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Call for Application: Fit for Life Scoping Study


Duty Station: Paris

Standard Duration of Assignement: [[7 months]]

Job Family: Social and Human Sciences

Type of contract : Non Staff

Recruitment open to : External candidates

Application Deadline (Midnight Paris Time) : [[31-05-2022]]


UNESCO Core Values: Commitment to the Organization, Integrity, Respect for Diversity, Professionalism



UNESCO is seeking the services of a Contractor to undertake a scoping study within the framework of the Social and Human Science Sector’s new sport-based flagship, Fit for Life. The scoping study will entail a mapping and assessment of existing measurement frameworks; datasets; global reports; indexes; data mining, collection and linking; key stakeholders, and; good practices in data collection and analysis related to: sport, physical education (PE) and physical activity (PA).

Purpose and objectives of the Scoping Study


Fit for Life is a data-driven project which is divided into three interconnected phases:


Phase I: Scoping study and key partner consultations

Phase II: Global baseline study

Phase III: Data operationalisation and scaling successful initiatives


As part of Phase I, the contractor will undertake the scoping study which will entail a mapping and assessment of existing measurement frameworks; datasets; indexes; global reports; data mining, collection and linking; key stakeholders, and; good practices in data collection and analysis related to: sport, PE and PA.


This global study will build on existing data and measurement frameworks and indicators, and pinpoint critical data gaps including but not limited to: themes addressed, demographic and geographical coverage, data quality (including inconsistencies) and representativeness, and methodological approach. It will also identify and propose strategies to address data gaps, including with reference to key stakeholder groups, and scale up integrated approaches to data collection and analysis which evidence the social returns on sport-related investment with specific reference to education, health and wellbeing, and equality outcomes.


Current assumptions drawn from analysis of in-house datasets and related consultations point to significant gaps on the relationship and connections between sport and biomarkers in mental health, socio-emotional resilience and equality outcomes. Other key areas of focus include data and insight on:

  • access to and participation in sport disaggregated by gender, ethnicity, disability, age, country/region;
  • teacher/coach wellbeing and training;
  • safeguarding of participants: the sustainability of infrastructure (physical and human) for the delivery of quality programmes;
  • efficient, equitable, and effective use of technology to measure and promote sport and outcomes of interest;
  • investments in sport at policy and practice levels disaggregated by grassroots and elite programming.

Bridging identified data and measurement gaps will require ongoing, strategic consultation with external partners, institutions and data custodians having access to key datasets across a diversity of sectors. These consultations will be particularly crucial to the development of an integrated data ecosystem to support decision-making, interventions and investment across sectors and stakeholder groups.

The findings of the scoping study will provide the blueprint for a global baseline data collection and analysis to be undertaken as part of Phase II, and will feed into the development of an integrated data ecosystem combining insights from sport, PE and PA to enhance the impact and effectiveness of interventions at policy and practice levels in Phase III. To maximise the impact and relevance of Phase II’s global baseline study, the scoping study should include recommendations on scope; thematic foci; target respondent groups; data mining, collection and linking; methodology; key stakeholders and timeline. Findings will also be used to inform the development of “best buys” in sport in Phase II and scaled in Phase III, including the augmentation and standardisation of existing models which monetise the social return on investment in sport, and the launch of an integrated data ecosystem combining insights from sport, PE and PA sectors.

Long Description

The global baseline study, to follow the scoping study, aims at establishing a comprehensive sport dataset (at policy and practice levels) which is disaggregated by gender, ethnicity, disability, age, country/region, and thematic area. At the policy level, data will be collected to understand key domains of impact included within sport policy, investment patterns and strategies which connect sport policy outcomes to policies in education, health and equality. At the grassroots level, data will be collected on rates of participation and barriers to participation, as well as the impact of sport values interventions in terms of outcomes in education, health and equality. The data collection will also prioritise the identification of good practice examples of integrated investments i.e. investments in sport which connect to health, education and equality sectors and which deliver measurable outcomes. The data and case studies will be critical to Fit for Life’s framing of sport as a smart investment for rounded social/individual development and to facilitate the scaling of good practice projects in Phase III which focuses on national roll out of Fit for Life activities.

