Programme Management Officer, P4

United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification
  • Location
    Bonn, Germany
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
    Mid Career
  • Posted
    Jan 29

Position description

Org. Setting and Reporting

Desertification, along with climate change and the loss of biodiversity were identified as the greatest challenges to sustainable development during the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. Established in 1994, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), one of the three “Rio conventions” is the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment and development to sustainable land management. The UNCCD provides the foundation for its 197 Parties to work together to combat desertification, land degradation and mitigate the effects of drought; maintain and restore land and soil productivity, and improve the living conditions for people.

The Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Unit of the UNCCD secretariat serves the two subsidiary bodies of the Conference of the Parties (COP), namely the Committee on Science and Technology (CST) and the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC). It links scientific knowledge with implementation, planning and policy development, with the aim to ensure that findings and opportunities produced by science are effectively channeled to benefit field activities to implement the UNCCD. The STI also supports national reporting on the progress countries are making in the implementation of the Convention and serves as the secretariat hub for the realization of capacity development and innovation across the UNCCD.

Interfacing science and policy is central to how the STI supports the CST and its work programme. This includes COP decisions to be implemented by the CST with support of the secretariat and in many cases, collaboration with technical partners. It also includes the work programme of the UNCCD Science-Policy Interface (SPI) made up of 25 global experts who assess, synthesize and translate current science for the consideration of policy makers. The work programme of the SPI, which is determined by the CST and adopted by the COP, typically involves two scientific assessments, scientific quality assurance for the Global Land Outlook, and coordination activities with other scientific bodies and panels including, among others, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). From these scientific assessments and coordination activities, the SPI produces peer-reviewed technical reports as well as science-policy briefs designed to support policy development.

The STI also supports the policy advocacy, communications and resource mobilization efforts of the UNCCD to help ensure that the content of all communications and guidance products produced under the name of the UNCCD are evidence based. For more information about the science agenda of the UNCCD and how it interfaces science and policy, see:


Under the overall supervision of the Chief of the STI Unit and the direct supervision of the Chief Scientist, the incumbent will be responsible for the following duties:

  • Contributes to enhance the science- policy interface of STI Unit by ensuring science foundation for policy and advocacy activities developed by different units of the secretariat, increasing coordination with other Units of the secretariat particularly with Global Policy Advocacy and Regional Cooperation (GPARC), in policy and advocacy related matters, with Communications, External Relations and Partnerships (CERP) in communications for policy makers;
  • Responds to the policy decisions of the UNCCD Conference of Parties (COP) as they relate to science and technology issues in the field of desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD), with the aim of ensuring that implementation, planning and future policy development is underpinned with a solid scientific foundation. This involves work in the following areas:
    • Providing substantive and administrative support to the CST and its Bureau in the preparation of CST sessions and related official documents, supporting intergovernmental negotiations, coordinating the organization of meetings of the CST Bureau and preparing related documentation (i.e., briefing and information notes, agenda, presentations, meeting reports);
    • Administratively supporting the work of the STI, the SPI and technical partners through the organization of in-person meetings and teleconferences, and preparing related documentation (i.e., briefing and information notes, agenda, presentations, meeting reports);
    • Substantively supporting the work of the STI, the SPI and technical partners by collecting, analyzing, synthesizing, interpreting scientific findings as well as quantitative and qualitative information pertaining to the nexus between land, water, climate, nature and people, particularly where these intersect with issues related to the strategic objectives of the UNCCD, as defined in the UNCCD Strategic Framework and the SPI Work Programme;
    • Coordinating, in support of the STI, the SPI and technical partners, the production of various scientific and technical written outputs, (e.g., scientific writing, editing and peer review);
    • Coordinating the quality assurance provided by the STI and the SPI for the Global Land Outlook and related thematic reports;
    • Coordinating the publication and dissemination of secretariat and SPI science deliverables (i.e., technical reports, science-policy briefs and related communications products).
  • Coordinates science partnerships, as assigned, with other intergovernmental panels and bodies working on topics relevant to future UNCCD policy development, including:
    • Intergovernmental Science–Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services (IPBES);
    • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC);
    • Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils (ITPS);
    • International Resources Panel (IRP) of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP);
    • Global Land Indicators Initiative (GLII) of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat);
    • The Integrated Drought Management Programme (IDMP), a joint initiative of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the Global Water Partnership (GWP);
    • United Nations University (UNU);
    • Other scientific institutions.
  • Cooperates and interfaces with Parties and technical partners in their desire to engage regional science and technology platforms that have the potential to respond to their needs through the Convention’s Regional Implementation Annexes, and through the SPI, for the provision of scientific advice on DLDD. This would involve work in the following areas, among others:
    • Facilitating partnership development of the UNCCD with relevant regional science and technology platforms with the regional Implementation Annexes, leveraging upon South-South cooperation;
    • Supporting the Global Mechanism of the UNCCD in its efforts to assist country Parties to mobilize resources for the implementation of the Convention;
    • Supporting the Asia Regional Liaison office with the host country (China) with policy advice and in its participation in UNCCD organized events, meetings, projects, and initiatives, including other UN meetings and negotiations relevant to UNCCD;
    • Supporting the preparation of relevant donor proposals as well as annual progress/activity reports within the South-South cooperation.
  • Provides support to the secretariat and the Global Mechanism, helping ensure that there is solid evidence foundation underpinning reports, guidance documents and communications to be achieved through:
    • Reviewing, analyzing, and synthesizing existing scientific information on relevant and emergent topics such as, among others: desertification/land degradation and drought, land degradation neutrality, sustainable land management, ecosystem restoration, and ecosystem-based approaches to climate change mitigation and adaptation;
    • Contributing to the preparation of various written outputs, e.g., draft background papers, analytical notes, sections of reports and studies, inputs to publications, and communication products by ensuring the evidence base is robust;
    • Designing and coordinating scientific review processes, as appropriate, for UNCCD written output;
    • Supporting the representation of the UNCCD at external meetings, conferences, and other events by preparing briefing notes and presentations.
  • Performs any other job-related activities required to achieve the goals and objectives of the team, the Unit, the Programme and the secretariat.


