National Legal Specialist (For Lao citizen only)

Location : Vientiane & Savannakhet, LAO PDR
Application Deadline :06-Sep-18 (Midnight New York, USA)
Additional Category :Climate & Disaster Resilience
Type of Contract :Individual Contract
Post Level :National Consultant
Languages Required :
Starting Date :
(date when the selected candidate is expected to start)
Duration of Initial Contract :October 2018 - November 2019
Expected Duration of Assignment :130 working days

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.


The SAFE Ecosystems Project

The UNDP-GEF Sustainable Forest and Land Management in the Dry Dipterocarp Forest Ecosystems of Southern Lao PDR Project (SAFE Ecosystems Project) aims to support the government of Lao PDR to facilitate a transformative shift towards sustainable land and forest management in the forested landscape of Savannakhet Province. This sustainable management will help to secure critical wildlife habitats, conserve biodiversity and maintain a continuous flow of multiple services such as the provision of quality water and flood prevention. The project will be implemented over a period of six-years from May 2016 to May 2022 by the Department of Forestry (DOF) under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

The Dry Dipterocarp Forest (DDF) ecosystems located in Savannakhet Province are recognized for being globally important as habitat for a number of globally significant and threatened species, and nationally important for their provision of numerous ecosystem services that benefit the people of Lao PDR. In recent decades, DDF ecosystems and the species within them have come under increasing threat from large-scale conversion of forest, degradation of forest ecosystem services, and species loss.

Recognizing their global and national importance, the Government of Lao PDR (GoL) has prioritized the conservation and sustainable management of the Dry Dipterocarp Forests landscape of Savannakhet province. As a measure of the GoL’s commitment to the DDF landscape, it has selected this area to be the site of the newest National Protected Area in the country, and as a demonstration site for testing the implementation of new national policies and processes related to Strategic Environmental Assessment, Integrated Spatial Planning, and High Conservation Value Forests. The GoL has also identified this landscape as suitable for the development and implementation of innovative financing mechanisms for sustainable forest management and protected area management, as well as community participation in protected areas management, ecotourism programs, and livelihoods programs linked to conservation outcomes through formal Conservation Agreement mechanisms.

This SAFE Ecosystems Project will seek to strengthen land and resource use planning capacities and procedures, and the policies and regulations that govern them, while simultaneously expanding and strengthening the management of resources on the ground by government agencies, local communities and private sector actors. Furthermore, the project is developing innovative financing mechanisms and programs (including ecotourism and livelihoods programs) that can ensure the sustainability of improved land use and resource management approaches.

Policies & Regulations revised to support Sustainable Forest Management and Sustainable Land Management at the District Level

The project will support activities led by DOF and PAFO to improve or identify gaps within existing policies and regulations that can help to remove existing barriers to sustainable forest and land management in Savannakhet Province and overall in Lao PDR.

A priority area is to strengthen and clarify policies and regulations related to Protected Areas management. The Decree on Protected Areas issued in May of 2015 is a substantial step in clarifying several aspects of the framework for protected areas in Lao PDR.  However, various issues would benefit from further development, including policies and regulations to strengthen community management of forest and other ecosystems in and around protected areas with additional regulations; provisions for managing protected areas within the wider landscapes in which they are situated (emphasizing ecosystem services and connectivity); and clear policies, regulations, and coordination mechanisms to support PA financing. 

The Project will also explore potential changes to the regulatory and policy framework for offset payments to support PA financing.  At present, offsets and environmental compensation in Lao PDR are often addressed through negotiations rather than on the basis of regulations or any standardized understanding of concessionaire obligations. As with hydroelectric development, principles could be developed and regulations decreed for concessions in mining, agricultural and forest plantations, etc. that require contributions to financing mechanisms, specify processes for quantifying such contributions (linked to Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEA) and Integrated Spatial Plans (ISP)), define the use of proceeds, etc., on the basis of on the basis of “no net loss” of biodiversity and ecosystem service flows. 

Finally, a key area for promoting sustainable management relates to incentives. Management for long-term sustainability is unlikely to endure in the absence of greater financing to compete against unsustainable options that are more financially rewarding in the short term. Therefore a policy and regulatory environment that facilitates financing for sustainable management is needed.

