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Policy Specialist, Public Sector Innovation


  • Organization: UNDP - United Nations Development Programme
  • Location: Istanbul
  • Grade: Level not specified - Level not specified
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Political Affairs
    • Legal - Broad
    • Innovations for Sustainable Development
  • Closing Date: Closed
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are core principles at UNDP:  we value diversity as an expression of the multiplicity of nations and cultures where we operate, we foster inclusion as a way of ensuring all personnel are empowered to contribute to our mission, and we ensure equity and fairness in all our actions. Taking a ‘leave no one behind’ approach to our diversity efforts means increasing representation of underserved populations. People who identify as belonging to marginalized or excluded populations are strongly encouraged to apply. Learn more about working at UNDP including our values and inspiring stories.
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.
UNDP is the knowledge frontier organization for sustainable development in the UN Development System and serves as the integrator for collective action to realize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). UNDP’s policy work carried out at HQ, Regional and Country Office levels, forms a contiguous spectrum of deep local knowledge to cutting-edge global perspectives and advocacy. In this context, UNDP invests in the Global Policy Network (GPN), a network of field-based and global technical expertise across a wide range of knowledge domains and in support of the signature solutions and organizational capabilities envisioned in the Strategic Plan.

Within the GPN, the Bureau for Policy and Programme Support (BPPS) has the responsibility for developing all relevant policy and guidance to support the results of UNDP’s Strategic Plan.  BPPS’s staff provides technical advice to Country Offices; advocates for UNDP corporate messages, represents UNDP at multi-stakeholder fora including public-private dialogues, government and civil society dialogues, and engages in UN inter-agency coordination in specific thematic areas.  BPPS works closely with UNDP’s Crisis Bureau (CB) to support emergency and crisis response.  BPPS ensures that issues of risk are fully integrated into UNDP’s development programmes. BPPS assists UNDP and partners to achieve higher quality development results through an integrated approach that links results-based management and performance monitoring with more effective and new ways of working.  BPPS supports UNDP and partners to be more innovative, knowledge and data driven including in its programme support efforts.

Governance is one of UNDP’s six signature solutions in the Strategic Plan 2022-2025 – alongside poverty and inequality, resilience, environment, energy and gender equality - to support countries towards three directions of change: structural transformation, leaving no one behind and resilience.  

The objective of UNDP’s governance work is to ensure that accountable, inclusive and effective governance underpins sustainable development.  UNDP’s governance assistance, including that provided through the Governance Global Programme, Governance for People and Planet, is multi-dimensional and multi-level and goes beyond technical solutions to support a “systems approach” which is human rights based, problem-driven and participatory to accelerate development and ensure no one is left behind. The Public Goods and Services portfolio includes local and multi-level governance systems, localisation, inclusive digital transformation; public sector capacities; legal identity; transparency, integrity and anti-corruption, in support of the integrated governance offer to deliver Signature solution 2.

Position Purpose:

Reporting to the Global Lead on Governance for Public Goods and Services (GPGS), the Policy Specialist on Public Sector Innovation is responsible for developing and supporting UNDP’s Governance work globally on public sector innovation and digitalization. The overall objective is to enhance countries’ capacities to anticipate, plan and deliver public services in a more inclusive, effective and sustainable manner.  

The Programme Specialist promotes the use of digital technologies and social innovation across public and other institutions and supports transformation processes that are inclusive, accountable and effective. The incumbent works in close cooperation with UNDP teams at global, regional and country level as well as with UN DESA, OECD, UN Agencies and other multilateral, national, academic or private institutions. Working closely with specialist staff, the Programme Specialist also has an important role in advancing UNDP’s work on legal identity, as a foundation for all individuals to access services, participate in society and claim their rights.

Under delegated authorities, the incumbent is responsible for:

  • Policy support
  • Programming development and implementation
  • Partnerships, Advocacy and Resource Mobilization
  • Knowledge management and Learning
Duties and Responsibilities

Policy support:
  • Analyze challenges and opportunities for countries to anticipate, plan and deliver public services in a more inclusive, effective and sustainable manner.
  • Map and support development of innovative solutions (public and private) and approaches that can be replicated, scaled or contextualized to specific national/local contexts.
  • Help position UNDP on relevant themes in international forums and with other public and private organizations and networks.
  • Contribute to UNDP’s thought leadership on GPGS, ‘Next Generation Governance’ and “Triple A-Governance” (Anticipatory, Agile and Adaptive Governance.

Programme development, implementation and reporting:

  • Provide policy advice and technical support to Central Bureaus, Regional Hubs and Country Offices to develop and implement programmes and projects related to public sector innovation, digital transformation and legal identity.
  • Support global, regional and country office teams and other partners to co-create solutions, share lessons and expertise on themes related to the portfolio.
  • Encourage integrated approaches and joint programmes across UNDP’s Global Policy Network (GPN) to maximize impact, ensure complementarity and sustainability and/or reduce transaction costs;
  • Contribute to ensuring programming and policy support advances LNOB and is gender responsive.
  • Provide timely project and portfolio monitoring and reporting for global activities.

