Environmental Policy and Legal Specialist

Application Deadline :05-Mar-13
Type of Contract :FTA International
Post Level :P-4
Languages Required :
Starting Date :
(date when the selected candidate is expected to start)
Duration of Initial Contract :1 year


The Environment and Energy Group (EEG) in UNDP’s Bureau for Development Policy (BDP) provides advocacy, and technical policy, programme and implementation support services to global processes and mechanisms and, through its regional teams in the regional service centres, to UNDP’s more than 130 country offices. One of the mechanisms for which EEG provides support is the GEF, for which UNDP is a founding partner and Implementing Agency. The GEF Trust Fund is a multilateral instrument providing incremental financing to countries to assist them in fulfilling their commitments under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD), and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). The Trust Fund also provides finance to assist groups of countries to manage shared water bodies and their constituent natural resources. GEF also provides limited finance to assist countries with economies in transition to meet their obligations under the Montreal Protocol on the elimination of ozone depleting substances. In addition to the GEF Trust Fund, the GEF Secretariat also manages the Strategic Climate Change Fund (SCCF) and the Least Developed Country Fund (LDCF) for the UNFCCC, and serves as the secretariat for the Board of the Adaptation Fund.

As one of the three GEF implementing agencies, UNDP mobilizes around $1 billion a year ($250 million in GEF grants and $750 million in co-financing) for global environmental management. Although these resources are small compared to the overall environmental finance needs, they play a critical role in laying the foundation for effective markets that can, in turn, leverage new sources of environmental finance to attract needed private investment for sustainable development. Over the past 10 years, UNDP technical assistance through GEF has evolved from supporting technology demonstration projects to helping governments establish the policy and institutional enabling environments for, and assisting with market development or transformation for environmentally friendly technologies and practices.

In supporting the GEF and its various multilateral funds, EEG is obliged to not only track and respond to a complex variety of different operational policies, rules, regulations, procedures, reporting and other obligations, but to also negotiate many of these in advance. Ensuring appropriate negotiation, operational compliance and reporting, tracking changes, seeking simplification and harmonization, and keeping a globally distributed staff of 150 people fully informed and trained to deal with this complex array, are critical tasks. Specialized technical legal expertise in areas relevant to UNDP-GEF programming (e.g. carbon law, environmental law, international law) is also needed from time to time. The Environmental Policy and Legal Specialist is responsible for these functions.

The Environmental Policy and Legal Specialist reports to the UNDP-GEF Deputy Executive Coordinator, and is expected to liaise on a regular basis with senior management and high-level officials within UNDP, other UN agencies, intergovernmental organizations, governments, and governing bodies and secretariats of key financing partners such as the GEF.

Duties and Responsibilities

Compliance and Advisory Services

  • Track the policies, rules, regulations, procedures, legal, and other requirements of the GEF, UNDP and other financing partners
  • Establish and manage systems for monitoring and ensuring compliance with new or changing policies, rules, regulations, etc., including internal clearance procedures and other mechanisms as appropriate.
  • Work with senior management to ensure full and timely compliance, taking both pro-active and remedial action as necessary
  • Keep all parties informed as appropriate.
  • Develop internal capacity to comply through appropriate policy, managerial, and process reforms and improvements, including training and guidance notes, etc.
  • Guide UNDP-GEF staff on all matters relating to the negotiation of agreements, contracts and instruments, and engaging the UNDP Legal Support Office and other departments as required.
  • Maintain up to date knowledge of, and close relationships with, internal UNDP, and external, legal and policy units and processes, in particular the GEF, including their responsibilities, capabilities and procedures.
  • Provide advisory services on all policy and legal matters as required, in collaboration with relevant offices and units in UNDP such as the Legal Support Office. This may include matters involving issues of international, public, private and administrative law, and participation in negotiations on a wide variety of topics.

Governance and streamlining

  • Identify and negotiate opportunities for improving and streamlining operational procedures and processes relating to internal and external policies, rules, regulations, and procedures.
  • Track internal and external discussions on policy and legal reform relevant to UNDP-GEF, including governance discussions on new financing mechanisms, innovative instruments, and internal policies and procedures that affect UNDP-GEF.
  • Represent UNDP-GEF in internal and external discussions on policy and legal reforms in the above areas, including attending key meetings of the GEF Council, UNDP Executive Board, Adaptation Fund Board, Green Climate Fund Board and other forums if, and as, appropriate.

