Share this Job

Chief of Section (Science)


Post Number : SC 374

Grade : P-5

Parent Sector : Natural Sciences Sector (SC)

Duty Station: Paris

Job Family: Natural Sciences

Type of contract : Fixed Term

Duration of contract : 2 years

Recruitment open to : Internal and external candidates

Application Deadline (Midnight Paris Time) : 13-DEC-2021 (EXTENDED)


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


Under the overall authority of the Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences (ADG/SC) and the direct supervision of the Director of the Division of Ecological and Earth Sciences, the Chief of the Section of Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Networking: Biosphere Reserves and Capacity Building, plays a lead role in the implementation of the activities of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) of the UNESCO MAB Programme.


The Chief of Section will support the Director in the following: conceptualize, develop, manage, co-ordinate, execute and evaluate projects and programme activities to demonstrate the important role of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves of the MAB Programme (WNBR) as Learning Platforms and Places for Sustainable Development. The incumbent will work within the framework of UNESCO's Medium-Term Strategy (C/4), the approved Programme and Budget C/5 and the global development Agenda 2030. In particular S/he will:

Long Description

  • Strengthen existing partnerships and lead the development of new partnerships and mobilization of technical and financial resources for the development of the biosphere reserve networks at all levels with a particular focus on Africa and Small Island Developing States (SIDS); encourage South-South Cooperation in MAB ecosystem themes and biosphere networks, particularly linking humid tropics countries in Amazon, Congo and Asia.
  • Co-ordinate the work of the WNBR with a view to promote recognition and visibility for biosphere reserves as learning places for sustainable development; promote exchange of experiences and lessons between regional, sub-regional and national ecosystem networks of MAB and biosphere reserves in order to build financially sustainable and effectively functioning biosphere reserve networks in all regions of the world.
  • Provide leadership and guidance in collating, collecting, documenting and disseminating information on the role of biosphere reserves as learning laboratories, places and platforms for sustainable development, within the context of the UNESCO strategy on climate change.
  • Coordinate and strengthen the AfriMAB Network; develop and co-ordinate the implementation of new South-South as well as South-North-South capacity building initiatives within the field of Ecological Sciences that target biosphere reserves as research sites for addressing issues and problems of conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, climate change mitigation and adaptation, SDGs etc.
  • Co-ordinate the annual meetings and associated work of the International Advisory Committee on Biosphere Reserves and the International Coordinating Council (ICC) of the MAB Programme.
  • Guide and supervise the work of the staff of the Section of Biosphere Networks and Capacity Building by motivating and enabling Section staff to take positive and creative actions to implement the MAB Programme and in particular the Lima Action Plan for Biosphere Reserves.

COMPETENCIES (Core / Managerial)

Accountability (C)
Innovation (C)
Knowledge sharing and continuous improvement (C)
Results focus (C)
Teamwork (C)
Building partnerships (M)
Planning and organizing (C)
Making quality decisions (M)
Leading and empowering others (M)


For detailed information, please consult the UNESCO Competency Framework.




  • Advanced university degree (Master's or equivalent) in ecological and/or environmental sciences.


Work Experience

  • Minimum of ten years of progressively responsible and relevant professional experience in natural resources management/conservation, international scientific cooperation in Environmental Sciences, of which preferably 5 years acquired at international level.
  • Relevant professional experience acquired at the international level and proven capacity in networking and building partnerships, advocacy and resource mobilization in environmental management, with governments, within the multi-lateral donor community, private sector partners and civil society organizations.
  • Proven ability to lead and manage teams in environmental management.
  • Proven capacity to organize and carry out scientific research and training at international level and in project conceptualization, formulation, implementation and evaluation in natural resources management and biodiversity.

Skills and competencies

  • Knowledge of and commitment to UNESCO’s mandate, vision, strategic direction and priorities in natural resources management and biosphere reserves.
  • Demonstrated strategic planning and management abilities, including capacity to administer extensive environmental programmes, human and financial resources.
  • Capacity to provide intellectual leadership to guide staff, as well as ability to build trust, manage, lead and motivate a diversified body of staff in a multicultural environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity.
  • Ability to network and build partnerships inside and outside of UNESCO in environmental sciences and management.
  • Proven ability to work collaboratively and to build and maintain partnerships with internal and external stakeholders in ecological sciences.
  • Demonstrated skills in management and coordination of programmes in environmental sciences, communication and advocacy.
  • Proven track record of relevant scientific publications related to ecological/environmental sciences.



  • Excellent knowledge (written and spoken) of English.




  • PhD or equivalent degree in Environmental Sciences.
  • Other degrees or training in disciplines relevant to the post..


Work experience

  • University research/training experience in natural resources management and /or service in developing countries.
  • Experience within governments in the environmental sector.
  • Working experience within intergovernmental organizations and/or the United Nations common system. 
  • Field experience in a UNESCO field office or other relevant field operations.


Skills and competencies

  • Sound judgment and decision making.
  • Ability to work effectively in a complex and changing environment.
  • Ability to work in close partnership with a wide range of national, regional and international scientific organizations, professional organization especially related to hydrological processes, climate change and adaptation.
  • Familiarity with the UNESCO – MAB Programme, World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) and knowledge of UNESCO's work and programmes in the area of Natural Sciences.
  • Very good knowledge of UN led scientific programmes in the environmental sector.



  • Good knowledge (written and spoken) of French.
  • Knowledge of another official UNESCO language (Arabic, Chinese, Russian or Spanish).


UNESCO’s salaries consist of a basic salary and other benefits which may include if applicable: 30 days annual leave, family allowance, medical insurance, pension plan etc.

For full information on benefits and entitlements, please consult our Guide to Staff Benefits.



Please note that all candidates must complete an on-line application and provide complete and accurate information. To apply, please visit the UNESCO careers website. 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 applies a zero tolerance policy against all forms of harassment.

UNESCO is committed to achieve and sustain 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. Individuals from minority groups, indigenous groups and persons with disabilities, as well as nationals from non-and under-represented Member States (last update here) 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.