Partnerships, Advocacy and Resource Mobilization:

  • Maintain and develop relations with Multilateral and Bilateral Organizations, IFIs, academia, NGOs, CSO, private sector institutions and other institutional partners according to delegation of authority;
  • Mobilize, foster and strengthen strategic partnerships with UN entities and other relevant institutions and provide substantive inputs to those partnerships;
  • Support resource mobilization in relevant areas.
  • Advocate and represent UNDP in various professional and/or public fora and events related to the thematic area.
  • Support South-South and Triangular Cooperation with Governments, Public and Private organizations, Development partners, IFIs, NGOs and CBOs, as well as partnership across all contexts.

Knowledge management and learning:

  • Contribute to thought leadership, knowledge management and learning activities on relevant thematic areas, including overseeing the knowledge extraction, analysis, documentation, codification of results/lessons learned, ensuring that knowledge sharing and content management is in line with guidelines and performed using corporate tools;
  • Contribute actively to the Community of Practice (COP) on Governance, and other relevant COPs on issues within the portfolio;
  • Support UNDP Bureaux, Regional Hubs and Country Offices to access methodologies and tools on public sector innovation, digital transformation and legal identity,
  • Manage staff, consultants, workplans, budgets, recruitments and procurements according to UNDP rules and regulations and within delegated level of authority;

Supervisory/Managerial Responsibilities:

  • As the portfolio and team grows, supervise project staff, IPSAs, ICs, interns and other related personnel as determined by the Global Lead.  


Achieve Results:

  • Set and align challenging, achievable objectives for multiple projects, have lasting impact

Think Innovatively:

  • Proactively mitigate potential risks, develop new ideas to solve complex problems

Learn Continuously:

  • Create and act on opportunities to expand horizons, diversify experiences

Adapt with Agility:

  • Proactively initiate and champion change, manage multiple competing demands

Act with Determination:

  • Think beyond immediate task/barriers and take action to achieve greater results

Engage and Partner:

  • Political savvy, navigate complex landscape, champion inter-agency collaboration

Enable Diversity and Inclusion:

  • Appreciate benefits of diverse workforce and champion inclusivity

People Management: UNDP People Management Competencies can be found in the dedicated site.

Cross-Functional & Technical competencies:

2030 Agenda: Peace - Governance:

  • Public Administration, Legal Identity

2030 Agenda: Peace - Governance:

  • Innovation, Digitalization

2030 Agenda: Peace - Governance:

  • Institutional Capacity to Implement and Coordinate SDGs

Business Direction & Strategy - Strategic Thinking:

  • Ability to leverage learning from a variety of sources to anticipate and respond to future trends; to demonstrate foresight in order to model future developments and implications for UNDP

Business Development - UNDP Representation:

  • Ability to represent UNDP and productively share UNDP knowledge and activities; advocate for UNDP, its values, mission and support partnerships with various constituencies

Business Development - Knowledge Facilitation:

  • Ability to animate individuals and communities of contributors to participate and share, particularly externally

Business Management - Partnerships Management:

  • Ability to build and maintain partnerships with wide networks of stakeholders, Governments, civil society and private sector partners, experts and others in line with UNDP strategy and policies
Required Skills and Experience
  • Advanced university degree (Masters or equivalent) in development, governance, business administration, law, political or social sciences or related disciplines, or equivalent experience  OR a first-level university degree (Bachelor’s or equivalent) with two additional years of relevant work experience.


  • Minimum 7 years of professional work experience providing policy and programme advice on public sector reform, public sector innovation, and digitalization in different development contexts.
  • Candidates with only a first-level university degree require 9 years of relevant work experience in order to be eligible for consideration.  
  • Demonstrated leadership in policy and programme development and delivery in relevant areas.
  • Experience of working in multi-stakeholder environments and across thematic or disciplinary boundaries.
  • Experience of partnership-building and resource mobilization is an asset.
  • Sound understanding of the UN system and of UNDP’s mandate and role in governance in different development contexts.
  • Experience in providing policy and programmatic advice on legal identity is an asset.
  • Experience in the use of foresight tools or methodologies related to agile and anticipatory governance is an asset.
  • Experience working in developing country settings is required, experience across different countries and regions and in crisis contexts is an asset.


  • Fluency in English, both written and oral.
  • Working knowledge of another UN language would be an advantage.
Please note that continuance of appointment beyond the initial 12 months is contingent upon the successful completion of a probationary period.
Under US immigration law, acceptance of a staff position with UNDP, an international organization, may have significant implications for US Permanent Residents. UNDP advises applicants for all professional level posts that they must relinquish their US Permanent Resident status and accept a G-4 visa, or have submitted a valid application for US citizenship prior to commencement of employment. 
UNDP is not in a position to provide advice or assistance on applying for US citizenship and therefore applicants are advised to seek the advice of competent immigration lawyers regarding any applications.
Applicant information about UNDP rosters
Note: UNDP reserves the right to select one or more candidates from this vacancy announcement.  We may also retain applications and consider candidates applying to this post for other similar positions with UNDP at the same grade level and with similar job description, experience and educational requirements.
UNDP has a zero-tolerance policy towards sexual exploitation and misconduct, sexual harassment, and abuse of authority. All selected candidates will, therefore, undergo rigorous reference and background checks, and will be expected to adhere to these standards and principles.  
UNDP is an equal opportunity and inclusive employer that does not discriminate based on race, sex, gender identity, religion, nationality, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, disability, pregnancy, age, language, social origin or other status.
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This vacancy is now closed.
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