Job Opening

Posting Title: Regional Expert to prepare a regional report on the sources, uses and leakages of microplastics in the Mediterranean, and a monitoring protocol to assess microplastic leakage from WWTP (Level B)
Department/Office: United Nations Environment Programme
Duty Station: ATHENS
Posting Period: 03 October 2022 - 16 October 2022
Job Opening Number: 22-United Nations Environment Programme-192006-Consultant
Staffing Exercise N/A
United Nations Core Values: Integrity, Professionalism, Respect for Diversity
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Result of Service

The ultimate result of this assignment is the timely and effective delivery of the following outputs:
a) A regional report having a focus in assessing the main uses and sources of microplastics in the Mediterranean, as well as microplastic leakages into the marine and coastal environment of the Mediterranean, focusing on existing studies with the aim to fill the gap for the Mediterranean;
b) A shortlist of relevant necessary measures; and
c) A protocol for monitoring microplastic into the marine and coastal environment coming from Wastewater Treatment Plants (WWTP).

Work Location

Home-based

Expected duration

10 months

Duties and Responsibilities

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is the United Nations system's designated entity for addressing environmental issues at the global and regional levels. 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. United Nation’s Environment Ecosystems Division works with international and national partners, providing technical assistance and advisory services for the implementation of environmental policy, and strengthening the environmental management capacity of developing countries and countries with economies in transition. This consultancy assignment is for the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) - Programme for the Assessment and Control of Marine Pollution in the Mediterranean (MED POL), Athens, Greece.

COP 18 in 2016 adopted Decision IG.21/7 related to the Regional Plan on Marine Litter Management in the Mediterranean in the Framework of Article 15 of the Protocol for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution from Land-based Sources and Activities (LBS Protocol) to the Barcelona Convention (hereinafter referred to as RPML). The Regional Plan was amended by COP 22 in 2021 in Decision IG.25/9 on Amendments to the Regional Plan on Marine Litter Management in the Mediterranean in the Framework of Article 15 of the Land Based Sources Protocol.

Article 9 of the RPML titled “Prevention of Marine Litter” calls for the application of prevention measures to address land-based sources (15.3), whereas Articles 11 and 14 are addressing elements pertinent to the assessment of marine litter in the Mediterranean and the development of specific guidelines.

UNEP/MAP and its MED POL Programme are executing the EU-funded “Marine Litter-MED II” Project (2020 – 2023) having an important contribution to the implementation of UNEP/MAP Medium-Term Strategy 2022-2027 (MTS) (Decision IG.25/1).as well as the Programme of Work and Budget for 2022-2023 adopted at COP 22 (Decision IG.25/19). The project’s overall objective is to reduce and prevent the generation of marine litter in the Mediterranean through an expanded implementation of key reduction and prevention measures as provided for in the updated Regional Plan on Marine Litter Management in the Mediterranean. Project’s Output 1.6 focus is to assess the main uses and sources of microplastics in the Mediterranean, as well as microplastic leakages into the marine and coastal environment of the Mediterranean, focusing on existing studies with the aim to fill the gap for the Mediterranean and subsequently will result in proposing accordingly necessary measures as well as a protocol for microplastic monitoring coming from Wastewater Treatment Plants (WWTP).

In line with the EU-funded Marine Litter MED II Project and the UNEP/MAP Medium-Term Strategy 2022-2027 (MTS), as well as the Programme of Work and Budget for 2022-2023, there is a need to recruit a regional expert to support MED POL in preparing: (a) a regional report having a focus in assessing the main uses and sources of microplastics in the Mediterranean, as well as microplastic leakages into the marine and coastal environment of the Mediterranean, focusing on existing studies with the aim to fill the gap for the Mediterranean; (b) a shortlist of relevant necessary measures; and (c) a protocol for monitoring microplastic into the marine and coastal environment coming from Wastewater Treatment Plants (WWTP).

The Consultant will work under the direct supervision of UNEP/MAP MED POL Associate Programme Management Officer (Marine Litter MED II Project Manager), under the guidance of UNEP/MAP MED POL Programme Management Officer, and the overall supervision of UNEP/MAP Deputy Coordinator.

