By continuing to browse this site, you agree to our use of cookies. Read our privacy policy

Programme Specialist, Innovation

Addis Ababa (Ethiopia)

  • Organization: UNDP - United Nations Development Programme
  • Location: Addis Ababa (Ethiopia)
  • Grade: P-4, International Professional - Internationally recruited position - Mid level
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Project and Programme Management
    • Innovations for Sustainable Development
    • Malaria, Tuberculosis and other infectious diseases
  • Closing Date: 2020-09-23

Click "SAVE JOB" to save this job description for later.

Sign up for free to be able to save this job for later.


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. Within this context, UNDP invests in 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. 
The Programme Specialist, Innovation is based in the Regional Service Center for Africa (RSCA) in Addis and reports to the Director of the RSC and (in matrixed fashion) to the Global BPPS Team Leader for Innovation.  He/she will provide intellectual and strategic leadership, technical guidance, and project and programme development support on innovation in the RBA region, and contribute to the corporate innovation portfolio. He/she will lead and help develop the regional innovation community of practice, linking it closely to UNDP’s global community of practice and growing the regional and global network of innovation partners. 
In collaboration with the programme and policy teams at the RSCA in Addis; platforms in Dakar, Nairobi and Pretoria;  Country Offices; and UNDP’s wider Global Policy Network s/he is responsible for leading the provision of strategic and hands-on programmatic guidance on innovation in the RBA region and for strategic and programmatic inputs to the corporate work on innovation for development, including the management of the corporate Innovation Facility. S/he will provide technical and policy expertise as well as programme advisory services to Country Offices in the RBA region with the overall aim of increasing the relevance and impact of UNDP’s programming.  S/he responds proactively to service requests from RBA Country Offices in collaboration with corporate support providers.
Working to ensure quality and coherent policy and programme advisory services within the RBA regions, in alignment with regional workplans, the Innovation Specialist advances the credibility and recognition of UNDP’s capabilities in this knowledge domain and associated communities of practice.  


Duties and Responsibilities

Summary of key functions:
1.Proactive delivery of innovation advisory services, including technical assistance, policy development and programme support to Country Offices in the RBA region 
2.Facilitation of a regional community of practice and development of core innovation competencies across the region
3.Advocacy and partner engagement for effective innovation policy positioning and strategic advancement of UNDP’s innovation portfolio
1. Proactive delivery of advisory services, including technical assistance, policy development and programme support to Country Offices in the RBA region 
  • Provide programme and policy advisory services to COs in the RBA region in response to Country Office needs and in support of the development of programme innovation portfolios. Work closely with all teams in the regional hub to ensure relevant, timely and integrated responses to the programmatic needs and demands of Country Offices, including through portfolio diagnostics, programme and project formulation, delivery support  partnering and resource mobilization; 
  • Collaborate substantively with COs and Regional Programmes to achieve regional/CO strategic goals and plans by supporting relevant regional and global initiatives and promoting synergies with regional projects and programmes, including developing and testing new concepts, products, tools and resources;
  • Provide support to COs in increasing the relevance of their project portfolio – provides portfolio analysis, identifies opportunities for strategic interventions and pivots/deep demonstrations
  • Contribute to developing the capacity of national counterparts in support of achieving the Strategic Plan and other internationally agreed development goals as it relates to the innovation knowledge domain in close collaboration with the Acceleration Lab network;
  • Contribute to strategic thinking on innovation at the global level to continuously ensure alignment between global and regional innovation initiatives, in close collaboration with the global innovation lead and with flagship initiatives to accelerate SDG integration and achievement (e.g. Acceleration Labs, SDG Impact).  
  • Identify and pursue resource mobilization opportunities, in close coordination with relevant regional and global teams.
  • Collaborate with innovation specialists and advisors across UNDP, under the leadership of the global innovation lead to draft, test and finalize new corporate policies and guidelines that facilitate innovation.
2. Facilitation of a regional community of practice and development of core innovation competencies across the region
  • Support building a regional innovation community of practice and develop and strengthen linkages with innovation communities of practice, both inside and outside of the UN system
  • Codify and consolidate emerging best practices on innovation from the region to be made available as part of UNDP’s knowledge management and sharing agenda
  • Working out loud: sharing work in progress via social media, corporate knowledge sharing platforms and encourage colleagues in Country Offices to do the same
  • Initiates and manages the development of UNDP staff capacity in the application of tools, practices, including support to staff exchanges and twinning initiatives between COs and the Regional Hub, mentoring CO practitioners on-the-job in the area of work, and conducting training / organization of learning events; contributes to the design of incentives for staff to share innovation knowledge and practice.
  • Brokers knowledge in support of country level priorities. Facilitates CO access to information, key players and evidence in the area of innovation, keeps COs updated on latest developments and topical discussions;
  • Help the definition and regional customization of corporate core innovation competencies, and design programs to foster their development in country offices
3. Advocacy and partner engagement for effective innovation policy positioning in the region and strategic advancement of UNDP’s innovation portfolio
  • Advocate the application of innovation approaches for development, especially as an integrated approach to achieving the SDGs, in regional and country fora with a view to deepen political commitment and reforms; 
  • Represents UNDP and UNDP’s innovation work in the RBA region at country-level, regional and/or global fora relevant for innovation engagements  
  • Establishes and nurtures partner engagements and interagency coordination in innovation and related areas; 
  • Supports relationship management of regional partners and resource mobilization in line with regional and corporate priorities and guidelines; 
  • Manage and build strategic alliances and partnerships, especially with relevant partners, including think tanks and non-governmental organizations; 
  • Represent UNDP at inter-agency meetings, academic conferences, donor consultations and other events, as needed.


