Carbon Law Specialist

Application Deadline :10-Jun-12 (Midnight New York, USA)
Type of Contract :FTA International
Post Level :P-3
Languages Required :
Starting Date :
(date when the selected candidate is expected to start)
Duration of Initial Contract :1 year


The UNDP Environment and Energy Group (EEG) is based in UNDP’s Bureau of Development Policy and is responsible for providing leadership and technical support to engineer delivery of the Environment and Sustainable Development pillar of UNDP’s Strategic Plan. Its main focus is on helping countries develop the capacity to fully incorporate environmental sustainability into development at national and local, but also global and regional, levels. The principal areas of work are in environmental mainstreaming, environmental finance, adaptation to climate change, and local management of natural resources.

With its technical focus, EEG is organized into substantive technical teams. One such team is Energy, Infrastructure, Transport and Technology (EITT), which focuses on energy use and supply, climate resilient infrastructure and low carbon transport and mobility. The EITT team assists developing countries to attract and direct public and private investment towards these areas. Currently EITT advises on a number of sources of public and private funds including: the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the UNFCCC Adaptation Fund, carbon finance, and various bilateral, multilateral, and sub-national funds, donors and partners. Increasingly EITT’s work is oriented to utilizing scarce public funds to catalyze greater flows of private capital.

Carbon finance holds the potential of incentivizing large-scale private sector investment in low-carbon development. In developing countries, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), a project-based mechanism, has been the key forerunner in terms of carbon finance instruments. Now a new generation of instruments based on scaled-up approaches and sector-wide mechanisms are being developed, with the aim of bringing about transformative change at scale across an entire sector.

Under the CDM, the Programme of Activities (PoA) modality has gained recent momentum as one such scaled-up approach, and looks to have particular applicability in Least Developed Countries (LDCs). Looking ahead, discussions on sector-wide approaches are also progressing under the UNFCCC under both Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) and New Market Mechanisms (NMMs). As these new scaled-up approaches are developed, UNDP can assist developing countries to design, pilot and implement these mechanisms.

In this context, MDG Carbon serves as UNDP’s corporate framework for carbon finance activities. MDG Carbon has 3 core objectives: first, to expand access to carbon finance to currently underrepresented countries and sub-national regions; second, to promote carbon finance activities with sustainable development outcomes, supporting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); and, third, to promote carbon finance solutions with high replicability and scale.

On the ground, MDG Carbon operates through two complementary arms, a Market-Enabling arm and a Project Development arm. The Market-Enabling arm works on public goods: policy dialogue, capacity building and new instruments. Here UNDP, providing capacity development assistance, uses a donor-funded business model. The Project Development arm provides assistance to develop viable carbon activities to the stage of credit issuance or monetization, including working with financial partners and other actors who purchase the credits issued by projects. Here, given the more commercial nature of this arm, UNDP uses a cost-recovery model.

MDG Carbon’s team is made up of UNDP staff at the central, regional and country office level. At the central level, a team of Technical Advisors, forming the MDG Carbon Facility, provide specialized support to the UNDP staff at the regional and country office level.

In order to best structure its activities, MDG Carbon applies its business model in three thematic areas: (i) project-based carbon finance (CDM/JI), (increasingly focused on the CDM POA modality) (ii) sectoral approaches and trading mechanisms, and (iii) unaddressed sources and sinks of emissions. There are multiple linkages and synergies between these three areas. The post of Carbon Law Specialist will fall primarily under the first two thematic areas, project-based carbon finance (CDM/JI) and sectoral approaches.

Duties and Responsibilities

The Carbon Law Specialist (hereafter ‘the Specialist’) will be responsible for the legal aspects of MDG Carbon’s activities related to carbon markets law. The Specialist’s work will focus on providing support on (i) the origination, due diligence and development of carbon projects, (ii) the legal policy considerations for sectoral approaches and trading mechanisms, and (iii) the overall strategic direction of MDG Carbon and UNDP’s corporate interests. Clear targets for MDG Carbon’s activities will be set, to which the Specialist will be expected to contribute.

The Specialist will work on these carbon markets legal aspects of MDG Carbon in close coordination with UNDP’s Bureau of Management/Legal Support Office (LSO). Any corporate and institutional legal matters relating to the Specialist’s work shall be handled by LSO.

The Specialist will go about his/her work in collaboration with other environment and energy staff at the Country Office, EITT’s global team of Regional Technical Advisers (RTAs) and the EITT team at Head Office. The position is currently based in New York. The scope of the work is global, covering all regions within UNDP. This duty station is subject to change in the future in response to business needs.

The Specialist will be part of the MDG Carbon Facility central team of technical advisors, and more broadly, will work within the Energy, Infrastructure, Transport & Technology (EITT) team as part of the GEF unit (UNDP-GEF) of the Environment and Energy Group (EEG) in UNDP’s Bureau for Development Policy (BDP). The Specialist will report to the Principal Technical Adviser, EITT.

