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Head, Conservation Management Assurance Team

Vacancy #:   5907
Unit:   Conservation Management Assurance
Organisation:   International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
Location:   Headquarters, Gland, Switzerland
Reporting to:   Director, IUCN Centre for Science and Knowledge
Work percentage:   100%
Grade:   M1
Expected start date:   01 October 2022
Type of contract:   Max-term (24 months with possibility of renewal)
Closing date:   11 September 2022 (extended)
The Head of the IUCN Conservation Management Assurance Team is responsible for developing and delivering new and innovative conservation assurance schemes based on and verified by the application of IUCN standards. As the leader of a Team in the Centre for Science and Data, the Head is expected to cooperate with the other global teams in the Centre to contribute to and deliver the Centre’s Business Plan, and with all other global teams in the other three Centres to deliver a coherent and aligned thematic programme of activities.

The Head is the coordinator of IUCN’s global work on Conservation Management Assurance, developing new and innovative conservation assurance schemes in partnership with established certification agencies. The post holder will maintain a well-defined strategic focus supported by a sustainable project portfolio that draws on the capacities of the other Centres, and is executed globally together with the regions, Commissions and Members. The Head is responsible for the project pipeline that secures the resources to maintain staff capacity, and for efficient and effective management of projects and partnerships led by the team in accordance with the relevant contracts and agreements, including technical and financial reporting.

The Head is responsible for planning, budgeting and financial management that achieves full cost recovery, and generates surplus revenues that supports the overall management of the Centre, and allows for innovative investment in portfolio growth and income.

The Head is responsible for the recruitment, management and supervision of all staff to carry out their assigned duties, and to development the team and the individual staff to reach their potential through mentorship and support.

The Head is also responsible for upholding IUCN policies, maintaining a current awareness of relevant policies for Assurance schemes, at the international and regional level, contributing towards IUCN’s policy positions on relevant subjects, and ensuring that the project portfolio is instrumental in making the case for relevant policies and translating public policy into public funding and conservation outcomes. The Head coordinates the work on conservation assurance for the Union, supporting and representing the Director General, IUCN Members and liaising with the relevant IUCN Commissions.

Please note that the position location can be Gland, Switzerland or Bonn, Germany or Cambridge, UK depending on the candidate's preference. Also note that the salary included in the current posting is for the position to be based in Switzerland. Compensation details for each location are discussed at interview stage.

The duties and responsibilities of the Head of Conservation Management Assurance Team are framed by the following areas of accountability:-
• Programme development, coordination and reporting, acting as IUCN’s senior thematic focal point on knowledge outreach and learning
• Resource mobilisation and portfolio development
• Planning, budgeting and financial management
• Supervision and development of staff
• Policy and communication

The specific thematic functions of this position are as follows

1 Strategy for Assurance for IUCN Knowledge Products:

• Lead IUCN’s work to assure conservation performance by a variety of actors (both external stakeholders and IUCN Members) based on IUCN-approved standards.
• Identify new and viable conservation assurance opportunities to take to market, based on IUCN Standards, leading the preparation of concrete business plans that specify the necessary requirements for development, marketing and operationalisation of such schemes. (The initial priorities for this role are the IUCN Standards on Nature-based Solutions, the Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas but the Team will develop work on other assurance schemes).
• Categorise the types of standards and propose and design the assurance systems suitable for each of them, including the claims that need to be made for each of them.
• Lead implementation of such Assurance schemes through application of certification schemes and verification protocols (based on IUCN standards) ensuring that these meet international standards for conservation assurance

2 Ensure IUCN conservation assurance systems incorporate good practices:
• Build relationships with relevant external conservation standards with assurance schemes and with the ISEAL community including other relevant sustainability standards
• Advise Centre Directors/senior staff on the suitability of existing governance arrangements for IUCN Standards to facilitate credible and transparent oversight of the development, maintenance and ongoing improvement of associated conservation assurance schemes
• Be familiar with and, as appropriate, guide adherence to ISEAL’s Credibility Principles and Codes of Good Practice for Standard-Setting, Assurance, and Impacts
• Incorporate relevant principles, codes and good practices into IUCN Assurance schemes ensuring high credibility and quality, as well as alignment across schemes as appropriate