Upgrading and expansion of protected areas to conserve priority habitats or ecosystem services and/or strengthen PA connectivity

The project will work with national and provincial authorities and local communities to establish the proposed Ong Mang Protected Area covering 168,614 hectares, and to ensure that this area is fully gazetted and operational by the end of the project.  The proposed Ong Mang PA will encompass the existing Ong Mang Sanctuary (which has no legal status as a protected area and is currently managed at the District level), as well as new forested areas to the southeast (thereby linking the Ong Mang NPA to the existing Se Ta Nouan – Phou Nak National Protection Forest and the existing Dong Phou Vieng NPA) and additional forested areas along the western, northern and eastern borders of the existing sanctuary. 

To achieve this objective, the project will support the baseline work required to map and define boundaries, consult with local communities, and fulfil other legal requirements necessary for establishing a new protected area, and also will support drafting of the required legal documents and their approval by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), the Cabinet and the National Assembly. 

Existing intact forests designated as High Conservation Value Forests (HCVFs) to strengthen ecological connectivity between forest complexes

Regarding High Conservation Value Forests (HCVFs), in principle it is necessary for a country to develop appropriate national or sub-national interpretations of the HCVF principles for use on the ground, but such a process has not taken place yet in the Lao PDR.  The project will support the adoption of guidelines created by the HCV Resource Network for identifying HCVF sites, including interpreting the meaning of the six HCVF categories in the context of the Lao PDR, and developing a broad consensus on the definitions (for example, how will each HCVF category apply regulations relevant to exhaustive uses such as commercial logging, hunting, agricultural activities, firewood collection, etc., a well as to non-exhaustive uses such as sustainable NTFP harvesting; sustainable tourism; etc.).

Once this consensus has been reached, the project will work with relevant stakeholders to incorporate the HCVF definitions into relevant policies and regulations governing forest resources management, as well as establishing a requirement that Conservation Forests (protected areas) and Protection Forests incorporate the actions required under different HCVF designations into their management plans and day-to-day operations. 

Duties and Responsibilities

This consultancy will be under the direct supervision of the UNDP Head of Natural Resources Management and Climate Change Unit and the SAFE Ecosystems Project - National Project Director. The National Legal Specialist will be required to work in close coordination and support an International Environmental Lawyer to undertake the following duties:

  • Review of all relevant documentation in Lao language providing translations as necessary, as well as support the International Environmental Lawyer when meeting and communicating with stakeholders and government officials (particularly those in DOF, PAFO and DAFO) in Lao language.
  • Support on establishing existing status of legal and policy frameworks, and regulations on: (i) strengthening community management of forest and other ecosystems in and around protected areas; (ii) provisions for managing protected areas within the wider landscapes in which they are situated; (iii) and draft clear policies, regulations, and coordination mechanisms to support PA financing.
  • Contribute towards providing expert environmental legal counsel working with and supporting DOF, PAFO and DAFO to review and revise these legal and policy frameworks, and regulations as necessary to support Sustainable Forest Management and Sustainable Land Management, as well as mapping synergies and/or conflicts among the various laws and policies at the Provincial Level.
  • Contribute towards the review of legal requirements necessary for establishing new protected areas for the purpose of elevating Ong Mang Sanctuary to the status of National Protected Area.
  • Contribute towards providing expert environmental legal counsel supporting DOF, PAFO and DAFO in drafting of all required legal documents for establishing a new protected area and its approval by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), the Cabinet and the National Assembly.
  • Support on establishing existing status of legal and policy frameworks, regulations and definitions on High Conservation Value Forests (HCVFs) both internationally and within Lao PDR.
  • Contribute towards providing expert environmental legal counsel working with and supporting DOF, PAFO and DAFO to develop a consensus on HCVF definitions within the context of Lao PDR and incorporate these definitions into relevant policies and regulations governing forest resources management.
  • Maintain regular communication, dialogue and exchange with International Environmental Lawyer when home-based.


  • Ability to support the Government of Lao with the development of legal documents and policies.
  • Excellent communication and consultation skills to liaise with a range of stakeholders including law makers, national, provincial and district authorities, local communities, etc. and ability and experience to conduct training
  • Ability to work within a team environment to achieve quality outputs under tight timelines
  • Excellent working knowledge of written and spoken English and Lao
  • Ability and willingness to travel within Lao PDR.
  • Knowledge of UNDP and the UN system is an advantage.

Required Skills and Experience

  • Holds a PhD, Master’s degree or Law degree (preferably related to environmental law), governance, or relevant fields.
  • At least 10 years’ experience as an established Lawyer in Lao PDR with proven legal experience, or relevant fields.
  • Expert knowledge and experience with law and governance within Lao PDR
  • Experience working with Lao PDR government counterparts and local communities

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