Job Opening

Posting Title: UNEP Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) / UNEP Climate Finance Unit - Consultant – Fiscal Policy Specialist
Department/Office: United Nations Environment Programme
Duty Station: GENEVA
Posting Period: 18 July 2022 - 31 July 2022
Job Opening Number: 22-United Nations Environment Programme-186552-Consultant
Staffing Exercise N/A
United Nations Core Values: Integrity, Professionalism, Respect for Diversity
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Result of Service

Under the GGP umbrella, there is a need for a Fiscal policy expert specialized on finance and agricultural supply chains and/or green fiscal policies. The objective of the consultancy is to develop a study on the opportunities for scaling up public and private finance in the agricultural sector of Brazil through fiscal policies, identifying opportunities for fiscal reform including through the repurposing of harmful agricultural subsidies, and the identification of potential environmental tax instruments and schemes, based of on a review of the current context.

Under the technical supervision of the Climate Finance Unit, the consultant will produce a technical study offereing an analysis of the current fiscal framework in the sector of agriculture in regards to leveraging public and private finance for sustainable agricultural practices and deforestation and converson free initiatives, contributing to the GGP project. The consultant will receive technical inputs and review from members in the Climate Finance Unit team (Ecosystem Division) and of the Fiscal Policy team (Economy Division), and report to the Head of the Climate Finance Unit.

Work Location

Working Remedy

Expected duration

This consultancy will take place over the period 8 August 2022 to 30 October 2022. The consultancy is remote, with 0 days of travel.

Duties and Responsibilities

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is the leading global environmental authority that 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 Ecosystem 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.

The loss of forest, and the accompanying loss of ecosystems and the services they provide, threatens the security and livelihoods of local communities, reduces access to clean water, decreases soil productivity and accounts for 12 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. In recent years, it has become apparent that the most significant threat to the world’s remaining forests is conversion for commercial agriculture – whether from large-scale operations or smallholder farmers – as well as other non-forest use.

In past decades, Brazil has developed a large-scale agricultural system, becoming a major global exporter. In 2020, Brazil was the lead world exporter for soy, raw sugar, and frozen beef. The successful development of this economic sector has come with dire consequences on ecosystems, in particular the Cerrado and the Brazilian Amazon rainforest. It also reinforced a system of historically inequal land distribution. State support has played a decisive role in the shaping of the current production framework, with policies that included fiscal incentives such as price supports, favourable agricultural trade policies, and investments in research and development. By operating a shift in the support framework, the Government could introduce incentives that would help transform the current agriculture systems, moving away from unwanted outcomes (deforestation, pollution, soil degradation) towards a more sustainable, equitable and healthy food production system, that is better prepared to the impacts of climate change and more aligned with the achievement of the SDGs.


The issue of finance mobilization to face the challenges related to forest and ecosystems loss has taken centre-stage in the discussions. According to UNEP report State of Finance for Nature 2021, there is a USD 4.1 trillion financing gap to be closed for the world to meet the climate change, biodiversity, and land degradation targets, with current investments in Nature-based solutions amounting to only USD 133 billion, mostly from public sources. However, in a context where the share of government expenditure dedicated to ODA and agricultural investment is declining, it is key to ensure that scarce public resources are not only used most efficiently, but also help mobilize private finance.

Effective fiscal policies can play a role in redirecting private financial flows and support investments into more sustainable products, inputs, and activities, accelerating the move of production and consumption behaviours towards more resilient, environmentally sound, healthy, and socially fair food system. Through the use of financial incentives (subsidies, credit, loan guarantees, income support, payment for ecosystem schemes, tax credit, etc.), the government can help generate an environment conducive to green investments (e.g., by providing critical financial support attached to ecological services to small-scale producers), reduce the cost and risks for private investors in green technologies (e.g., through tax credits or feed-in tariffs). Fiscal instruments can also help raise public revenue (e.g., through fuel or pollution tax, water tariffs) which can then be reallocated to social or environmental services, and support sustainable practices through targeted incentives (e.g., payment for ecosystem services, organic farming schemes).

