The mission of the Human Development Report Office (HDRO)/UNDP is to advance human development. The goal is to contribute towards the expansion of opportunities, choice and freedom. HDRO works towards this goal by promoting innovative new ideas, advocating practical policy changes, and constructively challenging policies and approaches that constrain human development. HDRO works with others to achieve change through writing and research, data analysis, outreach and advocacy work.

The world is facing an inflection point in the development landscape. Apart from causing more than 2.5 million direct deaths over the past year, the Covid-19 pandemic has caused a sharp reversal across human development dimensions (education, health, income, and gender equality, among others) after decades of progress in these areas. Insecurity has touched nearly every person in the world.

The COVID-19 pandemic hit a world that was already reeling from vast imbalances – social and planetary. Although the global economy was still expanding and international conflicts were at a historic low before the onset of the pandemic, hunger was on the rise and so were the human and economic costs of natural disasters. People were on the streets protesting inequality, discrimination, and the climate crisis. The underlying drivers behind these trends are structural, and some have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

In this context of structural challenges and increased existential risks for humanity, it is indispensable to rapidly endow people around the world with new tools to safeguard, and also advance human development. This is a call for papers by the Human Development Report Office, with the purpose of commissioning research papers that will provide insights that enable us to face a world with new threats and increased uncertainty.

Duties and Responsibilities

Proposed research:

We are looking for papers to explore how to achieve human development and/or human security under a context of heightened uncertainties, with a forward-looking lens and a focus on collective responses. We welcome innovations in the different areas: concepts, analysis, measurement, and policies.

The proposal should include:

1.Research statement: brief description of the paper (max 1200 words)

The research will meet the following criteria:

a)The proposal will include a set of questions that the research will cover, ideally linked to new trends or challenges shaping human development prospects over the next few decades.

b)The paper should focus on the advancement of human development and/or human security, beyond economic indicators. An inequality lens, and a focus on the impacts on vulnerable groups is desirable.

c)The research scope can be global or regional. If the coverage is regional, the especial relevance of the topic to the region and the region-specific challenges will be covered. The focus can also be on a group of countries, such as developing countries.

d)The proposal must indicate connection to current literature and explain how it advances the learning in the field. Sources for literature and data will be cited clearly.

2.Timeframe with deliverables, using number of weeks since the start of the contract. We encourage proposals to have deliverables to be submitted within 12 weeks of work, but longer timelines can be accepted.



Estimated Duration to Complete

First report, with preliminary results


First complete draft


Final Draft



• Ability to produce high quality outputs in a timely manner while understanding and anticipating the evolving client needs;

• Strong organizational skills;

• Ability to work independently, produce high quality outputs;

• Sound judgment, strategic thinking and the ability to manage competing priorities.


Required Skills and Experience


  • Advanced degree, preferably a PhD in a social science. Degree in economics, sociology, political science and environmental science, with experience in international development and knowledge of developing economies, are particularly relevant.


  • Minimum 10 years of work experience in research; demonstrated knowledge in proposed subject of the research.


  • Track record of influential contributions in the proposed field of research;
  • Solid experience with analysis rooted in the human development approach;
  • Experience contributing to global policy debates?is an asset;
  • Demonstrated knowledge of human security is?an asset.

Language skills:

  • Excellent written and spoken English.

Expected places of travel

This contract covers the potential participation of the author(s) of this background paper in consultation(s) during the research process of HDR 2021/HDR 2022, as well as reviewing relevant segments of the draft for HDR 2021/HDR 2022. Any expenses related to travel and accommodation in the report related meetings and events will be responsibility of HDRO following UNDP rules, but no additional fees will be paid. In consultation - and collaboration- with the author, HDRO may also develop strategies and communication products to effectively disseminate the findings of the paper to the right audiences.

Annex: HDRO publishing policy

The copyright for all research commissioned by the Human Development Report Office will be held by HDRO/UNDP. HDRO reserves the right to publish it online as a Working Paper of the HDR Paper Series. Therefore, authors are requested to submit the papers in a form they would be satisfied with, substantively and stylistically, for publication. Publication and dissemination elsewhere is not permitted before the article here commissioned is published as a Working Paper of the HDR Paper series, or the author is informed that the paper will not be published by HDRO. After the publication of the Working Paper by HDRO or the written communication to the author that the paper will not be published by HDRO, authors are free to edit, update, expand and publish the papers elsewhere as long as they explicitly acknowledge that the original research had been commissioned by HDRO.

Criteria for Selection of the Best Offer:

Upon the advertisement of this assignment, qualified Individual Consultant is expected to submit both the Technical and Financial Proposals. Accordingly, Individual Consultants will be evaluated based on Cumulative Analysis as per the following scenario:

Responsive/compliant/acceptable, and

  • Having received the highest ranked score out of a pre-determined set of weighted technical and financial criteria specific to the solicitation. In this regard, the respective weight of the proposals is:
  • Technical Criteria weight is 70%
  • Financial Criteria weight is 30%



Max. Point

Technical Competence (based on Proposal, CV and interview (if required)



  • Set of questions that the research will cover
  • Focus on the advancement of human development and/or human security, beyond economic indicators
  • The research scope (global, regional, national)
  • Connection to current literature and explanation




  • Suitability of an applicant for the required service (based on CVs)



Financial Proposal (Lower Offer/Offer*100)



Total Score

Technical Score * 70% + Financial Score * 30%


Scope of financial/price proposal and schedule of payment(s)

The prospective service provider will indicate the cost of services in US dollars when applying for this consultancy. The proposer will be paid only after approving authority confirms the successful completion of each deliverable.


The author(s) will be asked to consult remotely with the Human Development Report team via Zoom or phone to discuss the work. In-person meetings will be held as needed. Detailed comments on the deliverables will be provided by the HDRO team to the consultant after each submission, within 10 days. After receiving the comments from HDRO the author(s) is expected to revise the draft according to those suggestions.

The final version of the background paper may also be published on the HDRO website. Please refer to the annexed HDRO publishing policy. The HDRO’s research team will oversee the work of the selected consultant(s).

Recommended presentation of offer

For purposes of generating proposals whose contents are uniformly presented and to facilitate their comparative review, your Proposal document must have at least the preferred content:

  1. Technical Proposal: Brief description of the paper (max.1200 words) that addresses all criteria (a, b, c, d) listed in the section 1. Research Statement. 
  2. Personal CV/Experience of author(s), indicating all past experience from similar projects, as well as the contact details (email and telephone number) of the Candidate and at least three (3) professional references.
  3. Financial Proposal: Your fee quote (lumpsum) in USD for the assignment/consultancy.

Papers will be assessed on a rolling basis.

Incomplete applications will not be considered. Please combine all your documents into one (1) single PDF document as the system only allows to upload maximum one document (named CV).