Head of Programme (Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services)

Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP)

Brussels, , BE

We are seeking someone with extensive and in-depth knowledge of EU biodiversity conservation and related policy issues, who has successful experience in team leadership, project tendering and management, and environmental policy research, to lead the Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Programme in Brussels.  

About IEEP and the Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Programme

The Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) is a sustainability think tank, based in Brussels. We‘re a team of policy professionals composed of scientists, economists and lawyers with a diverse range of expertise. With over forty years of experience, we provide evidence-based analysis and advice on European environmental policy. We work with a range of clients from the European Commission and Parliament to businesses and NGOs. For more information please see our web site: www.ieep.eu

Our Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Programmes work mainly supports the EU’s objective of halting the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystem services by 2020. This includes assessing the impacts of EU policies on biodiversity and related ecosystem services, and their resulting costs and socio-economic benefits, and developing evidence-based policy recommendations. Much of our work is for the European Commission and focuses on the implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives, such as supporting activities related to the Action Plan on Nature, People and the Economy, as well the targets and related actions under the EU Biodiversity Strategy. In particular, the Biodiversity Programme is closely involved in supporting ecosystem restoration and green infrastructure (Target 2), such as through work on the costs and benefits of ecosystem conservation and restoration, increasing the consideration of ecosystem services in decision making, policy measures for enhancing green infrastructure, policy options for achieving no net loss of biodiversity and approaches to increasing funding for biodiversity. The Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Programme also undertakes a range of biodiversity-related analyses as part of wider studies on agriculture, freshwater and marine policies. Details of the range of subjects and projects undertaken by the Programme, and others at IEEP, are available on our website – http://www.ieep.eu/.

The Post

IEEP has been at the forefront of supporting the development and implementation of environmental policies in the EU that contribute to the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services and wider aspects of sustainable development. This post therefore provides an excellent opportunity for an experienced and committed manager and researcher to play a leading role in supporting the effective implementation of current EU biodiversity related legislation and wider polices and shaping their future.

The Head of Programme will lead a busy and dynamic team of five researchers, working on biodiversity and ecosystem service policy related issues, especially in relation to the Birds and Habitats Directives and the current EU Biodiversity Strategy.  The Programme Head and team also interact with other teams within the Institute working on related policies such as on agriculture, water, marine issues, governance, climate change and energy. The post holder will be responsible for fundraising and tendering and the management of a growing portfolio of project work on these issues. The role will also require frequent liaison with the European Commission, the European Parliament and other key clients, partners and stakeholders, particularly in Brussels. It will also be necessary to represent the Institute at a variety of fora in Brussels and elsewhere.

The Head of Programme will be a member of the Executive Management Group, and therefore contribute to the wider strategic management and development of the Institute. IEEP is a small organisation so commitment and flexibility in undertaking a range of general tasks in pursuit of the smooth running, effectiveness and development of the Institute is expected of all staff members.

Specific key responsibilities will include:

  • Providing intellectual leadership to the Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Programme, including overseeing its strategic development and identification of objectives; and in so doing contributing to the wider objectives and development of the Institute.
  • Shaping IEEP’s thinking and policy messaging on biodiversity and ecosystem services related issues, maintaining its reputation as a trusted, objective, independent and evidence-based analyst of related policies and their implementation.
  • Ensuring that all activities within the Programme, including project selection, tendering, project work, fundraising, budgeting, pro bono initiatives, capacity-building, external representation and influencing activities – are coordinated and aim to deliver the Programme’s objectives.
  • Undertaking the line management of programme members, and supporting their professional development and well-being.
  • Leading and coordinating projects on biodiversity and ecosystem services, including supervising project design and research methods, report writing and editing, and ensuring quality products (including reports, policy papers, briefing notes, events and presentations); from a wide range of projects that include large pan-European research studies involving multiple project partners.
  • Ensuring the financial viability of the Programme, through the analysis and identification of funding opportunities and new markets for the Programme and the Institute and the preparation of tenders and funding proposals.
  • Maintaining and enhancing relationships with key institutions and partners, including the European Commission, Parliament, Council, Permanent Representations of Member States, national governments, NGOs and further developing IEEPs broader policy networks.
  • Contributing to the formal planning, management and strategic development of the Institute through participation in the Institute’s Executive Management Group with responsibility for communicating the work of the Programme to the Board and within the Institute.
  • Promoting policy messages to wider audiences, beyond immediate client groups or sponsors, inter alia through contributing to the Institute’s communication, outreach and training activities. This will involve presentations to conferences and workshops.
  • In addition to reinforcing IEEP’s activities in existing areas, the candidate will also be expected to lead the team in new/emerging policy areas as opportunities arise on the EU agenda.

