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Director, Cities Alliance

Brussels (Belgium)

  • Organization: UNOPS - United Nations Office for Project Services
  • Location: Brussels (Belgium)
  • Grade: D-2, Director - Internationally recruited position - Senior Executive level
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Managerial positions
    • Infrastructure and Urban-Rural development
  • Closing Date: 2020-10-11

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Background Information - Job-specific

The Cities Alliance is a global partnership promoting the role of cities in poverty reduction and sustainable development, and  is located within the UN system: while it was originally based at the World Bank in Washington DC,  since 2013 it has been based in Brussels where it is hosted by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS). 

The Cities Alliance has established an international reputation for its role in promoting coherence of effort in international development, identifying critical policy and knowledge gaps, convening members and partners, and delivering high-quality programmes. The context of its work is that of rapidly urbanising economies, the growth of cities of all sizes, and promoting the interests  of the urban poor in general, and women in particular. Adopting a long-term and programmatic approach that recognises the catalytic nature of development assistance, the Cities Alliance seeks to work with and support local expertise and institutions, ensure citywide and nationwide approaches to development, and facilitate follow-up investments and impacts. 

The Cities Alliance undertakes regular independent evaluations, as well as programme and financial audits. The Secretariat has recently completed a comprehensive restructuring and re-staffing, with an empowered and effective management team.

The Management Board (on which UNOPS is represented ex officio) is responsible for setting the overall strategic direction, priorities and budget of the Cities Alliance. The Secretariat is responsible for the implementation of the work programme and related activities, and shall report to the Management Board on these, through the Director.

The Director of the Cities Alliance is a UNOPS Director, subject to UNOPS policies and procedures.

Background Information - Job-specific

The Director  leads the Cities Alliance Secretariat, and is  responsible for ensuring the formulation, adoption,  financing and implementation of the Strategic Plan (currently 2018-2021), and its Annual Work Plans. This requires clear and consistent leadership, and strategic/diplomatic collaboration management to work with Cities Alliance members, partners and country stakeholders to fulfil the vision and mission of Cities Alliance. To fulfil this function, the Director maintains regular contact with the Chair of the Management Board on matters of strategy and substance and, where appropriate, with the President of the Assembly.

Functional Responsibilities

Summary of functions:

  1. Management Board
  2. Strategy and Planning
  3. Resource Mobilization
  4. Global Advocacy and Communications
  5. Management of the Secretariat

1.            Management Board

  • Oversees the provision of high-quality strategic information to the Management Board to facilitate its role in setting policies and strategies. This includes regular, high-level strategic analysis, advice, and communication in its strategic, results and risk management roles, in active collaboration with the Chair of the Management Board.
  • Facilitates and promotes communication between the Management Board and partners on policy and programme issues. This includes regular monitoring and clear reporting of progress toward key targets.
  • Communicates on a regular basis with the Chair of the Management Board on ongoing progress and highlights emerging issues. Identifies operational challenges at an early stage that need the Board’s support, including any resource deficiencies.

2.            Strategy and Planning

  • Leads the development of the Strategic Plan and Annual Work Plans, with time-bound targets and milestones for fulfilling the Cities Alliance vision and ensures their timely approval by the Management Board.
  • Ensures that the Cities Alliance Strategic Plan is aligned with, and actively contributes to, implementation of Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, the Paris Climate Agreement, and the New Urban Agenda;
  • Leads organizational planning exercises with clear objectives and timelines.
  • Directs and oversees the setting of framework targets and monitoring tools.
  • Ensures that all Cities Alliance policies and governance instruments are regularly reviewed and updated, including the Charter, Standard Operating Procedures, Conflict of Interest Policy and the Risk and Results Frameworks.

