments that have a blended finance component.

Water is a supporting factor for sustainable economic development and creates shared benefits for agriculture, energy/hydropower, potable water for people, connectivity/navigation transport, tourism, ecosystem services, sanitation / wastewater re-use. Water does not know administrative boundaries (e.g. in Africa 80% of the water is shared between countries) and ultimately it is managed by the municipal / local level. When investments in infrastructure or other water-related projects are envisaged, financing arrangements do not sufficiently consider and value the transboundary and multi-sectoral nature of water and its uses at a basin or municipality level. Blue Peace advocates for investments to be further enhanced in two areas that will have a transformative impact: at transboundary and at local municipality level.

Therefore, the Blue Peace Financing initiative, is advocating a new model of investment with the investor community that will allow the creation of a new marketplace advancing the goal of attaining a carbon-neutral economy. Natural capital such as atmospheric carbon as well as water bodies, are not confined to administrative borders. However, these same natural resources, are usually managed within administrative systems and states, under sovereign principles. At the same time, most of the consumption and production occurs within household or industrial structures, which are located and regulated at the level of municipalities. In addition, current financial markets, public investment and private capital responds to sectoral and administrative approaches defined by sovereign states and therefore are missing the necessary common strategic orientation of an evolving society. They are unable to respond to the transboundary, trans-sectoral and sub-national realities which are required to reach the SDGs. Therefore, the Blue Peace Financing overall goal is to enhance sustainable economic development and peaceful societies by creating new ways to access financial capital at transboundary and sub-national level based on integrated multisectoral investment plans that incorporate water as both public good and an ecological asset that needs to be managed with all the political, economic, social and environmental know how. For Blue Peace Financing to be successful, the process is highly integrated with strong stakeholder participation, inclusivity of society, especially gender and youth groups.

Blue Peace Partners:

The Blue Peace partners include UNCDF, the Swiss Development Corporation, and the Geneva Water Hub, and the Advisory firm iGravity (connects innovative ventures, entrepreneurs, NGOs, governments), advises Swiss govt.  Additional partners are likely to include Strategic Foresight Group, The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) Blue Peace Index Project, Global Blue Peace and Regional Blue Peace Initiatives; UNECE Transboundary Water Convention, UNESCO, IUCN, multilateral development banks, foundations, such as Rockefeller Foundation etc.

Programme Key results to date:

  1. A broad stakeholder mapping exercise has been concluded.
  2. Two demonstration projects have been identified in Africa with the objective to attract and promote capital to non-sovereign entities, involving private actors which look at water as the entry point, but include areas such as migration and consequences of migration, food security/agriculture, health and the environment.
  3. Thorough consultations at the political level, including with the involvement of Embassies, ministries, AfDB and IMIF and other partners took place and have informed the decision;
  4. The appropriate financial instrument has been identified.  
  5. Coalition of Country Supporters required for the ownership and legitimacy of the Blue Peace Financing Initiative has been launched.  

Key outputs of the programme:

  • Support the River Basin commissions and Municipalities to develop Master Plans that will provide the basis for Blue Peace projects implementation.
  • Support River Basin commissions and Municipalities to build technical capacity in order to provide future deliverables on their own without the support of donors.
  • Design new financial products / instruments (e.g. issuance of Blue Peace Bonds) and support the process of issuance and financial system stakeholder’s engagement in order to get the products to market successfully.   
  • Produce Legal and Financial Knowledge Transfer.
  • Analytical study on impact measurement instruments and approaches for Blue Peace.
  • Coalition of Leaders and Set-up of a Blue Peace Trust.

The Programme operates in three distinct phases:

Phase I: Piloting, consists of an initial scoping analysis, followed by testing of the idea to the officials in Gambia river basis. As of January 2020, the program has been approved by the council of ministers of the Gambia River Basin commission. Also, the Municipality of Freetown has approved it.

Phase II: The project will be implemented starting with the technical assistance of the project, get the masterplan, the joint investment plans, all the way to get the bond issued. This phase of the project needs to be completed within three years. There is room for extension but that will be based on specific reasons.  

