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Research Consultant to Conduct Mapping and Analysis of Key Stakeholders and Existing Efforts to Counter Information Pollution in the ECIS Region
|Application Deadline :||30-Sep-21 (Midnight New York, USA)|
|Type of Contract :||Individual Contract|
|Post Level :||International Consultant|
|Languages Required :||English|
|Starting Date :|
(date when the selected candidate is expected to start)
|Duration of Initial Contract :||Estimated 05 October – 05 December 2021|
|Expected Duration of Assignment :||Approximately 30 working days over 3 months|
UNDP is committed to achieving workforce diversity in terms of gender, nationality and culture. Individuals from minority groups, indigenous groups and persons with disabilities are equally encouraged to apply. All applications will be treated with the strictest confidence.
UNDP does not tolerate sexual exploitation and abuse, any kind of harassment, including sexual harassment, and discrimination. All selected candidates will, therefore, undergo rigorous reference and background checks.
Beyond the immediate ramifications for public health and economy, one of the rising challenges that COVID-19 continues to present is in the realm of social cohesion. The pandemic has generated unprecedented tension and anxiety as it spread throughout the world and has inevitably brought to question the ability of authorities to respond to this unprecedented crisis. The level of effectiveness of government response, coupled with issues of inclusivity, transparency, accountability, and respect for human rights has put the already precarious social contract and trust in many contexts to further test. While the pandemic has presented opportunities for reconciliation in some cases, it has further exacerbated existing socio-economic divides and polarization in many countries, which presents a particular risk in the context of political elections. The pandemic has also laid bare fault lines and tensions at the community-level, fueling stigma towards the “other,” as exemplified by the rise of Islamaphobic narratives in India, the increasing political narrative against refugees and migrants in Europe, and a violent incident of protests against evacuees from China in Ukraine.
In this context, the rise of information pollution (disinformation and misinformation) about COVID-19, including conspiracy theories, have been of particular concern, with the potential to impact trust towards authorities and fuel tensions among communities adversely. Furthermore, this rise of conspiracy theories has significantly reduced the space for healthy skepticism which is an important part of a functioning democracy. Unfortunately, information pollution about COVID-19 has multiplied on social media like Facebook and is also spread via messaging apps such as WhatsApp, and Telegram. In response to myths, conspiracy theories, and ill-intended information circulating to this effect, the World Health Organization declared the first ‘infodemic’ warning of an overabundance of information, both good and bad, which is causing confusion, frustration and lack of trust amongst the public.
In the COVID-19 context, our vulnerability to information pollution poses a real risk to public health and effective crisis communication. Beyond impact on response effectiveness, whether spread unknowingly or with malintent, information pollution hampers trust and adds to social disorder, fueling polarization, and causing stigma and anger towards particular individuals and identity-groups. In addition, since 2016, due to disinformation campaigns orchestrated in times of elections such as 2016 US elections and Brexit, the issue has gained increasing attention as a fundamental threat to the integrity of elections and democracy worldwide.
The ECIS region has not been immune to these challenges. Meanwhile, some governments’ efforts to curtail fake news often came at the expense of freedom of expression and further fueled distrust towards national authorities. In the Western Balkans, COVID-19 has given rise to narratives that the EU is “turning its back” on the Western Balkans encouraging Euroscepticism and nationalism or that COVID-19 is a bioengineered virus that is the pretext for a foreign invasion. The utilization of disinformation to advance political or economic interests in the region has been another concerning trend.
In the past years, we witnessed how information pollution has impacted the various elections, horizontal and vertical social cohesion, and policy decisions in a number of countries and territories in our region. At the same time, we see that measures and efforts to address information pollution have increased quickly in recent years. Many new initiatives from think tanks, fact-checking organizations, tech start-ups, and private initiatives have begun monitoring and responding to misinformation and disinformation campaigns. Additionally, governments are developing interventions to counter the impact of information pollution using legislation and regulatory frameworks, investigations, and dialogue with civil society and the media.
The need for a mapping exercise of stakeholders and initiatives to counter information pollution in the region emerges due to the lack of a comprehensive dataset of work done in the Europe and Commonwealth of Independent States (ECIS) region. To identify main stakeholders and best practices at the local and regional level and how can UNDP support and engage them, we propose a mapping exercise that aims to:
The mapping aims to increase best practice sharing and opportunities among civil society, governments, and the international community. Further, it will be used as a basis for UNDP to support existing initiatives and create partnerships for future efforts to counter information pollution. The data will be gathered using a combination of different methods such as desk research, and interviews with key experts and informants from the region. The study will result in an initial dataset of initiatives and a compendium of good practices in the region and practical recommendations for the next step. The mapping will present and examine the following questions:
Duties and Responsibilities
The consultant will work under the supervision of the Communication, Youth and Digital Inclusion Analyst (Istanbul Regional Hub- IRH) and in close collaboration with the Senior Advisor, Information Integrity
Expected Deliverables and Schedule of payments
The total number of days of work is estimated approximately 30 working days over a 3 month period. The breakdown corresponds to the expected outputs and schedule of payments as follows:
Payments will be made only upon confirmation of UNDP on delivering on the contract obligations in a satisfactory manner.
The lump-sum price is fixed regardless of changes in the cost components.
Required Skills and Experience
Evaluation of Applicants
Individual consultants will be evaluated based on a cumulative analysis taking into consideration the combination of the applicants’ qualifications and financial proposal.
The award of the contract should be made to the individual consultant whose offer has been evaluated and determined as:
a) responsive/compliant/acceptable, and
b) Having received the highest score out of a pre-determined set of weighted technical (P11 desk reviews and interviews) and financial criteria specific to the solicitation.
(If interviews are planned to be conducted the following sentence is to be used: “Only highest ranked candidates who would be found qualified for the job based on the P11 desk review will be invited for an interview”.)
(If no interviews are planned except of the verification interview with the selected candidate the following sentence shall be used: “Only the highest ranked candidates who would be found qualified for the job will be considered for the Financial Evaluation”.)
Technical Criteria - 70% of total evaluation – max. 70 points:
Criteria 1: Education– max points: 10
Criteria 2: Working Experience – max points: 20
Criteria 3: Analytics, research and writing abilities – max 20 points
Criteria 4: Interviews – max 10
Criteria 5: Excellent command of English – max 10
Financial Criteria - 30% of total evaluation – max. 30 points
Only candidates obtaining a minimum of 70 points for technical criteria (approx. 70% of the total technical points) would be considered for the Financial Evaluation.?
For those passing technical evaluation above, offers will be evaluated per the Combined Scoring method:
a) Technical evaluation (70%)
b) Financial evaluation (30%)
The application receiving the Highest Combined Score will be awarded the contract.
6. Application procedures
Qualified candidates are requested to apply online via this website. The application should contain:
*Please note that the financial proposal is all-inclusive and shall take into account various expenses incurred by the consultant/contractor during the contract period (e.g. fee, health insurance, vaccination, personal security needs and any other relevant expenses related to the performance of services...). All envisaged travel costs must be included in the financial proposal. This includes all travel to join duty station/repatriation travel.
Individual Consultants are responsible for ensuring they have vaccinations/inoculations when travelling to certain countries, as designated by the UN Medical Director. Consultants are also required to comply with the UN security directives set forth under dss.un.org
General Terms and conditions as well as other related documents can be found under: http://on.undp.org/t7fJs.
Qualified women and members of minorities are encouraged to apply.
Due to large number of applications we receive, we are able to inform only the successful candidates about the outcome or status of the selection process.