Head of Office (European Centre for Environment and Health (WHO/ECEH))

World Health Organization (WHO)

Bonn, Germany 🇩🇪

Objectives of the project

All Member States of WHO in the European Region share the common value of the highest attainable standard of health as a fundamental human right. All of WHO actions are based on this and rooted in the General Programme of Work.The 13th General Programme of Work defines the mission of WHO as one to promote health, to keep the world safe, and to protect the vulnerable. The GPW calls for heightened accountability, prioritising impact and outcome at country level, and to improve the lives of three billion people, through universal health coverage, through addressing health emergencies, and promoting healthier populations.

WHO’s mandate revolves around six core functions: (i) providing leadership on global health matters; (ii) shaping the health research agenda; (iii) setting norms and standards; (iv) articulating evidence-based policy options; (v) providing technical support to countries; and (vi) monitoring and assessing health trends.The European Region (EURO) of WHO is made up of 53 countries, with over 880 million people. The diversity of people and health situations requires, on the demand side, a solid understanding of the emerging socio-economic, epidemiologic and demographic patterns and trends at both aggregate as well as national and sub-national levels, with due sensitivity to disadvantaged populations and vulnerable segments of the society. On the supply side, it is equally crucial to have a solid understanding of the commonalities and divergences of the health systems, the circumstances and political economy under which they have evolved and operate and, more specifically, how these bear upon the way the health system stewardship function of health ministries is carried out.

The Division of Policy and Governance for Health and Well-being (PCR) leads the implementation of the Health 2020 – the European policy framework supporting action across government and society for health and well-being and the implementation of the roadmap on the SDGs. It supports national and sub-national health policy development in countries and provides strategic and technical leadership on governance for health and health equity, in particular on the social determinants of health, gender, human rights and vulnerabilities. The PCR Division is responsible for the coordination of the implementation of Goal 3 on health and health targets in other Goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The coordination of the Healthy Cities as well as other Healthy Settings networks (Small Countries Initiative, Regions for Health Network) also falls under the responsibilities of the division. The Division leads and coordinates the work of the European Interagency Platform for Working Together for Better Health and Well-being for All, established in December 2016 in Paris and the UN issue based coalition on health and development. Other important programmatic and technical areas include Migration and health, Environment and health process, Living and Working Environment, Water and Climate, Environment and Health Impact Assessment. The PCR Division has staff located in Copenhagen, Venice and Bonn and staff in several country offices. 

The mission of the PCR Division is a) to lead and coordinate the implementation of the European Policy and Strategy for Health and Well-being – Health 2020 and the findings of the major studies that informed the development of Health 2020 (European Social Determinants and Health Divide Review; Governance for Health; Economics of Health Promotion, and Environment and Health ) and the SDG roadmap and b) to provide strategic and technical leadership in a number of programmatic areas that also have a strong relevance (cross-cutting) to the work of all technical divisions. The PCR Division has lead coordination role to mainstream health equity through social and environmental determinants, gender and human rights approaches. European Centre for Environment and Health (WHO/ECEH) is the centre of strategic, technical and scientific excellence of the WHO Regional Office for Europe for addressing environmental and work-related impacts on health. It provides Member States with state-of-the-art evidence on existing and emerging environmental health risks, and assists them in identifying and implementing policies to protect and promote health. It develops policy advice and international guidelines, methods and tools to inform and support decision-making by governments, health professionals, citizens and other stakeholders. These activities are contributing to the development of healthy environments and strengthened community resilience to environmental impacts on health. By that, WHO/ECEH is ensuring improved and more equitable health for all people of the WHO European Region and contributing to a global environment and health agenda. The technical programme on healthy living and working environments incorporates air quality, noise, chemicals and aspects of climate change mitigation and environmentally sustainable health systems. The technical program on water and climate is addressing water, sanitation, hygiene and climate change adaptation health related topics. The technical program on environment and health impact assessment is a program addressing the crosscutting issues: economics of environment and health, environment and health impacts assessment, urban and built environments, waste management and health, industrially contaminated sites and environmental health inequalities.

Description of duties

To provide managerial oversight and scientific leadership in the development and implementation of activities of the European Centre for Environment and Health (WHO/ECEH) within the limits of the authority delegated by the Director, Division of Policy and Governance for Health and Well-being. 

This includes the pursuit of organizational objectives, ensuring accountability, and managing material, human and financial resources. The incumbent ensures high quality strategic and technical support to Member States including communication products of the WHO/ ECEH. Within the general framework of the WHO/EURO resources mobilization plan, s/he identifies opportunities for funding of WHO/ECEH programmes and supervises preparation of funding application documents.Under the leadership, guidance and supervision of the Director of PCR, the incumbent will assume the following responsibilities and achieve the following objectives:
A. Core responsibilities of technical nature:

