Consultant (Environmental Security)

Global Environment Facility (GEF)

Washington, DC, United States 🇺🇸

Background Information – UNOPS

UNOPS supports the successful implementation of its partners’ peacebuilding, humanitarian and development projects around the world. Our mission is to serve people in need by expanding the ability of the United Nations, governments and other partners to manage projects, infrastructure and procurement in a sustainable and efficient manner.

Working in some of the world’s most challenging environments, our vision is to advance sustainable implementation practices, always satisfying or surpassing our partners’ expectations.

With over 7,000 personnel spread across 80 countries, UNOPS offers its partners the logistical, technical and management knowledge they need, wherever they need it.

A flexible structure and global reach means that we can quickly respond to our partners’ needs, while offering the benefits of economies of scale. 

Background Information – WEC

Water and Energy Cluster

Based in Copenhagen, the UNOPS Water and Energy Cluster provides specialized project management services to partners such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Bank. Together with partners, the cluster executes projects that support sustainable development by:

  • promoting international cooperation to prevent and reverse environmental degradation of international water systems
  • enhancing the resilience of communities and eco-systems to climate change
  • lowering emissions by bridging renewable energy solutions
  • developing Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions to strengthen climate-resilient development

This recruitment is being conducted on behalf of the GEF STAP.

The Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP) of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) aims to provide the latest, comprehensive, and targeted science to the GEF. Emerging issues of global importance to the activities of the GEF are regularly explored by STAP to assist with guidance on strategies and programming. In the context of a changing policy landscape with the recent adoption of Agenda 2030 on the Sustainable Development Goals, continuing to deliver on the Multilateral Environmental Agreements the GEF is serving will require systemic approaches based on scientific principles to maximize the potential for delivering multiple benefits.

Competition for, and degradation of natural resources (such as freshwater or arable land) can be a source for conflict between individuals and groups. This may be exacerbated by increased urbanization and global climate change – which may further impact on fresh water (quality and quantity), food production and human health. Consequently, securing environmental benefits can not only help to reduce risks of future conflicts; but can also serve as a more effective means for post-conflict reconstruction. Armed conflict[1] can also lead to negative consequences for the natural environment (directly via defoliation, chemical spills, pillaging of high value natural resources such as timber and wildlife, etc. and/or indirectly via mass migration leading to land degradation, deforestation, etc.). 

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) currently operates in over 167 countries[2]– some of which are currently or have historically been embroiled in some level of armed conflict. Although conflict/lack of security is sometimes noted in GEF project documents as a potential source of risk with associated proposed abatement measures, to date there have been no systematic attempts to analyze the relationship between conflict and GEF projects in terms of spatial distribution and patterns, as well as the impact of that armed conflict may have on project outcomes.

After 25 years of operation, there is a need to gain a deeper understanding of the socio-economic context within which GEF projects are conceived and operate in order to improve the knowledge base and to design future interventions accordingly. By taking into account lessons learned from past projects, GEF Implementing Agencies can improve the chances of long-term success – both in terms of global environmental benefits (GEBs) as well as advancing overall human well-being.[3]

The objective of this consultancy is to conduct an in-depth, nested analysis of the relationship between armed conflict and GEF project location and outcomes.  Each of the three tiers will have an associated output described for each section, which when combined, will be used as the basis upon which to write [with the STAP and other collaborators] a 5-10 page article to be submitted to a relevant, open access, scientific journal. Performance indicators will be tied to the quality and timeliness of the drafts and final report delivered by the Consultant.

[1] An armed conflict is defined here as a contested incompatibility which concerns government and/or territory where the use of armed force between two parties, of which at least one is the government of a state, results in at least 25 battle-related deaths. See Appendix 2 in Journal of Peace Research 1993–2014 in Wallensteen, Peter & Margareta Sollenberg, 2001. ’Armed Conflict 1989–2000’, Journal of Peace Research 38(5): 629–644.

[2] Behind the Numbers 20-15: A Closer Look at GEF Achievements.

[3] One of the targets for Goal 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions) of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is to “Significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere.”

Functional Responsibilities

The primary responsibility of the Consultant will be to obtain and analyze armed conflict data and GEF project/program data [and other information as appropriate] to develop insights into the relationship between these variables at different scales of analysis.  The Consultant will use the results of the analyses to draw conclusions regarding GEF interventions and conflict/peace using a three-tiered approach starting from the global/national level to GEF-supported projects related primarily to biodiversity and land degradation, and then focusing on several key projects identified through the previous two tasks for a more in-depth analysis across these and potentially other focal areas such as International Waters.

Specific Tasks and Responsibilities

The Consultant will undertake the tasks outlined below:

Tier One – Global/National Level Analysis

The first tier will focus on all GEF Recipient Countries.  The Consultant should seek to answer the following questions using spatially explicit data and methods:

  • In which GEF recipient countries has conflict occurred since the inception of the GEF (1991) to present? Break down results by a) type of conflict, length of conflict, etc.). Include the number of specific incidents but also single protracted conflicts (e.g. FARC vs. government in Columbia as one conflict comprised of many separate incidences) to develop view graphs and associated conclusions describing this relationship and to classify countries by conflict based on descriptive summary statistics (e.g. count, max – min).
  • Using hot spot– type spatial analysis, determine if there are places in GEF-recipient countries where conflicts tend to be concentrated. Where are the ‘conflict hot spots?’ Where [which countries and regions] do we find higher than expected number of conflicts? What are the characteristics of these conflicts based on descriptive summary statistics contained within the conflict database?
  • Using publically available data from the World Bank Development Indicators, determine what are the macro-indicators associated with conflict in GEF-funded countries (or a subset of countries based on results from task no. 2 above). Which of the factors relevant to GEF programming (e.g. urbanization, access to electricity, agricultural land, annual freshwater withdrawals, CO2 emissions, etc.) correlate to incidents of armed conflict?

