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

Technical Senior Officer – Environmental (Spatial Planning & Biodiversity Expert)

New York City

  • Organization: UNOPS - United Nations Office for Project Services
  • Location: New York City
  • Grade: Junior level - IICA-1, International Individual Contractors Agreement
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Operations and Administrations
    • Environment
    • Biology and Chemistry
    • Agriculture and Forestry
    • Natural Resource Management
  • Closing Date: Closed

Background Information - Job-specific

UNOPS supports partners to build a better future by providing services that increase the efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability of peace building, humanitarian, and development projects.  Mandated as a central resource of the United Nations, UNOPS provides sustainable project management, procurement, and infrastructure services to a wide range of governments, donors and United Nations organizations.

The New York Portfolio Office (NYPO) supports the United Nations Secretariat, as well as other New York-based United Nations organizations, bilateral and multilateral partners in the delivery of UNOPS mandate in project management, infrastructure management, and procurement management. The Sustainable Development Cluster (SDC) supports diverse partners with their peacebuilding, humanitarian, and development operations. It was formed by combining the following portfolios: Grants Management Services (GMS), UN Technology Support Services (UNTSS), Development and Special Initiatives Portfolio (DSIP) It provides Services to partners' programmes that are designed, structured, and managed with a global perspective and primarily serving partners that are headquartered in New York.  SDC has a footprint of approximately 125 countries. 

UNOPS has signed an agreement with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to implement the project activities for the Global Programme on Nature for Development.

UNDP’s Global Programme on Nature for Development brings together three different initiatives -- the Equator Initiative, and the National Biodiversity Initiative, and Learning for Nature under one program in order to identify, foster, showcase and celebrate nature-based solutions that help achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at local, national, and international levels. The work of the Global Programme on Nature for Development contributes to UNDP's Strategic Plan 2018-2021 by charting sustainable development pathways through the conservation, restoration and sustainable management of biodiversity and ecosystems; and by promoting inclusive and effective democratic governance in natural resources. 

The Equator Initiative brings together the United Nations, governments, civil society, businesses, and grassroots organizations to recognize and advance local sustainable development solutions for people, nature and resilient communities. The Equator Initiative seeks to:

  • Identify and recognize the success of Indigenous and local initiatives,
  • Create opportunities and platforms to share knowledge and good practice,
  • Inform policy to foster an enabling environment for Indigenous and local community action, and
  • Develop the capacity of Indigenous peoples and local communities to scale-up their impact.

The National Biodiversity Initiative supports countries to manage their ecosystems and biodiversity to improve national planning and governance of biodiversity, ecosystems, and development, and to promote resilience for sustainable development. The National Biodiversity Initiative works in three project areas to support countries in their commitments to the Convention on Biological Diversity: National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) Support, National Reporting, and Capacity Building. The use of spatial data for spatial planning is an important cross-cutting theme across these project areas, including our flagship platform UN Biodiversity Lab and our work to map Essential Life Support Areas (ELSAs). The UN Biodiversity Lab, created in partnership with UN Environment and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, provides policymakers with access to 100 of the world’s best spatial datasets on nature, climate, and sustainable development for planning, monitoring, and reporting. Building on this base, our work to map ELSAs brings together the world’s best scientists and governments in 11 pilot countries to use spatial data to identify where nature-based actions to protect, manage, or restore ELSAs can deliver efficiently across national priorities for biodiversity, climate, and sustainable development. A nascent area of work is building the spatial literacy of Indigenous peoples and local communities and ensuring their participation in spatial planning.

Learning for Nature is a capacity-building offer provided by the Global Programme on Nature for Development, cutting across the three areas of work. This programme connects biodiversity policymakers, change-makers, and on-the-ground subject matter experts to facilitate the delivery of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Aichi Biodiversity Targets, and the achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Access to the global multi-stakeholder networks mobilized by the Equator Initiative and the National Biodiversity Initiative allows Learning for Nature to circulate knowledge while promoting best practices. Building on our learnings on the ground, we seek synergies, build linkages, and engage thousands of course participants on their journey towards sustainable development solutions for people, nature, and resilient communities. Learning for Nature builds capacity to scale up efforts for nature-based sustainable development through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), webinars, self-paced e-learning modules, podcasts, and private training courses.

