Sustainable Development Specialist

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

New York, NY, US


In September 2015, UN Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda), a universal and transformative set of commitments for ending poverty and protecting the planet. The 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out concrete aspirations to eradicate poverty, fight inequality and discrimination; and to foster peaceful and inclusive societies as a prerequisite and indivisible component of sustainable development.

UNDP is supporting UN Member States and other stakeholders in the implementation of these commitments. This support is framed by the United Nations Development Group (UNDG) common approach to supporting SDG implementation, MAPS, comprising: Mainstreaming of 2030 Agenda, Acceleration towards the SDGs, and Policy Support drawing on the expertise and programmatic experience of different parts of the UN.

In this context, the Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean (RBLAC) is supporting Country Offices across the region to mainstream, accelerate and provide policy support on the SDG agenda, building on the contributions of the 2016 Regional Human Development Reports “Multidimensional Progress: Well-Being beyond Income” (Latin America) and “Multidimensional Progress: Human Resilience beyond income” (Caribbean). Through the project “A Multidimensional Progress Agenda for Human Development in Latin America and the Caribbean” RBLAC (NY and Regional Hub) is providing strategic and technical support to country offices with economic analysis and policy advise, the implementation of SDG oriented tools (RIA, PoVRisk, Combos, Fiscal simulations, SIGOB, DFA, etc.), further researching on hard exclusion issues of the region, partnership building, promoting best practices and identifying South-South Cooperation, among other areas of work. UNDP is supporting the implementation of the SDG agenda at the national, regional and/or local level, ensuring its adaptation to each country needs and context.

The overall objective of the assignment is to strengthen the effectiveness and impact of UNDP’s support to the 2030 Agenda in Latin America and the Caribbean, through the provision of economic -social analysis, technical and policy advice and design of innovative initiatives and interventions.

Under the supervision of the Strategic Advisor, and overall guidance of the Strategic Analysis and Unit team leader and/or RBLAC Senior Management Team, and in close collaboration with RBLAC units, the Regional Hub and country offices, the SDG Specialist will provide high-quality analysis and advice for policy discussions and implementation of SDG initiatives.

The incumbent will collaborate with other policy advisors of the Panama Regional Hub and HQ level to exchange knowledge and share analysis to inform of UNDP’s regional and global analysis and positioning on the 2030 Agenda.

Duties and Responsibilities
SDG localizing and financing:
  • Provide policy advice and hands-on options and mechanisms for mainstreaming the SDGs in the national and/or local policy, planning, budgeting and monitoring systems, with focus on financing for development and other means of SDG implementation. 
  • Based on countries SDG support requests, provide thorough analysis and inputs to the preparation of scoping, MAPS, expert or technical level missions and guidance with the SDG strategy or road map implementation ensuring linkage with UNDP’s country programme and/or UN programming processes. 
  • Provide guidance and support to country offices with the implementation of the SDG related tools (RIA, PoVRisk, Combos, Fiscal simulations, SIGOB, DFA, qualitative methodologies and analysis, etc.), including policy advice, programme support, specific service delivery through experts, capacity building, etc.  
  • Analysis of countries’ national policies to identify technical advisory support to integrate the SDG into national and local budget and finance systems and contributing to regional/global development of approaches and methodologies for SDG integration into budget and finance systems. 
  • Provide analysis of issues that impact upon multiple SDG goals and targets and develop “accelerator interventions” that help unlock sustained progress across multiple development areas to support UNDP’s regional and country programmes. 
  • Provide technical advice and help countries identify, develop and access new financing mechanism for SDGs, with greater involvement of the private sector and other stakeholders. 
Political economy, poverty and human development analysis and advise:
  • Provide political economy, poverty and human development analysis support to promote the identification of new areas of policy and programme interventions to enhance the 2030 Agenda implementation. 
  • Identify areas of further researching and analysis on poverty reduction policies, multidimensional poverty analysis and measurement, human development index, etc.  
  • Contribute in identifying key areas of interventions or programme oriented initiatives based on quantitative and qualitative analysis and inputs. 
  • Research and prepare speeches, taking points, presentation materials, background notes on relevant development issues for senior managements at RBLAC or country offices.
  • Contribute in linking research analysis, documents and data into specific interventions as well as practices and information sharing. 
Partnership building and networking: 
  • Support to the Senior Strategic Advisor or Partnership Specialist to outreach to existing and new partners around the progress and further needs to strengthen the implementation of the SDG Agenda in the region, including possible funding options to regional or national SDG initiatives. 
  • Provide advice and assist in the formulation of initiatives/funds with existing or new partners proposing innovative and non-traditional funding options. 
  • Identify and advice on opportunities to position the region’s SDG progress or best practices at or with other partners at international, regional or national forums / events. 
  • Provide technical guidance, advice and feedback to country offices in building partnership with the private sector, academia, civil society for an integrated approach of the SDG agenda. 
Advocacy and promotion of SDG progress and best practices:
  • Promote regional knowledge sharing between different teams, countries and partners. 
  • Ensure the production of high-quality poverty, human development or SDG related issues research papers for UNDP presentations at international workshops and trainings. 
  • Policy advise and sharing contributions on SDG implementation in the region at relevant forums, conferences and trainings. 
  • Identify and present progress on UNDP’s or national/local key programmes, initiatives or strategies that evidence contribution to the SDG Agenda implementation in the region or at country level aiming at promoting South-South cooperation. 
  • Substantive support to publication and events on SDG issues or others, which may include the launching of National SDG progress reports or national Human Development Reports to governments, civil society, donors and other key partners. 

