Job Opening

Posting Title: Research & Communication Assistant
Department/Office: United Nations Environment Programme
Duty Station: NAIROBI
Posting Period: 11 February 2022 - 28 February 2022
Job Opening Number: 22-United Nations Environment Programme-174362-Individual Contractor
Staffing Exercise N/A
United Nations Core Values: Integrity, Professionalism, Respect for Diversity
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Result of Service

The objective is primarily supporting the communication and outreach activities within the branch while compiling scientific evidence and research on the potential of seaweed farming as a sustainable, scalable nature-based solution to climate change.

Work Location


Expected duration

Six (6) 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. Its mandate is to coordinate the development of environmental policy consensus by keeping the global environment under review and bringing emerging issues to the attention of governments and the international community for action. UNEP’s Ecosystems Division works with international and national partners, providing technical assistance and capacity development for the implementation of environmental policy, and strengthening the environmental management capacity of developing countries and countries with economies in transition. This post is in UNEP, Ecosystems Division at Marine and Freshwater Branch, under the direct supervision of the Associate Expert.

The overall objective of the UNEP's Ecosystems Division is to support countries in conserving, restoring and sustainably managing their terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems, the biodiversity they contain and the products and services they provide for human well-being and prosperity. The Division's mandate is to address the environmental causes and effects from an ecosystems' approach, including consequences of disasters and conflicts. It helps countries develop policies and programmes to respond to ecosystems challenges, and reduce pollution from land-based activities, increase resilience to climate change and reflect linkages between poverty and environment in their development planning. Recognizing and communicating the existence of the three planetary crises – climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution – which put us at risk of irreversibly changing our relationship with the natural world rests at the heart of UNEP’s messaging, research, communications, and engagements. The communication objectives of the Marine and Freshwater Branch advance the target of building towards living in harmony with nature, climate stability, and a pollution-free planet.

Funds allocated to project 316.1, Sustainable Management of Marine and Coastal Ecosystem Services, hosted by the UNEP Marine and Freshwater Branch have been earmarked for the advancement of resilient and climate-smart aquaculture. Upon proposal from the UNEP subprogramme on Climate Change Unit, the Marine and Coastal Ecosystems Unit is taking the initiative to investigate whether the expansion of sustainable seaweed farming can deliver climate benefits (adaptation and mitigation) and whether seaweed, as a commodity, has a lower footprint than current materials and products for which it is a suitable substitute. Furthermore, it aims to investigate the full value chain from production, processing, commodity B2B to consumers and consumption
Seaweed farming is an established commodity product that is on a growing trajectory. UNEP aims to ensure that as the industry develops, positive opportunities are maximized and negative impacts minimized. To this end, UNEP’s Marine and Coastal Ecosystems unit is undertaking an exploratory to chart the course for the development of seaweed farming as a sustainable blue economy solution that may be able to replace some of the most carbon intensive commodities (meat, soy, oil palm, etc.) and thus deliver millions of tons of emissions reductions while enhancing resilience through diversified food supply systems and enhanced ocean adaptation (livelihoods, reduced acidification, etc.). Science suggests that there is significant potential for large-scale and well-managed seaweed industries, both near-shore and offshore, to expand and create market opportunities across a wide range of countries, delivering millions of tons of emissions reductions, diversifying, and improving the resilience of global food supply systems, enhancing ocean adaptation, and much more. It must be emphasized that actions on, and the advancement of this ambition, must align with UNEP’s sustainable blue economy principles, be based on rigorous scientific evidence, be thoroughly scrutinized, and have comprehensively considered the potential social and environmental risks and impacts that accompany seaweed farming.

To further enhance and promote the aims and objectives of the UNEP Marine and Freshwater Branch, this investigation will support and connect to ongoing work within the Branch through harmonized and integrated communication, outreach, and advocacy work. The individual contractor is therefore expected to engage with and assist in the development and deployment of communications content and materials related but not limited to marine and coastal ecosystems.

Duties and Responsibilities
The individual contractor will be responsible for:

1. Compiling research on the potential of seaweed farming to deliver climate benefits and other human and environmental benefits based on the associated ecosystem services.
1.1. Ensure that information on sustainability of seaweed products is backed by credible science and communicated so that it can be easily understood by all users as part of UNEP’s consumer information policy.
2. Assist in coordinating engagement with UNEP internal partners, potential stakeholders, and environmental organizations through meetings and outreach. Partners and stakeholders may include, for example, the FAO, UNEP-FI, the Safe Seaweed Coalition, etc.
3. Maintaining communications with the Marine and Freshwater Branch, providing project updates, reporting among other tasks.
4. Ensuring smooth communication, advocacy, and outreach work of the UNEP Marine and Freshwater Branch regarding the progress and development of the UNEP seagrass website, blue-carbon ecosystem content, campaign engagement, and other projects as needed.

Qualifications/special skills

Competency: Must demonstrate ambition as a systems-thinker and clearly demonstrate the following competencies:

1. Excellent research abilities and analytical skills;
2. Excellent communication skills;
3. Computer literacy (especially in use of MS Office programs);
4. Strong teamwork, and ability to build relationships;
5. Passion for knowledge sharing and continuous improvement.

Academic Qualifications: A minimum of an undergraduate university degree (or equivalent) in political science, development studies, sustainability, environmental management or another related field is required.

Experience: 2 years’ experience working in an environment-related field and in communications is required

Desirable Experience: Knowledge demonstrating experience working with or on ocean-related projects and an understanding of global systems, governance, and frameworks. Work experience in a position of leadership. A strong familiarity with the aims and ambitions of the UN Environment Programme and particularly with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Language: English and French are the working languages of the United Nations Secretariat. For this post, fluency in oral and written English is required, and knowledge of another United Nations language is an advantage.

No Fee


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