The Head of Programme will report to Céline Charveriat, Executive Director.​

The contract will be on a permanent basis (under Belgian law, a ‘contrat indéterminé’).

Although the post is currently designed as full time, we will consider part-time applications.

Location: The position will be located in the IEEP Head Office in Brussels, although flexibility on the location of the post holder is possible as long as a regular presence in the office is assured.

Timing: We would like the candidate to start as soon as possible from June onwards.


As this a senior role within the Institute, we are seeking an outstanding candidate with wide-ranging relevant experience in the EU, expertise and an established EU reputation in policies relating to the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services. The candidate should also have excellent team leadership abilities and proven success in winning, managing and successfully completing  projects involving multiple partners and countries. Candidates will also need excellent communication skills, including in English.

The ideal candidate will have the following attributes:


  • A degree in natural or biological sciences and a postgraduate degree or equivalent qualification in a relevant discipline (e.g. ecology / environmental science / biodiversity conservation / environmental economics), or a demonstrable equivalent level of knowledge gained from professional experience.
  • In-depth knowledge of EU policies related to biodiversity and ecosystem services, in particular the Birds and Habitats Directives and the EU Biodiversity Strategy, and key science-policy interactions affecting them.
  • A broad knowledge of the biogeography of Europe, including its main ecosystems/habitats and associated species, and the factors affecting them.
  • A good understanding of the EU, including its objectives, politics, policy processes and institutions.
  • A track record of at least 10 years of relevant work experience in the EU.
  • Experience of leading a team within an organisation.
  • Specific experience of policy related work of relevance to biodiversity and ecosystem services.
  • Demonstrable ability to lead and manage project teams, including pan-European projects with multiple partners.
  • A sound understanding of the principles and methods of evidence-based policy related research including the ability to manipulate and analyse qualitative and quantitative data effectively.
  • Proven ability to generate funding through tendering and/or the preparation of funding proposals for a range of clients or funders.
  • Established network of contacts in relevant fields at EU and Member State level.
  • Proven ability to write and communicate clearly in English.
  • Willingness and enthusiasm to work on a wide range of issues.
  • Ability to manage multiple tasks and meet deadlines under pressure.
  • Experience of financial management.
  • Enthusiasm and adaptability to work as part of an interdisciplinary team.
  • Excellent presentation skills.
  • Willingness to travel.
  • Relevant computer literacy, eg Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.


  • Knowledge and proficiency (written and spoken) in at least one other European language in addition to English.
  • Knowledge of EU policies affecting biodiversity and ecosystem services, in particular the Common Agricultural Policy, EU Forest Action Plan, Water Framework Directive, Marine Strategy Framework Directive, Environmental Liability Directive, SEA Directive and EIA Directive.
  • A good understanding of ecosystem services and their relationship with ecosystem functions and biodiversity in the EU, and in turn interactions with the use and management of the land and sea.
  • Knowledge of the basic principles of environmental law.
  • Knowledge of the basic principle of economics and their relevance to ecosystem services and biodiversity.
  • Experience of working in multiple EU Member States.
  • Relevant publications in peer-reviewed academic journals.

On appointment, the gross annual salary will depend on qualifications and experience, and may range between €62,000 to €68,000 (Brussels) [or £48,000 to £53,000 (UK)] – gross annual salary full time.

The contract will be complemented by contributions to a pension scheme, as well as a contribution to public transport costs if based in Brussels.

How to apply

If you fit this person specification and you would like to apply for this post, please:

  1. Fill in the application form that can be found on the website under ‘vacancies’.
  2. Prepare an application letter explaining your interest in the job and showing clearly how you meet our job and person requirements.
  3. Enclose a short (maximum twenty pages) extract of work that you have written within the past year (or two years if this is not possible), with minimal editing/amendment by others, preferably on a subject which is relevant to this post.
  4. Send your completed application form, letter and work extract to [email protected], clearly marking the title of the email or envelope: ‘Head of Programme: Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.

All applications must reach us by Monday 26th March 2018. We expect to hold interviews in the week of 9th April in our Brussels office. Travel expenses will be reimbursed by IEEP.

Due to anticipated interest in the post, we are unfortunately not able to reply to unsuccessful applicants. If you have not had a response to your application within one month of the closing date you should assume you have been unsuccessful in your application.

Please note: IEEP strives to be an equal opportunities employer and undertakes that there shall be no discrimination in employment policies or salaries on grounds of race, ethnic origin, gender, gender re-assignment, disability, religious or similar belief, sexual orientation, marital status or civil partnership status, or age.