Regional Technical Specialist for Water, Ecosystems, and Biodiversity

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Addis Ababa, , ET

UNDP is the knowledge frontier organization for sustainable development in the UN Development System and serves as the integrator for collective action to realize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). UNDP’s policy work carried out at HQ, Regional and Country Office levels, forms a contiguous spectrum of deep local knowledge to cutting-edge global perspectives and advocacy. In this context, UNDP invests in the Global Policy Network (GPN), a network of field-based and global technical expertise across a wide range of knowledge domains and in support of the signature solutions and organizational capabilities envisioned in the Strategic Plan. 
Within the GPN, the Bureau for Policy and Programme Support (BPPS) has the responsibility for developing all relevant policy and guidance to support the results of UNDP’s Strategic Plan.  BPPS’s staff provides technical advice to Country Offices; advocatesf or UNDP corporate messages, represents UNDP at multi-stakeholder fora including public-private dialogues, government and civil society dialogues, and engages in UN inter-agency coordination in specific thematic areas. BPPS works closely with UNDP’s Crisis Bureau (CB) to support emergency and crisis response.  BPPS ensures that issues of risk are fully integrated into UNDP’s development programmes. BPPS assists UNDP and partners to achieve higher quality development results through an integrated approach that links results-based management and performance monitoring with more effective and new ways of working.  BPPS supports UNDP and partners to be more innovative, knowledge and data driven including in its programme support efforts. 
UNDP’s 2018-2021 Strategic Plan emphasizes the critical links between environmental sustainability, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and broader efforts to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda and Paris Agreement. As part of the Global Policy Network in the Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP’s Nature, Climate Change, and Energy (NCE) Team promotes and scales up integrated whole-of-governance approaches and nature-based solutions that reduce poverty and inequalities, strengthen livelihoods and inclusive growth, mitigate conflict, forced migration and displacement, and promote more resilient governance systems that advance linked peace and security agendas. 
The NCE Team works with governments, civil society, and private sector partners to integrate natural capital, environment and climate concerns into national and sector planning and inclusive growth policies; support country obligations under Multilateral Environmental Agreements; and implement the UN’s largest portfolio of in-country programming on environment, climate change, and energy. This multi-billion dollar portfolio encompasses: Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services including forests; Sustainable Land Management and Desertification including food and commodity systems; Water and Ocean Governance including SIDS; Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation; Renewable and Modern Energy; Extractive Industries; Chemicals and Waste Management; Environmental Governance and Green/Circular Economy and SCP approaches. This work advances crosscutting themes on innovative finance, digital transformation, capacity development, human rights, gender equality, health, technology, and South-South learning.
In addition to UNDP’s bilateral partnerships on natural capital, environment and climate, UNDP is an accredited multilateral implementing agency of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the Multilateral Fund (MLF), the Adaptation Fund (AF) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) which  includes the Global Environment Facility Trust Fund (GEF Trust Fund); the Nagoya Protocol Implementation Fund (NPIF); the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF); and the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF)). As part of UNDP’s partnership with these vertical funds, UNDP provides countries specialized integrated technical services for eligibility assessment, programme formulation, capacity development, policy advice, technical assistance, training and technology transfer, mobilization of co-financing, implementation oversight, results management and evaluation, performance-based payments and knowledge management services. 
The UNDP Water & Ocean Governance Programme is one of the main global mechanisms contributing to the delivery of the freshwater and ocean aspects of the UNDP Strategic Plan and the organization’s contribution toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The WOGP set of projects and programmes bring a diverse suite of actors together to address the challenges related to SDG 6: sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, and SDG 14: to conserve and sustainably use ocean, seas and marine resources. The WOGP consists of a number of coordinated programmes and projects that deliver on particular aspects and subthemes, and support water, coastal and ocean-related endeavors throughout UNDP and in collaboration with a wide range of implementation partners, including governments, the UN system, intergovernmental organizations, NGOs and the private sector.  The WOGP works at national, local, global and regional levels to enhance ‘good water and ocean governance’ in five mutually reinforcing and inter-linked thematic areas:
  1. Safe, equitable and climate-resilient water and sanitation services;
  2. Integrated coastal and watershed management;
  3. Transboundary rivers, lakes and aquifers;
  4. Large Marine Ecosystems and regional fisheries;
  5. Global, cross-cutting and learning.
The Environmental Finance Unit is organized into substantive technical teams (Biodiversity, Water and Oceans, Energy and Climate Change Mitigation, Climate Change Adaptation, Chemicals & Waste, and Climate and Forests) with a Principal or Senior Technical Advisor (PTA/STA) being the team leader within each area.  Each team leader supports and guides a team of Regional Technical Advisors (RTAs) and Specialists (RTSs).  As well as being a member of a technical team, each RTA/RTS is also a member of a regional team, which consists of RTAs/RTSs from all technical teams working together under the leadership of a Regional Team Leader (RTL).  The regional teams are based in regional hubs (Addis Ababa, Bangkok, Istanbul, Panama) from where they support UNDP’s country offices and partners in their region.  