3 Develop verification protocols based on IUCN standards
• Liaise with IUCN’s Global Information Group and other teams as needed (e.g. IUCN Green List’s Salesforce-based platform, and the Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool (IBAT)) to build on and develop the necessary platforms and tools, ensuring that a consistent and aligned institutional approach is adhered to.
• Develop fit-for-purpose processes and means of verification to assure conservation performance for priority success utilising tools based on IUCN standards (e.g. IUCN Red of Threatened Species; IUCN Green List) metrics, such as STAR.
• Support verification through integration of conservation assurance processes with the IUCN Contributions for Nature Platform (currently led by the Chief Scientist & Science Team), and in harmony with other IUCN work on knowledge products

4 Marketing the Assurance schemes to IUCN’s constituency and to external partners and stakeholders, including the private sector.
• In collaboration with relevant initiatives across IUCN’s thematic and regional programmes, operationalise the assurance of conservation performance.

5 Management and resource mobilization

• Manage the Conservation Assurance Thematic Team, directing and deploying staff on a day-to-day basis, and working closely with the Centre Director with respect to mobilization and allocation of financial resources in accordance with the IUCN system.
• Building on existing work, refine business models that generate income to cover the costs of conservation assurance and for investment in the further refinement and development of conservation assurance programmes.
• Ensure that all Conservation Assurance Thematic Team staff members have clear understanding of operational plans, their own role in delivering these plans, how this relates to the role of other colleagues including the necessary accountability and risk management procedures they must adhere to.
• Spot, encourage and nurture talent while at the same time proactively addressing any behaviors that diminish the effectiveness and well-being of the team.
• Working under the guidance of the Centre Director, develop and maintain a high-quality, programmatically aligned project portfolio that is sufficient to deliver IUCN’s programme of work on conservation assurance.
• Proactively contribute to and participate in the Centre for Science & Data managers’ team with particular emphasis on contributing to and reinforcing an institution-wide commitment to transparent and accountable management, innovative cooperation and team-based delivery

6 Working with the IUCN Academy, build capacity for application of Assurance schemes.

7 Communicate the relevance and value of conservation assurance programmes, and the impact of assured conservation practice in meeting global and national conservation targets


1. Enthusiastic commitment and vision, characterized by:
• A commitment to nature conservation and sustainable use.
• Ability to provide inspiration and strategic direction.
2. Leadership abilities and experience, maturity and management skills, characterized by:
• Unimpeachable integrity as evidenced by behaviour, 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 act, 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.
3. Senior management experience, characterized by:
• A well-developed sense of managerial self-awareness with an ability to proactively manage individual strengths and weaknesses (including one’s own) and understand how these influence the team’s performance.
• Demonstrated experience and achievements in organizational, financial and personnel management, and in decision-making.
• A commitment to embrace and co-own institutional change processes
• 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.
4. Professional competencies, characterized by:
• Good understanding of world affairs and experience with the workings of Multilateral Environmental Agreements and governmental and non-governmental institutions.
• Recognition among peers in terms of leadership and understanding of social science related issues
• Ability and commitment to act in accordance with the core values of integrity, respect for diversity and professionalism as spelled out in IUCN’s Code of Conduct and Professional Ethics.
5. Sound judgment and decision making, characterized by:
• Experience in identifying key issues in a complex situation, and consulting, gathering, and analyzing relevant information before proposing and implementing decisive actions or recommendations.
• Well-organized and logical in thought and action.
• Ability to anticipate, assess and manage risk.

The general areas of accountability of a Thematic Head – as outlined in the Terms of Reference – are as follows:-
1. Programme development, coordination and reporting
• Act as IUCN’s senior thematic focal point on Conservation Management Assurance and coordinate with all other programme units and regions to ensure a coherent and consistent approach to applying IUCN norms and standards across the organisation, and to providing authoritative advice to the Union, its Members and external audiences.
• Contribute to the Centre’s leadership and business plan.
• Develop the overall programme strategy for the team to deliver the IUCN Programme and Vision 2030.
• Liaise with other programme units to integrate functions for programme delivery.
• Coordinate the main flagship programmes of the programme unit.
• Report on progress according to the IUCN Programme Results Framework for relevant programme areas.
• Coordinate a specific hub (needs its own TORs)
• Coordinate a specific initiative (needs its own TORs
• Contribute to IUCN Strategic Initiatives as required.

