Job Opening

Posting Title: Researcher/Writer for UNEP FI Circular Economy Study
Department/Office: United Nations Environment Programme
Duty Station: GENEVA
Posting Period: 28 October 2019 - 19 November 2019
Job Opening Number: 19-United Nations Environment Programme-125603-Consultant
Staffing Exercise N/A
United Nations Core Values: Integrity, Professionalism, Respect for Diversity
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Result of Service

Through these services the Initiative will be able to disseminate information to raise awareness across a broad range of financial institutions, including commercial banks, asset managers, insurers, and multi-lateral development banks and agencies – of potential strategies and actions they can take to accelerate financing for circularity. This is in line with aligning financial sector action with UN Sustainable Development Goal 12 on Sustainable Consumption and Production and boosting the private sector’s contribution towards financing the transition to a low-carbon, resilient, inclusive and sustainable economy. Finally, the services will help the Initiative to broaden its outreach both within UNEP / UN and externally to banks, insurers and investors, governments, regulators, private sector and multi-stakeholders.

Work Location

Remotely / Geneva

Expected duration

The duration of the extension contract should be for 6 Months from 15 November 2019 to 15 May 2020. (Working part-time).

Duties and Responsibilities

Located within the UN Environment Division of Economy, the Resources & Markets Branch (UNEP-RMB) seeks to conserve the environment, reduce poverty, and promote sustainable development by enhancing the capacity of governments, businesses, and civil society to integrate environmental considerations into economic, trade, and financial policies and practices in accordance with the partnership and integrated policy-making approaches of sustainable development.

The United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) is a strategic partnership between UN Environment and the global financial sector. UNEP FI works with approximately 250 banks, insurers and investors as well as a range of partners and organizations, to develop and promote linkages between the environment, sustainability and financial performance. Through its work-streams and regional activities, comprehensive work programme, training and research, UNEP FI carries out its mission to identify, promote, and realize the adoption of best environmental and sustainability practice at all levels of financial institution strategies and operations.

UNEP FI’s works with banks, insurers and investors to develop innovative insight and methodologies for financial institutions to incorporate environmental issues into decision making. The Ministerial Declaration of the United Nations Environment Assembly at its fourth session (UNEA4) included a commitment to advance sustainable consumption and production (SCP) patterns. UNEA4 Resolution 4 adopted by UNEA4 on 15 March 2019 invites Member States, the international community, the private sector and other stakeholders to promote the development and strengthening of sustainable financing mechanisms, such as green bonds, to promote the inclusion of sustainability in business for the uptake and upscaling of sustainable business approaches.

UNEP FI is therefore undertaking a global study on risks and opportunities related to financing a circular economy. UNEP FI currently does not have the internal capacity to undertake such as study, and hence outside expertise is required.

The consultant would undertake primary and secondary research, writing, editing and integration of stakeholder feedback during peer reviews/consultations to deliver the scoping report on key opportunities and mechanisms to advance circularity through the financial sector. The scope of the study will include:

- Market intelligence: Explain the concept of financing circularity relevant to banks, insurers and investors. Evaluate the potential financial sector implications of the transition to a circular economy. Identify the potential scale of opportunities in financial terms and related risks and opportunities for banks, insurers and investors. Identify the potential for private sector finance to contribute to filling the gap in financing for SDG12, as well as for banks, insurers and investors to set and achieve related targets. Consider potential to unlock financing for SMEs contributing to the circular economy.
- Identify and evaluate status of financing opportunities and mechanisms for circularity. Provide an overview of landscape of finance-related activities on the circular economy worldwide, initiatives, trends, outlooks, financing barriers/gaps, risks and opportunities. Identify key drivers of resource efficiency, SCP and a circular economy transition relevant to the financial sector. Provide a stock take of the global financial sector’s current involvement in circular economy activities.
- Map key initiatives of stakeholders relevant to the private sector transition and areas of intervention to boost circularity. These include UNEP, the One Planet Network, World Bank Group, WBCSD circular economy programme, OECD and World Resources Institute Platform for Accelerating Circular Economy and Ellen Macarthur Foundation.
- Provide overview of approaches financial institutions are taking to finance circularity, e.g. indicators, criteria, methodologies, tools, guidance. Identify commonalities for potential harmonization and good practice.
- Identify opportunities to better manage risks and scale up opportunities in terms financial instruments, products, services and investments across key business lines/asset classes. Identify potential to scale up financing for businesses that contribute to a circular economy under key industry frameworks (Principles for Responsible Banking, Principles for Sustainable Insurance and Principles for Responsible Investment) and product-level frameworks (e.g. Green Bonds Principles, Positive Impact Financing).
- Provide case studies and examples of innovation and good practice in market practice and financial policy making to boost financing of circularity.
- Identify potential barriers to scaling up financing for business models aligned with a circular economy in key sectors and potential strategies, actions and mechanisms to address these.
- Recommendations for market actors: Provide recommendations on the strategies and actions that banks, insurers and investors could take to accelerate financing of circularity, addressing risks/barriers and scaling up innovation and opportunities related to products, services, financial instruments/investments, clients and customers.
- Recommendations for finance sector policymakers, regulators and supervisors: Potential interventions/mechanisms to establish an enabling environment to scale up financing of circularity.
- Recommendations for next steps for a UNEP work programme to accelerate private sector financing of a circular economy, taking account of existing initiatives, feasibility, mandate, resource requirements and potential impacts.

