Job Opening

Posting Title: UNEP Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) – Technical Advisor: Sustainable Finance Targets for the Food System
Department/Office: United Nations Environment Programme
Duty Station: GENEVA
Posting Period: 03 February 2021 - 23 February 2021
Job Opening Number: 21-United Nations Environment Programme-149278-Consultant
Staffing Exercise N/A
United Nations Core Values: Integrity, Professionalism, Respect for Diversity
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Result of Service

The consultant will work with the Ecosystems and Climate leads within UNEP FI as well as Climate Finance Unit (CFU) to secure and deliver projects related to food system sustainability and restoration. The result of the service will be to deliver the ecosystem management work stream’s contribution to UNEP FI’s work plan under UNEP´s Project 1969 indicated below (section 1.4) as well as UNEP CFU’s Land Use Finance Programme, i.e. a) support the development of science-based targets for ecosystem restoration and the decarbonization of portfolios exposed to the food system; b) work with UNEP partners as well as companies in the forest/agricultural value chains to implement commitments; c) create visibility of this work by highlighting process or announcing achievements at key meetings in 2021.

He/she will further support development of UNEP FI and CFU efforts on sustainable food system finance and restoration, at the intersection between climate, ecosystems and land use change.

The consultant will contribute to UNEP FI’s efforts to accelerate private sector financing for the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including developing financial institutions’ knowledge and expertise to contribute to achieving SDGs 2, 13 and 15 spanning food security, climate action and life on land.

The consultant will be hosted by UNEP FI, but will work in close coordination with UNEP’s Climate Finance Unit (Ecosystem Division).

Objectives, output expectations and performance indicators

The consultant is required to:

• Further flesh out the “ask” and “offer”, and detailed work plan, on sustainable finance for food systems with UNEP FI and CFU colleagues, spanning decarbonization of portfolios, biodiversity goals and sustainable land use objectives.

• Identify models, scenarios and supporting datasets to demonstrate potential forward-looking trends in the food system to estimate transition pathways for alignment with goals and targets, working within the Net Zero Asset Owners Alliance and Principles for responsible Banking, with UNEP-WCMC, Science-based Targets Network and other scientific and technical partners. UNEP FI will provide inputs into methodology development, building on approaches to scenario analysis and target setting applied for issues such as climate change. Support the development of methodologies for financial institutions to set science-based targets for ecosystem restoration and to decarbonize portfolios exposed to the food-system.

• Develop relevant guidance and technical annexes or inputs related to guidance, for audiences such as the PRB biodiversity targets sub-group. Development of outreach products related to the food system and agriculture linked ENCORE (https://encore.naturalcapital.finance/en) and the Task Force on Nature-Related Financial Disclosure (TNFD).

• Foster the development of projects related to this theme, for example through proposal and concept development.

• Manage the initiation and lifespan of projects and initiatives related to the food system and restoration theme within UNEP FI, co-led by the Ecosystems, Sustainable Land Use and Climate leads, together with the UNEP Climate Finance Unit, specifically related to developing specific (quantitative) targets for ‘nature & climate’ positive’ loans and investments by banks and investors to finance along the forestry and agricultural value chains, as well as work with committed institutions to execute these targets – to be related to the PRB and Net Zero Asset Owner Alliance.

• Prepare and deliver relevant materials for a launch at the Secretary General’s Food System Summit and other events in 2021. Work responsibly with financial sector and other partners to support the development of a coalition, working to support a leadership coordinator with technical inputs and advice.

Indicators of success

• Evidence of technical quality in supported targets by financial institutions on a) biodiversity and ecosystem restoration, b) decarbonization of portfolios exposed to the food system; and c) financing clients with positive impacts on nature, climate and people.

• Climate, land use change and biodiversity issues addressed in concert, recognizing very different starting points – requires technical appreciation of each domain and fluency with data and metrics for each, and fruitful exchange between focal point within the membership on each topic.

• Seamless view of UNEP value-add in this space from the membership and external perspective.

Specific tasks and responsibilities

The consultant will play a technical advisory role on a number of initiatives ongoing and in development, including within the Principles for Responsible Banking (PRB), Green Finance for Sustainable Landscapes (GF4SL) through a proposed ‘leaders group’ on financing sustainable forest/agricultural commodity production & the Natural Capital Finance Alliance (NCFA). In more detail, she/he will:

• Support the development of science-based targets for ecosystem restoration and the decarbonization of portfolios exposed to the food system, within the PRB, with the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), and through other for a. Collaborate with the PRB and PRI, regarding prioritized work on land use/agriculture targets in their respective work plans.

