Job Opening

Posting Title: UNEP Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) – Net Zero Banking Project Consultant, MENA Region
Department/Office: United Nations Environment Programme
Duty Station: GENEVA
Posting Period: 05 May 2022 - 25 May 2022
Job Opening Number: 22-United Nations Environment Programme-180699-Consultant
Staffing Exercise N/A
United Nations Core Values: Integrity, Professionalism, Respect for Diversity

Result of Service

The consultant is required to engage with institutions across the banking sector in the MENA region, but particularly those who have already signed up to the Net Zero Banking Alliance, CIB in Egypt and FAB in Abu Dhabi, as well as banks looking to sign the NZBA by 2025. This could also include commercial banks, multi-lateral development banks and agencies, policy makers, regulators, as well as market actors who are relevant for climate-related banking. The consultant will coordinate between all the relevant project partners, as well as identifying and seizing opportunities to promote outreach and visibility of the project.

Work Location

Home based, working Remotely

Expected duration

The duration of the contract should be for 7 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.

The overall objective of the UNEP’s Economy Division is to encourage decision makers in government, local authorities, and industry to develop and adopt policies, strategies and practices and technologies that promote sustainable patterns of consumption and production, make efficient use of natural resources, ensure safe management of chemicals, and contribute to making trade and environment policies mutually supportive. It promotes the development, use and transfer of policies, technologies, economic instruments, managerial practices, and other tools that assist in environmentally sound decision making and the building of corresponding activities.

The United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) is the strategic partnership between the United Nations and over 450 banks, insurers, and investors. For 30 years UNEP FI has been shaping and driving the international sustainable finance agenda, setting global standards, and growing a global network of leading financial institutions. Through its work-streams and regional activities, peer learning, methodology development, training and research, UNEP FI carries out its mission to help the financial industry align with and contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals and with that take on the crucial role it must play in achieving a sustainable future.

UNEP FI and the Middle East & North Africa region

UNEP FI is strongly engaged in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), where the physical impacts of climate change pose a major challenge, particularly sea level rise, heat stress and water scarcity, which have dire consequences on food production and energy generation. Moreover, the region has a vested interest in the implementation of the sustainable development goals (SDGs); in particular those that help deal with the interlinked water-energy-food challenges, and goals that foster the Agenda 2030 in general.
The Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction have stressed that, for development to be sustainable and resilient to shocks, it must integrate climate change and disaster risk management into short-term responses and long-term planning. Addressing climate change and meeting the SDGs requires mobilization of all resources and a gradual shift of financing models from “conventional” to “sustainable”.

SDG-Climate Facility Project

Against this background, UNEP FI has joined a multi-partner programme, the SDG-Climate Facility project, which has three main aims: to build climate security, to leverage climate finance and to focus at the country level, where we aim to leverage our expertise, as well as our global membership, to help deliver innovative approaches to climate finance in the Middle East and North Africa region.
Climate-related banking and the Paris Agreement in the MENA region.

Climate finance in the region has accelerated rapidly since the Paris Agreement was launched in December 2015. While many countries in the region rely on fossil fuels for export, particularly in the GCC countries, or for their primary energy needs, investments have rapidly accelerated in renewable energy. In Morocco and in Egypt, banks have been at the forefront of renewable energy developments, with AAIB closing a commercial agreement for the region’s largest solar power development at the Benban solar park (1.9 GW) in Aswan.

In the run-up to the 26th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP26) in Glasgow, UK, countries were required to scale the ambition of, or ‘ratchet’, their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in support of the objectives of the 2015 Paris Agreement. Several countries in the region, largely from the GCC, pledged to reach ‘Net Zero’ greenhouse gas emissions: the United Arab Emirates by 2050 and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by 2060. In parallel, several industries launched ‘net zero’ alliances, pledging signatory institutions to achieve ‘net zero’ greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. In April 2021, UNEP FI launched the Net Zero Banking Alliance (NZBA) with 43 founder members, including Commercial International Bank (CIB) of Egypt. Since then, the number of signatories has more than doubled with signatories numbering 106 as of mid-March 2022, including First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) who joined in October 2021. Other climate-related actions have also accelerated in the region to support the transition to a low-carbon economy. CIB, for example, launched the first commercial green bond in Egypt of $100M, while a number of the region’s central banks have joined the Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS), including the Abu Dhabi Financial Services Authority, Bank al-Maghrib, Banque Centrale de Tunisie, Dubai Financial Services Authority, and the Financial Regulatory Authority of Egypt.
Banks joining the NZBA have three years to publish targets in line with the NZBA Guidelines, by identifying their most carbon-intensive sectors, aligning their business with sectoral decarbonisation pathways, setting targets, and establishing implementation plans. Current guidelines provide a framework for banks and are designed to be as flexible as possible to adapt to each bank’s business model and circumstance. Banks in emerging markets tend to have less capacity to implement the net zero guidance in line with their ambition, a less developed or absent climate-related regulatory and supervisory environment, and less information on sectoral transition pathways in their regions. Some NZBA signatories are also headquartered and conduct much of their business in countries which have not committed to national ‘net zero’ targets, making their own net zero commitments harder to implement and drive impact in the real economy.