Methodology of the Scoping Study

Methodology of the Scoping Study

The scoping study is expected to rely on a variety of data collection and analysis methods, both quantitative and qualitative. it should be designed accounting for the diversity of contexts across UNESCO member countries and with the aim to help provide indicators, support analysis and generate information at the global, regional, country and topic level. The implementing team will work in coordination with the UNESCO’s team, who will share relevant documents, reports and materials and steer the development of the overarching methodology for this study.

The proposed methods include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Data acquisition, mining and analysis, both relying on traditional statistics and on internet-based and AI-based approaches;
  • Desk review, collation, and analysis of existing data and datasets, including meta-analysis;
  • Literature review;
  • In-depth bilateral and multi-lateral consultation (virtual) with key informants across diverse stakeholder groups and regions;
  • Identification and analysis of existing stakeholders and communities of practice using sport for development;
  • Coherence with ongoing or existing global and/or regional baseline studies.

It is expected that the contractor will develop the methodology for the scoping study in consultation with UNESCO.

4. Timetable and Expected Deliverables

Timetable and Expected Deliverables

It is expected that the scoping study will commence June 2022 and be completed within a 7-month timeframe.


Working under the guidance of the UNESCO Social and Human Sciences Sector, and the supervision of the Sport Section, the Contractor will produce the following deliverables:   


  1. Inception report: a finessed version of the technical proposal submitted and including feedback from UNESCO;

(Tentative Date of Submission: 27 June 2022).


  1. Landscaping report, presenting:
    1. A mapping and initial assessment of existing: measurement frameworks; datasets; data quality, frequency and possibility to link different datasets; global reports; indexes; statistics related to sport investments; key stakeholders; and good practices related to sport, physical PE and PA, and their relative efficacy across Phases I-III of Fit for Life;
    2. A stakeholder mapping to support the decentralization of data collection and maximise the engagement of regional and national actors; and
    3. Preliminary recommendations on:
      1. How to align/layer existing datasets;
      2. How to address data gaps and inconsistencies, and translate data gathered into strategic actions at the international, regional, national, and local level(s) through Fit for Life;
      3. Strategic stakeholder partnerships to scale the impact of Fit for Life under Phases II and III

 (Tentative Date of Submission: 25 July 2022).

C. Draft Final report, including:

    1. An analysis of the data landscape, identifying critical gaps (thematic, demographic, geographic, methodological) across sport, PE and PA sectors, and a strategy for these to be addressed via the global baseline data collection through concrete recommendations on:
      1. scope, thematic focus, target respondent groups, data mining, collection and linking, methodology, key actors, timeline;
      2. development of an integrated data ecosystem; and
      3. typology for the identification of “best buy” case-studies.
    2. A classified breakdown of data requirements for targeted investment in sport and/or Fit for Life by actors across diverse stakeholder groups, including but not limited to member countries, private sector organizations and associations, and development banks.

The report should also include and/or be accompanied by an annex including the lists of stakeholders consulted, compendium key documents, collated datasets in machine readable format, websites and portals consulted, metadata explanations and any other pertinent reference points including but not limited to the deliverables part of the Landscaping Report (Tentative Date of Submission: 5 September 2022).


D. Final report, integrating the feedback of UNESCO and project partners on the Draft Final report (Tentative Date of Submission: 3 October 2022).


E. Dissemination-related material (e.g. powerpoint presentations, flyers, notes) summarising the content of the landscaping and final reports to be delivered to UNESCO and partners (Tentative Date of Submission: 14 October 2022).


The Contractor will report directly to the Fit for Life Project Lead, Ms Nancy McLennan, and indirectly to the Chief of Section for Sport, Mr Philipp Muller-Wirth.

The Contractor will be responsible for own overheads and logistical requirements such as office space, administrative and secretarial support, telecommunications, and printing of documentation.

All deliverables will be prepared in English.


After applying online, all interested Contractors are required to submit a Technical and Financial proposal via email to no later than 31 May 2022.


