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Portfolio Specialist (Sustainability)

Kabul (Afghanistan)

  • Organization: UNDP - United Nations Development Programme
  • Location: Kabul (Afghanistan)
  • Grade: P-4, International Professional - Internationally recruited position - Mid level
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Environment
    • Development Cooperation and Sustainable Development Goals
    • Project and Programme Management
    • Malaria, Tuberculosis and other infectious diseases
  • Closing Date: 2020-09-26

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UNDP Global Mission Statement:
UNDP is the UN’s global development network, an organization advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. UNDP is on the ground in about 170 countries and territories, working with national counterparts on solutions to global and national development challenges.
UNDP Afghanistan Mission Statement:
UNDP supports stabilization, state-building, governance and development priorities in Afghanistan. UNDP, in partnership with the Government, the United Nations system, the donor community and other development stakeholders, helps countries to achieve sustainable development by eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, accelerating structural transformations for sustainable development and building resilience to crises and shock. In Afghanistan, a country in conflict, UNDP works for development and recovery choices that reduce vulnerability and contribute a development perspective to strengthen humanitarian and peace-building responses. 
Organizational Context:
UNDP is committed to supporting the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GoIRA) with the achievement of its core objectives of self-reliance and peace and helping it to meet the challenge of the transition from a war to a peace economy. To meet these goals, the Government has identified a comprehensive set of national priorities in the Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework (ANPDF). To achieve the Agenda 2030, the Government has also developed a set of 16 Afghan Sustainable Development Goals (A-SDGs) and ten national priority programs (NPPs) to place the country on a path towards sustainable development. Progress towards self-reliance and peace across the country will be guided and measured by the targets and indicators described in each of these frameworks. 
To support the Government’s efforts to implement the ANPDF, NPPs and the A-SDGs, UNDP offers a unique and highly integrated model for sustainable development based mainly on its traditional strengths in three main areas: 
  1. Promoting Human Development to improve human wellbeing, resilience and support environmental sustainability
  2. Providing technical expertise in the use of a Multi-Dimensional Poverty approach to reduce vulnerabilities, inequalities and exclusions
  3. Promoting Human Rights to ensure a fair distribution of development opportunities and benefits in social, political, economic and environmental dimensions
In addition, UNDP now has the Mandate to support SDG Integration to ensure faster progress on sustainable development and can offer support in four areas, (1) Integrated policy and  programming solutions, (2) SDG metrics, data and analysis using state-of-the-art tools for modelling and forecasting, (3) Knowledge and innovation and (4) SDG Financing services to help countries identify innovative ways to expand public and private contributions to reach the 2030 agenda. Lastly, the COVID-19 pandemic has also highlighted an urgent need to adopt a Systems Approach that is orientated towards building Resilience to future shocks through continuously reviewed scenario analyses. 
However, to make significant progress on the many highly complex development issues that face the country will require new ways of thinking, new skills and a much more collaborative and inclusive approach. UNDP will need to: 
  1. Attract the right staff: New staff need to be engaged who have the sort of development policy expertise required to tackle the many highly complex development issues facing the country. As the COVID-19 crisis has clearly shown, these staff will need to be able to understand the interconnections and interrelationships between different issues and be able to incorporate multiple-perspectives in the approaches developed. For example, to move people out of multi-dimensional poverty, a systemic understanding of the interplay between socio-economic factors, regional differences, and shifts in the political economy will be needed. 
  2. Provide high-quality policy analysis: To ensure that interventions selected are those most likely to have the greatest national-level impact, UNDP’s economic modelling team will carry out economic analyses of the options available to help build greater trust in Government, reduce the economic impact of COVID-19 and help to forge a sustainable peace. 
  3. Develop new modes of collaboration: UNDP’s new way of doing business will also involve leveraging a wider range of expertise and resources by working across organizations through a Government-led platform approach. Country Support Platforms harness collective intelligence and action to benefit communities and people at a greater scale, more quickly, making the best use of resources.
This job description is a direct response to these needs and UNDP’s improved business model. It reflects a new office structure that has recently been put in place to support the vision expressed in an emerging portfolio of ten new Country Office (CO) programmes and to facilitate a more collaborative approach to work across the office and with external partners. This structure is also designed to provide the foundation for a new emphasis on sub-national level work, support higher delivery rates, and to transform UNDP into a learning organization and ‘fit-for-purpose’ to deliver on Agenda 2030 which in turn will support national staff and institutional capacity development. 