There is extensive evidence that existing economic incentives (in the form of subsidies, credits, or tax relief, etc.) in the agri-food sector are often not aligned with sustainable objectives, but instead favor economic activities that cause environmental harm and biodiversity loss. The reform of those perverse incentives is one of the key opportunities for reform, as this will both free public and private resources towards ecological services and incentivize investments in NbS that are currently underpriced and underprovided.


While it is acknowledged that an appropriate fiscal policy framework is part of the requirements to attract private sector capital towards sustainable investments, the modalities and instruments need to be adapted to the country’s specific national requirements, in alignment with the national’s public and private sectors contexts and relying on solid institutional arrangements. An in-depth understanding of the national fiscal framework and of its impact on private financing is needed to design appropriate reforms that are conducive to transforming behaviors and enhancing green financing.

The Brazilian fiscal framework has seen little change over the past 50 years. It is made more complex by a high level of fragmentation, and is disaggregated at Federal, State and Municipal levels. In the past two years a Green Tax Reform working group discussed proposals for the implementation of a sustainable tax reform, the Ministry of Agriculture launched the new Low Carbon Agriculture programme for 2020-2030 and the Ministry of Environment launched Floresta+ programme – which aims to create, encourage and consolidate the market for environmental services. However, there is still a gap for fiscal policies that encourage cash flow to sustainable agricultural practices and deforestation- and conversion-free initiatives. Previous research has also highlighted the existence of some inefficient, distortive and potentially environmentally harmful support measures, which may support unsustainable farming practices (Lopes and Lowery, 2015).

Soy and beef are two examples of commodities which are historical drivers of deforestation and biodiversity loss, as well as major source of GHG. Brazil is currently the world’s largest exporter for both commodities, which play a key role in the country’s economy. Agriculture support programmes have played a role in the expansion of the beef and soy production, through a number of measures including price support, concessional loans, loan guarantees, R&D, etc., generally implemented as general agriculture support measures . While subsidies targeting specially at soy and cattle have progressively been removed, the existing support can still potentially distort markets and influence certain types of land use and investments that are detrimental to environmental objectives. These measures are likely to impact private investments, both for small-holders land larger business and finance stakeholders, including input suppliers and banks. Production of soy and beef are forecast to increase and ensuring that incentives align with a shift to more sustainable production practices is key.

The present research will help improve the understanding of Brazil’s public incentives framework in the agricultural sector, with a focus on beef and soy commodities. It will identify and better define the role of public support measures in shaping the Brazilian beef and soy production supply chains through an assessment of the role of the fiscal framework as a driver or a barrier to private investment to sustainable, conversion- and deforestation-free agriculture. Through a case study of these two commodities, it will provide examples of how public support can impact land-use practices and private financing across the supply chain. It will identify opportunities for fiscal reform, through the repurposing of existing harmful support measures, and the introduction of fiscal policies and financial schemes aiming to shift land use and production towards sustainable practices.

Created in 2017, the Good Growth Partnership (GGP) is a GEF funded project which aims to remove deforestation from commodity supply chains with a focus on palm oil in Indonesia and Liberia, soy in Brazil and beef in Paraguay. The project is comprised of three components:
1) Support to commercial transactions
2) Support to Financial Markets & Institutions
3) Support to Governments

Under the GGP umbrella, there is a need for a Fiscal policy expert specialized on finance and agricultural supply chains and/or green fiscal policies. The objective of the consultancy is to develop a study on the opportunities for scaling up public and private finance in the agricultural sector of Brazil through fiscal policies, identifying opportunities for fiscal reform including through the repurposing of harmful agricultural subsidies, and the identification of potential environmental tax instruments and schemes, based of on a review of the current context.

Under the technical supervision of the Climate Finance Unit, the consultant will produce a technical study offering an analysis of the current fiscal framework in the sector of agriculture in regard to leveraging public and private finance for sustainable agricultural practices and deforestation and conversion free initiatives, contributing to the GGP project. The consultant will receive technical inputs and review from members in the Climate Finance Unit team (Ecosystem Division) and of the Fiscal Policy team (Economy Division), and report to the Head of the Climate Finance Unit.

