Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel – Global Environment Facility (GEF) International Waters Panel Member

Global Environment Facility (GEF)

, , XH

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 Vacancy Announcement is being published by the Water & Energy Cluster on behalf of the GEF STAP
Background Information – Job-specific

The Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP) of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) – a body formed to convey the best available scientific and technical advice to the GEF – is currently accepting applications from highly qualified candidates with outstanding academic and technical credentials and a passion for tackling global environment challenges in the area of International Waters.

The Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel is an independent body which advises the Council, Secretariat, and 18 GEF Agencies. The Panel is made up of 6 members – a Chairperson and 6 individual members with specialized expertise in one or several focal areas of work of the GEF. The roles and responsibilities of the Chairperson, the Panel Members and of the STAP Secretariat are governed in general by the Revised Terms of Reference (ToR) of the STAP (March 2012). Each individual Panel member is responsible for overseeing, and ensuring the consistency of, the STAP program of work in their assigned areas of responsibility. The Chair is responsible for strategic oversight, coordinating the work of the Panel, and ensuring effective liaison and communication with the GEF Council.

The GEF International Waters focal area was established to support countries to jointly manage their transboundary surface water basins, groundwater basins, and coastal and marine systems to enable the sharing of benefits from their utilization. The goal of the IW focal area is to promote collective management for transboundary water systems and subsequent implementation of the full range of policy, legal, and institutional reforms and investments contributing to sustainable use and maintenance of ecosystem services. One of the key factors behind the long-term success of the IW focal area has been its consistent overall goal and strategic approach, including joint fact-finding (through Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis), multi-country strategic planning (through Strategic Action Program), and implementation of governance reforms and investments.

Over the coming years GEF will implement a number of systemic changes informed by the GEF 2020 Strategy. The Panel as a whole and each Panel member individually has specific role to play to assure successful implementation of the Strategy focused on supporting transformational change and achieving global environmental benefits on a larger scale.

Functional Responsibilities

Responsibilities and Qualifications of Panel Members

STAP has three primary responsibilities:

1. To provide objective, strategic scientific and technical advice on GEF policies and focal area strategies and relevant cross-cutting issues.

2. Deliver timely, operational advice on individual GEF projects – in particular on the scientific and technical rationale of these projects as well as their estimated contribution to global environmental benefits

3. Finally, to implement a results oriented program of work – developed in collaboration with the GEF Secretariat, Conventions1and the GEF Agencies – designed to address key challenges related to the successful implementation of GEF programs.

Specifically with respect to item 3 above, the aim is to develop, in partnership with the GEF Secretariat and GEF Agencies, guidance for GEF Partners to address these challenges, drawing on the best available science and knowledge. This work typically takes the form of reports or advisory documents; though policy briefs, assessments and other written articles can be outputs. GEF project screening or monitoring tools may also be developed. Panel Members lead a collaborative process for identifying issues to be included in the STAP program of work, and developing strategies to address them. Panel members oversee and contribute substantively to the delivery of these tasks, typically in conjunction with additional outside experts.

The Panel Members deliver their individual roles and responsibilities pro-actively, and wherever possible as a team, to advise the GEF regarding scientific and technical issues across its entire focal area and cross-focal area portfolios, as well as on overarching GEF policies.  The Panel Members should discharge their duties whilst providing intellectual and innovative leadership, to formulate advice at the highest levels of the GEF partnership, which challenges conventional thinking, and brings intellectual rigor to their contributions on strategic and operational issues. In close cooperation with the Secretariat, they direct STAP resources primarily towards the analysis of contemporary environmental and sustainability challenges.  Panel Members are also responsible for developing the Work Program and guiding the STAP Secretariat’s support to the Program.

Each Panel Member is responsible for the Panel’s advice regarding their respective focal areas, along with cross-cutting or integrated issues as assigned, under the direction of the Chair. Panel Members will deliver their advice calling upon the best available expertise and science and technology networks, and will ensure that appropriate peer review processes are employed to confirm the accuracy, quality of information, and credibility of the specific content and recommendations to be made by the STAP, as appropriate. Panel Members may lead and facilitate ad-hoc working groups and meetings, including those at the request of the GEF Secretariat and the GEF Independent Evaluation Office as these relate to the STAP Work Program and as resources permit, in order to enable the provision of the best available advice to the GEF.

