Head of Science and Policy

Gland, , CH

The Convention on Wetlands, also known as the “Ramsar Convention” from the name of the city in Iran where it was signed in 1971, is an intergovernmental treaty which provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and sustainable use of wetland biodiversity and services. It was the first of the modern global multilateral environmental agreements and remains the only one devoted to a specific critical ecosystem.

The Ramsar Convention Secretariat has its headquarters in Gland, Switzerland where the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), provides some administrative services to the Convention’s Contracting Parties for the operations and implementation of the Convention.

The Head of Science and Policy reports to the Secretary-General in the Ramsar Secretariat. The post-holder provides the lead within the Ramsar Secretariat regarding scientific matters, support to the Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP), and coordination of approaches to scientific related policy and capacity building for Contracting Parties.

The position requires: a scientific background with senior level experience in scientific and technical issues related to wetlands and/or biodiversity conservation, preferably in a governmental or intergovernmental context; experience in policy analysis and formulation, including in the interface between science and policy; involvement in organizing and delivering capacity building; and a good working knowledge of the scientific and technical issues affecting sustainable development, conservation, and wise use of wetlands.

Science and policy

1. Support the Secretary-General by acting as a senior representative of the Convention and its Secretariat on behalf of the Secretary-General on issues of science and policy.

2. Take the lead, in coordination with the Senior Management Team of the Secretariat, to foster links between scientific and technical aspects of implementation of the Convention, including its STRP, and opportunities for collaboration with other relevant Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs), international organizations, including financial organizations, intergovernmental institutions and national and international non-governmental organizations. Such links would include: the secretariats and subsidiary bodies of other conventions, in particular the Conventions on Biological Diversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Migratory Species, and World Heritage; the six International Organization Partners (IOPs), i.e. International Union for Conservation of Nature-IUCN, World Wide Fund for Nature-WWF, Birdlife International, Wetlands International, International Water Management Institute and Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust; and intergovernmental organizations and bodies including the Global Environment Facility, the World Bank and other multilateral development banks, as well as UNEP, UNDP, UNECE, UNESCO, FAO, World Health Organization, European Commission, European Space Agency, IPBES and other scientific and technical organizations with which the Convention establishes collaboration.

3. Take responsibility to provide effective support to the STRP, in particular:

i) Facilitate the work of the STRP, including by organizing and administering its meetings and maintaining the STRP Workspace; facilitate linkages between potential experts within countries, regions and globally, including indigenous peoples and local communities; and identify the needs of potential audiences and thematic priorities in different countries or regions to suggest to the Parties for their consideration.

ii) Engaging the Head of Resource Mobilization and Outreach and CEPA Network, ensure all written materials from the STRP developed for target audiences are clear and readable and appropriate for those audiences; guidance, materials, and products of the STRP are published and disseminated in a timely manner; the application of the guidance is monitored; and the Contracting Parties, the broader Ramsar Community and the public are informed of the availability of finalized STRP products and other scientific developments related to the Convention.

Ensure efficient data management with priority on Ramsar Sites Information Service, inventories and establishing a single consolidated database, collaborating as appropriate with existing expert data management organizations (such as UNEP-WCMC) and connecting with other MEAs (through InforMEA).

4. Analyse and identify opportunities and connections to relevant policy processes in all areas of scientific and technical work relating to the implementation of the Convention and its Strategic Plan.Coordinate Secretariat support for Contracting Parties’ efforts to integrate wetlands and the Ramsar Strategic Plan into national-level decision making and policymaking on a range of sustainable development-related issues, and to seek to influence broader policy objectives at national and international levels; key areas relevant to the Convention include the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), climate change and land degradation, as well as policies from relevant sectors and actors.

5. Working with the Secretariat team, Regional Initiatives, IOPs and other partners, provide scientific and technical support to Contracting Parties in priority areas of the Strategic Plan with the Ramsar Sites network as a priority.

6. In collaboration with other sections of the Secretariat, develop and maintain a programme of capacity building efforts on the implementation of scientific and technical guidance developed under the Convention and on the integration of wetlands in relevant policy agendas across regions through Regional Initiatives, CEPA network and partnerships with MEAs, IOPs and others as appropriate.


7. Act as a senior representative of the Convention and its Secretariat on behalf of the Secretary-General on issues of science and policy.