The RTS for Water, Ecosystems and Biodiversity works under the overall supervision of the Environmental Finance Unit PTAs on Water & Oceans and Ecosystems and Biodiversity. RTSs have a secondary line of reporting to the Regional Team Leaders based in the Regional Hubs. The RTS will be based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, will supervise one Programme Associate, and is expected to travel frequently. RTSs may be periodically redeployed, in accordance with capability, consent, and due process, to a different regional hub as needed.
Duties and Responsibilities
The Regional Technical Specialist (RTS) for Water, Ecosystems, and Biodiversity is primarily responsible for providing technical, policy, and programming implementation support and oversight, as well as, knowledge and capacity development services pertaining to the work of the Water & Oceans and Ecosystems and Biodiversity signature programmes to UNDP country offices and UNDP’s various implementing partners. The RTS is also expected to support and oversee UNDP´s work with other UN agencies, governments and inter-governmental organizations, NGO’s, donors (bilateral, IFI, foundations), the private sector and other stakeholders.  Specific results are expected in the areas of:
Innovation, Strategic Leadership, Policy Dialogue and Advocacy 
  • Contributing to a strategic understanding of, and engagement with, the substantive technical issues, institutions, and processes within the region, including establishing contact and developing strategic partnerships with other agencies, donors, NGOs, the private sector, scientific institutions and the like; 
  • Participating in the development and implementation of UNDP’s global and regional strategies on environment and sustainable development within BPPS and beyond.  Engagement in policy and advocacy work with external partners where relevant;
  • Providing policy development support and guidance to country offices and governments; 
  • Supporting the development of strategic UNDP policy position papers and internal briefing notes; 
  • Facilitating policy analysis and the development of technical tools and guidance; 
  • Maintain trusted relationships with country offices, government, and non-governmental partners’ role within the region; 
  • Keeping the Regional Team informed of trends and issues with respect to the substantive technical area and contribute actively to the development and implementation of the regional Environmental Finance Unit programming and Business plans; 
  • Keeping the Principal Technical Advisors informed of trends and issues in the region;
  • Work in coordination with other RTAs/RTSs in the region to develop projects requiring technical guidance from multiple areas.
Key result:  New strategic opportunities for UNDP are realized, UNDP’s technical focus is leading edge and innovative, UNDP has strong partnerships with a wide range of stakeholders and has a trusted leadership role in the technical area of expertise.
Portfolio Management 
  • Assisting in the maintenance of programme/project and portfolio information, and corporate information systems;
  • Facilitating the identification, and sourcing of technical expertise and support, including assisting with the preparation of TORs, identification and evaluation of experts, and reviewing reports;
  • Provide guidance on water, biodiversity, and ecosystem management including: strengthening management of protected area landscapes and developing protected area system finance schemes, mainstreaming biodiversity management in economic sector governance systems and markets, developing ecosystem-based adaptation and mitigation solutions to address climate change, and developing financial instruments for ecosystem management;  
  • Advise governments and other constituencies on issues related to fisheries management, integrated coastal management, governance of Large Marine Ecosystems, and integrated water resources management particularly in a transboundary context.
Key result:  Portfolio of programmes/projects managed efficiently and effectively.  UNDP recognized as providing outstanding programme and project oversight and supervision support.
Resource Mobilization 
  • Supporting programme and project identification and development, including on integrated approaches and multifocal area projects;
  • Providing timely and quality information and technical advice on sources of funds, policies, priorities and activities, including the Global Environment Facility funds, the Green Climate Fund, other multilateral donors, bilateral donors and foundations;
  • Identifying and suggesting to the PTAs and RTL priorities and entry-points for UNDP assistance;
  • Facilitating the process of preparation, design, submission and approval of programme/project concepts and full-fledged proposals for financing;
  • Providing guidance and support in the identification and sourcing of technical expertise and support, including assisting with the preparation of TORs, identification and evaluation of experts, and reviewing reports;
  • Facilitating liaisons with potential financing agencies and institutions.
Key result:  Resources are mobilized in support of developing country clients as a consequence of the identification, development and funding of high technical quality and results-based programmes and projects in line with country priorities and UNDP strategic priorities.
Development Impact 
  • Assisting with inception, contracting and startup of programmes/projects including establishment of indicators, benchmarks and work plans;
  • Supporting UNDP country offices and programme/project implementation partners in supervision, implementation, monitoring, evaluation, troubleshooting and adaptive management; 
  • Preparing reports and communications pieces effectively showcasing socio-economic development benefits as well as environment results.
Key result:  UNDP programmes and projects consistently deliver high quality, high impact development results.
Learning, Knowledge Management and Self Development 
  • Evaluating, capturing, codifying, synthesizing lessons, and stimulating the uptake of best practices and knowledge, including the development of knowledge materials;
  • Peer reviewing, commenting on, and seeking to improve the technical quality of programmes/projects, policies, practices, guidelines, advisory notes, publications and the like; 
  • Contributing to the preparation of regional Community of Practice meetings; 
  • Supporting the preparation and delivering of training courses;
  • Responding to queries on programme/project progress, impacts and lessons;
  • Developing and carrying out a personal learning plan.
Key result:  UNDP recognized as a learning and knowledge management organization.


