Policy Specialist, Economist for Small Island Developing States (SIDS)/Blue Economy

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea 🇵🇬

Job Description

BackgroundUNDP is committed to achieving workforce diversity in terms of gender, nationality and culture. Individuals from minority groups, indigenous groups and persons with disabilities are equally encouraged to apply. All applications will be treated with the strictest confidence.UNDP does not tolerate sexual exploitation and abuse, any kind of harassment, including sexual harassment, and discrimination. All selected candidates will, therefore, undergo rigorous reference and background checks.Job Purpose and Organizational Context

UNDP is the knowledge frontier organization for sustainable development in the UN Development System and serves as the integrator for knowledge and capacity across sectors to realize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). UNDP’s policy work carried out at HQ, Regional and Country Office levels, forms a contiguous spectrum of deep local knowledge to cutting-edge global perspectives and advocacy. In this context, UNDP invests in the Global Policy Network (GPN), a network of field-based and global technical expertise across a wide range of knowledge domains and in support of the six signature solutions, enablers and organizational capabilities envisioned in the Strategic Plan.

Within the GPN, the Bureau for Policy and Programme Support (BPPS) has the responsibility for developing all relevant policy and guidance to support the results of UNDP’s Strategic Plan. BPPS’s staff provides technical advice to Country Offices, advocates for UNDP corporate messages, represents UNDP at multi-stakeholder fora including public-private dialogues, government and civil society dialogues, and engages in UN inter-agency coordination in specific thematic areas. BPPS works closely with UNDP’s Crisis Bureau (CB) to support emergency and crisis response. BPPS ensures that issues of risk are fully integrated into UNDP’s development programmes. BPPS assists UNDP and partners to achieve higher quality development results through an integrated approach that links results-based management and performance monitoring with more effective and new ways of working. BPPS supports UNDP and partners to be more innovative, knowledge and data driven including in its programme support efforts.

UNDP’s Strategic Plan and the Asia Pacific Regional Programme articulate the corporate requirement to bring timely and effective substantive and technical services to the country offices through strengthened practice architecture at the global, regional and country level. The Bangkok Regional Hub provides the UNDP Country Offices in the region with reliable and easy access to quality advisory services and technical support based on UNDP’s mandate to address poverty and inequality challenges, inclusive green growth and prosperity issues, achievement of the SDGs and promotion of sustainable development. The Bangkok Regional Policy and Programme Team is organized around five main pillars (focus areas) corresponding to the main pillars of the UNDP global strategic plan, including I) Inclusive Growth and Livelihoods (Prosperity), II) Governance and Peacebuilding (Peace), III) Nature, Climate and Energy and Disaster Risk Reduction (Planet), IV) Health and Gender (People), and V) SDG Finance (Partnerships). The Team also provides advisory support and solutions to the complex and emerging issues in collaboration with the Regional SDG Integration Team, the Bangkok Regional Innovation Centre and the Economist Network. 

The Inclusive Growth and Prosperity Team provides technical, policy and programme advisory services to UNDP Country Offices, as well as provide substantive leadership in areas on poverty and inequality reduction, inclusive growth, and sustainable development. The work of the team focuses on the human development, social protection; development policy and planning, including public finance and finance for inclusion; livelihoods, employment/skills/future of work, economic analysis, data analysis, inclusive and green growth to support the achievement of the SDGs; and most recently the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19

The Blue economy has emerged as a critical cross-sectoral area for the promotion of inclusive, sustainable and resilient development in Asia Pacific. This involves linked up support to governance and management of natural resources, a focus on sustainable livelihoods and climate-compatible investments, a promotion of shifts to leverage wave and tidal energy, which are all underpinned by risk-informed development and a growing interest in ‘blue’ bonds/financing mechanisms and platforms to facilitate investment in blue economy accelerators and investment. It also requires expertise to address the continued reliance on terrestrial and growingly marine mining, the latter which often lacks regulatory oversight and accompanying legislative frameworks. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the blue economy is situated within the global momentum to shift the development paradigm towards maximizing economic opportunities in tandem with social and environmental sustainability. The blue economy, under effective spatial planning and management, has enormous potential for revenue and employment generation as well as sustaining livelihoods and food security especially among the SIDS and coastal communities who were already vulnerable to poverty, climate change and other risks such as projected loss of land due to rising sea levels. Meanwhile, there is an emerging concern that health of the oceans and ecosystems under water has declined due to a range of ocean management policy and market failures leading to overexploitation through fishing, pollution (especially nutrients and plastics), invasive species introductions, habitat loss, mining and ocean acidification. This calls for protection of aqua culture and coastal ecosystems requiring sustainable ocean management measures and opportunities to promote an innovative business models and investments that take into account environmental and social impacts (working closely with the Nature, Climate and Energy team) and can tap into more sustainable capital.