3.            Resource Mobilization

  • Leads and coordinates all efforts toward clear targets to urgently mobilize additional financial resources in order to sustain the organization.
  • Ensures the development and management of an effective and proven resource mobilization strategy which underpins Cities Alliance’ sustainability and growth.
  • Develops strategies to expand and diversify the existing core Donors and Funding Sources.
  • Identifies ways to balance the relationship between core and project financing, to ensure that the Cities Alliance retains sufficient flexibility in pursuing new and/or strategic activities.

4.            Global Advocacy and Communications

  • In partnership with the President and/or Chair of the Management Board where appropriate, acts as spokesperson for Cities Alliance and reports regularly to Members on progress on the implementation of the Strategic Plan.
  • Represents the Cities Alliance at high-level events, and/or appoint appropriate staff to represent the Cities Alliance.
  • Leads the Secretariat in articulating and communicating Cities Alliance strategy, vision and values to external stakeholders.
  • Ensures that Members are kept fully appraised of all relevant Cities Alliance activities and provided with opportunities to design, lead and participate in events.
  • Maintains an active focal point system to ensure consistent and personal interaction with Members.
  • Makes a positive contribution to the values and mission of the United Nations system, and to improved development coherence.  Liaises with key relevant organizations and agencies, including regional entities.

5.            Management of Secretariat

  • Provides clear and effective leadership to the Secretariat, being responsible and accountable for the administration, guidance and direction of its work.
  • Provides both leadership and support to the Cities Alliance Management Team, ensuring cohesive and effective team operations and optimal staff motivation; providing regular supervision and annual performance appraisal for the Management Team members and ultimate oversight of all Secretariat personnel.   
  • Ensures all operational structures, systems and processes are in line with UNOPS policies and procedures.
  • Provides leadership in optimizing timely, cost-effective arrangements that meet value for money expectations and fiduciary standards.
  • Works in close cooperation with UNOPS reporting line to ensure smooth operational support and timely problem-solving, where necessary.
  • To ensure effective planning, recruitment and development of a flexible workforce with the skills and competencies needed to ensure optimum performance, and ensure gender and geographical diversity.
  • To foster a positive work environment, respectful of both men and women, and ensure that the highest standards of conduct are observed.
  • To champion gender parity, gender mainstreaming and diversity.

Work implies frequent interaction with, but not limited to, the following:

Managers and staff within the Cities Alliance Secretariat, senior representatives within Cities Alliance ‘membership, as well as representatives of UN Agencies, multilateral and other international organisations. Constant interaction at senior level with Governments, Private Sector organisations and representatives of non-governmental organizations. 

Results expected:  Stewarding the assets, resources, reputation and high regard of Cities Alliance at local, national and international levels.  Effectively manage and supervise work programmes, staff and partners; ensure coherent framework to guide programmes.  Proven leadership in the development of innovative programmes with significant impact on the overall effectiveness of the United Nations. Intellectual and professional leadership,  characterised by consistency and integrity, for overall strategy, quality, delivery, and results.


Develops and implements sustainable business strategies, thinks long term and externally in order to positively shape the organization. Anticipates and perceives the impact and implications of future decisions and activities on other parts of the organization.
Treats all individuals with respect; responds sensitively to differences and encourages others to do the same. Upholds organizational and ethical norms. Maintains high standards of trustworthiness. Role model for diversity and inclusion.
Acts as a positive role model contributing to the team spirit. Collaborates and supports the development of others. Acts as positive leadership role model, motivates, directs and inspires others to succeed, utilizing appropriate leadership styles.
Demonstrates understanding of the impact of own role on all partners and always puts the end beneficiary first. Builds and maintains strong external relationships and is a competent partner for others (if relevant to the role).
Efficiently establishes an appropriate course of action for self and/or others to accomplish a goal. Actions lead to total task accomplishment through concern for quality in all areas. Sees opportunities and takes the initiative to act on them. Understands that responsible use of resources maximizes our impact on our beneficiaries.
Open to change and flexible in a fast paced environment. Effectively adapts own approach to suit changing circumstances or requirements. Reflects on experiences and modifies own behavior. Performance is consistent, even under pressure. Always pursues continuous improvements.
Evaluates data and courses of action to reach logical, pragmatic decisions. Takes an unbiased, rational approach with calculated risks. Applies innovation and creativity to problem-solving.
Expresses ideas or facts in a clear, concise and open manner. Communication indicates a consideration for the feelings and needs of others. Actively listens and proactively shares knowledge. Handles conflict effectively, by overcoming differences of opinion and finding common ground.


Advanced university degree (Master’s degree or equivalent), preferably in urban planning, economics, social science, international development, public policy and administration, or related area.


  • A minimum of fifteen (15) years of progressively responsible experience of senior management,  strategy development and implementation, resource mobilization, advocacy, programme management, and/or related areas, preferably with a combination of service in either the public, private, or non-profit sectors at an international level is required.
  • At least 3 years of senior work experience in an international political/diplomatic arena or related area, preferably involving urban development and the role of cities.
  • experience in a bilateral or  multilateral agreement development is an advantage.
  • Strong  knowledge of issues affecting urban development and the role of cities, especially in the global south. A particular understanding of gender issues, and citywide  approaches to inclusive  development, would be a distinct advantage.
  • A solid  understanding of the delivery of high-quality programmes and their implementation modalities and challenges, especially in the Global South is an advantage.
  • Experience of building successful partnership-based approaches to development would be an advantage. Experience of building successful partnership-based approaches to development would be an advantage.
  • Proven experience in successful business development and fundraising would be an advantage. 


Fluency in English (both oral and written) is required; good working knowledge of another UN language (esp. French) would be an asset. 

Contract type, level and duration

  • Director Level 2 (ICS14/D2) Fixed-term staff contract - One year initially, renewable subject to satisfactory performance and funding availability.
For more details about United Nations staff contracts, please follow this link:

Additional Considerations

  • Please note that the closing date is midnight Copenhagen time
  • Applications received after the closing date will not be considered.
  • Only those candidates that are short-listed for interviews will be notified.
  • Qualified female candidates are strongly encouraged to apply.
  • UNOPS seeks to reasonably accommodate candidates with special needs, upon request.
  • Work life harmonization - UNOPS values its people and recognizes the importance of balancing professional and personal demands. We have a progressive policy on work-life harmonization and offer several flexible working options. This policy applies to UNOPS personnel on all contract types
  • For staff positions only, UNOPS reserves the right to appoint a candidate at a lower level than the advertised level of the post
  • For retainer contracts, you must complete a few Mandatory Courses (around 4 hours) in your own time, before providing services to UNOPS.
  • The incumbent is responsible to abide by security policies, administrative instructions, plans and procedures of the UN Security Management System and that of UNOPS.  

It is the policy of UNOPS to conduct background checks on all potential recruits/interns. Recruitment/internship in UNOPS is contingent on the results of such checks.

Background Information - UNOPS

UNOPS is an operational arm of the United Nations, supporting the successful implementation of its partners’ peacebuilding, humanitarian and development projects around the world. Our mission is to help people build better lives and countries achieve sustainable development.

UNOPS areas of expertise cover infrastructure, procurement, project management, financial management and human resources.

Working with us

UNOPS offers short- and long-term work opportunities in diverse and challenging environments across the globe. We are looking for creative, results-focused professionals with skills in a range of disciplines.


With over 4,000 UNOPS personnel and approximately 7,000 personnel recruited on behalf of UNOPS partners spread across 80 countries, our workforce represents a wide range of nationalities and cultures. We promote a balanced, diverse workforce — a strength that helps us better understand and address our partners’ needs, and continually strive to improve our gender balance through initiatives and policies that encourage recruitment of qualified female candidates.

Work life harmonization

UNOPS values its people and recognizes the importance of balancing professional and personal demands.

We do our best to provide you the most accurate info, but closing dates may be wrong on our site. Please check on the recruiting organization's page for the exact info. Candidates are responsible for complying with deadlines and are encouraged to submit applications well ahead.
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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