Transboundary Ecosystem Management Expert/consultant

United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment)

Nairobi, Kenya 🇰🇪

Result of Service

• A revised Cooperation Agreement that includes Gabon, and that receives support by the 4 countries
• An updated Strategic Management Plan that includes takes into account recent developments, and that receives support by the 4 countries
• A refined concept note for at least one transboundary project of immediate priority in support of the Cooperation Agreement and the Strategic Management Plan

Work Location


Expected duration

The contract is for a duration of 4 months.

Duties and Responsibilities


The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system, and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment. This consultancy position is located in the UNEP Africa Office in Nairobi, Kenya under the Healthy and Productive Ecosystems Sub-Programme.


The Mayombe trans-boundary ecosystem encompasses the Mayombe forest, stretching over four countries, including the south-west corner of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Cabinda Enclave in Angola, the Republic of Congo and south-west Gabon. Here, core areas of protection rest within controlled utilization of various types of landscapes. Mayombe Forest forms the south-western part of the tropical rainforest in the Congo Basin and the southern margin of distribution for a large variety of species of flora and fauna in West Africa, including lowland gorillas and chimpanzees. Termed one of the world’s richest “hot-spots” of biological diversity, it contains 70% of all terrestrial global biodiversity found in tropical forests.

Evidently, the ecosystem is a lifeline for the forest dependent communities who rely directly on the wildlife for food, fuel and fibre as well as medicines from the forest. The ecosystem’s rich biodiversity also boasts high potentials for enhancing the domestic and foreign earnings from tourism timber and non-timber products. Logging for timber for export is one of the key drivers of deforestation in the Mayombe ecosystem.

However, the Mayombe ecosystem is increasingly under immense threats of degradation because of deforestation and forest degradation from unsustainable logging and encroachment on forest land. Poaching and illegal trade in fauna and floral species is also a growing concern in the trans-boundary system. Other threats emanate from planned/on-going infrastructural and other development initiatives, mining, invasive alien species, human- wildlife conflicts, and potential impacts of armed conflict.

In 2008, UNEP in collaboration with IUCN, assisted Angola, Congo, and DR Congo to develop a cooperation framework on the management of the Mayombe transboundary ecosystem culminating in a signed cooperation agreement in July 2009. This effort culminated in the development and approval of a transboundary management plan in 2013, and the establishment of a Secretariat for the implementation of the agreement. The chairmanship of the Council of Ministers – the policy-making body of the initiative – is on a rotating basis. Gabon requested to join the Mayombe Initiative at the Transboundary Council of Ministers of February 2013, during which the Strategic Plan was approved; however Gabon has not been formally admitted. Since the said plan was developed covering the entire ecosystem with the view of Gabon joining the intiative in the future. The Cooperation agreement and its implementing mechanisms have to be amended accordingly to include the context of the Gabonese part of the Mayombe and the specific concerns of competent authorities for the implementation of the initiative in conjunction with other members’ states. In November 2016, in Marrakech -Morocco, the environment ministers of Angola, Congo, DR Congo and Gabon reconfirmed their commitment to cooperate with each other for the sustainable management of the Mayombe ecosystem. This commitment was reiterated during the meeting of ministers in the margins of the 6th GEF Assembly held in Da Nang, Vietnam in June 2018, and the countries agreed to:
• officially admit Gabon to the Initiative
• task UN Environment with the revision of the current Memorandum of Understanding which will allow the admittance of Gabon and COMIFAC
• allocate part of their Global Environment Facility STAR allocation towards the sustainable management of the Mayombe Forest Initiative
• launch the revitalization of the initiative with the admission of Gabon in February 2019

Due to its potential benefit to the region, in terms of maintaining and restoring the integrity of the Mayombe ecosystem, conserving biodiversity, the agreement could serve as an effective instrument to promoting regional stability and improving livelihoods.

The cooperation agreement need to be revised to consider the admission of Gabon. A quick updating of the strategic management plan would bring on board the changes in national social and economic contexts as well as the environmental changes that have taken place since the plan was adopted including new developments in Multilateral Environmental Agreements as well as the advent of COVID-19 such as the increasing incidences of zoonotic diseases.

UNEP has been requested by the member states of the Mayombe transboundary initiative to revive the transboundary process by 1) reviewing its governance structure and 2) providing for admission of Gabon as a signatory to the cooperation agreement.