Based in the Office in Papua New Guinea, the Regional Policy Specialist, Economist for SIDS/ Blue economy is responsible for contributing substantive policy and programme advisory services in collaboration with the UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub (in close cooperation with the Nature, Climate and Energy and SDG Finance Teams), RBAP Headquarters in New York, Regional Economist Network and BPPS.

As a key element of sustainable human development, s/he will provide technical expertise and policy advisory support to UNDP Country Offices with respect to economic and human development aspects of the national policies on sustainable management of the blue economy (including in the context of the management of natural resources coastal and underwater, such off-shore oil and gas and measures to promote an energy transition (wave and tidal), ocean restoration, coastal and coral reef management, conservation and biodiversity as well as specific sectors such as fisheries and tourism); as well as to inform development-first inclusive risk informed integrated approaches to coastal management and integrated water resource management, conservation and biodiversity including through the involvement of local communities dependent on such resources. Providing expertise and policy advice on innovative financing will be part of the advisory services required.

These efforts will be informed by the analysis of impacts on poverty, vulnerabilities and livelihoods; employment and skills transfer / development including strategies and financing mechanisms that address the economic empowerment of women and youth; leverage technological and social innovations, promote the inclusive use of digital technologies and new business models to contribute to sustainable, inclusive and resilient green growth and prosperity; as well as identify and promote development pathways and financing strategies that respond to graduation scenarios towards broad-based prosperity among LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS. Working to ensure the execution of quality and coherent policy and programme advisory services within their region and across other regions as well as alignment with the Strategic Plan, s/he advances the mission of UNDP and increases the credibility and recognition in this thematic area. S/he is responsible for performing and contributing to the following:

  • Programme Support and Policy Advice
  • Support Policy Development
  • Policy Positioning and Representation
  • Partnerships and Resource Mobilization
  • Knowledge Management

Duties and Responsibilities   Programme Support and Policy Advice

  • Execute policy, strategy, and programme initiatives to support key results, outcomes, and outputs of the Strategic Plan, particularly those outputs related to Inclusive Growth and Prosperity with strong focus on blue economy, especially in SIDS;
  • Support country offices to initiate the development of strategic frameworks, programmes, and projects pertaining to socio-economic development aspects of blue economy to achieve prosperity for all and leave no-one behind, ensuring alignment to global corporate offers (e.g.UNDP’s Water and Ocean Governance Programme, Rising up for SIDS offer and support to sustainable and climate finance portfolios) and regional perspectives, and lessons learnt feed into global / regional learning and synthesis;
  • Coordinate the production of relevant analyses, policy briefs, business cases and programme support that responds to country office needs;
  • Provide technical support on conducting data analyses and conducting surveys and assessment of socio-economic impact of policies and shocks;
  • Apply multi-disciplinary approaches, including through setting up, coordinating, and engaging with Global Policy Networks (GPNs) and the Economist Network, to deliver advisory services and programming needs in line with emerging client needs and corporate standards, as well as maintaining and developing networks of experts in UNDP’s areas of work;
  • Incorporate gender equality and human rights-based approach in policy and programming work; 
  • Contribute to selected cross-cutting work areas, including on gender equality and green, low-carbon growth, as well as to the work of other practices and teams, the regional Economist Network, and the Global Policy Network.

Support Policy Development 

  • Support policy development and innovation through consolidation of relevant lessons from projects and programmes related to blue economy under SDGs and the SAMOA Pathway, in particular on issues of inclusive growth that feed into global / regional learning and synthesis;
  • Identify gaps and opportunities for development of new policies and guide the overall team priorities and workplans; 
  • Scan the horizon for development trends and identify approaches and initiatives to bring into policy and programme design which are of relevance to countries in the Pacific region;
  • Provide Quality Assurance to ensure alignment with global development policies, norms and standards;
  • Ensure cross-practice approach and cross-regional collaboration;
  • Develop methods for reviewing and assessing policy services, as well as communicate these methods to other country offices and regions; and
  • Conceptualize and recommend policy innovations to improve programme delivery on blue economy as a key contribution of inclusive growth and prosperity agenda under the SDGs 2030.
  • Contribute to formulation of medium-term development assistance frameworks at country and subregional levels.