For further details on international development finance in the region, refer to Section 4 on Sustainable Finance in the UNEP FI report, Promoting Sustainable Finance and Climate Finance in the Arab Region – though the climate finance section refers largely to international development finance.

Scaling Up Climate Finance in the Middle East and North Africa

One of UNEP FI’s activities under the SDG-Climate Facility Project is Activity 3.3.2, “Scaling up Climate Finance in the Middle East and North Africa” with the objective of providing “technical assistance to commercial financial institutions to develop financial products and services that support financing for climate mitigation and adaptation and for SDGs through an impact-based approach”. One of the key activities under this project will be to work with regional members of UNEP FI to support the work of the Net Zero Banking

Alliance in the MENA region. This will comprise three main actions:
a) For NZBA signatories: Supporting region-specific guidance for implementing the target-setting objectives of the NZBA, including the drafting of a model institution-level strategy and roadmap.
b) For future NZBA signatories: Developing a roadmap and set of criteria for banking institutions that aim to join the NZBA by 2025.
c) For data / transition pathways: Identifying key sectors and regions for the development of sectoral transition pathways.

These Terms of Reference cover the first two actions and will require input into the formulation of the third action, which will be carried out by a partner institution with experience of developing transition pathways for use by financial institutions. The outputs from the first two actions should be as practical and ‘user-friendly’ as possible.
Project Consultant role

UNEP FI is looking for a consultant to lead on implementation of this work under the SDG-Climate Facility project in the MENA region. Key activities under this project include, but are not limited to:

• Project coordination;
• Drafting detailed scope of work and timeline;
• Convening working group of regional NZBA banks and banks aiming to join NZBA by 2025, together with representatives from key regulatory institutions and climate finance experts
• Review of regional climate change and climate finance policy, regulation, guidance and standards landscape;
• Review of global net zero guidelines for banking, as well as methodologies and approaches used by NZBA signatories worldwide, how they may be applied in the MENA region and potential lessons for the emerging market context;
• Assessing capacity of participating banks in climate change and climate finance knowledge and implementation of alignment methodologies, as well as a brief assessment of capacities across the regional banking sector;
• Assessment of the needs of participating banks and an overview of banking needs across the region;
• Development of a framework institutional climate finance strategy and practical guidance for participating regional banks that have already signed up to the Net Zero Banking Alliance, building on the Guidelines for Climate Target-Setting with additional regional context and further detail on the actions that need to be taken by banking institutions to set and implement targets, including the wider issues of governance, strategy and decision-making across the bank. This should include recommendations and suggested actions on:

a. Governance
b. Business strategy
c. Risk monitoring and management
d. Target-setting process (see Guidelines)
e. Resource identification and planning
f. Any other aspects of a bank’s business and operations that need to adapt to a net-zero strategy

• Working with banks to identify barriers to implementing the Guidelines and potential case studies of how climate targets are being set and documenting the challenges faced.
• Development of a framework institutional climate finance strategy and roadmap for banking institutions that aim to sign up to the Net Zero Banking Alliance by 2025. This should include a set of criteria to be fulfilled and step-by-step actions to be taken before signing up to the Alliance.
• Drafting a final report(s) covering the above work. This may be one document or two documents covering NZBA and non-NZBA banks, though this has yet to be decided.
• Contribute to and present at a regional workshop on net zero banking to be arranged by the Principles for Responsible Banking (PRB) secretariat.
• Engagement and awareness building on climate-related banking, the NZBA and opportunities for banks signing up to the Alliance. This should include engagement with not only financial institutions but also relevant central banks and regulatory authorities;
• Maintaining communications with UNEP FI, and contributing to UNEP FI knowledge management, including to the regional knowledge platform and to UNEP FI workshops, trainings and meetings, where relevant to this activity.

The objective:

Under the direct supervision of the UNEP FI Climate Lead working in close coordination with UNEP FI Climate Consultant and UNEP FI’s SDG Climate Facility project coordinator the consultant will carry out the following project tasks for UNEP FI, and other local project partners:

- Project governance framework.
- Identifying project stakeholders and experts to form a project working group / oversight board;
- Desk study covering:
o regional climate policy, regulations, standards
o global net-zero target-setting guidelines, methodologies and best practice
o regional overview of sectoral decarbonisation
o case studies applicable to banks in the region

- Interviews with NZBA signatory and non-signatory banks, as well as finance sector policymakers, to identify:
o Current actions taken to set targets and implement change across the bank including through governance, strategy, decision-making.
o Barriers to implementation.
o Capacity and resource needs to implement net-zero target-setting strategy

- Drafting a framework strategy and practical guidance for setting, implementing and monitoring net-zero target-setting for banks in the MENA region, including concrete recommendations for financial institutions and finance sector policy makers.
- Drafting a roadmap and set of criteria for banks considering setting net-zero targets in the short- to medium-term.
- Engagement and outreach to socialise the reports and build awareness on net-zero alignment strategies for banking, including the organisation of opening and launch workshops.