Management communications and liaison

  • Coordinate input into and draft high quality briefing notes and other management communications for UNDP-GEF Directorate senior management as required.
  • Serve as focal point in UNDP-GEF Directorate for management communications with the UNDP Executive Office and BDP Directorate as appropriate.

Technical support

  • Track key developments in substantive legal areas relevant to the work of the UNDP-GEF Unit, such as carbon law, environmental law, and international law as appropriate.
  • Provide technical legal services upon request and as appropriate in areas relevant to UNDP-GEF programming.
  • Develop networks and relationships with other UN agencies and organizations working with environmental law, and serve as UNDP-GEF focal point in these areas.

Impact of Results

The key results directly impact the ability of the UNDP-GEF Unit to meet the diverse policy, legal, procedural and reporting requirements to which it is committed. The key results also enable UNDP-GEF to develop innovative practices that have the potential to deliver millions of dollars per year to partner countries through the UNDP country offices.

The consequences of non-compliance with internal or external policy, legal, and reporting requirements could be severe leading to the loss of credibility, partnerships, and hundreds of millions of dollars in financing. Similarly, mistakes in negotiating processes and the development of innovative instruments and mechanisms can have equally severe consequences. UNDP-GEF needs to know where, when and on what to contact UNDP legal services, and when not to. Mistakes can lead to either a complete drain on UNDP legal service resources as they are pulled into unnecessary work, or potentially severe external legal complications.



  • Demonstrates integrity and fairness, by modeling the UN/UNDP’s values and ethical standards
  • Promotes the vision, mission and strategic goals of UNDP
  • Displays cultural, gender, religion, race, nationality and age sensitivity and adaptability

Professional and Technical:

  • Demonstrated competence in understanding and interpreting legal and policy documents
  • Demonstrated competence in policy analysis
  • Excellent writing and technical drafting skills
  • Demonstrated ability and experience in negotiation
  • Demonstrated knowledge and experience of multilateral organizations and their internal policy making processes
  • Sound knowledge of the environment and environment issues
  • Sound knowledge of international environmental policy frameworks
  • Sound knowledge and experience in how organizations and individuals learn and change
  • Demonstrated ability to research, analyze, synthesize and generate highly accessible summaries of complex policy and processes
  • Demonstrated ability to integrate knowledge with broader policy and operational objectives;

Client Orientation:

  • Demonstrated ability to see things from the clients perspective
  • Ability to identify client needs and match them to appropriate solutions
  • Demonstrated ability to establish trust and respect


  • Demonstrated interest in new ideas, new ways of doing things
  • Demonstrated interest in improving programmes or services
  • Demonstrated ability to “think outside the box”


  • Excellent communication skills both oral, and most essentially, written;
  • Demonstrated ability to promote and persuade others to consider new ideas;

Planning and Organizing:

  • Proven ability to plan and organize work;
  • Good judgment and decision-making skills.


  • Independent judgment and discretion in advising on or handling delicate policy issues

Required Skills and Experience


  • Master’s degree in law, preferably related to international law. A specialization in environmental law and policy or other closely related field would be an asset.


  • Minimum of 7 years of progressively responsible experience in legal related or high level policy formulation field involving extensive writing, technical drafting and negotiation of legal agreements and other instruments.
  • Of these 7 years, at least 2 years of experience working in an intergovernmental organization, preferably in a UN agency at a headquarters or management level.
  • Of these 7 years, at least 3 years of working in a law firm or government legal department providing legal advice on climate change and carbon markets law, environmental law and/or international law.
  • Familiarity with UNDP’s policies, rules and regulations would be an asset.
  • Familiarity with international environmental governance issues and proven experience working with global environmental vertical funds such as the GEF would be a distinct advantage.

Language Requirements:

  • Fluent in written and spoken English. Working knowledge in other UN languages is an asset.

UNDP Personal History form (P11):


Fund Code: 62050

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