The design of UNDP’s new programme portfolio is intended to support progress towards sustainable development and sustainable peace. It focuses on economic transformation, sustainable energy, social protection, environment and climate change, and governance issues such as anti-corruption, local government, justice and security sector reform, peace and reconciliation. The design of each of these programmes is based on the UN’s three core principles of human rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment, and environmental sustainability and is guided by the UNDP Strategic Plan (2018-2021). Taken together and implemented in an integrated way through a platform approach, the proposed programmes will contribute towards achieving Peace, Sustainability and Sustainability in Afghanistan. Each of these themes is reflected in the new organizational structure for the CO.
In this context, the Sustainability portfolio within the programme team provides thought leadership on cross-cutting development issues in Afghanistan, and globally, to ensure that UNDP’s mandate of convening development partners in support of the national development agenda, informed by a commitment to the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, is amplified by internal knowledge, research, and stand-out policy advice. 
Under the direct supervision of the Assistant Resident Representative- Sustainability, The Portfolio Specialist- Sustainability provides support to facilitate the planning, formulation, management and policy analysis; Sustainability Portfolio funding administration, quality assurance and results-based reporting. S/he will provide coordination, representation, networking, resource mobilization, knowledge management and advisory services.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Support the Sustainability programme in planning, formulation, management and analysis;
  • Provide technical guidance and policy advice to the Sustainability Portfolio;
  • Ensure Quality Assurance and Results-Based Management of the Sustainability Portfolio;
  • Representation, networking and resource mobilization for effective policy positioning.
1.Support Sustainability programme in planning, formulation, management and analysis:
  • Contribute to the continuous development and refinement of quality operational management of any funding mechanisms and associated programmes at the country level;
  • Advise on the programme development and formulation of projects;
  • Advise on the formulation and establishment of operational policies and procedures of other assigned funds;
  • Advise the Disaster Risk Reduction Programme (DRR-P) on policy issues relating to the funds, particularly those affecting UNDP’s fiduciary responsibilities. 
2.  Provide technical guidance and policy advice to the Sustainability Portfolio: 
  • Provide strategic guidance on technical and policy matters to the Sustainability Portfolio that respond to country office needs, including through the provision of capacity building and backstopping to the CO and UNCTs; 
  • Collaborates with colleagues in Bangkok Regional Hub (BRH) and HQ to apply in country programming new global and regional initiatives, polices and knowledge products that further the Peace Portfolio. In this context, work with BRH colleagues to ensure relevant, timely and multi-disciplinary response to Country needs for policy services; 
  • Provide technical and strategic guidance to Unit’s staff in project design, planning, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and results reporting in line with RBM guidelines, and ensure the application of quality assurance, risk management and due diligence processes;
  • 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 Unit’s knowledge domain;
  • Collaborate substantively with Regional Programmes to achieve regional/CO strategic goals and plans by supporting relevant regional initiatives and promoting synergies with the regional programmes; 
  • Identify bottlenecks and develop innovative solutions to bridge gaps in financial reporting resulting from differences in or applications of financial regulations, rules and procedures of implementing partners;
  • Coordinate and respond to audit observations made on the Sustainability Portfolio operations and ensure follow-up actions are taken on agreed recommendations;
  • Provide technical guidance and training to implementing partners on project implementation and policy matters.
3.Ensure Quality Assurance and Results-Based Management of the Sustainability Portfolio:
  • Provide support and guidance on the preparation and timely receipt of results-based annual progress reports;
  • Ensure the quality of the consolidated annual analytical results-based progress reports based on submission from implementing partners within the timetable specified in the MOU and Standard Administrative Arrangements of the funds; 
  • Regularly measure the impact of programme and preform analysis of programme environment;
  • Ensure risks are monitored and managed across the portfolio of advisory engagements; 
  • Prepare periodic briefs and position papers on overall Sustainability portfolio progress, emerging results and outcomes through write ups and relevant web site/portal updates;
  • Monitor and track issues of interest and results and provide write-ups.
4.  Representation, networking and resource mobilization for effective policy positioning:
  • Advise senior management on resource mobilization and provide strategic support in the coordination of approvals and the strengthening of strategic partnerships as required;
  • Provide strategic technical inputs to raise awareness amongst donors of the Funds activities and its resource requirements and facilitate their contributions;
  • Provide technical leadership in the formulation of funding proposals, donor briefings and presentations in support of UNDP resource mobilization efforts for the CO;  
  • Negotiate Standard Administrative Arrangements with donors in accordance with the TOR of portfolio funding mechanisms;
  • Support in development of robust pipeline and resource mobilization with a gender approach;
  • Mobilize and interact with UNDP HQ units (OLPS, BMS, PB, etc.) to appropriately respond to fund the portfolio;
  • Coordinate external communications of the Funds through website postings, periodic publications and meetings;
  • When requested by the participating organizations, collaborate to resolve, in a timely manner, issues that arise in the submissions of participating organizations project documents in order to move project formulation and/or implementation forward;
  • Speak to the Sustainability Portfolio in internal and external meetings as requested;
  • Ensure the independent lessons learnt and review exercises relating to the operations of the Funds are properly carried out and appropriate follow-up actions are taken.