  1. Ensures that all aspects of work in the Bonn Office are at highest strategic, scientific and managerial standards and in accordance with WHO general rules and procedures, contributing to the WHO normative function;
  2. Leads and coordinates the provision of technical support to Member States in strengthening responses to addressing the environmental determinants of health and reducing health inequities in accordance with their specific needs as defined primarily in the Biennial Collaborative Agreements and also in other agreed collaborations in non-BCA Member States and supporting implementation of decisions stemming from the endorsement of the European Health Policy Framework – Health 2020, the SDG roadmap, Governing Bodies resolutions on environment and health, and in line with other WHO Governing Bodies decisions and resolutions;
  3. Supports and showcases the work of the PCR division reaching out to and working with other sectors and in working with Member States developing their national health policies and introducing whole of government and whole of society approaches for health and wellbeing;
  4. Leads, inspires and organizes the WHO Bonn Office towards achieving the relevant Division`s and Organization`s Programme Budget Deliverables in a timely manner and to a high quality standard, in accordance with both country and inter-country work plans and through the organizational arrangements set by the Divisional Director; 
  5. Represents WHO Bonn Office towards the host country, donors, partners and Member States.(vi) Ensures high quality scientific, strategic and communication products of the Bonn Office in line with the biennial workplan and the Global Programme of Work
  6. Within the technical area has a vision and takes the lead on innovative approaches to programme delivery within the European Region.B. Core responsibilities of managerial nature:
  7. Provides leadership and managerial oversight to the work of all Bonn Office staff and effectively manages human and financial resources available and assigned to WHO Bonn Office, acting as the first level supervisor for assigned staff (monitoring of performance through reporting and evaluation, monitoring of workload, coordination within the division regarding travel, holidays, funds availability);
  8. Is responsible for the planning and allocation of resources within country and intercountry work plans in consultation and coordination with the Director of the Division; 
  9. Mobilizes resources to efficiently deliver services/products and develops activities at country and inter-country level within the relevant Programme Area budget envelopes.

Required Qualifications

Essential: Advanced University (Master`s) degree in in Health, Social or Environmental Sciences

Desirable: Postgraduate degree and a combination of training and experience in Environment and Health and/or public health.


Essential: At least 15 years of progressively responsible experience in environment and health, of which at least 10 years at the international level and proven track record in implementation of environment and health programmes and/or reforms and institutional restructuring. 

Track record in positions that required strong leadership of highly-skilled professional teams in public health, or environment and health, or multisectoral teams that address health in thematic areas or internationally legally binding instruments such as on water, sanitation and hygiene, climate change, air pollution, or chemicals, 

At least five years of management of a team and budget of more than five million USD/year and a track record of fund raising successes and its successful implementation.
Documented record of high level policy, scientific and communication products on environment and health (e.g. scientific publications, policy briefs, etc.)

Desirable: Working experience within the World Health Organization or other UN agencies in the area of environment and health, in a senior position Work in the field of international relations, strategic planning, managing change and team building. Working experience on environment and health and/or environmental policies in WHO European Region is an asset.


Identified with the core values of the World Health Organization, technical aspects of this function include:

  • Documented experience in implementing environment and health programs at the national or international level;
  • Documented experience in developing health and/or environment policies; 
  • Scientific and technical knowledge on environment and health areas, including but not exclusive, health impact assessment, water, sanitation and hygiene, climate change, air pollution, chemicals, workers health and other environment and health issues;
  • A track record of fund raising and successful implementation of project grants;
  • Excellent skills in written and oral communication;
  • Skillful in modern management methods (performance measurement, design and operation of modern management information systems, planning and evaluation, etc.) with a track record of management of teams ( e.g. between 20 and 40 people;
  • Knowledge of the WHO and UN system would be an asset, as would experience of working with other multi-and bilateral development agencies active in the environment and health sectors.

WHO Competencies

  • Teamwork
  • Respecting and promoting individual and cultural differences
  • Communication
  • Ensuring the effective use of resources
  • Building and promoting partnerships across the organization and beyond
  • Creating an empowering and motivating environment

Use of Language Skills

Essential: Expert knowledge of English. Intermediate knowledge of French,German or Russian
Desirable: Beginners knowledge of  another EURO language ( French, German or Russian).


WHO salaries for staff in the Professional category are calculated in US dollars. The remuneration for the above position comprises an annual base salary starting at USD 97,805 (subject to mandatory deductions for pension contributions and health insurance, as applicable), a variable post adjustment, which reflects the cost of living in a particular duty station, and currently amounts to USD 3105 per month for the duty station indicated above. Other benefits include 30 days of annual leave, allowances for dependent family members, home leave, and an education grant for dependent children.

Additional Information

  • This vacancy notice may be used to fill other similar positions at the same grade level
  • Only candidates under serious consideration will be contacted.
  • A written test may be used as a form of screening.
  • In the event that your candidature is retained for an interview, you will be required to provide, in advance, a scanned copy of the degree(s)/diploma(s)/certificate(s) required for this position. WHO only considers higher educational qualifications obtained from an institution accredited/recognized in the World Higher Education Database (WHED), a list updated by the International Association of Universities (IAU)/United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The list can be accessed through the link: http://www.whed.net/. Some professional certificates may not appear in the WHED and will require individual review.
  • Any appointment/extension of appointment is subject to WHO Staff Regulations, Staff Rules and Manual.
  • For information on WHO’s operations please visit: http://www.who.int.
  • WHO is committed to workforce diversity.
  • WHO has a smoke-free environment and does not recruit smokers or users of any form of tobacco.
  • WHO has a mobility policy which can be found at the following link: http://www.who.int/employment/en/. Candidates appointed to an international post with WHO are subject to mobility and may be assigned to any activity or duty station of the Organization throughout the world.
  • Applications from women and from nationals of non and underrepresented Member States are particularly encouraged.