Ghana nationals: Environmental Specialist

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Accra, , GH


Sustainable production of cocoa plays a pivotal role for poverty reduction and forest conservation in Ghana. The use of production landscapes for cocoa production has intensified dramatically over the last three decades. Ghana has experienced significant forest loss through the movements of the timber sector and expansion of the cocoa industry by promotion of zero shade cocoa production systems. This has gradually led to the fragmentation of forest landscapes, loss of wildlife corridors and forest connectivity, and degradation of biodiversity and the ecosystem goods and services these ecosystems offer. One of the more prominent consequences of deforestation, which has significantly affected cocoa production, is a significant loss of major soil nutrients. This has been a leading cause of the gradual decline of national cocoa yields.

The “Environmentally Sustainable Production Practices in Cocoa Landscapes Phase II)” project is a partnership with the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) funded by Mondelēz Cocoa Life, with technical and administrative support from the UNDP Ghana country office and UNDP Green Commodities Programme. The ESP Phase II project aims to help farmers in the Cocoa Life program adopt environmentally sustainable and climate change resilient cocoa production practices and to conserve ecosystems and natural resources in cocoa landscapes by mainstreaming environmentally sustainable production practices into cocoa production landscapes across Ghana.

To reach this aim, the project will promote sustainable production that will require a considerable shift in current cocoa farming systems.

The expected results from the successful implementation of the ESP Phase II will be:

  1. To effectively mainstream environmentally sustainable cocoa production practices into farmer training curricula by building the capacities of CHED CEAs mandated to provide farmer level trainings.
  2. To ensure that farmers in the project districts adopt environmental sustainable cocoa production practices on farms.
  3. Increased shade trees and carbon stocks on cocoa farms and in cocoa landscapes to provide short to long-term environmental and socio-economic benefits to farmers.
  4. The establishment of three Community Resource Management Areas to govern the use of natural resources at the landscape level including fire management; sacred groves protection and water resources management.
  5. Policy engagement with government on land tenure and tree tenure rights. 
Duties and Responsibilities

The Forestry Management and Conservation Specialist is expected to have a strong Environmental and Natural Resources Management background with specialization in Forestry or Agriculture, with a good understanding of Ghana’s cocoa supply chain, its actors and the principal environmental issues facing the sector. Under the direct supervision of the Project Coordinator, he/she will be responsible for providing critical technical input on cocoa policy with particular focus on forestry and conservation (tree tenure, ecosystem conservation, environmental data management, etc), the creation of a sustainable cocoa landscapes (deforestation, forest regeneration, REDD+, sustainable community forest management, etc.) and advising how the project can develop incentive mechanisms to encourage cocoa farmers to adopt environmental best practices.

The Forestry Management and Conservation Specialist will be responsible for, but not limited to, supporting the following areas:

Policy research

  • Understand, comprehend, and produce necessary knowledge materials on important national/institutional natural resources and conservation policies that have environmental implications to the cocoa sector 
  • Provide guidance to policy issues with respect to forestry and biodiversity conservation and analysis of issues that are affecting the cocoa sector i.e. tree tenure rights, land tenure, land use planning etc.,
  • Familiar with forestry and wildlife policy

Technical advisory and project implementation

  • Provide technical advice on forest related project activities to ensure that the activities in each output area are timely, efficiently and effectively implemented in accordance with the project document and work plan
  • Liaise with relevant members of staff, consultants, UNDP expert technical staff, COCOBOD, Cocoa Life Program and Forestry Commission as necessary to ensure efficient and effective implementation of project outputs;
  • Support timely submission of project/progress reports and in the preparation of other reports as may be required.