Key deliverable(s): Charts/tables/graphs depicting a) location of conflicts in GEF-supported countries over time and by GEF period (GEF 1 – GEF 6).  Show the relationship between where GEF operates [and concentrates financial resources, if possible] vs. where conflicts are concentrated to examine trends over time and space. Develop graphs depicting a time series distribution over each successive GEF replenishment period indicating project count vs. conflict count, project amount vs. conflict amount, etc.

Show results of the regression analysis comparing macro-level variables to conflict incidents to see if correlations exist. Describe in detail what, if any, conclusions can be drawn regarding the presence of armed conflict and other key variables in a time series.

Tier Two – GEF- Supported Projects related to Land Degradation and Biodiversity

The second tier of the analysis will focus on GEF projects primarily related to biodiversity conservation (e.g. protected areas). Using datasets developed by the GEF Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) and GEF Implementing Agencies, the Consultant will undertake the following analysis:
  • Use spatial data of GEF-supported projects (~1800  locations) to determine the location of each project in relation to armed conflicts, making sure that the time periods are appropriately synchronized. Use spatial tools to determine the average distance between GEF projects and conflict incidences and develop graphs/charts to show conclusions.
  • Overlay conflict data and match conflict dates with project dates to determine total number and percentage of incidents occurring a) within the PA; b) within 5 km of PA; within 10 km of PA that occurred during the GEF project period.  By examining the description of the conflict estimate the number of total conflicts (e.g. several incidents could occur over a 5 year period; however, they could all be identified under one larger description such as FARC vs. Columbian government).  Create a table (see example below) with relevant information for each project.

In addition, the Consultant should provide a descriptive summary of the percentage of conflict incidents at a specific distance from the GEF project location.

Key deliverable (s): Tables/charts and maps that clearly depict which GEF-supported projects are most closely affected by conflict in terms of spatial proximity and a short written description of the main conflicts occurring within or near GEF projects, as well as tables such as the example above.

Tier Three – Project Level Analysis

Based on the results from the Tier One and Two analyses, select 5 – 10 GEF-supported projects for in-depth analysis based using project documentation found in the Project Management Information System (PMIS) database.

Projects should be selected based on several criteria including:

a)      Large number of conflicts over a prolonged period of time, including during the project period.

b)      Project should be completed with terminal evaluation.

The STAP Secretariat will assist the Consultant in identifying relevant project/program examples from the GEF portfolio.

Key deliverable(s):  3-5 page summary of each project that explores the extent to which conflict was initially listed as a ‘risk’ in the project identification form (PIF/PFD) and if so, what mitigation measures were put in place to ensure that the project would not be adversely affected. Conversely, were there any projects where conflict minimization or cooperation was specifically intended as a ‘co-benefit’ resulting from specific activities? Were mid-course corrections made based on the mid-term evaluation? Did conflict or peace impact the final results of the project? If so, how?

Expectations and Timetable

  • To meet these responsibilities, the Consultant will meet with STAP and other collaborators to discuss each of the tasks in greater detail including exchanging information on available data and methods appropriate for each of the tasks described above.
  • The Consultant is expected to contact and consult with the STAP and other GEF Units on a regular basis (e.g. weekly) for relevant input during the analysis and preparation of outputs related to each task under each tier. Skype or teleconferences will be held at regular intervals to discuss progress, major findings and any difficulties. Modifications to the details of the report may be discussed and agreed during these communications.  
Education/Experience/Language requirements


  • Advanced university degree (MA or Ph.D. preferred) in Geography, Computer Science, Environmental Economics, Natural Resource Management or related degree with extensive experience in geographic information systems (GIS) and statistical analysis. A background in conflict studies and/or environment/conservation would be beneficial.

Work Experience:

  • Candidates must have a minimum of seven years of relevant experience
  • Must be highly skilled in GIS and statistical software such as R, ArcGIS or other statistical and GIS tools with proven experience acquiring, analyzing and presenting spatial data in the form of tables, charts and GIS-based maps.
  • Some knowledge of the GEF and its operations is preferred but not necessary.
  • Proven experience in reviewing scientific literature and writing papers for submission to academic journals.


•             Fluency in both written and oral English.

Contract type: International ICA 
Contract level: IICA-3
Contract duration: lumpsum 10 weeks

For more details about the ICA contractual modality, please follow this link: 

  • Please note that the closing date is midnight Copenhagen time
  • Applications received after the closing date will not be considered.
  • Only those candidates that are short-listed for interviews will be notified.
  • Qualified female candidates are strongly encouraged to apply.
  • For staff positions only, UNOPS reserves the right to appoint a candidate at a lower level than the advertised level of the post
  • The incumbent is responsible to abide by security policies, administrative instructions, plans and procedures of the UN Security Management System and that of UNOPS.  

It is the policy of UNOPS to conduct background checks on all potential recruits/interns.
Recruitment/internship in UNOPS is contingent on the results of such checks.