2. Resource mobilisation and portfolio development
• Develop a project pipeline based on concepts that match with the objectives and interests of donors and partners.
• Ensure the application of IUCN Project Guidelines and Standards (PGS) and Project Appraisal and Approval (PAAS) procedures.
• Involve all relevant programme units in the Programme Group and regions in the preparation of project proposals.
• Liaise with relevant Commission Groups and with IUCN members and partners, to involve them in programme and project development and implementation.
• Identify innovative approaches to programme delivery, investment and revenue generation for the use of unrestricted funds.

3. Planning, budgeting and financial management
• Prepare annual work plans and budgets.
• Undertake procurement in accordance with IUCN Delegation of Authority.
• Monitor programme implementation and expenditure for all projects in the programme unit portfolio.
• Ensure that all technical and financial reports are prepared in accordance with contracts.
• Ensure the complementarity and efficiency of projects in the portfolio, meeting the timelines for delivery of technical and financial reports.
• Allocate staff capacity to deliver the projects and programme objectives and ensure strategic growth of the staff complement and its sustainability.

4. Supervision and development of staff
• Plan and recruit staff capacity to deliver the programme and projects.
• Supervise and coordinate the leads for each thematic programme area in the team.
• Support and develop the relevant staff to perform their functions individually and collectively.
• Build capacity of staff to develop fundable projects that support and expand their work.
• Ensure application of Conditions of Service and other HR policies.

5. Policy and communications

• Maintain a current awareness of relevant international, regional and national policies for the theme.
• Support the development of IUCN’s policy engagement in relevant arenas, in coordination with the International Policy Unit, and with the input of relevant Commission experts.
• Coordinate the monitoring of implementation and reporting on the resolutions and recommendations of the World Conservation Congress that are the responsibility of the unit.
• Represent IUCN and the Director General on thematic policy and communications functions.
• Prepare and implement a communication strategy through relevant media, including publications
• Ensure that knowledge and learning across the programme portfolio are communicated internally across programme units and externally.
  • At least 10 years of experience of designing, leading and managing sustainable development assurance tools and frameworks

• At least 10 years of experience of proven capacity and skills in leading and managing diverse, multi-stakeholder partnerships and networks involving e.g. government agencies, NGOs, international organizations, development agencies, and scientific and technical bodies.

• A strong and established track record in successfully promoting and marketing sustainable development assurance tools and frameworks

• A strong network with, and recognized standing among, the sustainable development certification and assurance community

• Familiarity with ISEAL Credibility Principles and Codes of Good Practice.

• Experience and a demonstrable track record in staff management and development

• Experience in working across a range of geographic and cultural settings

• Excellent verbal and written communication skills in English, including ability to communicate complex issues to a wide range of audiences. A second language (French, Spanish) is highly desirable.

• Ability to travel frequently.
The gross annual salary for this position is between CHF 134'355 and CHF 167'944, subject to deductions for social security contributions and second-pillar pension, and before tax. 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/

About IUCN

IUCN is a membership Union uniquely composed of both government and civil society organisations. It provides public, private and non-governmental organisations with the knowledge and tools that enable human progress, economic development and nature conservation to take place together.

Created in 1948, IUCN is now the world’s largest and most diverse environmental network, harnessing the knowledge, resources and reach of more than 1,400 Member organisations and around 16,000 experts. It is a leading provider of conservation data, assessments and analysis. Its broad membership enables IUCN to fill the role of incubator and trusted repository of best practices, tools and international standards.

IUCN provides a neutral space in which diverse stakeholders including governments, NGOs, scientists, businesses, local communities, indigenous peoples organisations and others can work together to forge and implement solutions to environmental challenges and achieve sustainable development.

Working with many partners and supporters, IUCN implements a large and diverse portfolio of conservation projects worldwide. Combining the latest science with the traditional knowledge of local communities, these projects work to reverse habitat loss, restore ecosystems and improve people’s well-being.