Job Opening

Posting Title: Chief Scientist, P5
Department/Office: Convention to Combat Desertification
Duty Station: BONN
Posting Period: 12 July 2022 - 10 August 2022
Job Opening Number: 186144
Staffing Exercise N/A
United Nations Core Values: Integrity, Professionalism, Respect for Diversity
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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) is the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment and development to sustainable land management. The Convention seeks to support countries to address Desertification, Land Degradation, and Drought (DLDD).

The Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) unit supports scientific cooperation, facilitates the monitoring and reporting of the progress made by countries in their efforts to address DLDD, supports capacity-building as well as knowledge and technology transfer, and spearheads the innovation agenda of the UNCCD. The STI aims to enable the UNCCD to become a global authority on scientific and technical knowledge pertaining to desertification/land degradation and mitigation of the effects of drought. To achieve this goal, the Unit works to ensure an evidenced-based policy development process under the UNCCD through its subsidiary body, the Committee on Science and Technology (CST) and its Science-Policy Interface (SPI). This includes the development of scientifically grounded key messages and policy-oriented messages and the development of scientific partnerships that expand the UNCCD’s reach within the scientific community and its relevance to development and implementation partners working on the ground.


Under the general supervision of the Executive Secretary and the Deputy Executive Secretary and the direct supervision of the Chief of the Science, Technology and Innovation Unit, the Chief Scientist will be responsible for supporting the Committee on Science and Technology (CST) and its Bureau including the SPI, serving as secretary to the CST. Other responsibilities will include strengthening scientific implementation of the Convention through interactions with the scientific community, working on such issues as Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought (DLDD), to develop increased participation, interest and contribution to the Convention in general and CST activities in particular. Specifically, the incumbent will have the following responsibilities and tasks:
1. Leads the development and achievement of UNCCD's scientific agenda under its mandate and programme of work delivery.
a. Coordinates, and supports the work of the CST, its Bureau, and its SPI as well as other scientific and technical committees and expert groups under the Convention;
b. Prepares inputs for the work programmes of the CST and SPI, working with the CST Bureau, the SPI co-Chairs, the unit Chief and senior management to determine priorities and the appropriate allocation of resources for the completion of outputs and their timely delivery;
c. Develops and maintains relations with senior officials of Parties to the Convention responsible for the science agenda of the UNCCD and ensures an appropriate response to requests for scientific advice and support on policy matters;
d. Employs systems thinking and identifies trade-offs and synergies for evidence-based and innovative policy assistance and advice to Parties;
e. Ensures appropriate communication and collaboration links between UNCCD and the world science community, including the scientific bodies of other multilateral environmental agreements, relevant intergovernmental scientific bodies and global Earth observation platforms of key environmental variables;
f. Manages and supervises the provision of technical and methodological advice on monitoring and target setting approaches, indicators, data sources, in support of national reporting on progress made in implementing the Convention and its strategic objectives, including progress toward Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 15.3 on Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN);
g. Coordinates all activities of the science sub-unit of the STI unit including supervising its staff.
2. Advises the Executive Secretary, the Deputy Executive Secretary, the Chief of the STI Unit, senior management and other colleagues on the scientific aspects of the UNCCD 2018-2030 Strategic Framework and its vision of a future that avoids, minimizes, and reverses desertification/land degradation and mitigates the effects of drought in affected areas at all levels and strives to achieve a land degradation-neutral world consistent with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development within the scope of the Convention. (See the Annex of decision 7/COP.13, pages 19-25:
a. Provides substantive and evidence-based support for strategic planning;
b. Provides substantive and evidence-based input in the preparation of position papers and reports for presentation to intergovernmental bodies;
c. Advises on issues related to scientific and technical cooperation and partnership building, ensuring partnership arrangements leverage potential added value, use resources efficiently, and capitalize on comparative advantages and competencies;
d. Keeps abreast of relevant scientific developments and incorporates relevant science in the work of the UNCCD across its thematic priority areas and ensures coherence;
e. Ensures use of sound science and technology in UNCCD initiatives and provides guidance to staff to ensure the scientific credibility and integrity of UNCCD services, products and communications;
f. Consolidates and strengthens UNCCD’s innovative ethos, including application of digitalization and the management, analysis, interpretation, visualization and secure curation of data;
g. Acts as scientific spokesperson and represents the UNCCD at high level scientific and technical meetings and intergovernmental/international fora when and if requested by the Executive Secretary and/or Deputy Executive Secretary.
3. Performs any other job-related activity required to achieve the goals and objectives of the unit, sub-unit, programme or the secretariat.


Professionalism: Expert knowledge of a broad range of environmental issues, theories, concepts and approaches; Demonstrated capabilities as evident from published scientific papers and experience from scientific programming, scientific assessments, and provision of scientific advice, as well as work experience at the interface between science and policy; Familiarity with issues of relevance to both developing and developed countries and at different scales from global to local; Clear understanding of the science that can integrate the environmental, social and economic pillars of sustainable development; Solid understanding of the political environment and the programmes and activities of the UN system in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals; Proven ability to analyse complex data and produce reports on scientific and technical issues leading to sound policy recommendations for achieving sustainable development; Ability and to review and edit the work of others; Ability to apply UN rules, regulations, policies and guidelines in work situations. 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 other, 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 keeping people informed.

