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Secretary General

Vacancy #:   5961
Unit:   Ramsar Convention Secretariat
Organisation:   The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar)
Location:   Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands, Gland, Switzerland
Reporting to:   -
Work percentage:   100%
Grade:   S
Expected start date:   22 August 2022
Type of contract:   Max-term
Closing date:   16 May 2022 (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, also known as the “Ramsar Convention on Wetlands” from the name of the city in Iran where it was signed in 1971, 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. The Convention has been entered into by 172 Contracting Parties, with over 2,400 designated wetlands of international importance covering an area equivalent to the tenth largest country in the world.

The Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands (“the Secretariat”) provides support to the Contracting Parties to the Convention, including organizing the meetings of its governing and subsidiary bodies, providing technical and policy advice to support implementation at national, regional and global levels, raising awareness and building policy relevance about wetlands and the Convention. The Secretariat works under the oversight of the Standing Committee and the authority of the Conference of the Parties.

The Secretariat has its headquarters in Gland, Switzerland and shares the premises with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) which provides the Secretariat its legal status and specific administrative services. Ramsar Secretariat staff are IUCN employees, and their contracts are governed by IUCN HR policies and conditions of service. IUCN does not have the status of an intergovernmental organization under a host country agreement in Switzerland, consequently Ramsar Convention Secretariat staff members are subjected to Swiss laws and do not have diplomatic immunity or international civil servant status.
The Secretary General is the most senior position in the Ramsar Convention Secretariat which was established pursuant to Article 8 of the Convention. 24 staff members are currently employed by the Secretariat.

The Secretary General works under the direction of the Conference of the Parties and plays a key policy leadership and management role in the delivery of the Convention’s mandate. The Convention’s mission is “the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world”. The responsibilities and requirements for this position are attached herewith.

The principal responsibilities of the Secretary General are to:
1. Manage and lead the Ramsar Convention Secretariat with purpose and vision for effective programmes and policies.
2. Oversee and ensure effective management of the Ramsar Secretariat budget and develop strength of capabilities for the Secretariat staff.
3. Lead the Ramsar Secretariat in ensuring the implementation of those decisions of the Conference of the Parties and the Standing Committee that are the responsibility of the Secretary General/Ramsar Secretariat.
4. Provide support to all the Parties in the oversight and implementation of all the decisions of the Conference of the Parties and the Standing Committee, that are the responsibility of others than the Secretary General/Ramsar Secretariat.
5. Provide proper and clear leadership to the Convention Secretariat in the formulation and execution of annual work plans and priorities, initiating and supervising the work required to deliver high quality results.
6. Lead voluntary fundraising efforts for the stated priorities of the Convention.
7. Drive the collaborative implementation of the Strategic Plan for the Convention.
8. Lead and execute the preparation of annual meetings of the Standing Committee as well as the regular and extraordinary meetings of the Conference of the Parties.
9. Represent the Convention in international fora and intergovernmental meetings, conferences and UN processes, and act as the Convention’s principal spokesperson.
10. Promote and ensure effective cooperation with other entities, including intergovernmental, governmental, non-governmental organizations and the private sector, in order to realize the goals of the Convention. Nurture synergies with the Biodiversity Liaison Group and any other environment-related treaties.
  • Enthusiastic commitment and vision, characterized by:
• A commitment to preservation and wise use of wetlands and their surroundings.
• A commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals through international co-operation.
• Ability to provide inspiration and strategic direction
• Ability to inspire and drive cooperation internally and externally.

• Communication skills, characterized by:
• Ability to negotiate mutually acceptable solutions, especially on sensitive issues, and understand the perspective of Ramsar Contracting Parties, the Standing Committee and Ramsar Partners.
• A clear, inspiring, and authoritative speaker with high-level English skills who has the ability to deliver clear messages and retain the attention and interest of any given audience. Ability to make presentations in French and/or Spanish would be a benefit for this post.
• High-level representational skills in an international context.
• Demonstrated openness in sharing information and encouraging dialogue both internally and externally.

• Leadership abilities and experience, maturity, and management skills, characterized by:
• 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 behaviour, communication style and way of handling ambiguous or difficult situations.
• Capacity to manage and lead the work of the Secretariat with diverse skills, personalities, and backgrounds.
• Ability to create a good working environment which ensure the staff’s well-being at work and where the staff can develop their skills further.
• Ability to effectively delegate, empower and motivate staff and others.
• Ability to develop 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.
• Ability to both plan and take action, keeping the staff focused on priorities.
• Experience in the selection, coaching and appraisal of staff.
• Capacity in building teams diverse in skills, personalities gender, culture, nationality and background to achieve effective results. This commitment to diversity and inclusion should be exemplified through staffing decisions (recruitment, promotion, recognition, etc.) and the ability to model behaviours that promote a more inclusive organizational culture.

• Senior management experience, characterized by:
• Achievements in organizational, financial and personnel management, and in decision-making.
• Commitment to lead the Secretariat with transparency and to comply with the decisions and resolutions adopted by the Parties during the official meetings of the Ramsar Convention within the framework of the rules of procedure ratified at the Conference of the Parties.

• Professionalism competencies, characterized by:
• Good understanding of world affairs and experience with the workings of Multilateral Environmental Agreements and governmental and non-governmental institutions.
• Experience with member and stakeholder engagement.
• Extensive knowledge of wetlands and their ecosystem services or demonstrated ability and deep interest to learn about them.
• Ability and commitment to act in accordance with core values of integrity, respect for diversity and professionalism.

• Judgement/decision making, characterized by:
• Experience in identifying key issues in a complex situation, and consulting, gathering, and analysing relevant information before proposing and implementing decisive actions or recommendations.
• Well-organized and logical in thought and action.
• Ability to foresee and manage risk.
• Ability to see possibilities that can be used for development and better deliveries.

• Education:
Applicants should have a university post-graduate degree and an MBA or an equivalent combination of experience and education in a subject relevant to wetland conservation and sustainable use, such as geography, biology, hydrology, marine sciences, natural resources management, land-use planning, and socio-economic aspects of sustainable development.

• Experience:
Recognized work experience and evidence of achievements in nature conservation and/or sustainable use issues. Long experience in senior leadership positions, as director, project leader, co-ordinator of work areas or similar. Evidence of achievements in the areas of multilateral convention fora, e.g. as a delegate representing a Party, policy development, financial and management of international teams of professional staff, and programme administration within intergovernmental organizations or government agencies would be an advantage.

• Languages:
The Ramsar Secretariat’s working languages are English, French, and Spanish. The ability to work independently in English is essential and knowledge of at least one of the other two languages would be beneficial. An ability to communicate effectively orally and in writing is essential.

• Travel:
Applicants must be prepared to travel extensively to all parts of the world, noting that the class of travel offered is economy.

• Other requirements:
Applicants need to have a solid awareness and understanding of cultural diversity and gender issues and be committed to incorporate these in the management of the Ramsar Secretariat and in their relations with the Ramsar constituency. Applicants must possess a well-developed, independent working style, be fully computer literate and be able and prepared to perform the duties of the position with limited assistance from support staff. Solution-oriented, advanced problem-solving skills.

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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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.

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