Director of the Division of Water Sciences and the Secretary of the Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme (IHP)

United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
Paris, France
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
International Organization
Experience Level: 
10+ Years
Degree Required: 
Advanced Degree (Master's or JD)


Please note: this job post has expired! To the best of our knowledge, this job is no longer available and this page remains here for archival purposes only.



The Division of Water Science comprises three Sections covering:


  • Hydrological Systems and Water Scarcity,
  • Groundwater Systems and Settlements,
  • Eco-hydrology, Water Quality and Water Education.


The Division is responsible for the Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme (IHP) of UNESCO, an intergovernmental Programme for freshwater science and education and its secretariat, and cooperates with the UNESCO World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP). The Division aims to support Member States at national, regional and global levels in advancing science and capacity for sustainable management of fresh water. The Division coordinates programs in freshwater sciences for the implementation of the UNESCO Medium-Term Strategy (C4), the Programme and Budget (C/5) and the IHP strategic plan, in line with water relevant international commitments such as the Agenda 2030, in particular SDG 6, the Paris Agreement, the Sendai Framework, and the New Urban Agenda with special emphasis on UNESCO’s two global priorities, Africa and Gender.  

Under the overall guidance and supervision of the Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences (ADG/SC) and based on the principle of delegation of authority, the Director will lead the Division of Water Sciences to ensure the efficient planning, management and implementation of the freshwater programmes of UNESCO. He/she will supervise the 3 Section Chiefs and coordinate with the UNESCO Field Units. He/she will serve as Secretary of the Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme. As a key member of the Senior Management Team of the Sector, he/she will advise ADG/SC on strategic, technical, operational, human resource and budgetary issues, and provide strategic guidance and direction to UNESCO IHP programme ensuring effective mechanisms and procedures for cooperation within UNESCO and within the UN system. In addition, the Director is responsible for coordination with the UNESCO water family and freshwater.

In particular the incumbent shall:

  • Act as Director of the Division of Water Sciences and the Secretary of the Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme, provide intellectual, strategic and operational leadership in the freshwater related programme delivery; Ensure that IHP activities including those performed by the UNESCO water family are in coherence with the programme on freshwater set by UNESCO Member States through the IHP strategic action plans; support and facilitate IHP Phase IX [2022 -2029) and the following IHP phases;
  • Develop collaborative action within the network of water-related centres and Chairs as well as with partners/members of the different IHP initiatives and networks; Identify and develop new activities of strategic importance; Design and implement comprehensive plans for strengthening coordination with all freshwater activities in accordance with the instructions given by the General Conference, by the Executive Board and by the Director-general of UNESCO;
  • Ensure coordination and cooperation with other United Nations agencies, in particular within the United Nations frameworks such as UN Water and ensure contributions to all UNESCO and UN-wide reporting requests;
  • Provide strategic input for the preparation of the eight-yearly medium-term strategy and the biennial programme and budgets of UNESCO, in line with international commitments such as the Agenda 2030, the Sendai Framework, the Paris Agreement and the New Urban Agenda and the recommendations by the IHP governing bodies;
  • Act as Secretary of the Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme (IHP): Oversee the preparation of the meetings of the Intergovernmental Council of the IHP, of its committees and its Bureau, providing the Secretariat for these meetings and, if required, represent the Director-General at them;
  • Establish and maintain good relations with Member States for the purpose of promoting their involvement in the activities and, in particular, ensuring liaison with the National Committees for IHP and developing exchanges of information among these Committees;
  • Identify and create opportunities for resource mobilization and actively raise extrabudgetary funds in consultation with SC field office colleagues; Prepare sound proposals for fundraising at the government and private sector level and ensure UNESCO’s participation in the design and implementation of projects/activities benefiting from major international, regional and national financial mechanisms;
  • Manage the Division’s human and financial resources, including provision of leadership, on-time performance feedback, coaching and well-being support to staff. Develop and maintain effective communication channels with Division staff and establish mechanisms for building, enhancing and promoting teamwork and cohesiveness in a complex and priority-shifting environment. Promote good practices in people management.

COMPETENCIES (Core / Managerial)

Accountability (C)

Communication (C)

Innovation (C)

Knowledge sharing and continuous improvement (C)

Planning and organizing (C)

Results focus (C)

Teamwork (C)

Building partnerships (M)

Driving and managing change (M)

Leading and empowering others (M)

Making quality decisions (M)

Managing performance (M)

Strategic thinking (M)

For detailed information, please consult the UNESCO Competency Framework.



  • Advanced university degree (Master's or equivalent) in one of the fields of fresh water and/or natural sciences.

Work Experience

  • A minimum of 15 years of progressive professional experience at the appropriate management level within the United Nations System or within other international institutions, including a wide experience in development issues related to UNESCO's areas of competence, at national or international level.
  • Proven experience in strategic planning, change management and leading teams.
  • Experience in advocacy, resources and partnership mobilization.
  • Substantive experience in the area of natural sciences, especially in areas directly related to the post as well as a scientific environmental research, evidenced by scientific publications and records.
  • Experience in the field of international relations and diplomacy, multilateral cooperation and/or development.


  • Knowledge of, and commitment to, the Organization's mandate, vision, strategic direction and priorities.
  • Good knowledge of UNESCO programmes and policies and of international development policies and institutions.
  • Demonstrated strategic planning and management abilities, including capacity to administer extensive programmes and financial resources.
  • Broad knowledge of water and environmental issues publications and records.
  • Leadership capacity, high sense of objectivity and professional integrity, diplomacy, tact and political astuteness.
  • Proven ability to work collaboratively and to build relationships with diverse groups of organizations and individuals, relevant institutions, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, including through networking; ability to participate effectively in high-level negotiations with internal and external partners.
  • Analytical and organizational skills, including in establishing plans and priorities, and in implementing them effectively, as well as in devising implementation plans.
  • Capacity to provide intellectual leadership to guide staff, as well as ability to build trust, manage, lead and motivate a large and diversified body of staff in a multicultural environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and ability to communicate effectively and persuasively, both orally and in writing, in front of a broad range of constituents, as well as the news media.
  • Sound judgment and decision-making skills.
  • Ability to identify key strategic issues, objectives, opportunities and risks.


  • Excellent knowledge (oral and written) of English.



  • PhD in natural sciences and other degrees or short- to medium-term training in disciplines relevant to the post.

Work experience

  • Experience in conducting policy dialogue at government and non-government levels or public and private sectors.
  • Experience in research work and/or teaching at university or in a research institution.
  • Experience in a duty station different from the Headquarters.


  • Good knowledge of the United Nations system.


  • Knowledge of French.
  • Knowledge of other official UNESCO languages (Arabic, Chinese, Russian or Spanish).


UNESCO’s salaries consist of a basic salary and other benefits which may include if applicable: 30 days annual leave, family allowance, medical insurance, pension plan etc.

For more information in benefits and entitlements, please consult ICSC website


Please note that all candidates must complete an on-line application and provide complete and accurate information. To apply, please visit the UNESCO careers website. No modifications can be made to the application submitted.

The evaluation of candidates is based on the criteria in the vacancy notice, and may include tests and/or assessments, as well as a competency-based interview.

UNESCO uses communication technologies such as video or teleconference, e-mail correspondence, etc. for the assessment and evaluation of candidates.

Please note that only selected candidates will be further contacted and candidates in the final selection step will be subject to reference checks based on the information provided.