Job Opening

Posting Title: Urban Technologies & Innovation Consultant
Department/Office: United Nations Human Settlements Programme
Duty Station: NAIROBI
Posting Period: 26 July 2022 - 09 August 2022
Job Opening Number: 22-United Nations Human Settlements Programme-186456-Consultant
Staffing Exercise N/A
United Nations Core Values: Integrity, Professionalism, Respect for Diversity
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Result of Service

The consultant is needed to provide technical support to UN-Habitat’s People-Centered Smart Cities programme, to the development of a digital helpdesk, UNITAC and implementation of the Climate Smart Cities Challenge.

Work Location


Expected duration

12 Months

Duties and Responsibilities

The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) is the lead United Nations agency for cities and human settlements. The agency is mandated by the UN General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all and sustainable development. The main documents outlining the mandate of the organization are the Vancouver Declaration on Human Settlements, the Habitat Agenda, the Istanbul Declaration on Human Settlements, the Declaration on Cities and Other Human Settlements in the New Millennium, and UN General Assembly Resolution A/56/206.
UN-Habitat, being the focal point for all urbanization and human settlement matters within the UN system, has a role in delivering the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, adopted by Member States in 2015, specifically goal 11: make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
As our cities and towns grow at unprecedented rates, setting the social, political, cultural and environmental trends of the world, sustainable urbanization is one of the most pressing challenges for the global community in the 21st century. In 1950, one-third of the world’s population lived in cities. Just 50 years later, this proportion has risen to one-half and will continue to grow to two-thirds, or six billion people, by 2050. Cities are now home to half of humankind. They are the hub for national production and consumption - economic processes that generate wealth and opportunity. But they also create disease, crime, pollution and poverty. In many cities, especially in developing countries, slum dwellers number more than 50% of the population and have little or no access to shelter, water and sanitation.

UN-Habitat’s Strategic Plan 2020 - 2023
UN-Habitat’s Strategic Plan for the years 2020 – 2023 reinforces UN-Habitat’s position as the global centre of excellence on sustainable urban development, offering solutions that help seize the opportunities presented by urbanisation, while bringing about transformational change for the benefit of millions of people, ensuring that no one and no place is left behind.
The Strategic Plan lays out a recalibrated vision and mission, and a sharpened focus. UN-Habitat proposes to serve Member States, sub-national and local governments, and other key urban actors in the pursuit of four mutually reinforcing and integrated domains of change:
a. Reduced poverty and spatial inequality in urban and rural communities;
b. Enhanced shared prosperity of cities and regions;
c. Strengthened climate action and improved urban environment; and
d. Effective urban crisis prevention and response.
Outcome 2.3 of the Strategic Plan is “expanded deployment of frontier technologies and innovations for urban development”. Frontier technologies are influencing the emergence of smart cities, how we build and manage our cities and human settlements, and how urban managers take more informed decisions. The New Urban Agenda calls for technology and communication networks to be strengthened and for smart-city approaches that use digitalization, clean energy, and technologies to boost economic growth and improve service delivery, while promoting broad-based inclusion, including of persons with disabilities.
The implementation of the Strategic Plan 2020 - 2030 is also supported by six “organizational performance enablers”: (1) monitoring and knowledge; (2) innovation; (3) advocacy, communication and outreach; (4) partnerships; (5) capacity building; and (6) systems and processes. UN-Habitat needs to put in place the adequate institutional, managerial and financial conditions. Moreover, “drivers of change” for achieving sustainable urbanization have been outlined: (1) policy and legislation; (2) urban planning and design; (3) governance; and (4) finance mechanisms.

UN-Habitat’s Innovation Unit
For UN-Habitat, innovation means embracing new ideas, up-to-date means and fresh approaches to our work. It is based on horizontal and collaborative working practices that consider diverse contexts and perspectives. Innovation can be digital or non-digital, and take shape as a process, a practical tool or application or as a culture. Approached from a collaborative perspective, it can help to efficiently deliver impacts at scale, put people at the centre of the development process and ensure that no one and no place is left behind.

UN-Habitat’s new Innovation Unit was created in 2020 and has four focus areas:
1. Promote an innovation culture at UN-Habitat for improved sustainable urbanization outcomes.
2. Develop relevant knowledge and tools to strengthen innovation at UN-Habitat.
3. Act as an enabler and broker for new ideas and partnerships for inclusive and at scale impacts.
4. Promote innovation in project and programme design and implementation by providing advice on tools, methodologies, technologies and partnerships.

The Innovation Unit hosts the United Nations Innovation Technology Accelerator for Cities (UNITAC), leads the agency’s work on digital cooperation, provides technical support to UN-Habitat flagship programme People-Centered Smart Cities and is developing UN-Habitat Innovation Challenges, an approach to urban innovation based on open and challenge-driven innovation that can help cities and human settlements effectively engage with innovators. It also provides innovation support to the Improved Quality of Life in Datacenter Communities project, implemented in collaboration with Microsoft.

UN-Habitat’s -Centered Smart Cities programme
UN-Habitat’s Programme Development Branch develops new programmes and ensures coherent coordination between normative approaches at HQ and operational work in regional and field offices. It is also leading on the development of five global flagship programmes. Flagship programme 2 focuses on people-centered smart cities to act as an umbrella and enabler for mainstreaming the approach across all of UN-Habitat work. This function will have a clear mandate to support colleagues in the delivery of their operational and normative work. The function will be supported by committed and mandated smart city focal points with dedicated resources and time in other offices. The objective of this flagship programme is to ensure that the smart cities field is focused on ensuring sustainable development outcomes aligned with human rights, including ensuring that no one and no space is left behind, and that cities reduce carbon emissions.

The Consultant will be under the overall leadership Programme Management Officer – Urban Technologies and Innovation with an additional reporting line to the UNITAC Lab Manager.


1. Provide technical support to the UN-Habitat Innovation Unit
2. Provide technical support to the development of the People-Centered Smart Cities programme
3. Provide technical support to the Climate Smart Cities Challenge, particularly the workstream related to Curitiba
4. Provide technical support to UN-Habitat’s work on digital rights, including helping establish a digital rights helpdesk
5. Provide technical support to the Microsoft Datacenters project
6. Provide technical support to UNITAC

Qualifications/special skills

Academic Qualifications: University degree in social sciences, political science, international development, urban planning, architecture, innovation or related subjects is required.
Experience: At least five years’ experience in working with innovation and technology projects, policy and strategy is required.
• Experience in open innovation, challenge-driven innovation and design thinking is desirable.
• Experience and knowledge of current debates relating to digital cooperation, digital rights and people-centered smart cities is desirable.
• Experience working with digital platforms, tools and services is desirable.
• Experience in policy communication, including writing policy briefs, reports and producing publications is desirable.
• Experience in project management is desirable.
Language: Fluency in written and oral English and Portuguese required. Experience of other UN languages including French, Spanish and Arabic is an asset.

No Fee


Sorry, this job opening is no longer available.
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