Findings should be based on analysis of primary research, a literature review, evaluation of market practice and stakeholder inputs. Research should take account of issues such as:

- Primary sources of financing for key sectors of the economy and materials such as chemicals (using classification systems commonly used in the financial sector – NACE, GICS or ICB) relevant to the real economy transitioning to a circular model (e.g. sectors related to the UNEA4 Resolution: Textiles, plastics and buildings). Consider resource-intensive sectors including food and manufacturing, with reference to product lifecycles, from resource extraction, through use/consumption to end of life / waste management/recycling.
- Key approaches to ESG integration (e.g. environmental, social and governance [ESG] indicators) and potential approaches (SDG indicators, taxonomies, etc.) and financing mechanisms, including lending, investment and insurance lines of business to contribute to financing the transition to a circular economy.
- Approaches to integrate SCP/circular economy concepts into financial instruments and decision-making, including commodities/supply chain finance, corporate lending, mergers & acquisitions, underwriting, asset management, and SME finance to scale up sustainable financing mechanisms to promote circularity across business value chains.
- Options to target financing to address challenges such as pollution, phase out of chemicals of concern, minimization of harmful substances and other environmental challenges in alignment with UNEA4.
- Industry innovation including digitalisation and potential applications of fintech in “circularity tagging” and scaling up financing for a circular economy.
- Development of a taxonomy for a circular economy-related financial analysis and potential metrics and data sources available to financial institutions.
- Indicators to assess sustainable and green chemistry or its use in the identified key sectors.
- Feasibility of benchmarking companies against sector peers on strategic positioning in relation to circular economy opportunities, i.e. business models, strategies, innovation, technologies, resource use, and practices to align products and production processes to allow for circularity.
- Information sources available to the financial community including corporate sustainability disclosures aligned with global corporate reporting frameworks (e.g. Global Reporting Initiative guidance) and leadership initiatives (e.g. WBCSD indicators/UN Global compact guidance).
- Policy measures/effective incentives relevant to financing of circular economy activities (e.g. financial/fiscal for financiers, producers or consumers). These may include application of Extended Producer Responsibility and Polluter Pays Principles, and trends shaping the future of industries to turn liabilities into factors of production and revolutionise value chain materials management.
- Potential to advance knowledge and technical expertise to accelerate private sector financing of a circular economy, e.g. developing guidelines and normative actions such as standards.

Key deliverables:
Scoping report on key opportunities and mechanisms to advance circularity through the financial sector.

Specific outcomes:
1. Market intelligence to provide the financial sector with an understanding of the implications and role of the financial sector in accelerating circularity.
2. Recommendations for strategies and actions that banks, insurers and investors to boost financing of circularity.
3. Recommendations on potential interventions and mechanisms from finance sector policymakers, regulators and supervisors to create an enabling environment for the financial sector to accelerate financing for circularity.
4. Recommendations for activities that UNEP could undertake to boost financing of circularity.

Qualifications/special skills

• The candidate should have excellent proven conceptual, analytical, research, interviewing, writing and editing skills.
• Ability to undertake project management, stakeholder engagement and consultation processes.
• Understanding of economics, business, and sustainable consumption and production/circular economy concepts.
• The consultant should have knowledge of sustainable finance.
• Be able to work independently in an organized and timely manner.
• Ability to prioritize and identify and capture opportunities to add value to the work programme and engage financial institutions in the research.
• Strong communications and interviewing skills will be an advantage.
• Excellent listening, writing and speaking communications skills.

Academic Qualifications:
Advanced university degree (Master’s degree or equivalent) in economics, finance, environment, sustainability, business, strategy, management, or a related filed is required.
A first-level university degree in combination with two (2) additional relevant work experience may be accepted in lieu of an advanced university degree.

A minimum of five years of progressively responsible work experience in sustainable finance or sustainable consumption & production/circular economy is required.
Experience working in/with banks and /or insurers and/or investors is an advantage.
Experience working in international contexts is desirable .
Experience in delivering consistently high-quality outputs on time and on budget is an asset .
Experience in managing complex, ideally multi-stakeholder, research projects and studies is an asset.

Fluency in oral and written English is required. Working Knowledge of other United Nations languages are an asset.

No Fee


Sorry, this job opening is no longer available.
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