Knowledge Sharing is a main goal of the Equator Initiative, the National Biodiversity Initiative, and Learning for Nature. The Equator Initiative has a large series of research papers, books, and other publications focusing on local approaches to poverty reduction and conservation, informed by community-based initiatives. 180 case studies in over 30 languages have documented the Equator Prize winners’ innovative practices that deliver the win-win-win solutions that ensure social, economic, and environmental sustainability. The National Biodiversity Initiative works with partners to share knowledge on the role of spatial data in biodiversity planning, policymaking, and reporting through story maps, blogs, Google Earth stories, articles etc.

For further information please go to:,,, or

This is a position to support a project which UNOPS is implementing for the United Nations Development Programme. The incumbent of this position will be personnel of UNOPS under its full responsibility.

Functional Responsibilities

UNOPS is seeking the support of a Spatial Planning and Biodiversity Expert to advance the Global Programme on Nature for Development’s work to support governments to use spatial data and systematic conservation planning in their efforts to plan, implement, monitor, and report on their commitments to the Convention on Biological Diversity, the other Rio Conventions, and the nature-based elements of the UN 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. The goal of the assignment is to provide GIS and capacity building support a variety of projects and initiatives that bring together the world’s governments, UN agencies, and leading scientists to develop and implement approaches around the globe to identify where nature-based actions to protect, manage, or restore biodiversity and ecosystems can more effectively and efficiently meet national commitments and priorities for biodiversity, climate, and sustainable development. 

Under the supervision of the Senior Technical Manager, the duties and responsibilities include:

Strategic Thinking and Project Management

  • Support the development of data and scientific workflows related to UNBL and ELSA.
  • Support the implementation of consistent workplan tracking and file organization across the data and science teams working on UNBL and ELSA. 
  • Coordinate the work of science and data teams based on project deliverables and timelines. 
  • Support relationship and partnership development with UNBL convening partners, technical partners, and data providers.  
  • Assist UNBL managers to organize and implement activities needed to deliver on UNBL strategic plan. 

Data Management 

  • Support the project team in determining key global data available on biodiversity, climate, and sustainable development, such as: biodiversity (e.g., species, Key Biodiversity Areas, Protected Areas, ecoregions), ecosystem services (e.g., aboveground biomass and below ground carbon), agricultural potential (preferably for key crops in pilot), water (supply or demand), erosion control, desertification, and land zoning.
  • Assist the project team in working with pilot country colleagues to determine and curate relevant national level data, as available on: biodiversity, climate, and sustainable development, such as: biodiversity (e.g., species, Key Biodiversity Areas, Protected Areas, ecoregions), ecosystem services (e.g., aboveground biomass and below ground carbon), agricultural potential (preferably for key crops in pilot), water (supply or demand), erosion control, desertification, and land zoning.
  • As directed by lead scientist, run analyses needed to develop composite data layers (e.g., developing a data layer that identifies where forest restoration can maximize carbon sequestration). 
  • Support the project team to review data on UN Biodiversity Lab against data standards.
  • Facilitate and maintain an inventory of current data that is available in the UN Biodiversity Lab platform.
  • Support the project team to determine how frequently each dataset needs to be updated and develop/implement a timeline for data updates. 
  • Assist in obtaining any necessary data sharing agreements with data providers.
  • Gather, process and upload datasets, or correct data access parameters and settings (WMS: web map service), into the UN Biodiversity Lab platform, including correct available metadata. 
  • Perform any required GIS processing needed to render data into the formats needed by the UN Biodiversity Lab platform. These may include, but is not limited to, data projection issues and web optimization of data.
  • Carry out geoprocessing and analyses of data layers to create data stacks needed for analyses to identify ELSAs, combining global and national data as relevant.
  • Create ELSA collections in countries’ private workspaces on the UN Biodiversity Lab and uploading of data for ELSA countries.

Platform design and development 

  • Assist the developers with beta testing of new platform features and functions.
  • Support user testing of new platform features and functionalities with pilot country stakeholders. 
  • Liaise with the developers to address bug reports.