  • Ability to make new and useful ideas work.
  • Ability to persuade others to follow.
People Management
  • Ability to improve performance and satisfaction.
  • Ability to listen, adapt, persuade and transform.
  • Ability to get things done while exercising good judgement.
Environmental Issues
  • Knowledge of environment issues, concept and principles and the ability to apply to strategic and/or practical situations.
Natural Resource Management
  • Knowledge of NRM concepts, principles and policies and ability to apply to strategic and/or practical situations.
  • Knowledge of economics concepts, principles and policies and ability to apply to strategic and/or practical situations.
Development Planning
  • Knowledge of development planning processes and the ability to apply to strategic and/or practical situations.
Program Planning and Design
  • Develop programmes and projects through a process of logic.
Resource Mobilization
  • Ability to identify and organize programmes and projects to implement solutions and generate resources.
Results-Based Management
  • Ability to manage programmes and projects with a strategy aimed at improved performance and demonstrable results.
Advocacy and Representation
  • Ability to productively share UNDP knowledge and activities (at UN and other venues).
Monitoring and Evaluation
  • Knowledge of methodologies, tools, systems and apply practical experience in planning, monitoring, evaluating and reporting.
Knowledge Management
  • Ability to efficiently handle and share information and knowledge.
Project Management
  • Ability to plan, organize, motivate, and control resources, procedures and protocols to achieve specific goals.
  • Ability to provide guidance on marine and freshwater ecosystem management and governance, particularly in a transboundary context.  Ability to guide the design and implementation of multi-sectoral and sectoral programmes and projects at different scales, and to work with multiple stakeholders across a wide range of disciplines.
Required Skills and Experience
  • Master’s degree or higher in marine science, water resources management, environmental sciences, or in economics or social sciences with a specialization in environment and development, or other closely related field.
  • Minimum of 7 years’ experience working with developing countries in the field of marine, freshwater, and/or terrestrial ecosystem management;
  • Minimums 3 years’ experience with conceptualizing and developing internationally financed projects and programmes;
  • Minimum 3 years’ experience working with developing countries in the policy development and implementation processes associated with marine and freshwater resources, ecosystem and/or biodiversity resources in development context;
  • Demonstrable experience in working across different disciplines and connecting natural resource issues with the sustainable development agenda;
  • Experience working with developing countries on transboundary water systems management and governance an advantage;
  • Experience working with developing countries on ecosystem-based mitigation and adaptation to climate change an advantage;
  • Experience working with multilateral, bilateral and/or regional environmental funds.  Experience with the Global Environment Facility is an advantage;
  • Experience in project management (direct experience an advantage) and guiding project implementation and management an advantage; 
  • Experience in establishing and/or maintaining strategic and long-term partnerships;
  • Experience in facilitation and coordination;
  • Full computer literacy;
  • Experience working in Africa region is an advantage;
  • Working experience in an international organization is an advantage as is knowledge of UNDP policies, procedures and practices.
Language Requirements
  • Excellent knowledge of the English language, with exceptional writing, presentation, and communication skills;
  • Knowledge of French and/or Portuguese is an advantage

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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. 

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Applicant information about UNDP rosters

Note: UNDP reserves the right to select one or more candidates from this vacancy announcement.  This vacancy announcement will be used to populate a roster of qualified candidates from which future Regional Technical Specialist for Water, Ecosystems, and Biodiversity assignments will be drawn. Kindly note that the Roster will consist of internal and external candidates found suitable for Regional Technical Specialist for Water, Ecosystems, and Biodiversity Fixed Term Appointments (FTA) at P4 levels. These candidates will have to be endorsed by the UNDP Compliance Review Board (CRB) after having successfully undergone a competitive recruitment process including a thorough technical assessment and a competency based interview. These individuals will be required to complete an application and, if successful, will be considered as “pre-approved” candidates for a duration of up to 3 years.

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