  • Professionalism: Knowledge and understanding of the scientific processes underlying desertification/land degradation and drought as well as the range of response options available to countries. Knowledge and understanding of concepts and approaches relevant to the implementation of the global funds, regional issues on land; Ability to identify issues, analyze and participate in the resolution of issues/problems. Conceptual, analytical, and political skills. Ability to apply judgment in the context of assignments given, plan own work and manage conflicting priorities. Shows pride in work and in achievements; demonstrates professional competence and mastery of subject matter; is conscientious and efficient in meeting commitments, observing deadlines, and achieving results; is motivated by professional rather than personal concerns; shows persistence when faced with difficult problems or challenges; remains calm in stressful situations. Takes responsibility for incorporating gender perspectives and ensuring the equal participation of women and men in all areas of work;
  • Communication: Speaks and writes clearly and effectively; listens to others, correctly interprets messages from others and responds appropriately; asks questions to clarify and exhibits interest in having two-way communication; tailors’ language, tone, style and format to match audience; demonstrates openness in sharing information and keeping people informed;
  • Teamwork: Works collaboratively with colleagues to achieve organizational goals; solicits input by genuinely valuing others’ ideas and expertise; is willing to learn from others; places team agenda before personal agenda; supports and acts in accordance with final group decision, even when such decisions may not entirely reflect own position; shares credit for team accomplishments and accepts joint responsibility for team shortcomings;
  • Client Orientation: Considers all those to whom services are provided to be “clients” and seeks to see things from clients’ point of view; establishes and maintains productive partnerships with clients by gaining their trust and respect; identifies clients’ needs and matches them to appropriate solutions; monitors ongoing developments inside and outside the clients’ environment to keep informed and anticipate problems; keeps clients informed of progress or setbacks in projects; meets timeline for delivery of products or services to client.


  • Advanced university degree (master’s degree or equivalent) in environmental sciences, sustainable development, public administration, social sciences or related field is required. A relevant first-level university degree in the above fields in combination with two additional years of qualifying experience may be accepted in lieu of the advanced university degree.

Work Experience

  • A minimum of seven (7) years of progressively responsible experience in sustainable development governance and policy making, natural resource management, sustainable development management, or related areas is required;
  • Experience as technical advisor and/or policy coordinator with international cooperation at least in one of the following thematic issues is desirable: sustainable land management, natural resources and ecosystems management, biodiversity conservation, fight against land degradation and desertification, degraded land and landscape restoration and rehabilitation, sand and dust storms, sustainable forest management, ecosystem-based adaptation;
  • A minimum of two (2) years’ experience in working with policy planning or policy related issues is desirable;
  • Experience working with the scientific and technical community in a relevant field is desirable;
  • Experience working with the UN or with other international organizations in a relevant field is desirable.


  • For the post advertised, fluency in oral and written English is required. Knowledge of another UN official language would be considered an advantage.


Application instructions

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