Stakeholder engagement and capacity building

  • Support in identification and engagement of early adopters to use UN Biodiversity Lab, and the data within it, to revise their National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans in line with the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.
  • Facilitate training and capacity building events and/or help desks at international events associated with the Convention on Biological Diversity, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  • Develop training materials and guidance docs UN Biodiversity Lab users that is linked to the CBD post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.
  • Provide direct technical support to countries and users of the UN Biodiversity Lab platform, including responses to user queries, workspace creation, and troubleshooting.
  • Monitor requests from UN Biodiversity Lab users, including data, success stories and feedback submission forms, and elevate to colleagues for more complex issues.
  • Support in providing direct technical support to government representatives and UNDP country offices in ELSA pilot countries.  
  • Assist the national spatial data experts as needed in gathering, aggregating, and processing national data layers for the ELSA analysis.
  • Build community of users of UN Biodiversity Lab platform among GEF-eligible countries.

Communications & knowledge sharing

  • Offer presentations on spatial data and spatial planning in webinars, trainings, and events.
  • Support the review for communication materials to ensure scientific rigor and accuracy.
  • Peer review, comment on, and seek to improve the technical quality of policies, practices, guidelines, advisory notes, publications, and communications products.
  • Contribute to a strategic understanding of, and engagement with, the substantive technical issues, institutions, and processes around the project team and UNDP’s work to advance use of spatial data.

Education/Experience/Language requirements


  • Master’s degree in Biology, Conservation biology, environmental management, spatial planning, systematic conservation planning, GIS, or other related expertise areas is required.
  • Bachelor’s degree in any of the abovementioned fields may be accepted with 2 additional years of relevant work experience.
Required Experience: 
  • A minimum of 2 years relevant work experience on at least one of the following topics at a conceptual or practical level is required: international environmental policy, natural resource management, biodiversity/climate change; human/civil/indigenous/women’s rights; spatial planning; GIS analyses; capacity building and training
Desirable experience (the following experience is optional candidates who do not have it are welcome to apply): 
  • Experience using spatial data/Geographic Information Systems (GIS)/remote sensing for biodiversity conservation implementation, monitoring, and/or reporting is strongly desired.
  • Experience with capacity building, including through training, events, and guidance documents is an asset.
  • Research experience in biodiversity conservation is an asset.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills in English are required.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills in other UN languages is an asset.


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. For people managers only: 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.

Contract type, level and duration

Contract type: Individual Contractor Agreement (ICA)  Contract level: International Individual Contractor Agreement (I-ICA 1 / ICSC-9)
Contract duration: Ongoing contract (subject to good performance, availability of funds, organizational requirements and project duration)

For more details about the ICA contractual modality, please follow this link: 

Additional Information

  • Please note that UNOPS does not accept unsolicited resumes.
  • Applications received after the closing date will not be considered.
  • Please note that only shortlisted candidates will be contacted and advance to the next stage of the selection process, which involves various assessments.
  • UNOPS embraces diversity and is committed to equal employment opportunity. Our workforce consists of many diverse nationalities, cultures,  languages, races, gender identities, sexual orientations, and abilities. UNOPS seeks to sustain and strengthen this diversity to ensure equal opportunities as well as an inclusive working environment for its entire workforce. 
  • Qualified women and candidates from groups which are underrepresented in the UNOPS workforce are encouraged to apply. These include in particular candidates from racialized and/or indigenous groups, members of minority gender identities and sexual orientations, and people with disabilities.
  • We would like to ensure all candidates perform at their best during the assessment process.  If you are shortlisted and require additional assistance to complete any assessment, including reasonable accommodation, please inform our human resources team when you receive an invitation.

Terms and Conditions 

  • All UNOPS personnel are responsible for performing their duties in accordance with the UN Charter and UNOPS Policies and Instructions, as well as other relevant accountability frameworks. In addition, all personnel must demonstrate an understanding of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in a manner consistent with UN core values and the UN Common Agenda.
  • It is the policy of UNOPS to conduct background checks on all potential personnel. Recruitment in UNOPS is contingent on the results of such checks.
This vacancy is now closed.
However, we have found similar vacancies for you: