International specialist for developing a sustainable charcoal value chain in Cambodia

Location : Phnom Penh and Home-Based, CAMBODIA
Application Deadline :03-Nov-17 (Midnight New York, USA)
Additional Category :Sustainable Development and Poverty Reduction
Type of Contract :Individual Contract
Post Level :International Consultant
Languages Required :
Starting Date :
(date when the selected candidate is expected to start)
Duration of Initial Contract :125 days, and from November 10 2017 to August 31, 2018
Expected Duration of Assignment :125 days, and from November 10 2017 to August 31, 2018

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.


In Cambodia, the demand for woodfuel (which typically consists of fuelwood and charcoal) is rapidly growing, reaching an annual level of consumption of 6 million tons of wood. This is equivalent to more than 71,600 ha of deciduous forests.

Woodfuel plays a significant role in supporting rural livelihoods and urban industry. About 80% of the Cambodian population lives in rural areas and is highly dependent on fuelwood for daily cooking, and charcoal production for income generation. Fuelwood is also the main source of energy for urban industry.

A large amount of wood (77%) is estimated to be harvested from unsustainable sources: 29% from natural forests including protected areas, and 48% from Economic Land Concession (ELC) areas–long-term leases in which concessionaires are allowed to clear land for large-scale commercial agriculture. Large-scale forest-clearing operations in these areas generate many wood products, including woodfuel, which has now become available to rural populations.

This situation is likely to change in coming years due to a moratorium on ELCs introduced by the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) in May 2012 to ensure the conservation of the remaining Cambodian forests. However, as ELC areas no longer supply wood products in high demand, there could be a shift resulting in mounting pressure on surrounding natural forests. Thus, further degradation of natural forests is likely to follow.

In addition to this environmental concern, there is also concern about the negative impacts of the current use of woodfuel on health and climate change. Burning biomass in simple small-scale devices can release significant amounts of particulate matter (PM) and carbon monoxide (CO), among other pollutants. Woodfuels, and especially firewood, are significant contributors to household air pollution, along with smoke, burning trash and any other source of outdoor pollution.

Thus, the creation and promotion of sustainable forms of production and consumption of woodfuel (hereafter referred to as sustainable woodfuel) is crucial not only to ensure the sustainability of forests in Cambodia but also from the perspective of human health and global climate change.

There are already numerous initiatives that can help promote sustainable and cleaner biofuel. These include: 1) Efficient charcoal kilns, 2) Efficient cook stoves for households and restaurants, and 3) Switch to alternative energy sources (e.g. bamboo, rice husk, coconut shells).

However, there are a range of barriers to promoting sustainable woodfuels. These barriers are: 1) Lack of training and awareness of the benefits of new and more efficient technologies and alternative energy sources that can be applied for charcoal production, cooking and industrial uses, 2) Higher prices of these more efficient technologies and alternative energies, 3) Household concern for safety of and convenient access to these technologies and energies, and 4) Household/industry customs and preferences for conventional uses of charcoal/fuelwood. In addition to the above barriers, the report highlights that most wood is sourced almost free of cost. As a result, wood collectors/households and industries have fewer incentives to invest in more expensive technologies or alternative energy sources. Likewise, there is limited interest in producing or purchasing legally sourced woodfuel such as community forestry, as this legally sourced wood is costly; incorporating costs for management and certification.

This situation points to the need to create an enabling policy environment for the promotion of sustainable woodfuel, from production to consumption.

One of the interventions, this assignment seeks to test is creation of a production and consumer network for sustainable firewood and charcoal.

For community forestry-sourced woodfuel (which is considered to be sustainable) to be competitive against illegal, non-sustainable actors, there is a critical need to achieve the necessary efficiency gains. Such gains could be achieved through formation of a producer and consumer network.

On the production side, a cooperative could be formed with a network of registered community forests, traditional charcoal producers, and distributors for the production, processing and distribution of sustainable woodfuel.

This production can be further assisted with provision of incentives for tree planting and the implementation of a low cost certification scheme.  Integrated production models like coppicing with standards could be used to provide a significant amount of woodfuel. This could generate both short-term income from woodfuel production and long-term higher-added value income through the production of roundwood. The implementation of a low-cost certification scheme is one instrument that could trace a chain of custody and ensure sustainable production of fuelwood and charcoal.

On the consumer side, modern technology, for example a mobile application to enable online ordering of charcoal, could be introduced to gather a network of regular consumers, for example households and restaurants. This could enable factories to significantly reduce the transaction costs associated with searching for customers.

