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Youth Lead

Colombo (Sri Lanka)


Living Conditions: 

Colombo is situated on the Western Province of Sri Lanka and is the commercial capital of the country. Colombo is located on the west coast of the island and adjacent to the administrative capital, Sri Jayawardenepura, Kotte. The climate is fairly temperate all throughout the year but humidity is usually high. From March to April the temperature averages around 31 degrees Celsius (88 degrees Fahrenheit). 

The only major change in the Colombo weather occurs during the monsoon seasons from May to August and October to January when heavy rainfalls occur. Sri Lanka became a member of the United Nations on 14 December 1955.

Organizational Context & Project Description:

UNDP, as the development arm of the United Nations, works in some 170 countries and territories, helping to empower lives and build resilient nations. In Sri Lanka, UNDP has been working as a key development partner since 1967, to achieve sustainable human development in economic, social and environmental pillars. Working closely with the Government at national, regional and local levels, and civil society and the private sector, UNDP aims at eradicating extreme poverty, and reducing inequalities and exclusion to protect both people and the planet. With an improved business model making us more effective, transparent and accountable, UNDP works to deliver stronger results that improve people's lives, in line with the UNDP Strategic Plan 2018-2021 and the UN Sri Lanka Sustainable Development 

UNDP also recognizes the great potential of today’s ‘techno-sociability generation’  of young men and women in meeting existing and foreseen development challenges, as they reach out to one another and to the rest of the world in innovative ways, continuously affirming their desire and ability to express, engage and mobilize via global social media platforms.

Integrating this vision locally, UNDP Sri Lanka, guided by UNDP’s core principles, in 2015 piloted the Youth LEAD programme to engage with and invest in youth for development in Sri Lanka. Following a successful pilot, a second batch of Youth LEADs were introduced in 2016. Youth LEADs model is currently used by many UNDP offices in the region and in 2017 Youth LEADs programme was shortlisted as one of the best under 35 teams in Asia Pacific by GovInsider. Youth LEADs will support the strengthening of national institutions for innovative public service delivery for young people and promote an integrated approach for youth programming in Sri Lanka.

UNDP’s new Strategic Plan and regional initiatives calls for national programmes to be agile, innovative and experiment with new ways to tackle complex development issues. Today’s youth and innovation are the right ingredients that have the potential to create solutions to complex development challenges. In this programme young people will be familiarized with the UNDP’s work, give them a holistic experience of the organization and support UNDP programme initiatives contributing to sustainable development.

Youth LEAD programme will be a learning and development programme created to empower Sri Lankan youth. This year programme will give an opportunity for two young people with disabilities to join the Youth LEAD programme. UNDP with its commitment to diversity, inclusion and “leaving no one behind”, will implement the Talent Programme for Young Professionals with Disabilities, in partnership with UNV. This programme seeks to enhance the employability and career prospects of young professionals with disabilities through work experience with UNDP offices; and to build a talent pipeline of highly qualified professionals with disabilities who can contribute to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at national and global levels.

UNDP Youth LEADs whilst working in their disabled-friendly modern workspace, will work out loud, share experiences, generate new ideas for programme interventions, and find innovative solutions to challenging problems.

Duties and Responsibilities

Task descriptions

Under the overall guidance of the UNDP Country Director and direct supervision of the Partnerships Analyst, and working with the Youth Programme Coordinator and UNV Sri Lanka, the four Youth LEADs, will support UNDP Sri Lanka Country Programme in its youth-related policy, programming, advocacy, innovation and outreach work.

Each Youth LEAD will be assigned to relevant UNDP teams, but are expected to have exposure to all areas of UNDP. Youth LEADs will work closely with the Partnerships and Engagement Team and the UN Volunteers Programme to support integrated programming for youth in Sri Lanka.

Each Youth LEAD may have a key focal point assigned from the respective units. The Youth LEAD Coordinator will be expected to work closely with all LEADs and ensure the team works cohesively. UNDP Partnerships Analyst, supported by the UNV Programme Analyst, will work closely with Youth LEADs and be the immediate line of supervision on their regular work assignments.

Key tasks:

Youth LEADs are expected to work closely with the focal points from each unit, and support in the following tasks:

  • Development of new initiatives, partnerships and ways of thinking to promote efficient and effective delivery of programmes based on research and best global practices.
  • Mobilization and networking of non-traditional actors and partners, such as, youth-led and youth-serving organisations (Universities, UN Clubs, UN Association etc).
  • Development of knowledge and sharing processes at project by documenting lessons learnt, best practices, processes and challenges.
  • Identification of interventions for youth, vulnerable groups and inclusion that can facilitate integrated support for better results and delivery.
  • Organize related events and programmes.
  • Integration of the country office innovations agenda/strategy into programming and be an incubator for idea generation.
  • Documentation and consolidation of lessons learnt, best practices, case studies, case stories, etc., in written, picture and video form.
  • Generation of new ideas through sound contributions to working groups, knowledge networks and communities of practice.
  • Development of existing advocacy and engagement initiatives (campaigns and youth meet-ups)
  • Building strategic partnerships and identifying entry points to integrate V Force (UN Volunteer Taskforce) within UNDP programming
  • Promotion of multilingual engagement
  • Working closely with the Citra Social Innovation Lab, organization of a key Innovations related event/activity.
  • Working closely with the UNSDF Youth Mechanism and YPS Youth Coalition in there related initiatives.

Furthermore, UN Volunteers are required to:

  • Strengthen their knowledge and understanding of the concept of volunteerism by reading relevant UNV and external publications and take active part in UNV activities (for instance in events that mark International Volunteer Day);
  • Be acquainted with and build on traditional and/or local forms of volunteerism in the host country;
  • Reflect on the type and quality of voluntary action that they are undertaking, including participation in ongoing reflection activities;
  • Contribute articles/write-ups on field experiences and submit them for UNVpublications/websites, newsletters, press releases, etc.;
  • Assist with the UNV Buddy Programme for newly-arrived UN Volunteers;
  • Promote or advise local groups in the use of online volunteering, or encourage relevant local individuals and organizations to use the UNV Online Volunteering service whenever technically possible.