Phase III: Scaling-up, due to the demand by other river basin commissions and municipalities for the Blue Peace program, it is anticipated that the project can grow further than its initial west African implementation phase. This scaling – up phase will be based on the results of the previous phases and lessons learned, and fund raising.

In this context, UNCDF is seeking a Programme Specialist, under the MIF/Blue Peace programme, to contribute to the effective delivery of the Programme’s activities, reporting to the Global MIF Programme Manager P-5, also based in New York, USA while working in close collaboration with other LD managers and programme colleagues across the regions.

This position will be based in New York, USA. At a later stage, the UNCDF management may decide to redeploy the position (alongside incumbent) to a Programme Country to best serve the organization need and project performance.

Duties and Responsibilities

The Programme Specialist, MIF/Blue Peace P3 is responsible for providing technical, policy, and programming implementation support and oversight, and knowledge and capacity development services for the effective deployment of Blue Peace programmatic activities globally and within assigned countries. Furthermore, the staff member will provide substantive and operational support to the regional UNCDF LD teams and link to other ongoing programmes. The staff member is expected to contribute to MIF/Blue Peace resource mobilization activities on an ongoing basis.  

The Programme Specialist’s key focus areas will be:

  • Programme Management Support and Technical Assistance (50%)
  • Partnership/Network Building and Resource Mobilization (25%)
  • Operational Support (15%)
  • Knowledge Management and Communication (10%)

Detailed Roles and Responsibilities:

1)       Programme Management Support and Technical Assistance (50%)

  • Provide effective programme and project design, supervision, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, reporting and completion activities in assigned Blue Peace programs globally, in close collaboration with UNCDF Country Teams, the Blue Peace Partners.  
  • Contribute directly to the implementation of technical assistance, advice and guidance to assigned UNCDF country programs under the leadership of Regional Technical Advisor (RTA), (examples, to design validation methodologies, writing terms of reference, memoranda of understanding, letter of agreement, recruitment and management of consultants), including organization of field missions and program budget management;
  • Contribute to strengthening the quality of monitoring and evaluation systems of program developments and implementation (including preparation and monitoring of the annual work plan, contribution to the preparation of annual reports), identify problems and issues to be addressed and propose corrective actions, and identify and track follow-up actions;
  • Support the organisation of events, meetings, conferences, etc., including proposing agenda topics, identifying participants, preparation of documents and presentations, etc;
  • Supports identification and sourcing of technical expertise and support, including assisting with the preparation of TORs, identification and evaluation of experts and reviewing reports.

2)       Partnership/Network Building and Resource Mobilization (25%)

  • Liaise with relevant parties and maintain close working relationship with key stakeholders, Blue Peace partners at various levels by building linkages and networks;
  • Collect intelligence on technical and financial partners, identify opportunities for collaboration with key actors and support the development of partnerships for MIF/Blue Peace globally and in assigned countries;
  • Provide timely quality information and technical advice on sources of funds, policies, priorities and activities;
  • Support the process of preparation, design, submission and approval of programme/project concepts and full-fledged proposals for financing;
  • Develop strategies to mobilize additional resources based on programme requirements and new opportunities.

3)       Operational Support (15%):

  • Support the MIF/Blue Peace Global operations activities, including finance, human resources, procurement, transport, IT, security, administration and ensure they follow UNCDF’s rules, regulations, policies and procedures;
  • Support the strengthening of the quality of operational services and activities delivered by the MIF/Blue Peace global programs and support implementation of corporate, budget, financial, procurement, and project personnel on these issues, in close with relevant Management Support Unit, UNCDF Headquarters and regional colleagues

4)       Knowledge management and communication (10%)

  • Support the knowledge management of Blue Peace and MIF activities including identifying, analyzing, documenting, harmonizing and disseminating both national and local issues as well as conditions and best practices and lessons learned among partners. Capacity building activities will include coordinating meetings, workshops and seminars with project management teams, government, partners and other stakeholders;
  • Support the preparation of various written outputs and knowledge products, e.g. draft background papers, analyses, sections of reports and studies, inputs to publications, etc;
  • Contribute to the implementation of the Communication and Visibility Plan of the Programme, in collaboration with the UNCDF LDFP leadership, partners and technical consultants