Duties and Responsibilities

The main task of the Consultant is to conduct a proof of the concept of a proposed business model of a producer and consumer network for sustainable firewood and charcoal, with goal to enable Community Forests to access the higher value market.The Consultant is to propose and pilot a business model in the Kampong Chnnang, and Pursat provinces. The Consultant shall use the pilot results to assess the validity of the underlying hypothesis for further refinement for the concept and propose appropriate approaches for scaling up the initiative at the national level as well as attracting the public and private investment in forest restoration and tree planting by CF members.The business model should be designed to realize:

  • Increased competitiveness of sustainable charcoal on domestic market by improving the efficiency in production, distribution and sales as well as providing better service to charcoal consumers (e.g. lower delivery time, invoice, standard quality, traceability etc.);
  • Creation of incentives for sustainable wood sourcing to produce sustainable charcoal, leveraging communities investment in silviculture and enrichment planting in Community Forests, and to encourage woodlot establishment in non-forest areas;
  • Improved access to high-value markets for stakeholders along the Sustainable Charcoal value-chain (CFs, producers, etc.), enhancing their livelihood based on Sustainable Forest Management;
  • Robust traceability of the sustainable charcoal through the integration of a Chain of Custody certification and labeling scheme;
  • Increased visibility of sustainable charcoal on market and secured market shares by raising  awareness of consumers on benefits of sustainable charcoal.

The Consultant shall conduct the following tasks:
Activity 1: Develop a business model for sustainable charcoal production, distribution and marketing. This model shall include:

  • Forest restoration/tree planting mechanisms;
  • Sourcing strategy, which targets both Community Forests through Sustainable Forest Management, and farmers through woodlot establishment;
  • Strategy to engage existing charcoal producers for gradual improvement of the efficiency in the charcoal production process;
  • Design of an official quota system;
  • Distribution and marketing strategy for sustainable charcoal to improve its competitiveness against traditional charcoal, that can be quickly operational at low cost with the aim to reduce transactions and distribution costs and improving the efficiency of the sector;
  • The distribution strategy should be formulated based on an assessment of the production and distribution costs of sustainable charcoal against the traditional charcoal supplying Phnom Penh and should identify areas, where these costs can be reduced to increase competitiveness;
  • The marketing strategy should reflect the existing market and identify target customers-outreaching approaches;
  • Organization of a co-design session with relevant stakeholders (not more than 15 people) to seek their inputs into the proposed model. This includes preparation of a list of participants, agenda, presentation materials, and invitation letters.

Activity 2: Development of a low-cost but robust traceability scheme along with a Monitoring, Reporting and Verification system, as well as a label for sustainable charcoal. This should also include a design of an official system of quotas to be endorsed by FA as constituting a certification scheme.

  • Organization of a co-design session with relevant stakeholders to seek their inputs into the proposed model. This includes preparation of a list of participants, agenda, presentation materials, and invitation letters.

Activity 3: Supervise and monitor a national consultant who conducts the following piloting of the business model in Community Forestry Communities in Kampong Chnnang and Pursat provinces

  • Organize information sharing meetings with potential stakeholders to raise awareness of the objectives of the pilot activities
  • Identify Community Forestry (CFs) Groups, traditional charcoal producers and charcoal buyers
  • Engage CFs, traditional charcoal producers and charcoal buyers in the piloting of the business model. Keep identifying bottlenecks along the supply-chain and implement corrective measures.
  • Engage with Forest Administration (FA) on the training of CFs in silviculture and other sustainable forest management practices so that the CFs receive a satisfactory level of training from FA
  • Facilitate with FA the development and endorsement of easy and low cost procedures for FA to (re) assess the potential sustainable supply of CFs
  • Engage with FA and assist them in defining wood collection quotas for the 5 Community Forests, serving as base for the sustainable certification of the charcoal
  • Facilitate the development of procedures with FA and Communities for the verification and certification of the fuelwood origin in line with CF management plans
  • Facilitate the recognition and endorsement by FA of the Chain of Custody (CoC) developed across the supply chain
  • Facilitate the capacity building process within FA to use the smartphone based CoC functionalities to control the CFs’ compliance with the allocated quotas
  • Prepare a report detailing mechanisms for the pilot programme. This includes
  1. A list of key stakeholders including CFs,  wood collectors, charcoal producers, FA officers,
  2. Information of CFs, including the size of forests, quality of forests,
  3. Kinds of interventions conducted for silviculture/Sustainable Forest Management, and plantation,
  4. Mechanisms for an official system of quota and the CoC for the sustainable charcoal and can effectively use the smartphone application for verification purposes.

Activity 4:  Refine the business model based on an assessment of the viability of the model drawing on the pilot results, its barriers and drivers for scale-up, and formulation recommendations for its eventual scaling up.
Organization of a co-design session with relevant stakeholders to seek their inputs into the proposed model. This includes preparation of a list of participants, agenda, presentation materials, and invitation letters.

Interested Offerors must visit this link to download Individual Consultant Procurement Notice, Terms of Reference, and Document Templates to be included when submitting this online application.


  • Proven capacities in conducting value-chain analyses, market assessment, business development.


Required Skills and Experience


  • Advanced university degree in forestry, natural resources management policy, economics, policy, Master of Business Administration (MBA), or other related fields in social sciences.


  • At least 5 years’ experience in economic and policy analysis in the field of natural resources management, preferably in relation to tropical forest and wood-energy issues;
  • Prior experience in production and consumption analyses of natural resources products particularly on woodfuels in developing countries. Knowledge of Cambodia’s woodfuels’ situation will be considered an asset.

Language Requirement:

  • Fluency in English

Interested offeror must read the Individual Consultant (IC) Procurement Notice, which can be viewed at  for more detail information about term of references, instructions to offeror, and to download the documents to be submitted in the offer through online.

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