The objective:

The objective of the national consultancy is to support an international consultant in preparing a study¿on the scaling-up of public and private finance for sustainable agricultural practices and deforestation and conversion free initiatives in Brazil. The objectives of the study are to:
• Assess the current fiscal policies and private incentives (or lack thereof) affecting the availability of finance for sustainable agriculture, and their impact on economic, environmental, health and social objectives, including the livelihoods of vulnerable groups
• Identify potential new green finance instruments and tools to scale-up and channel public and private finance and investment towards sustainable agriculture.

The contractor will conduct a stock-taking analysis of the current fiscal policy environment and economic instruments applied to the agricultural sector in Brazil. The exercise will identify existing support policies and incentives affecting agricultural practices, estimate their impacts (economic, environmental, social, health), and identify support measures that play a role in incentivizing the adoption sustainable agricultural practices and deforestation and conversion free initiatives, and impact private finance flows.

The work will be built on a desk-base review of relevant reports, analysis, legal and budgetary documentation. The activity will be supported by a series of targeted stakeholder consultation with key actors (e.g., Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Agriculture, civil society). The specific tasks, duties and responsibilities of the national consultant, include, but are not restricted to, the following:

• Collect data, national documents and other relevant materials required to prepare the study.
• Produce a stakeholder map of key public and private actors involved in the design, implementation and recipience of fiscal policies and private incentives
• Conduct desk-based review of relevant documentation on public support targeting agricultural producers in Brazil at national level
• Conduct at least 2 interviews with public officials from relevant institutions
• Conduct at least 2 interviews with financial organizations, to support the analysis of existing incentives that can impact private sector financial flows.
• Identify agricultural subsidies susceptible to have harmful impacts on environmental targets
• Identify potential new green finance instruments and tools to scale-up and channel public and private finance and investment towards sustainable agricultural and deforestation and conversion free initiatives.
• Develop a policy brief, summarizing the key findings of the study and outlining opportunities for reforms and instruments recommended to scale up public and private financing in Brazil
• Develop a PowerPoint presentation, which can be used to share the key findings of the study with local and international stakeholders.
• Insert references either footnote of bibliography as per the global standards; and
• Deliver outputs in a timely fashion.

Outputs:

The outputs of the consultancy include the following:

• Output 1: Outline of the technical study.
• Output 2: Draft technical study
• Output 3: Final technical study
• Output 4: One-page policy brief/summary of the study
• Output 5: PowerPoint presentation based on the findings of the study, to be presented to CFU team.

All outputs should be produced in English.

Deliverables:

• Draft study delivered to UNEP for review and comment
• Final study, PPT, and summary delivered to UNEP

The consultant will report to the Head, Climate Finance Unit, with technical guidance provided by the GGP team Lead and the Fiscal Policy unit under the Economy Division.

Qualifications/special skills

Skills: The consultant should have proven analytical skills in the field of green fiscal policies, fiscal reform, as well as strong writing and oral presentation experience. Knowledge of the UN system, or other international and multi-cultural working environments, is desirable.

In addition, he/she should be autonomous and computer literate in standard software applications as well as advanced proficiency in spreadsheet and statistical software; have excellent communication skills; an interest in the topic of sustainable land use and green finance; have good interpersonal skills. The chosen candidate will work in an independent manner to complete the given assignments, with administrative and technical support provided by UNEP.

Academic Qualifications: The consultant should have a Masters’ Degree in environmental economics, development economics, finance, taxation, or another relevant field.

Experience: At least seven (7) years of professional experience working in the field of green fiscal policies, sustainable development, or green economy. Experience in the field of agricultural or resource management policies is an advantage.

At least one previous consulting assignment on Brazil is required. Previous work experience in Latin America is desirable. Having a network of actors involved in public and private funding is considered a plus.

Language: For this consulting position, fluency in oral and written English and Portuguese are both required, knowledge of other official UN languages is optional.

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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