Specific Responsibilities

  1. Demonstrate technical leadership and initiative, and mobilize respective scientific and technical networks and partnerships in proposing and delivering the best available scientific and technical advice to help, inter alia,  design and implement projects, influence policy, assess governance frameworks, contribute to strategic planning, appraise the success/failure/impacts of projects and generally aid the GEF in furthering its core objectives;
  2. Under the guidance of the STAP Chair, take an active part in the development and implementation of the STAP work program, keeping an eye out for trends and emerging issues that could impact delivery of the GEF’s program; and with support from the STAP Secretariat, prepare work program activities in consultation with the GEF focal area Task Forces, oversee expert meetings and the preparation of background documents, identify and network with the best global experts available to contribute to the task, and prepare the final report of the activity for which financial support can be made available;
  3. Undertake and coordinate screens of Project Information Forms and Program Proposals to be included in GEF work programs;
  4. Participate actively in STAP meetings and the GEF task forces and ad-hoc working groups;
  5. Participate in two face to face meetings of the STAP Panel annually, in collaboration with the GEF partnership, along with monthly teleconferences;
  6. Participate in other meetings and events organized by the STAP, the GEF Secretariat; Independent Evaluation Office, and the subsidiary bodies of the GEF related conventions, and the Convention Secretariats, as required, and/or at the request of the STAP Chair;
  7. Circulate briefing reports to the members and to the Secretariat on meetings and events in which the panel members represented the Panel;
  8. Periodically circulate to Panel and GEF colleagues the results of evolving scientific research which is directly relevant to their focal area and/or integrated approaches;
  9. Provide inputs into the regular reports to the GEF Council and quadrennial reports to the GEF Assembly;
  10. Provide expert inputs to and undertake reviews of M&E and KM activities, as per the agreed STAP work program, or at the behest of the STAP Chair;
  11. Identify areas for research and review proposals as necessary in accordance with the GEF policy for funding targeted research;
  12. Ensure that the work of STAP contributes and benefits from the work undertaken by the GEF Agencies, the GEF Secretariat and the GEF related conventions.
Education/Experience/Language requirements

Specific qualifications sought are as follows:


  1. Advanced degree, preferably a PhD, in a field directly related to the position; 
  2. Minimum 15 years of experience in scientific research – and in the application of results to real-world issues, including demonstrated success applying research results to efforts to improve the management of water resources/aquatic systems;
  3. Demonstrated ability to work cross-sectorally in areas of importance related to the field of International Waters and Sustainable Development (including the other GEF Focal areas of Chemicals & Waste, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Land Degradation, and Adaptation);
  4. Capable of bridging scientific, technological, economic, social and policy issues in the public and/or private sector contexts;
  5. Familiarity with and understanding of the multilateral environmental agreements that affect and/or govern International Waters issues globally;
  6. Experience working in developing countries, including applied research related to international waters, and design and/or implementation of international waters programs involving multilateral environmental agreements, preferably in coordination with multilateral and bilateral agencies;
  7. Extensive access to scientific networks and partnerships globally (in both developed and developing countries) in the area of environmentally sustainable development with a clear focus on water resources, and demonstrated ability to engage and tap into these networks;
  8. Fluency in oral and written English, and demonstrated ability to communicate, orally and in writing, in a clear, concise, and structured manner.
  9. Demonstrated experience in facilitation of learning and knowledge exchange at various levels and forums; and familiarity with IW Learn;
  10. Peer reviewed publication record that is of relevance to the position.  


  1. Demonstrated expertise and leadership in the field of International Waters and sustainable development, supported by (but not restricted to) the candidate’s peer-reviewed publication record;
  2. Demonstrated ability to initiate and manage scientific research undertakings involving multiple stakeholders in multiple geographic settings;
  3. Knowledge of the scientific processes required for the implementation of relevant conventions in developing countries for which the GEF provides support.

In addition to the core competencies of professionalism and leadership noted above, the following additional competencies will also be considered:

  1. Enthusiasm and commitment to addressing issues related to international waters;
  2. High level of technical and scientific awareness, including familiarity with latest tools/techniques for collection, storage, analysis, monitoring and dissemination of International Waters relevant scientific data – proactively keeps GEF up to date on latest technical and scientific developments;
  3. Team work – ability to collaborate effectively and remotely in a multi-cultural team and share responsibilities;
  4. Able to communicate in a clear, structured, and concise manner – both orally and in writing;
  5. Able and willing to travel globally to attend meetings and events;
  6. A good sense of humor.

Time Commitment

A Panel Member is expected to provide a minimum contribution of 60 days per year to the work of STAP – up to a maximum of 90 days if required under exceptional circumstances and with mutual agreement. The Panel meets in person twice a year, and at least monthly by teleconference.  In addition, Panel Members normally undertake at least 2-3 additional trips per year related to activities directly supporting the STAP Work Program (e.g. workshops or meetings related to work program deliverables, Convention subsidiary expert body meetings, etc.). The Panel Member is also expected to actively participate in GEF focal area inter-agency task force discussions, which typically involve monthly one hour teleconferences and occasional face-to face meetings. The majority of the operational business of STAP is transacted by email and teleconference.

STAP Secretariat

The work of the Panel is supported by a small, fully dedicated Secretariat supported by the United Nations Environment Program. The STAP Secretariat provides both substantive and operational assistance in the delivery of the Panel Member responsibilities outlined above including background research, development of terms of reference and draft reports/outputs, as well as to administer the contracting, task management, and delivery of the work under the direction of the Panel Member concerned.

Interested qualified candidates are requested to provide a letter of motivation, a completed personal history profile, along with a CV via UNOPS GPRS.

The Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel is administered by UNEP on behalf of the GEF Network. UNEP is an equal opportunity employer. Preference will be given to equally qualified women candidates.

Contract type: International ICA Retainer
Contract level: IICA-3 (ICS-11)
Contract duration: The contract will be issued as a yearly contract

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