Core Competencies:


  • Creates independently 
  • Adept with complex concepts
  • Creates new and relevant ideas and leads others to implement them
  • Provides authoritative advice to decision makers
  • Challenges convention purposefully
  • Critically assesses established methods
  • Creates excitement for work through demonstrated excellence 
  • Generates individual commitment, excitement and excellence 
  • Creates opportunities for team to learn and take on new responsibilities 
  • Actively shares experience and knowledge
People Management
  • Motivates excellence and engagement 
  • Expands team substantive capacity
  • Models independent thinking and action
  • Raises standards, motivates excellence
  • Coaches team members to appropriately share knowledge across teams
  • Addresses conflicts in a timely, sensitive manner; escalates to leadership when appropriate
  • Expands team engagement


  • Advocates, able to change mind of self, peers and partners 
  • Persuades others to embrace new ideas, even when controversial
  • Empathizes with client perspectives and needs
  • Prepares and presents authoritative advice
  • Represents team in formal settings
  • Expands expertise of team through sharing expertise


  • Makes new ideas work
  • Critically assesses value and relevance of existing thinking and policy
  • Embraces difficult obstacles that interfere with getting work done
  • Anticipates constraints and identifies solutions
  • Strives to improve team reputation with clients 
  • Expands capacity of team to deliver on time and on target
  • Accountable for project implementation and/or team deliverables

Technical/ Functional Comepencies:

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

  • Knowledge of sustainable development concepts, principles and issues and the ability to apply to strategic and/or practical situations, covering the economic, social and environmental dimensions.

Poverty and Human Development

  • Knowledge of poverty, human development and inclusive and sustainable growth issues and the ability to apply to strategic and/or practical situations.

Effective Development Cooperation 

  • Knowledge of development cooperation which can then be carried forward into inclusive, country-led mechanisms for development cooperation at national and regional levels.

Relationship Management 

  • Ability to engage and foster strategic partnerships with other parties, Inter-Agency Coordination and forge productive working relationships.

Knowledge Management 

  • Ability to capture, develop, share and effectively use information and knowledge.

Innovation outreach and partnerships 

  • Ability to communicate within and at large, participate in peer communities and engage substantively.

Coordination provider-recipient

  • Ability to manage complex relationships through pathways of knowledge exchange, capacity development, funding relationships and strategic engagement.

Team building

  • Ability to work effectively with diverse groups of professionals towards common goals.
Required Skills and Experience


  • Master’s degree in social policy, public policy, politics, economics, development studies or a related area.


  • Minimum 7 years of relevant work experience at the national and international level, in providing high quality, development relevant analysis and policy advice in areas such as development planning, public financial management, macroeconomics, microeconomics or poverty reduction.
  • Extensive experience in research, quantitative data and policy level analysis. 
  • Some experience in design, monitoring and evaluation of development projects
  • Prior experience in Latin America and the Caribbean region required. 
  • Outstanding oral and written communication skills, including report-writing skills. 
  • Capacity to work in a multicultural work environment and engage with a diverse set of partners including Government, development and communities. 
  • Strong networking and teamwork skills. 
  • Experience in the usage of computers and office software packages,
  • Experience in handling of web-based management systems and advanced programme for statistical analysis of data.
Language Requirements:
  • Fluency in English and Spanish;
  • Other official language of the UN will be desirable 

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