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Director, Science and Policy

Vacancy #:   5415
Unit:   Ramsar Convention Secretariat
Organisation:   The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar)
Location:   Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands, Gland, Switzerland
Reporting to:   Secretary General
Work percentage:   100%
Grade:   M1
Expected start date:   19 April 2021
Type of contract:   Max-term (24 months with possibility of renewal)
Closing date:   27 October 2020 (extended)
The Convention on Wetlands is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands and of wetland biodiversity and services. It is the first of the modern global multilateral environmental agreements and remains the only one devoted to a specific critical ecosystem.

The Convention Secretariat has its headquarters in Gland, Switzerland, where the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) provides some administrative services for the Convention.

The Convention on Wetlands is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and sustainable use of wetland biodiversity and services. It was the first of the modern global multilateral environmental agreements and remains the only one devoted to a specific critical ecosystem.

The Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands has its headquarters in Gland, Switzerland where the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), provides some administrative services to the Convention’s Contracting Parties for the operations and implementation of the Convention.

The Head of Science and Policy reports to the Secretary General. The post-holder provides the lead within the Secretariat regarding support to the Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP), coordination of approaches to wetlands and sustainable development-related policy, linkages between science and policy and coordination of support in these areas to Contracting Parties.

The position requires a background in policy analysis and formulation at the international and national levels, and the interface between science and policy; experience in policy issues and processes related to wetlands, biodiversity, sustainable development, climate change and water; and good working knowledge of scientific and technical issues related to wetlands and/or biodiversity conservation and sustainable use . Experience in a governmental or intergovernmental context would be an advantage. The Science and Policy team includes a Science and Policy Officer with responsibility for coordination of the STRP and an IT Officer. The Secretariat includes Advisors with technical and scientific expertise, thus the Head is expected to have a strong profile on policy aspects of the position.
Policy and policy-science interface

1. Analyse and identify opportunities to reinforce the relevance and visibility of wetlands and the Convention, ensuring its inclusion in relevant policy processes and with key audiences.

2. Coordinate Secretariat support for Contracting Parties’ efforts to integrate wetlands and the Ramsar Strategic Plan into national-level decision making and policymaking on a range of sustainable development-related issues, and to seek to influence broader policy objectives at national and international levels. Key areas relevant to the Convention include the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); climate change in the context of the Paris Agreement; biodiversity, water policy processes and land degradation; as well as policies from relevant sectors and actors.

3. Take the lead in ensuring a strategic and coordinated approach of the Secretariat, in fostering links between scientific and technical aspects of implementation of the Convention, including its Scientific Technical Review Panel, and opportunities for collaboration with other relevant Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs), international organisations, including financial organisations, intergovernmental institutions and international non-governmental organisations. Such links would include: the secretariats and subsidiary bodies of other conventions, in particular the Conventions on Biological Diversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Migratory Species, and World Heritage; policy processes related to the water agenda; and intergovernmental organisations and bodies including the Global Environment Facility, the World Bank and other multilateral development banks, as well as UNEP, UNDP, UNECE, UNESCO, FAO, European Commission, IPBES and other scientific and technical organisations with which the Convention establishes collaboration. This will include opportunities for collaboration with the six International Organisation Partners (IOPs), i.e. International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Birdlife International, Wetlands International, International Water Management Institute and Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.

Scientific and technical support

1. Provide oversight and coordination to effectively support the STRP as managed by the Science and Policy Officer, in particular:

i) Facilitate the work of the STRP, including by organising and administering its meetings and maintaining the STRP Workspace; facilitate linkages between potential experts within countries, regions and globally, including indigenous peoples and local communities; and identify the needs of potential audiences and thematic priorities in different countries or regions to suggest to the Parties for their consideration.

ii) Engage Communications staff and Oversight Panel of the Conventions’ Programme on communication, education, participation and awareness (CEPA) to ensure all written materials from the STRP are developed for target audiences and are clear and readable and appropriate for those audiences; guidance, materials, and products of the STRP are published and disseminated in a timely manner; the application of the guidance is monitored; and the Contracting Parties, the broader Convention on Wetlands community and the public are informed of the availability of finalised STRP products and other scientific developments related to the Convention.

