Nature Energy and Climate (NEC) Programme Specialist

UNDP - United Nations Development Programme

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The UNDP Country Office (CO) in South Africa, as Government partner in the  efforts to achieve the sustainable development goals, sought to reposition itself strategically and realign its human resources to better respond to the new Country Programme Document (CPD) 2020-2025 approved in June 2020 and ensure the articulated need to work in a more integrated and collaborative manner to help South Africa to address interrelated development challenges, including adaptation to climate change, environment and just energy transition. In line with the UNDP Strategic Plan Signature Solutions of: (i) resilience, (ii) environment and (iii) energy, UNDP in South Africa will continue flagship programmes including in the priorities areas related to Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), just transition policies, biodiversity conservation, socio-economic and climate governance aspects, and advancement of thought leadership. 

The Programme on NEC in the UNDP Country Office supports the South African Government in policy development and implementation oversight, capacity building and institutional strengthening in project and programme development, implementation, and monitoring.

UNDP works in close collaboration with various partners in the sector, including the National Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (DFFE), Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE), River Basin Multilateral Water Commissions covering southern African countries (Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe), South African Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), South African National Parks (SANParks), South African Weather Service, South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI), Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and its entity, the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). UNDP also collaborates very closely with provincial and local governments, donors (particularly the Global Environment Facility, GEF), development banks, the private sector, civil society and academia, as well as with UN Agencies, Funds and Programs through bilateral partnerships and within the framework of the United Nations Strategic Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF) 2020-2025’ Results Groups.

In this context and under the overall guidance of the Resident Representative and supervision by the Deputy Resident Representative, the Programme Specalist will be responsible for the management of UNDP’s Nature, Energy and Climate portfolio, the largest portfolio of UNDP in South Africa, which includes various national and transboundary projects funded by a variety of donors, including the Global Environment Fund (GEF). He/she will ensure that the objectives of the NEC as established in the Country Program Document are effectively and efficiently achieved and will contribute to the Country Efforts of resources mobilization to ensure fully funding of the NEC program under the CPD.

He/she analyzes political, social and economic trends and leads formulation, management and evaluation of programme activities within Inclusive NEC portfolio, which consists of, but not limited to the following interventions: biodiversity, sustainable land management, river basins management, access to sustainable energy and adaptation to climate change. S/he also works in close collaboration with his/her Unit and other Programme Units, Programme staff in other UN Agencies, UNDP HQ and Addis-Ababa Regional Hub staff, Government officials, technical advisors and experts, multi-lateral and bi-lateral donors and civil society to help implement the UNDP country programme in the area of NEC. S/he provides quality technical advice to Government and partners in his or her work area.


Position Purpose

  • Ensuring the strategic direction of UNDP NEC programme
  • Management and oversight of the CO NEC programme, and supervision of the respective team members and consultants and directing their efforts to achieve corporate and CO strategic goals and results;
  • Strategic partnerships and support to resource mobilization
  • Provision of top-quality policy advice services to the Government and facilitation of knowledge building and management 
  • Facilitation of knowledge management and sharing of best practices
Duties and Responsibilities

In this section list up to five primary functions/accountabilities of the position (Typically one sentence each) and examples of duties that must be performed to successfully accomplish key responsibilities.

1.Ensures the strategic direction of UNDP NEC programme focusing on achievement of the following results

  • A thorough analysis of the political, social and economic situation in the country and collaborative with other UN Agencies preparation and/or revise the Common Country Assessment (CCA), the United Nations Strategic Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF), the Country Development Programme (CPD), the Annual Work Plan (AWP), Integrated Annual Work Plan (IWP) and other documents;
  • Analysis and presentation of UNDP policies and their implementation in the CO
  • Ensures operationalization of CPD though ongoing and new programmes and projects and in collaboration with the main partners and other UN Agencies. Identifies opportunities for new programme/project development including joint programming with UN agencies;
  • Identification of strategic programme areas of cooperation including Circular Economy Initiatives and green jobs;

2.Ensures effective management of the CO NEC programme portfolio and supervision of the team focusing on quality control of the full cycle of programming from formulation to implementation achieving the following results

  • Provides component managerial leadership, technical guidance, oversight and quality control of program operations from planning, budgeting to implementation and monitoring and evaluation, ensuring that results are delivered in accordance with work plan, standards, allocations, framework and rules and regulations;
  • Ensures effective application of RBM tools, establishment of management targets and monitoring achievement of result, as quality assurance, ROAR, IWP etc.;
  • Leads the annual work planning process with CO units and project managers;
  • Monitors work plan implementation, ensures it is on track, and supports resolution of bottlenecks working with CO units, RSC and HQ;
  • Develops programme / outcome level work plan, monitoring plan, human resources and procurement plans;
  • Drafts Terms of References and procurement specifications;
  • Prepares periodic and ad hoc reports; ensures timely completion of required quarterly and annual reports;
  • Ensures project and programme reviews and evaluations take place;
  • Maintains regular contact with project and programme counterparts in order to ensure monitoring of projects’ progress, monitoring of unit work plans, programme effectiveness and achievement of results;
  • Organizes regular coordination across outcome teams and other projects to ensure synergies and integration; promotes cross component and cross programme collaboration;
  • Supports audit exercises and follow up audit recommendations implementation;
  • Takes on corporate and CO responsibilities such as participation in CAP and interview panels.

