Sustainable Development Expert

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA)

New York, NY, US

Org. Setting and Reporting

This position is located in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), the Division for Sustainable Development Goals (DSDG), National Strategies and Capacity Building Branch (NSCBB). The Sustainable Development Expert reports to the Chief of the National Strategies and Capacity Building Branch. The focus of these jobs is the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of capacity building projects of the Division, in particular, the project ‘Strengthening capacity of developing countries to achieve sustainable agriculture through the transfer of Juncao Technology and analyzing and disseminating best practices and lessons learned for alleviating poverty and promoting productive employment’. The project covers the use of sustainable agriculture technology and studies the economic and social implications of such technologies on societies in developing countries.


Within delegated authority, the Sustainable Development Expert will be responsible for the following duties:

•Supports and monitors the capacity development work of the Division in implementing sustainable development projects at the national, regional and global level
•Maintains sustainable development databases and qualitative information required for database management and organization of information.
•Drafts inputs for policy recommendations, technical papers and analytical studies on sustainable development issues and trends, and preparation of evaluations or other research activities and studies.
•Formulates, identifies and analyses project proposals on sustainable development issues.
•Attends international, regional, and national meetings for consultations with colleagues in other institutions dealing with sustainable development issues.
•Assists in the organization and servicing of workshops and other training events on sustainable development issues in developing action plans countries will use to strengthen the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
•Prepares speeches and other inputs for presentations by senior staff on sustainable development issues.
•Prepares draft background papers and inputs for reports to High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development and other intergovernmental bodies, inter-agency or expert groups on issues relating to sustainable development.
•Follows intergovernmental meetings, prepares summary reports and provides substantive support, as needed.
•Participates in missions on sustainable development issues, usually as a member of a team.
•Organizes training seminars/ workshops for national experts addressing sustainable development issues.
•Assists in the organization of outreach activities, including the development of media content for websites and for brochures and reports, makes presentations on assigned topics/activities to project beneficiaries and the project donor.
•Coordinates project implementation with the implementing partners, through maintaining oral and written communication channels.
•Monitors, backstops and assesses the implementation of capacity building projects in sustainable development.
•Performs other duties as required, including administrative tasks.
•Undertakes on-the-job and other training activities both internally and externally.


•Professionalism: Ability to apply sustainable development theories, concepts and approaches, with a focus on sustainable agriculture, the potential for using science and technology in advancing the implementation of the SDGs and its potential societal implications. Ability to conduct independent research and analysis on sustainable development topics, determine suitability, validity and accuracy of data provided by different sources. Shows skill in developing sources for data collection. 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. Takes responsibility for incorporating gender perspectives and ensuring the equal participation of women and men in all areas of work.
•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.
•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.


Advanced university degree (Master’s degree or equivalent) in sustainable development, economics, public policy, public administration, finance, natural resources management, engineering, law, social sciences or related field. A first-level university degree in combination with qualifying experience may be accepted in lieu of the advanced university degree.

Work Experience

A minimum of five years of progressively responsible experience in project or programme management, policy-oriented work in a broad range of sustainable development issues is required.
Experience in capacity building work at international level for at least 3 years is required.
Experience in successfully implementing a project on sustainable agriculture is desirable.


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


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

Special Notice

This Job Opening refers to a project position. The initial appointment is for one year and it is subject to availability of funds. Annual renewal of the appointment is subject to continuation of the project’s mandate, priorities, and availability of funds. 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. The United Nations as a Secretariat is committed to achieving 50/50 gender balance in its staff. Female candidates are strongly encouraged to apply for this position.

United Nations Considerations

According to article 101, paragraph 3, of the Charter of the United Nations, the paramount consideration in the employment of the staff is the necessity of securing the highest standards of efficiency, competence, and integrity. Candidates will not be considered for employment with the United Nations if they have committed violations of international human rights law, violations of international humanitarian law, sexual exploitation, sexual abuse, or sexual harassment, or if there are reasonable grounds to believe that they have been involved in the commission of any of these acts. The term “sexual exploitation” means any actual or attempted abuse of a position of vulnerability, differential power, or trust, for sexual purposes, including, but not limited to, profiting monetarily, socially or politically from the sexual exploitation of another. The term “sexual abuse” means the actual or threatened physical intrusion of a sexual nature, whether by force or under unequal or coercive conditions. The term “sexual harassment” means any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that might reasonably be expected or be perceived to cause offence or humiliation, when such conduct interferes with work, is made a condition of employment or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment, and when the gravity of the conduct warrants the termination of the perpetrator’s working relationship. Candidates who have committed crimes other than minor traffic offences may not be considered for employment.

Due regard will be paid to the importance of recruiting the staff on as wide a geographical basis as possible. The United Nations places 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. The United Nations Secretariat is a non-smoking environment.

Applicants are urged to follow carefully all instructions available in the online recruitment platform, inspira. For more detailed guidance, applicants may refer to the Manual for the Applicant, which can be accessed by clicking on “Manuals” hyper-link on the upper right side of the inspira account-holder homepage.

The evaluation of applicants will be conducted on the basis of the information submitted in the application according to the evaluation criteria of the job opening and the applicable internal legislations of the United Nations including the Charter of the United Nations, resolutions of the General Assembly, the Staff Regulations and Rules, administrative issuances and guidelines. Applicants must provide complete and accurate information pertaining to their personal profile and qualifications according to the instructions provided in inspira to be considered for the current job opening. No amendment, addition, deletion, revision or modification shall be made to applications that have been submitted. Candidates under serious consideration for selection will be subject to reference checks to verify the information provided in the application.

Job openings advertised on the Careers Portal will be removed at 11:59 p.m. (New York time) on the deadline date.