The Forestry Management and Conservation Specialist shall work in close cooperation with other members of the Project Management Unit and staffs from COCOBOD, UNDP, relevant ministries and institutions as appropriate to implement and guide activities related to the execution of the project. He/she will be responsible and expected to deliver the following:

  • Coordinate closely with Project Coordinator and PMU in the evaluation and selection of pilot sites guided by other project requirements
  • Provide organizational strengthening and training in environmental sustainable practices to participating communities, COCOBOD and other stakeholders
  • Provide outreach and build the capacity of participating communities, traditional authorities, COCOBOD and other stakeholders to understand national mechanisms, policies, and international markets for REDD+ based carbon investments
  • Facilitate development and implementation of high quality carbon sequestration pilots in selected landscape verified to the Voluntary Carbon Standard or Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standard or other as appropriate, including the administrative and institutional arrangement framework for the sale of carbon credits and reinvestment and distribution of revenues
  • Lead in discussions with relevant institutions to eliminate ambiguities related to tree tenure and certification and assist farmers to secure tenure rights to newly established tree plantings and existing old forest timber trees located on their farms
  • Collaborate with COCOBOD and other relevant institutions to determine the most appropriate way forward for developing various institutional tools and systems for environmental management in Ghana’s cocoa sector to improve data compilation, usage and interpretation
  • Prepare scope of work documents and oversee consultants and local service providers as required
  • Work with communities to develop sustainable forest management plans and establish Community Resource Management Areas (CREMA) and Conversation Advisory Boards to improve community livelihoods, coordinate community conservation plans that encourage the rehabilitation and protection of forest and watersheds
  • Conduct a review of forest conservation activities in the various forest zones, the different community conservation plans and current rates of deforestation and establish a baseline for forest conservation in cocoa growing regions in Ghana
  • Work closely with the Forestry Commission to monitor forest encroachment in forest zones and other critical ecosystems and prepare appropriate reports
  • Coordinate and support a tree nursery development model for the propagation and distribution of selected economic timber and herbaceous understory species to farmers
  • Prepare progress reports as required by UNDP/COCOBOD and donor project reporting schedules
  • Any other assignment relevant to this position

Leadership: Ability to lead processes by coaching, persuading and accommodating other opinions and positions with a positive attitude;

Management skills: Ability to plan, monitor progress, and work effectively with counterparts to realize goals;

Facilitation skills: Ability to effectively coordinate a multi-stakeholder project, facilitate meetings, training sessions and processes effectively, compile complex and technical information in an understandable language to a wide variety of audiences.

Results-orientation: Skill in achieving results through persuading, influencing and collaboration;

Conflict resolution skills: Ability to dissipate and resolve conflicts as they arise

Analytical skills: Ability to draw conclusions based on a contextual examination of facts and processes.

Communication skills: Strong drafting, presentation and reporting skills;

Easiness with IT: Strong computer skills, in particular mastery of applications of the ArcGIS (Geographic Information System), MS Office package, internet search.

Required Skills and Experience
  • This position requires a strong background (at least at M.Sc.) in Environmental Management, Forestry, or Natural Resource Management with at least 5 years of relevant experience in Ghana’s forestry and agriculture sectors. Experience and/or familiarity with environmental management systems, farmer training, agroforestry practice and GIS and other data management tools and systems would be an asset.
  • Experience in policy related issues policy issues with respect to forestry and biodiversity conservation and analysis of issues that are affecting the cocoa sector i.e. tree tenure rights, land tenure, land use planning etc.
  • Ability to communicate complex information in understandable and relevant terms   adapted for different stakeholders especially communities
  • Proven project coordination skills with ability to effectively manage and prioritize a diverse workload within a team
  • An excellent command of English is essential. The successful candidate will be expected to undertake field work. This position carries considerable responsibility and autonomy and requires good organizational capacity, good interpersonal and networking skills and a willingness to work as part of a team. 

Important applicant information

All posts in the SC categories are subject to local recruitment.

Applicant information about UNDP rosters

Note: UNDP reserves the right to select one or more candidates from this vacancy announcement.  We may also retain applications and consider candidates applying to this post for other similar positions with UNDP at the same grade level and with similar job description, experience and educational requirements.

Workforce diversity

UNDP is committed to achieving diversity within its workforce, and encourages all qualified applicants, irrespective of gender, nationality, disabilities, sexual orientation, culture, religious and ethnic backgrounds to apply. All applications will be treated in the strictest confidence.

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