The technical proposal should be no more than 20 pages, and will be assessed on the following:

  • Expertise and experience of the Firm/Entity; expertise, experience and qualifications of the Team leader and other team members.
  • Approach to assignment that demonstrates extent to which the Contractor understands the scope and mandate of the work;
  • Detailed methodology including sampling and preliminary mapping of stakeholders to be consulted;
  • Approach to stakeholder consultation including key discussion areas;
  • Approach for data mining and analysis;
  • Data quality assurance plan;
  • Realistic work plan with specific identification of and plans for key deliverables and priorities;
  • Risk management, identification, and mitigation plan;
  • Statement on relevant ethical considerations in the collation, analysis and presentation of research and findings.

A financial proposal must also be submitted, of no more than 4 pages, detailing:

  • A Price Schedule including, as a minimum, the consultancy rate per day, and realistic number of workdays per main deliverable and per team member. All prices shall be quoted in USD.


The team leader should also submit the following:

  • Curriculum vitae;
  • A statement indicating how your qualifications and experience make you suitable for this Assignment;
  • Examples of past experience in this area of work


Application will be evaluated based on Past experiences, quality and relevance of the proposal, and cost.

COMPETENCIES (Core / Managerial)

Accountability (C)
Communication (C)
Innovation (C)
Knowledge sharing and continuous improvement (C)
Planning and organizing (C)
Results focus (C)
Teamwork (C)
Professionalism (C)


For detailed information, please consult the UNESCO Competency Framework.



The contractor should bring a team of individuals equipped to deliver the work.

  • A minimum 5 years of regional or international experience in research projects of this type.
  • Proven experience in designing and implementing international scoping studies, supported by a minimum 3 references.
  • Demonstrable evidence of similar work undertaken previously, supported by one work sample which is no more than 5 years old.
  • Experience in policy relevant analysis and/or advice.
  • A multidisciplinary team, preferably spread across multiple regions, institutions, universities, or enterprises with the ability to conduct varied tasks.
  • Ability to review literature and source data in English (required); French (desirable); other working languages of the United Nations (desirable); and fluency in English for the purposes of the deliverables.


Team Leader

  • At least 10 years of relevant experience in conducting similar research at the international, regional and/or national level.
  • PhD / Master’s Degree in any of the following fields: Sport, PE, Development Studies, Social Sciences, Public Health, Evaluation or other related studies.
  • Proven experience in conducting studies related to sport and/or physical education, supported by at least two (2) references.
  • Proven experience in data collection, analysis, and reporting;
  • Excellent English (oral and written).



  • Experience in qualitative and quantitative cross country analysis


​​​​​​​Team Leader

  • Previous experience working with regional and/or international organisations in the field of sport, physical activity and physical education;
  • Good French;
  • Other working languages of the United Nations (Arabic, Chinese, Russian and/or Spanish). 


Fit for Life aims to promote sport as a tool and a solution to address three major contemporary crises:

  • declining physical health;
  • deteriorating mental well-being; and
  • increasing inequalities. 

It does so by addressing the challenges arising out of Factors such as the lack of resources, limited access to safe and inclusive infrastructures and approaches, harmful social norms and other factors contributing to low rates of participation in sport, physical activity and physical education which result in the continued, global prevalence of these crises. These issues, connected by shared structural roots, have been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and unless remedied, will adversely impact any efforts to build back better by continuously undermining the resilience and well-being of individuals, institutions, and societies alike.

Besides contributing to the intensification of these crises, the pandemic has also highlighted significant societal gaps. Recent data demonstrates a decline of 41% in physical activity since the beginning of the pandemic, with the most disadvantaged social groups worst hit. This rapid decline is especially alarming considering that 80% of youth already led sedentary lives pre-pandemic. Furthermore, lockdowns combined with a lack of physical activity have contributed to spikes in anxiety and depression, with 200% increases in mental health conditions reported amongst youth cohorts and 70% of PE teachers polled by UNESCO reporting worsened mental and physical health of students over the course of the pandemic.

In addition to a direct impact on health and wellbeing, COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on already disadvantaged socio-economic groups in terms of access to education, employment, and health services. As societies emerge from the pandemic, an effective and sustainable rebuild requires the prioritisation of sectors which promise to yield high dividends in terms of health, education, employment, and equality outcomes. Based on the available evidence, targeted and systematised investments in the sport sector become increasingly compelling.