Core Competencies

  • Innovation: Ability to make new and useful ideas work – Level 5: Plans and acts transparently, actively works to removes barriers
  • Leadership: Ability to persuade others to follow – Level 5: Creates new and relevant ideas and leads others to implement them
  • People Management: Ability to improve performance and satisfaction – Level 5: Models high professional standards and motivates excellence in others
  • Communication & Relationship Management: Ability to listen, adapt, persuade and transform –Level 5: Gains trust of peers, partners, clients by presenting complex concepts in practical terms to others
  • DeliveryAbility to get things done while exercising good judgement – Level 5: Critically assesses value and relevance of existing policy / practice and contributes to enhanced delivery of products, services, and innovative solutions

Technical/Functional Competencies:

  • Subject Matter Expertise: Understands more advanced aspects of primary area of specialization as well as the fundamental concepts related to Water/Environment Management & Sustainability

    Level 5: Originate: Catalyzes new ideas, methods, and applications to pave a path for innovation and continuous improvement in professional area of expertise

    Knowledge Management: Ability to capture, develop, share and effectively use information and knowledge

    Level 5: Originate – Catalyzes new ideas, methods, and applications to pave a path for innovation and continuous improvement in professional area of expertise

    Project Management:  Ability to plan, organize, and control resources, procedures and protocols to achieve specific goals

    Level 4: Apply & Adapt: Contributes skills and knowledge with demonstrated ability to advance innovation and continuous improvement, in professional area of expertise

    Relationship Management:  Ablity to engage and foster strategic partnerships with other parties, Inter-Agency Coordination and forge productive working relationships

    Level 5: Originate – Catalyzes new ideas, methods, and applications to pave a path for innovation and continuous improvement in professional area of expertise

    Results Based Programming: Assesses project performance to identify success factors and incorporates best practices into project work

    Level 5: Originate – Catalyzes new ideas, methods, and applications to pave a path for innovation and continuous improvement in professional area of expertise

Required Skills and Experience


  • Master’s Degree or equivalent Advanced Degree preferably in International Relations, Finance, Business Administration, Development, Environmental Economics, Water or Natural resource management or related field. Candidates with first university/bachelors degree and two additional years of relevant experience are also considered eligible.

Work Experience:

  • A minimum of five (5) years’ experience in progressively responsible positions in advising, implementing, managing and monitoring development projects, particularly in water related areas and policy is required. Out of the five years’ work experience, a minimum of three (3) years’ experience working with water or local governments in the technical advisory capacity, preferably this experience covers developing countries is highly desirable.
  • Proven/demonstrable analytical capabilities that can be used to understand complex policy positions are highly desirable.
  • Demonstrated technical and intellectual skills in area of specialty, including understanding of the political economy of water provision (Water/water policy/infrastructure) is highly desirable.
  • Strong awareness of key and emerging issues related to water/water policy/water diplomacy is highly desirable;
  • Demonstrable experience with bilateral donor funded programmes and projects, particularly related to water-based infrastructure projects is highly desirable.
  • Working at an international/global level organization is highly desirable. 


  • Full fluency in both written and spoken English and French languages is required. 

Important information for US Permanent Residents (‘Green Card’ holders)

Under US immigration law, acceptance of a staff position with UNDP, an international organization, may have significant implications for US Permanent Residents. UNDP advises applicants for all professional level posts that they must relinquish their US Permanent Resident status and accept a G-4 visa, or have submitted a valid application for US citizenship prior to commencement of employment. 

UNDP is not in a position to provide advice or assistance on applying for US citizenship and therefore applicants are advised to seek the advice of competent immigration lawyers regarding any applications.

Applicant information about UNDP rosters

Note: UNDP reserves the right to select one or more candidates from this vacancy announcement.  We may also retain applications and consider candidates applying to this post for other similar positions with UNDP at the same grade level and with similar job description, experience and educational requirements.

Workforce diversity

UNDP is committed to achieving diversity within its workforce, and encourages all qualified applicants, irrespective of gender, nationality, disabilities, sexual orientation, culture, religious and ethnic backgrounds to apply. All applications will be treated in the strictest confidence.

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