Policy Positioning and Representation

  • Under the guidance of the Regional Team Leader, mobilize, foster and strengthen strategic partnerships with UN entities and other relevant bodies at the regional level, and provide inputs to those partnerships;
  • Prepares analysis and positioning papers as well as commission technical papers, conduct research work and serve as peer reviewer as required. Contribute to regional studies and knowledge products of partner organizations.
  • Organise and manage regional and sub-regional consultations on issues related to inclusive growth and prosperity; 
  • Advocate the importance of the blue economy in various fora at the regional level, including academia and civil society, with a view to deepen related political commitment and related reforms; and 
  • Support Team Leaders in engagement in UN interagency coordination in relevant policy areas by organizing and participating in regional meetings on blue economy.

Partnerships and Resource Mobilization 

  • In collaboration with BPPS, support the Regional Team Leader to engage with regional partners and provide support to the development of resource mobilization plan under corporate guidelines, including to fulfill corporate and donor reporting, advocacy and information-sharing requirements;
  • Provide substantive inputs related to regional external partnerships on blue economy as an integral component of inclusive growth and human development; and
  • Support Regional Team Leader in fostering strategic partnerships with UN and external regional partner institutions, Governments, private sector, academia, NGOs, and CSOs at regional and national level.

Knowledge Management 

  • Coordinate team contributions and support to corporate KM activities, at region-specific level to help influence/advance policy dialogue on blue economy as an integral component of inclusive growth and human development in collaboration with policy teams at HQ and in Regional Hubs as well as the Economist Network;
  • Provide sound contributions to knowledge networks and communities of practice; and
  • In close coordination with HQ and Regional Hub teams, coordinate and perform knowledge extraction, analysis, documentation, codification of results/lessons learned, and undertake quality assurance in line with guidelines and performed using corporate tools.


– Ability to make new and useful ideas work
– Ability to persuade others to follow
People Management
– Ability to improve performance and satisfaction
– Ability to listen, adapt, persuade and transform
– Ability to get things done

Development policies and planning
– Knowledge of development planning processes at the national and local level and the ability to apply to strategic and/or practical situations
Blue economy
– Knowledge of blue economy and the ability to apply to strategic and/or practical situations, as well as the linkages with inclusive growth and prosperity development agenda under SDGs.
Project and Programme Management
– Ability to plan, organize, and control resources, procedures and protocols to achieve specific goals
– Ability to engage with other agencies, donors, and other development stakeholders and forge productive working relationships
Knowledge Management
– Ability to capture, develop, share and effectively use information and knowledge
Poverty and Human Development
– Knowledge of poverty, human development and inclusive and sustainable growth issues, vulnerabilitity, and the ability to apply to strategic and/or practical situations
Trends and emerging areas analytics
– Ability to scan the horizon and identify approaches and initiatives to bring into policy and programme design

Resource Mobilization
– Ability to identify and organize programmes and projects to implement solutions and generate resources
– Ability to manage complex relationships through pathways of knowledge exchange, capacity development, funding relationships and strategic engagement

Required Skills and Experience


  • Advanced university degree (Master’s or equivalent) in development economics, sustainable development, environment, social sciences or related disciplines.


  • Minimum 7 years of professional work experience in providing policy advice and programme support on the economic and human development dimensions of blue economy and environmental sustainability as part of inclusive growth and prosperity agenda. 
  • Strong analytical skills in economic, environment and social dimensions of sustainable development. 
  • Track record of extensive experience in leading/managing knowledge products development and dissemination; 
  • Experience in working in a range of developing country settings– especially in SIDS – is required. Experience in crisis contexts and the Pacific is an asset.
  • Experience in advising countries on inclusive green growth-related areas and economic transition away from industries such as extractives.
  • Track record of extensive experience in leading/managing knowledge products development and dissemination.

Language Requirements:    

  • Fluency in English, both written and oral. Working knowledge of another UN language would be an advantage.


Important information for US Permanent Residents (‘Green Card’ holders)

Under US immigration law, acceptance of a staff position with UNDP, an international organization, may have significant implications for US Permanent Residents. UNDP advises applicants for all professional level posts that they must relinquish their US Permanent Resident status and accept a G-4 visa, or have submitted a valid application for US citizenship prior to commencement of employment. 

UNDP is not in a position to provide advice or assistance on applying for US citizenship and therefore applicants are advised to seek the advice of competent immigration lawyers regarding any applications.

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.

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