• Work on the development of financial targets with UNEP FI members and partners, including metrics and data needs. Where relevant this could include supporting stewardship/engagement with companies in the forest and agricultural value chains to set and implement their commitments.

• Promote the EU Taxonomy for Agriculture as one of the frameworks for consideration for target setting. Test the taxonomy on non-EU assets and provide recommendations to the EC where it is found challenging. Prepare relevant case studies and inputs directed to future updating of the Taxonomy.

• Create visibility of this work at a technical level by highlighting outputs and achievements at key events in 2021.

Work Location

Geneva, Switzerland or Working Remotely

Expected duration

The initial duration of the contract is 12 Months.

Duties and Responsibilities

This position is located within the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), but co-funded by the Ecosystem Divisions’ Climate Finance Unit.

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 220 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.

Within UNEP’s Ecosystem Division, the Climate Finance Unit is managing the Land Use Finance Programme, which seems to proactively unlock and (re)direct public and private capital towards sustainable land use, including deforestation-free soft commodity production. Over the past two years the programme has managed to create a number of number of blended finance funds – like AGRI3, Tropical Landscape Finance Facility Restoration Seed Capital Facility, but recognizes that there is need for systemic changes across the forest/agricultural value chains as well as by the financial sector in how capital is directed in a way that meets the needs of a growing population while doing so with a view to meet international sustainable commitments around climate change, biodiversity and the SDGs.

Within these mandates, UNEP is concerned that the world faces a combined challenged of climate change, biodiversity loss and land degradation, pushing planetary boundaries into zones of uncertainty. Theoretically, nature-based solutions could provide approximately one third of the solutions needed to achieve the climate mitigation targets of the Paris Agreement, yet financing targets and approaches largely overlook this opportunity. At the same time, “bending the curve” on biodiversity loss by 2030 will require more efficient food production, and healthier and less wasteful consumption and trade, with financial targets and solutions underpinning transition pathways. Both combating climate change and preserving terrestrial biodiversity requires more ambitious land-conservation and restoration targets to be established and met.

The financial sector can be an engine of change through a range of risk-based and sustainable finance solutions. While efforts are being undertaken to deal with climate, biodiversity and land use in finance, more work needs to be done to close the “blindspots” at the intersection of these topics, at the same time recognizing the different methodological starting points and intersecting theories of change within each space. To maximise impact, UNEP FI is currently focusing its efforts on the links between finance and farm-level (emissions, biodiversity and land use change), rather than entire agricultural supply chains, as well as moving forward together with UNEP CFU to create a ‘leaders group’ willing to make ambitious and time-bound commitments around financing clients in the forest and agricultural sector that achieve net positive climate, biodiversity and rural livelihood impacts – with a view to move towards sustainable food systems.The position is aimed to enhance the in-house technical capacity on this quickly emerging topic.

The consultant shall be under the overall supervision of Eric Usher, Head UNEP FI and report directly to the Ecosystems lead at UNEP FI, Jessica Smith, working closely with the CFU head Ivo Mulder as a second reporting officer.

Qualifications/special skills

Skills: The consultant should have an established network in the financial industry, via previous Environmental, Social, Governance, impact investor, or similar roles (see experience, next). He or she should be comfortable and willing to engage on technical topics with financial sector actors. The consultant should be a strategic thinker and collaborative, to ensure ongoing links to other areas of work within UNEP FI and the CFU. He or she should be comfortable in financial risk management and metrics for this. The consultant should be able to understand how to use ENCORE (https://encore.naturalcapital.finance/en) as a tool for banks and investors, and understand the relevance of the Task Force on Nature-Related Financial Disclosure (TNFD). The consultant should have excellent listening and communications skills, with experience of presenting in public.

Academic Qualifications: Advanced university degree (Master’s degree or equivalent) in agricultural economics, finance, environmental science, business or a related discipline.

Experience: A minimum of five years of progressively responsible technical work experience in a relevant area of banking and/or investment, for example in risk, environmental, social, governance, client-facing teams and/or developing sustainable finance products. Experience working in/with agricultural or otherwise in/with the food system is required, and experience working in international contexts is desirable.

Language: English is the working language of UNEP FI. Knowledge of other United Nations are an asset. The consultant should have excellent listening and communications skills, with experience of presenting in public.

No Fee

THE UNITED NATIONS DOES NOT CHARGE A FEE AT ANY STAGE OF THE RECRUITMENT PROCESS (APPLICATION, INTERVIEW MEETING, PROCESSING, OR TRAINING). THE UNITED NATIONS DOES NOT CONCERN ITSELF WITH INFORMATION ON APPLICANTS’ BANK ACCOUNTS.

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