Planning and Organizing: Develops clear goals that are consistent with agreed strategies; identifies priority activities and assignments; adjusts priorities as required; allocates appropriate amount of time and resources for completing work; foresees risks and allows for contingencies when planning; monitors and adjusts plans and actions as necessary; uses time efficiently.

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.

Managerial Competencies

Judgment/Decision-making: Identifies key issues in complex situations, and comes to the heart of the problem quickly; gathers relevant information before making a decision; considers positive and negative impacts of decisions prior to making them; takes decisions with an eye to the impact on others and on the Organization; proposes a course of action or makes a recommendation based on all available information; checks assumptions against facts; determines actions proposed will satisfy the expressed and underlying needs for the decision; makes tough decisions when necessary.


An advanced university degree (Master’s degree or equivalent) in environmental science, social science or related field is required. Post graduate degree/doctorate degree in a discipline relevant to desertification, land degradation and drought is highly desirable.

Work Experience

A minimum of ten (10) years of responsible experience in scientific research, environmental assessment, environmental policy research, scientific programme management or related area is required.

Experience of at least five (5) years in scientific leadership, including a substantial record of multidisciplinary publications in leading scientific journals and of providing advisory services to governmental, intergovernmental, scientific or industrial institutions is required.

Experience within the international environment governance system is also highly desirable.

Field experience in development cooperation context is desirable.


For this position, fluency in oral and written English is required. Knowledge of another official United Nations language would be an advantage.


Evaluation of qualified candidates may include an assessment exercise which will be followed by competency-based interview

Special Notice

Appointment against this position is for an initial period of one year and may be subject to extension.

Individual Contractors and Consultants who have worked within the UN Secretariat in the last six months, irrespective of the administering entity, are ineligible to apply for or be appointed to any professional and higher temporary or fixed-term positions, within six months of the end of their current or most recent service. For such positions, at least six months need to have elapsed between the end of a consultancy or individual contract.

United Nations Considerations

According to article 101, paragraph 3, of the Charter of the United Nations, the paramount consideration in the employment of the staff is the necessity of securing the highest standards of efficiency, competence, and integrity. Candidates will not be considered for employment with the United Nations if they have committed violations of international human rights law, violations of international humanitarian law, sexual exploitation, sexual abuse, or sexual harassment, or if there are reasonable grounds to believe that they have been involved in the commission of any of these acts. The term “sexual exploitation” means any actual or attempted abuse of a position of vulnerability, differential power, or trust, for sexual purposes, including, but not limited to, profiting monetarily, socially or politically from the sexual exploitation of another. The term “sexual abuse” means the actual or threatened physical intrusion of a sexual nature, whether by force or under unequal or coercive conditions. The term “sexual harassment” means any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that might reasonably be expected or be perceived to cause offence or humiliation, when such conduct interferes with work, is made a condition of employment or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment, and when the gravity of the conduct warrants the termination of the perpetrator’s working relationship. Candidates who have committed crimes other than minor traffic offences may not be considered for employment.

Due regard will be paid to the importance of recruiting the staff on as wide a geographical basis as possible. The United Nations places no restrictions on the eligibility of men and women to participate in any capacity and under conditions of equality in its principal and subsidiary organs. The United Nations Secretariat is a non-smoking environment.

The paramount consideration in the appointment, transfer, or promotion of staff shall be the necessity of securing the highest standards of efficiency, competence, and integrity. By accepting an offer of appointment, United Nations staff members are subject to the authority of the Secretary-General and assignment by him or her to any activities or offices of the United Nations in accordance with staff regulation 1.2 (c). In this context, all internationally recruited staff members shall be required to move periodically to discharge new functions within or across duty stations under conditions established by the Secretary-General.

Applicants are urged to follow carefully all instructions available in the online recruitment platform, inspira. For more detailed guidance, applicants may refer to the Manual for the Applicant, which can be accessed by clicking on “Manuals” hyper-link on the upper right side of the inspira account-holder homepage.

The evaluation of applicants will be conducted on the basis of the information submitted in the application according to the evaluation criteria of the job opening and the applicable internal legislations of the United Nations including the Charter of the United Nations, resolutions of the General Assembly, the Staff Regulations and Rules, administrative issuances and guidelines. Applicants must provide complete and accurate information pertaining to their personal profile and qualifications according to the instructions provided in inspira to be considered for the current job opening. No amendment, addition, deletion, revision or modification shall be made to applications that have been submitted. Candidates under serious consideration for selection will be subject to reference checks to verify the information provided in the application.

Job openings advertised on the Careers Portal will be removed at 11:59 p.m. (New York time) on the deadline date.

No Fee


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