Results/Expected Outputs

  • Youth programming is integrated in Sri Lanka and UNDP’s youth-related policy, programming, advocacy, innovation and outreach work.
  • Opportunities identified and supported for policy and programme interventions of direct interest to young people.
  • Gaps and challenges identified in existing programmes from a youth and inclusion perspective both at the country office and field level.
  • Building strategic partnerships and stakeholder engagement supported.
  • UNDP’s work on Youth and Innovation to create solutions or find new ways to complex development challenges supported.
  • New thinking infused and support Communications, Advocacy and Knowledge Management initiatives by being a Youth Advocate with a continued focus on ‘working out loud’ (blogging, social media engagement etc.)
  • Whilst supporting UNDP in its work, ensured assignment is a constructive learning journey, which would enhance the leadership skills and potential of all Youth LEADs.
  • The development of capacity through coaching, mentoring and formal on-the-job training, when working with (including supervising) national staff or (non-) governmental counterparts, including Implementing Partners (IPs);
  • Age, Gender and Diversity (AGD) perspective is systematically applied, integrated and documented in all activities throughout the assignment
  • A final statement of achievements towards volunteerism for peace and development during the assignment, such as reporting on the number of volunteers mobilized, activities participated in and capacities developed.


  • Integrity and professionalism: demonstrated expertise in area of specialty and ability to apply good judgment; high degree of autonomy, personal initiative and ability to take ownership; willingness to accept wide responsibilities and ability to work independently under established procedures in a politically sensitive environment, while exercising discretion, impartiality and neutrality; ability to manage information objectively, accurately and confidentially; responsive and client-oriented.
  • Accountability: mature and responsible; ability to operate in compliance with organizational rules and regulations.
  • Commitment to continuous learning: initiative and willingness to learn new skills and stay abreast of new developments in area of expertise; ability to adapt to changes in work environment.
  • Planning and organizing: effective organizational and problem-solving skills and ability to manage a large volume of work in an efficient and timely manner; ability to establish priorities and to plan, coordinate and monitor (own) work; ability to work under pressure, with conflicting deadlines, and to handle multiple concurrent projects/activities.
  • Teamwork and respect for diversity: ability to operate effectively across organizational boundaries; ability to establish and maintain effective partnerships and harmonious working relations in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity and gender;
  • Communication: proven interpersonal skills; good spoken and written communication skills, including ability to prepare clear and concise reports; ability to conduct presentations, articulate options and positions concisely; ability to make and defend recommendations; ability to communicate and empathize with staff (including national staff), military personnel, volunteers, counterparts and local interlocutors coming from very diverse backgrounds; ability to maintain composure and remain helpful towards the staff, but objective, without showing personal interest; capacity to transfer information and knowledge to a wide range of different target groups;
  • Flexibility, adaptability, and ability and willingness to operate independently in austere, remote and potentially hazardous environments for protracted periods, involving physical hardship and little comfort, and including possible extensive travel within the area of operations; willingness to transfer to other duty stations within area of operations as may be necessary;
  • Genuine commitment towards the principles of voluntary engagement, which includes solidarity, compassion, reciprocity and self-reliance; and commitment towards the UN core values.

Required Skills and Experience


Required Degree Level: Secondary Education

Higher education qualifications such as a Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent preferred

Language Skills: Strong oral and written skills in English and Sinhala are essential; Tamil would be an advantage  


Required Experience: 0-2 years of work experience  

Experience Description:

  • Candidates with a good knowledge of youth and development issues in Sri Lanka will be an added advantage.
  • Demonstrated interest and/or experience in in the field of youth and development.
  • Good understanding and knowledge of UNDP Sri Lanka programme and policy work. 
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and a good team player.
  • Excellent written and spoken communication skills in English required. Proficiency in Sinhala and/or Tamil will be an advantage.
  • Demonstrated capacity to undertake assigned responsibilities and work under pressure.
  • Motivated to contribute towards peace and development and to serve others.
  • Good interpersonal, networking and communication skills.
  • Willingness to contribute and work as part of a team.
  • Flexible and open to learning and new experiences.
  • Willingness to travel around the country including remote areas as required.
  • Respect for diversity and adaptability to other cultures, environments and living conditions.
  • Experience in using social media platforms.
  • Computer skills (i.e. Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and others).


Conditions of Service

A 12 - month contract; with subsequent contract extensions subject to availability of funding, operational necessity and satisfactory performance. However, there is no expectation of renewal of the assignment.

Travel to duty station (if applicable) and a Settling-In-Grant will be provided in the event duty station is not within commuting distance from the place of recruitment. A Volunteer Living Allowance (VLA) of LKR 61,893 is provided monthly to cover housing, utilities and normal cost of living expenses. Life, health and permanent disability insurance are included, as well as final repatriation (if applicable) and a resettlement allowance for satisfactory service.


The United Nations Volunteers programme (UNV) is an equal opportunity programme which welcomes applications from qualified professionals. We are committed to achieving diversity in terms of gender, nationality and culture. 

Before applying, please make sure that you have read the requirements for the position and that you qualify.
Applications from non-qualifying applicants will most likely be discarded by the recruiting manager.

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  • Organization: UNDP - United Nations Development Programme
  • Location: Colombo (Sri Lanka)
  • Grade: National UN Volunteer - Locally recruited Volunteer
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Youth
    • Managerial positions
  • Closing Date: 2018-08-06

What does it mean?

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