Meanwhile the consultant will:
- Share bi-weekly updates with the Geneva-based UNEP FI Climate Consultant on project progress.

The outputs:
• Inception report, including project communication and governance plan.
• Institutional climate finance strategy and practical guidance for net-zero aligned target-setting for banking institutions in the MENA region.
• Institutional climate target-setting roadmap and set of criteria for banks setting out on the net-zero pathway (non-NZBA signatories).
• At least one project inception workshop, one project workshop to launch the final outputs and consultation workshops/meetings as necessary.

Meanwhile the consultant will:
• Share bi-weekly updates with the SDG-Climate Facility Project coordinator and the Climate Change consultant on process and progress as they happen.

Specific tasks and responsibilities:

Delivery and implementation of the following activities:

Project coordination
- Identifying relevant banks, including both NZBA banks in the region (CIB and FAB) as well as banks who may be interested in committing to NZBA by 2025. The consultant should also identify 2 or 3 regional and/or international experts on net zero to act as a review panel for the report and to provide input through periodic (possibly monthly - tbd) meetings.
- Develop an inception report including a detailed project management and communications plan, identifying necessary areas of research, interviews, and updating the project timeline as necessary.
- Setting up monthly project meetings with the UNEP FI project manager and stakeholders to provide updates and discuss bottlenecks.

Desk study and interviews
- Reviewing regional climate change and climate finance policy, regulation, guidance and standards landscape, with a focus on countries where the NZ banks are located and conduct business;
- Review of global net zero guidelines for banking, as well as methodologies and approaches used by NZBA signatories worldwide, how they may be applied in the MENA region and potential lessons for the emerging markets context.
- Overview of key sectors for decarbonisation in the MENA region, with a focus on countries where NZ banks are located and conduct business.
- Working with banks to identify barriers to implementing the NZBA Guidelines and potential case studies of how climate targets are being set and documenting the challenges faced.

Drafting outputs for NZBA banks and non-NZBA banks
- Development of a framework institutional climate finance strategy and practical guidance for participating regional banks that have already signed up to the Net Zero Banking Alliance, building on the Guidelines for Climate Target-Setting with additional regional context and further detail on the actions that need to be taken by banking institutions to set and implement targets, including the wider issues of governance, strategy and decision-making across the bank. This should include recommendations and suggested actions for financial institutions on:

o Governance
o Business strategy
o Risk monitoring and management
o Target-setting process (see Guidelines)
o Resource identification and planning

The guidance should also include recommendations for finance sector policymakers to facilitate net-zero alignment.
- Development of a framework institutional climate strategy and roadmap for banking institutions that aim to sign up to the Net Zero Banking Alliance by 2025. This should include a set of criteria and step-by-step actions to be taken before signing up to the Alliance.

Communications & outreach
• Manage relationships with regional UNEP FI members and other project partners.
• Develop and implement outreach and coordination plan for the project activity, together with UNEP FI’s Cairo-based MENA coordinator and climate change team.
• Contribute to and present at a regional workshop on net zero banking to be arranged by the Principles for Responsible Banking (PRB) secretariat.
• Contribute to UNEP FI’s online knowledge platform for the Arab region, to help disseminate and make available information on climate-related banking.
• Contribute to briefings/updates on climate finance and banking in the MENA region.

The consultant shall be under the overall supervision of Head of UNEP Finance Initiative and report directly to the Climate Change Lead, UNEP FI.

Qualifications/special skills

Special skills/knowledge: Proven knowledge of the field of sustainable and climate finance is required, preferably in the banking sector; understanding of drivers of climate action in the financial sector in the MENA region. Skilled in convening public and private sector stakeholders to create consensus or mobilise action. Ability to juggle varied activities in an organized and timely manner; Excellent communication skills (listening, spoken and written). Strong interpersonal and relationship management skills. Ability to translate new and diverse ideas and concepts into tangible outcomes, to identify and prioritize common interests in a diverse set of points of view. The incumbent is expected to work independently with minimal supervision and must have significant latitude to be self-directed and be highly motivated. Problem solving skills are desirable. An established network of sustainable finance decision-makers, influencers and practitioners is desirable. Fluency in written and spoken English required. Fluency in written and spoken Arabic desirable.

Academic Qualifications: A Master’s degree is required in economics and/or finance, business, international relations, environmental studies, climate change. A Bachelor’s degree may also be acceptable with an additional two years of relevant experience.

Professional Experience:

Required: 7 years’ experience is required working with the financial services sector. Experience of building and managing relationships with external stakeholders. Experience of presenting and moderating conference calls and organising events/workshops. Experience of writing/editing technical reports.

Desirable: Programme management experience in international organizations, NGOs or consultancies. Experience working in the banking sector (commercial or development banking), preferably in the sustainable finance field or in a related field such as corporate responsibility. Event management and moderation/public speaking.

Language: English and French are the working languages of the United Nations Secretariat. For this post, fluency in written and oral English is required. Fluency in written and oral Arabic is desirable.

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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