Under the direction of the Principal Technical Advisor, the main tasks of the position are set out below:

Project Based Carbon Finance

  • Develop and maintain tools and procedures addressing the legal aspects of the origination, screening and due diligence of carbon projects, with a focus on carbon markets legal issues. Engage directly and/or assist with the performance by field staff of legal due diligence activities;
  • Assist with the carbon markets legal aspects of MDG Carbon’s project development work, including documentation such as PINs and PDDs, as well as CDM/JI rules, procedures and interactions;
  • Develop and maintain a suite of UNDP legal agreements regarding carbon projects, including agreements with host countries and project proponents. Provide advice on any UNDP negotiations with counterparties and oversee compliance of these agreements;
  • Support MDG Carbon’s assistance to project proponents on their interactions with financial partners, including, where necessary, on the carbon markets legal and deal structuring aspects of any carbon credit purchase or monetization of emission reductions.

Sectoral Approaches and Trading Mechanisms

  • Provide input into the broader legal policy aspects of designing sectoral approaches in areas such as: baseline targets; monitoring, reporting and verification; legal preparedness; national legislation and regulation; and linkages to international systems;
  • Provide support on the legal aspects of handling emission reductions in the context of sectoral approaches, such as issues of ownership, trading and liabilities related to the exchange of carbon assets;
  • Provide support on the carbon markets legal aspects of any UNDP partnerships established to promote sectoral approaches, for example with financial partners, governments and other agencies;
  • Keep abreast with policy and legal developments in the carbon markets, including emerging frameworks for Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) and New Market Mechanisms (NMMs) under the UNFCCC negotiations.

General Activities

  • Provide support on the carbon markets legal aspects of (i) the strategic development of MDG Carbon and (ii) corporate issues and objectives for UNDP;
  • Provide training to relevant Head Office, Regional, and Country Office staff as required;
  • Present MDG Carbon at carbon markets conferences and industry events on behalf of UNDP;
  • Participate in general activities within the MDG Carbon team, and provide support to the Principal Technical Advisor, including assisting in (i) operations, (ii) communications activities, (iii) corporate reporting, (iv) resource mobilization, and (v) budget oversight.



  • Ability to provide support on, and full familiarity with, carbon markets law and carbon industry practices (origination, due diligence, project development, CDM/JI rules, UNFCCC developments, commercialization of carbon projects and schemes);
  • Technical and analytical capability to undertake detailed analysis of heterogeneous data and draw meaningful and relevant conclusions for practical applications;
  • Ability to analyze and address problems with full technical competency, leading to fact-based and practical recommendations and creative solutions;
  • Ability to produce high-quality outputs in a timely manner while understanding and anticipating evolving needs.


  • Demonstrates integrity by modeling the UN values and ethical standards;
  • Promotes the vision, mission, and strategic goals of UNDP;
  • Displays cultural, gender, religion, race, nationality and age sensitivity and adaptability;
  • Treats all people fairly without favoritism.


Client Focus

  • Builds strong relationships with clients, focuses on impact and result for the client and responds positively to feedback;
  • Consistently approaches work with energy and a positive, constructive attitude;
  • Demonstrates openness to change and ability to manage complexities;
  • Remains calm, in control and good humored even under pressure;
  • Skills in facilitation and coordination, entrepreneurial spirit and demonstrated ability to work in an independent manner.

Partnerships and teamwork:

  • Interdisciplinary and intercultural sensitivity and capacity to build strong relationships with partners and clients, using interpersonal skills to network effectively;
  • Ability to manage complexity and contribute effectively to team-based activities and manage conflict and stress productively.

Knowledge Management and Learning

  • Promotes knowledge management in UNDP and a learning environment in the office through leadership and personal example;
  • Seeks and applies knowledge, information, and best practices from within and outside of UNDP.


  • Ability to write clearly and convincingly, adapting style and content to different audiences, and speak clearly and convincingly, demonstrating strong chairing and presentation skills in meetings, and adapting style and content to different audiences.

Required Skills and Experience


  • Masters degree or Juris Doctorate in law, international relations, or a closely related field;
  • Candidates must be admitted to practice, or equivalent, in a jurisdiction.


  • At least five years professional experience or more in the legal field, including relevant and proven expertise in carbon markets law; of which at least two years experience should be in the climate change/carbon practice of an established corporate law firm;
  • A thorough understanding of the legal and regulatory international framework governing the compliance carbon markets (including CDM and JI rules);
  • Detailed knowledge of industry practice with regard to carbon project actors (project proponents, carbon buyers, consultants) and contractual arrangements;
  • Strong understanding of, and ability to implement, contractual documentation governing carbon facilities/funds and international carbon transactions;
  • Familiarity with, and the ability to effectively work with, relevant organizations in carbon finance (e.g. UNFCCC, World Bank, IETA, GEF etc);

Language Requirements:

  • Fluency in English is required (written and verbal). Proficiency or working knowledge of another UN language is an advantage.

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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.

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