Evidence shows that participation in sport from the early years increases the likelihood of lifelong participation and is a high yield investment for building socio-emotional resilience, mental health and well-being, academic performance, and physical health. Investment in sport also results in tangible social benefits, with the primary beneficiaries of such benefits being young people. Additionally, sport is a cost-effective investment for boosting national economies due to its ability to increase employment – especially among young people – and for supplementing the contributions of complimentary sectors such as tourism and hospitality. However, such positive outcomes require targeted, evidence-based, and systematised investment, data-based knowledge sharing to enhance inter-sectoral policy coherence, and an accessible and collaborative ecosystem of stakeholders working across the sport, physical education and physical activity sectors.

Fit for Life is designed to address existing data gaps and knowledge siloes through integrated vision building supported by a robust, diverse and regionally coherent dataset which spotlights challenges and good practices, demonstrates the impact of sport in multiple domains, and strengthens the business case for investment in the sport sector. Currently an intersectoral data ecosystem integrating information related to sport, PE and PA does not exist. Further, despite some encouraging research on the correlation between sport and positive social outcomes, there are significant gaps on the correlation between sport and biomarkers in mental health, socio-emotional resilience and equality outcomes. Knowledge gaps and siloes significantly impede the ability of public and private stakeholders to effectively address crises in health and wellbeing, and curtail the ability of sport, PE and PA to contribute to the socio-economic development of individuals and societies.

In addition to integrating existing datasets and building knowledge around “best buys”, Fit for Life seeks to create the conditions for data equity by identifying and mitigating thematic, demographic, geographic and methodological inconsistencies in the availability of sport-related data, as well as translating data into easily consumable formats which can be used individually or collaboratively by actors across different stakeholder groups to increase the effectiveness of policy-based and practical interventions to enhance the positive impact of sport, PE and PA on key social, economic and human development challenges. As such, in order to enable this holistic, evidence-based decision making, Fit for Life seeks to develop a roadmap for the development of an integrated data ecosystem.

With the help of key outcomes and milestones elucidated above, Fit for Life will support the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and provide an implementation framework for UNESCO’s Kazan Action Plan which identifies the 10 specific SDGs and 36 SDG targets to which sport can make a positive contribution. It will build on the work begun by the Commonwealth Secretariat under Action 2 of the Kazan Action Plan, to measure the contribution of sport to the SDGs, and the ongoing collaborative preparation of the Global Sport and SDG Impact Report. Fit for Life activities will also connect to other international policy agendas such as WHO GAPPA, Education 2030, and Generation Equality, as well as the work of the newly established Global Observatory on Women, Sport, Physical Education and Physical Activity.


Interested individuals, firms or institutions are invited to submit the specific requirements through the UNESCO careers website. A consortium of individuals is also permitted to apply for the consultancy. No modifications can be made to the application submitted.

The evaluation of candidates is based on the criteria in the vacancy notice, and may include tests and/or assessments, as well as a competency-based interview. 

UNESCO uses communication technologies such as video or teleconference, e-mail correspondence, etc. for the assessment and evaluation of candidates.

Please note that only selected candidates will be further contacted and candidates in the final selection step will be subject to reference checks based on the information provided.


UNESCO recalls that paramount consideration in the appointment of staff members shall be the necessity of securing the highest standards of efficiency, technical competence and integrity. UNESCO applies a zero-tolerance policy against all forms of harassment. UNESCO is committed to achieving and sustaining equitable and diverse geographical distribution, as well as gender parity among its staff members in all categories and at all grades. Furthermore, UNESCO is committed to achieving workforce diversity in terms of gender, nationality and culture. Candidates from non- and under-represented Member States (last update here) are particularly welcome and strongly encouraged to apply. Individuals from minority groups and indigenous groups and persons with disabilities are equally encouraged to apply. All applications will be treated with the highest level of confidentiality. Worldwide mobility is required for staff members appointed to international posts.

UNESCO does not charge a fee at any stage of the recruitment process.