  • Ability to persuade others to follow
Communication & relationship management
  • Ability to listen, adapt, persuade and transform
  • Ability to make new and useful ideas work
People management
  • Ability to improve performance and satisfaction
  • Ability to get things done while exercising good judgement
System Thinking
  • Knowledge of system thinking and ability to apply in diverse settings.
Portfolio management
  • Ability to design and manage portfolios of expeirments
Knowledge Curation and Packaging
  • Ability to turn raw information into useful knowledge, relevant for context, or responsive to stated need
Sustainable Development Goals
  • Knowledge of the Sustainable Development Goals and the ability to apply to strategic and/or practical situations.
Substantive Networking
  • Ability to substantively engage and foster networks with academia, research institutions, and think tanks.
Collaboration & Partnerships
  • Ability to develop, maintain, and strengthen partnerships with others inside (Programmes/projects) or outside the organization who can provide information, assistance, and support.  Sets overall direction for the formation and management of strategic relationships contributing to the overall positioning of UNDP
Management & Coordination
  • Ability to manage and coordinate campaigns and people with inspiration. Believe in and promote diversity in the workplace and reshaping the workforce to meet need. 


Required Skills and Experience

A Master's degree, preferably in international development, law, international affairs, business administration, development economics, or other relevant field, or extensive compensating experience in in relevant, technical fields. 
  • A minimum of 7 years of experience in either public sectors (national or multilateral, including UN), private (academia, non-governmental sector, corporate), with increasing level of responsibility
  • Proven track record and technical/advisory experience in innovation for development  
  • Strong demonstrated expertise in social innovation and innovation in the development sector.
  • Excellent negotiating and communication skills and ability to mobilize support from a wide range of partners (public, private, academic, civil society, business community)
  • Proven track record of management and resource mobilization skills
Language Requirements:
  • English proficiency, 2nd UN language and or knowledge of regional languages desirable.


Important information for US Permanent Residents ('Green Card' holders)

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.

Workforce diversity

UNDP is committed to achieving diversity within its workforce, and encourages all qualified applicants, irrespective of gender, nationality, disabilities, sexual orientation, culture, religious and ethnic backgrounds to apply. All applications will be treated in the strictest confidence.

Scam warning

The United Nations does not charge any application, processing, training, interviewing, testing or other fee in connection with the application or recruitment process. Should you receive a solicitation for the payment of a fee, please disregard it. Furthermore, please note that emblems, logos, names and addresses are easily copied and reproduced. Therefore, you are advised to apply particular care when submitting personal information on the web.


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.

What does it mean?

Click "SAVE JOB" to save this job description for later.

Sign up for free to be able to save this job for later.