8. Develop and manage the work plan and budget of the Science and Policy team.

9. Supervise the staff of the Science and Policy team ensure that all staff have annual work plans linked to the strategic plan, and encourage and assist their professional development. Hold staff accountable for results and for the quality of outputs. Ensure that the staff of the team work together and with the other staff of the Secretariat as needed to achieve good synergies and cross-fertilization between the different teams.

10. As a member of the Senior Management Team, participate in the work planning of the Secretariat, and coordinate activities with those of other sections of the Secretariat to ensure efficiency of operation and implementation and a whole-of-Secretariat approach to the Secretariat’s work programme.

11. Represent the Secretary-General and the Ramsar Secretariat, as requested, in meetings and in contacts with government officials, intergovernmental organizations and secretariats of other conventions, partner organizations and other institutions, including the IOPs and national and international NGOs.

The above job description contains the main duties and responsibilities for this position. However, in the Ramsar Secretariat, staff members are expected to undertake other tasks that are reasonably allocated to them but which are not part of their regular job description. Where any task becomes a regular part of an employee’s responsibilities, the job description will be changed in consultation with the employee and the Human Resources Management Group.

 • Leadership abilities and experience, maturity and management skills, characterized by:

• A commitment to nature conservation and sustainable use.

• A university degree (preferably post graduate degree) in scientific field or an equivalent demonstrated knowledge in a field relevant to conservation or related field;

• A minimum of 10 years relevant senior professional experience in scientific issues related to wetlands and/or biodiversity conservation, preferably in a governmental or intergovernmental context; demonstrated understanding of the scientific issues pertaining to sustainable development, conservation, and wise use of wetlands

• Demonstrated experience in policy analysis and formulation, and in influencing policy objectives at national and international levels, especially in the interface between science and policy, in areas related to the Convention, including on Multilateral Environmental Agreements (e.g. Conventions on Biological Diversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Migratory Species, World Heritage) and 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda

• Sound experience and involvement in organizing and delivering capacity building initiatives on technical and scientific issues;

• Good understanding of the requirements of an intergovernmental setting and demonstrated ability to liaise and engage with governmental, non-governmental and other actors.

• A deep sense of self-awareness as evidenced by the ability to articulate one’s own strengths, weaknesses and one’s impact on others.

• Unimpeachable integrity as evidenced by behavior, communication style and way of handling ambiguous or difficult situations.

• Demonstrated ability to manage and lead the work of the Secretariat with diverse skills, personalities, and backgrounds.

• Proven ability to effectively delegate, empower and motivate staff and others.

• Experience developing teams and individuals and effectively leading improvement and change.

• Clear commitment to fostering a culture of high performance and accountability, demonstrated in the ability to manage by results, differentiate performance and assertively give feedback and take decisive action when necessary.

• Demonstrated ability to both plan and take action, keeping the staff focused on priorities.

• Demonstrated experience in the selection, coaching and appraisal of staff.

• Demonstrated experience building teams diverse in gender, nationality and background to achieve business results. This commitment to diversity and inclusion should be exemplified through staffing decisions (recruitment, promotion, recognition, etc.) and the ability to model behaviors that promote a more inclusive organizational culture.

• Proven communications skills (oral and written) and ability to work with full fluency in spoken and written English; knowledge of either French and/ or Spanish is an advantage.

• Senior management experience, characterized by:

• Demonstrated experience and achievements in organizational, financial and personnel management, and in decision-making.
• Proven experience in maintaining and nurturing expert networks with demonstrated ability to handle politically and culturally sensitive issues.
• Maintain a positive work environment that facilitates collaboration and information sharing and is conducive to attracting, retaining, and motivating diverse talent;

The gross annual salary for this position is in the range from CHF 132’000 to CHF 165’000, subject to deductions for social security contributions and second-pillar pension, and before tax.

Applicants are requested to apply online through the HR Management System, by opening the vacancy announcement and pressing the “Apply” button.

Applicants will be asked to create an account and submit their profile information. Applications will not be accepted after the closing date. The vacancy closes at midnight, Swiss time (GMT+1 / GMT+2 during Daylight Saving Time, DST).

Other job opportunities are published in the IUCN website: http://www.iucn.org/involved/jobs/

About IUCN

IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges.

IUCN works on biodiversity, energy, human livelihoods and greening the world economy by supporting scientific research, managing field projects all over the world, and bringing governments, NGOs, the UN and companies together to develop policy, laws and best practice.

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