Innovation: Ability to make new and useful ideas work;
Level 5: Creates new and relevant ideas and leads others to implement them;
Leadership: Ability to persuade others to follow;
Level 5: Plans and acts transparently, actively works to remove barriers;
People Management: Ability to improve performance and satisfaction;
Level 5: Models high professional standards and motivates excellence in others;
Communication: Ability to listen, adapt, persuade and transform;
Level 5: Gains trust of peers, partners, clients by presenting complex concepts in practical terms to others;
Delivery: Ability to get things done;
Level 5: Critically assesses value and relevance of existing policy / practice and contributes to enhanced delivery of products, services, and innovative solutions.
Trends and emerging areas analytics: Ability to scan the horizon and identify approaches and initiatives to bring into policy and programme design;
Level 5: Originate: Catalyzes new ideas, methods, and applications to pave a path for innovation and continuous improvement in professional area of expertise;
Results-Based Management: Ability to manage programmes and projects with a strategy aimed at improved performance and demonstrable results;
Level 5: Originate: Catalyzes new ideas, methods, and applications to pave a path for innovation and continuous improvement in professional area of expertise;
Conflict Analysis and Risk Assessment: Knowledge of conflict analysis and risk assessment concepts and the ability to apply to strategic and/or practical situations;
Level 5: Originate: Catalyzes new ideas, methods, and applications to pave a path for innovation and continuous improvement in professional area of expertise;
Recovery Policy and Planning: Ability to establish mechanisms, processes, resources in readiness to disaster/crisis response;
Level 5: Originate: Catalyzes new ideas, methods, and applications to pave a path for innovation and continuous improvement in professional area of expertise;
Political Parties: Knowledge of political party capacity building and dialogue for peace and development and the ability to apply to strategic and/or practical situations;
Level 5: Originate: Catalyzes new ideas, methods, and applications to pave a path for innovation and continuous improvement in professional area of expertise;
Project Management: Ability to plan, organize, and control resources, procedures and protocols to achieve specific goals of Management;
Level 5: Originate: Catalyzes new ideas, methods, and applications to pave a path for innovation and continuous improvement in professional area of expertise;
Partnerships: Ability to engage with other agencies, donors, and other development stakeholders and forge productive working relationships;
Level 5: Originate: Catalyzes new ideas, methods, and applications to pave a path for innovation and continuous improvement in professional area of expertise;
Resource Mobilization: Ability to identify and organize programmes and projects to implement solutions and generate resources (definition is unclear and not well linked to the stated competency);
Level 5: Originate: Catalyzes new ideas, methods, and applications to pave a path for innovation and continuous improvement in professional area of expertise.

Required Skills and Experience

  • An Advance University Degree (Master’s or equivalent) in Development Studies, Political Science, Economics, Environmental Science, Social Sciences, Law, Public Administration, Development or related field.
  • A minimum of 7 years of progressively responsible experience in and Sustainability programme/project management in international development organizations, bilateral development agencies and/or international NGOs; 
  • Proven programme management experience with sound knowledge of all aspects of the project cycle (design, implementation, monitoring & evaluation); 
  • Proven ability to work effectively in multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural teams;
  • Strong interpersonal and written and oral communication skills. 
Language Requirements:
  • Fluency in oral and written English is essential;
  • 2nd UN language would be 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.

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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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