3. Establishes and maintains strategic partnerships and supports the resource mobilization focusing on achievement of the following results

  • Implements CO partnerships and resources mobilization strategies to achieve programme outcomes;
  • Establishes close working relationships and creates programmatic linkages and partnerships with relevant government agencies; UN Agencies, Multi-Donors Trust Funds (GEF, GCF, etc) IFI’s, bi-lateral and multi-lateral donors, private sector and civil society.;
  • Identification and proposal of programmatic areas of cooperation, based on strategic goals of UNDP, country needs and donors’ priorities;
  • Analysis and research of information on donors, preparation of substantive briefs on possible areas of cooperation, identification of opportunities for cost-sharing.
  • Represents UNDP at external meetings within his/her area of programming

4. Ensures provision of top-quality advisory services within the area of NEC, focusing on achievement of the following results

  • Identification of sources of information related to policy-driven issues. Identification and synthesis of best practices and lessons learned directly linked to programme country policy goals;
  • Coordination of development of policies and institutions that will address the country problems and needs in collaboration with the Government and other strategic partners;
  • Initiation and preparation of concept notes and advisory papers on major emerging issues in the sector to offer new programing approaches;
  • Establishment of advocacy networks at national level and linked to international networks. Relevant, high-impact advocacy campaigns are implemented with key partners;


5. Facilitates knowledge building and management, focusing on achievement of the following results

  • Sound contributions to knowledge networks and communities of practice;
  • Advocates for UNDP with Government counterparts and ensures access to best available expertise;
  • Ensures that lessons learned from projects are captured and recorded into the CO knowledge networks;
  • Organization of training for the operations/ projects staff on programme, seminars, and dialogue platform with Government and other stakeholders

Supervisory/Managerial Responsibilities:

  • Program Associate, Project Managers, Program Analyst, JPO, UNV


  • Achieve Results:-LEVEL 3: Set and align challenging, achievable objectives for multiple projects, have lasting impact
  • Think Innovatively:-LEVEL 3: Proactively mitigate potential risks, develop new ideas to solve complex problems
  • Learn Continuously:-LEVEL 3: Create and act on opportunities to expand horizons, diversify experiences
  • Adapt with Agility:-LEVEL 3: Proactively initiate and champion change, manage multiple competing demands
  • Act with Determination:-LEVEL 3: Think beyond immediate task/barriers and take action to achieve greater results
  • Engage and Partner:-LEVEL 3: Political savvy, navigate complex landscape, champion inter-agency collaboration
  • Enable Diversity and Inclusion:-LEVEL 3: Appreciate benefits of diverse workforce and champion inclusivity

People Management (Insert below standard sentence if the position has direct reports.)

UNDP People Management Competencies can be found in the dedicated site.

Cross-Functional & Technical competencies

  • Business Direction & Strategy-System Thinking-Ability to use objective problem analysis and judgement to understand how interrelated elements coexist within an overall process or system, and to consider how altering one element can impact on other parts of the system
  • Business Development-Knowledge Generation-Ability to research and turn information into useful knowledge, relevant for context, or responsive to a stated need
  • Business Management-Project Management-Ability to plan, organize, prioritize and control resources, procedures and protocols to achieve specific goals
  • Business Management-Partnerships Management-Ability to build and maintain partnerships with wide networks of stakeholders, Governments, civil society and private sector partners, experts and others in line with UNDP strategy and policies
  • Business Management-Risk Management-Ability to identify and organize action around mitigating and proactively managing risk
  • Business Management-Working with Evidence and Data -Ability to inspect, cleanse, transform and model data with the goal of discovering useful information, informing conclusions and supporting decision-making
Required Skills and Experience
  • Master’s degree in Environment Science, Energy, Engineering, Physical Science or other Nature Climate and Energy related areas
Experience, Knowledge, and Skills:
  • Minimum of 5 years of progressively responsible experience nature, energy and climate policies, programs and projects design, management and oversight in international multilateral/bilateral development organizations, government institutions and NGOs;
  • Experience at the national level providing technical advisory services, and establishing inter-relationships among international organizations and national governments;
  • Experience in working with UNDP or another UN agency would be an asset
  • Proven ability to work effectively in multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural teams.
  • Proven programmatic management experience with sound knowledge of all aspects of the project cycle (design, implementation, monitoring & evaluation).
  • Excellent skills in fundraising, resources mobilization and donor relations would be an asset.
  • Proficiency in English. Working knowledge of other UN language desirable
Please note that continuance of appointment beyond the initial 12 months is contingent upon the successful completion of a probationary period.
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Note: UNDP reserves the right to select one or more candidates from this vacancy announcement.  We may also retain applications and consider candidates applying to this post for other similar positions with UNDP at the same grade level and with similar job description, experience and educational requirements.
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