Duties and Responsibilities

The overall purpose of this consultancy is to review the cooperation agreement of the Mayombe Transboundary Initiative with the aim of improving the governance structure of the cooperation and to provide for admission of Gabon as a member of the initiative. The consultant will work closely with the member states, key partners, ECCAS, Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) and the UNRC offices/ UN country Teams of the four countries in undertaking the assignment.

Specific Duties and Responsibilities

Under the overall guidance of the Deputy Director of the UNEP Africa Office and the direct supervision of the Sub-programme Coordinator for the Healthy and Productive Ecosystems programme, the consultant will be responsible for:

A: Undertaking planning and preparation activities to revise the cooperation agreement:
1) Interpreting these terms of reference and coming up with an inception report that includes a workplan on how the consultant intends to undertake the assignment, the methodology to be used, etc.;
2) Conducting a desk review of the existing cooperation agreement (especially the different documents creating the Greater Virunga Transboundary collaboration secretariat and the KAZA transboundary agreements) vis-a-vis other cooperation agreements that are known to work in similar circumstances in Africa. The study will result in a set of governance options including the pros and cons of each option, as well as the cost estimates of each option so proposed, etc., that should be considered by the national experts in reaching a decision on the best option to recommend to the ministers;
3) Interviewing key informants from the four countries particularly government officials of national entities relevant to the initiative to understand the contexts of the countries in relation to the Mayombe Transboundary Initiative, and aligning the views with the governance options identified in 2 above. Report of the interviews will be submitted to UNEP as part of the consultancy report;
4) Identify what has worked and what has not worked under the current agreement in order to propose amendments.

B: Preparing and iterating the revised cooperation agreement:
5) Revising the cooperation agreement based on findings from the desk study and interviews with key informants. The draft revised cooperation agreement will clarify functions roles and responsibilities of proposed governing organs of the cooperation including the secretariat and focal points, and the estimated cost of a functional governance structure.
6) Preparing and presenting the draft revised agreement to meetings of member states and other stakeholders to build consensus on the draft agreement and validate the draft. The draft revised agreement will be presented to experts of the four countries and stakeholders in a validation workshop. The workshop may be held virtually depending on the COVID-19 situation;
7) Finalising the draft agreement taking into consideration the inputs from the validation workshops in readiness for adoption by the member states. At the workshops, the consultant will present the draft revised agreement and obtain inputs, comments, and concurrence on the draft, after which the consultant will prepare the final draft revised agreement for presentation to ministers;
8) Making presentations to responsible ministers. The presentations will be in power point and summarising the salient features/elements of the cooperation agreement;

C: Updating the Strategic Management Plan and proposing a priority project for implementation:
9) Reviewing the management plan and conducting interviews with national experts, key stakeholders and partners to discuss priority projects/activities which are already identified in the plan and check whether they are still relevant and identify areas of immediate priority requiring attention in the implementation of the management plan. The process will also lead to identification of ongoing and planned initiatives/projects/programme in the Mayombe transboundary area. The report of the interviews undertaken and the analyses thereof will form part of the consultancy report;
10) Revising the Strategic Management Plan to take into consideration new developments from biodiversity, desertification and climate change MEAs, UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, the Pan-African Action Agenda on Ecosystem Restoration, the African Strategy on combating illicit exploitation and illegal trade in wild fauna and flora, the African Continental Free Trade Area protocols, etc.
11) Developing a refined concept note for a project proposal that would kick-start the implementation of the management plan taking into consideration the need for joint efforts as well as national obligations. The a refined concept note will include background, theory of change, analysis of stakeholders, gender and social and environmental safeguards, key components with outcomes, outputs, activities and estimated costing;
12) Preparing presentations in MS Power Point for use by UNEP in resource mobilisation.

Qualifications/special skills

Academic Qualifications: Advanced university degree (Master’s degree or above) in environmental law, international law or relevant discipline is required with a focus on transboundary collaboration frameworks.
Experience: A minimum of 15 years of progressively responsible experience in transboundary collaboration, transboundary environmental policy development and analysis, environmental law, international law, etc. Experience in liaising with the national governments in the region (Angola, Congo, DRC and Gabon) and a thorough understanding of the region’s background is required.
Language: English and French are the working languages of the United Nations Secretariat. For this position, fluency in English and French (written and spoken) is required. Knowledge of Portuguese is an added advantage.

No Fee