The consultant is expected to undertake the following specific tasks and responsibilities:

1. Prepare a detailed work plan for performance of the following tasks accompanied with a timetable for completion of each task over a total time period of the present assignment including a synopsis of work to be undertaken for each task and means for achieving the prescribed outputs of this consultancy.
2. Draft and prepare a regional report having a focus in assessing the main uses and sources of microplastics in the Mediterranean, as well as microplastic leakages from WWTP (sludge and effluent) into the marine and coastal environment of the Mediterranean. The study should include the following elements:
a) Prepare an outline approved by MED POL.
b) Undertake a thorough literature review having a focus on existing studies around the world, as well as in the
Mediterranean for the main uses, sources and amounts of microplastics.
c) Undertake a thorough literature review of the microplastic leakages from WWTP around the Mediterranean and relevant best practices for their effective operation and management, including seasonal, monthly and daily variances.
d) Undertake a thorough literature review for the impact of tourism industry around the Mediterranean on microplastic leakages from effluents of WWTP.
e) Conduct an analysis for the presence of microplastics in sewage sludge and effluents considering the Regional Plan on Sewage Sludge Management and the Regional Plan on Urban Wastewater Treatment.
f) Further to the availability of data, prepare a regional, and possibly 4 sub-regional maps, mapping the different WWTPs operating around the Mediterranean, including a classification system, and possibly identify the most affected areas in the Mediterranean from the release of microplastics from WWTP (hotspots).
g) Propose ways, means and adequate treatment technologies that are available further to the literature for the effective retention and collection of the microplastics ending up in WWTP.
3. Draft and prepare a shortlist of proposed reduction and prevention measures addressing the release of microplastics from WWTP considering the Regional Plan on Sludge Management and the Regional Plan on Urban Wastewater Treatment Plan:
a) Include an analysis on specific best practices and examples used around the world and in the Mediterranean.
b) Include main drivers for socioeconomic aspects for each proposed measure, as well as the level of technical intervention required for their effective application.
4. Draft and prepare a protocol for monitoring microplastic leakage into the marine and coastal environment coming from Wastewater Treatment Plants (WWTP) (sewage sludge, influents and effluents), including the following elements:
a) A summary of the available literature and existing protocols being available around the world and in the Mediterranean.
b) Prepare a step-by-step guideline/protocol (including pictures) focusing on sampling methodology and techniques and characterization, having a particular focus on the following elements:
i. Ways, means and material for the collection of microplastics from WWTPs (sludge, influents and effluents).
ii. Laboratory work focusing on sample preservation and preparation, isolation of microplastics from other organic content, pre-treatment, chemical treatment, density separation and membrane filtration, characterization and identification of microplastics, morphological and physical characterization, use of FTIR spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy, thermal degradation methods.
iii. A list of the required and necessary sampling and laboratory equipment and techniques.
c) Propose a quality assurance and quality control scheme for sampling and data collection.
d) Prepare an Annex to the protocol of a relevant reporting template for data collection and prepare them into the UNEP/MAP IMAP format for Data Standards (DS) and Data Dictionaries (DD).
5. Attend up to 2 technical/regional meetings organized by MED POL to present the relevant work as described in detail under the present ToR.

Qualifications/special skills

Advanced university degree (master’s degree or equivalent) in environmental sciences, wastewater management, or other closely related disciplines (preferably also linked with marine litter) is required.
A minimum of five (5) years of progressively responsible work and experience in plastic waste management, wastewater management and monitoring, or in the implementation of the international/regional regulations governing the control pollution from WWTP, are required.
Good knowledge of regional (Mediterranean) and international policies, regulations and tools related to plastic waste and pollution management from WWTP is an asset.
Experience in developing reports and monitoring protocols with a particular focus on waste and wastewater including for marine litter/microplastic leakages is an asset.

Languages

Fluency in English (writing/speaking) is required.
Working knowledge in French language is an asset.

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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