2. Ensure efficient data management with the Ramsar Sites Information Service (RSIS) and other databases and collaborate as appropriate with existing expert data management organisations (such as UNEP-WCMC) and connecting with other MEAs (such as through InforMEA).


1. Act as a senior representative of the Convention and its Secretariat on behalf of the Secretary General on issues of science and policy.

2. Develop and manage the work plan and budget of the Science and Policy team.

3. Supervise the staff of the Science and Policy team to ensure that all staff have annual work plans linked to the Secretariat’s approved Workplan, and encourage and assist their professional development. Hold staff accountable for results and for the quality of outputs. Ensure that the staff of the team work together and with the other staff of the Secretariat as needed to achieve good synergies and cross-fertilisation between the different teams.

4. As a member of the Senior Management Team, participate in the work planning of the Secretariat, and coordinate activities with those of other sections of the Secretariat to ensure efficiency of operation and implementation and a whole-of-Secretariat approach to the Secretariat’s work programme.
  • Leadership abilities and experience, maturity and management skills, characterized by:

• A commitment to nature conservation and sustainable use.

• A university degree (preferably postgraduate degree) in scientific field or an equivalent demonstrated
knowledge in a field relevant to conservation or related field.

• Demonstrated experience in policy analysis and formulation, and in influencing policy objectives at national and international levels, especially in the interface between science and policy, in areas related to the Convention, including Multilateral Environmental Agreements (e.g. Conventions on Biological Diversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Migratory Species, World Heritage) and 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

• A minimum of 10 years relevant professional experience in scientific issues related to wetlands and/or biodiversity conservation, preferably in a governmental or intergovernmental context; demonstrated understanding of the scientific issues pertaining to sustainable development, conservation, and wise use of wetlands.

• Good understanding of the requirements of an intergovernmental setting and demonstrated ability to liaise and engage with governmental, non-governmental and other actors.

• A deep sense of self-awareness as evidenced by the ability to articulate one’s own strengths, weaknesses and one’s impact on others.

• Unimpeachable integrity as evidenced by behavior, communication style, and way of handling ambiguous or difficult situations.

• Demonstrated ability to manage and lead the work of the Secretariat with diverse skills, personalities, and backgrounds.

• Proven ability to effectively delegate, empower and motivate staff and others.

• Experience developing teams and individuals and effectively leading improvement and change.

• Clear commitment to fostering a culture of high performance and accountability, demonstrated in the ability to manage by results, differentiate performance and assertively give feedback and take decisive action when necessary.

• Demonstrated ability to both plan and take action, keeping the staff focused on priorities.

• Demonstrated experience in the selection, coaching and appraisal of staff.

• Demonstrated experience building teams diverse in gender, nationality and background to achieve business results. This commitment to diversity and inclusion should be exemplified through staffing decisions (recruitment, promotion, recognition, etc.) and the ability to model behaviors that promote a more inclusive organizational culture.

• Proven communications skills (oral and written) and ability to work with full fluency in spoken and written English; knowledge of either French and/ or Spanish is an advantage.

Senior management experience, characterized by:

• Demonstrated experience and achievements in organizational, financial and personnel management, and in decision-making.

• Proven experience in maintaining and nurturing expert networks with demonstrated ability to handle politically and culturally sensitive issues.

• Maintain a positive work environment that facilitates collaboration and information sharing and is conducive to attracting, retaining, and motivating diverse talent.
The gross annual salary for this position is between CHF 134'355 and CHF 167'944. While this is an indicative amount effective as of the current date, changes may occur as per IUCN's compensation practices without prior notice. The same applies to other organisations hosted by IUCN.

Applicants are requested to apply online through the HR Management System, by opening the vacancy announcement and pressing the "Apply" button.

Applicants will be asked to create an account and submit their profile information. Applications will not be accepted after the closing date. The vacancy closes at midnight, Swiss time (GMT+1 / GMT+2 during Daylight Saving Time, DST). Please note that only selected applicants will be personally contacted for interviews.

Other job opportunities are published in the IUCN website: https://www.iucn.org/involved/jobs/

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