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Regional Blue Finance & Innovation Manager-Nairobi

Vacancy #:   6726
Unit:   ESARO - Coastal and Ocean Programme
Organisation:   International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
Location:   Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office, Nairobi, Kenya
Reporting to:   Regional Head, Coastal and Ocean Resilience (COR)
Work percentage:   100%
Grade:   SP
Expected start date:   01 March 2024
Type of contract:   Fixed-term (24 months)
Closing date:   14 February 2024


The IUCN Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office (ESARO) operates in twenty-four countries in the Horn of Africa, east Africa, southern Africa and the Western Indian Ocean. The ESARO region is extremely rich in biodiversity with high number of endemic species and the largest remaining populations of iconic wildlife left on the continent. ESARO’s Programme focuses on biodiversity conservation through a diverse portfolio of projects and programmatic initiatives ranging from activities at the level of individual protected areas to shaping regional policy on biodiversity conservation. ESARO defines and delivers on its programmatic priorities in collaboration with IUCN members, commissions and other strategic partners.

The Coastal and Ocean Resilience (COR) Programme is responsible for marine and coastal issues, including biodiversity conservation, development and management of marine protected areas, other effective conservation measures (OECMs) and their networks, blue economy, ecosystem and fisheries management, High Seas, blue carbon, marine spatial planning, marine pollution, integrated management and governance of coastal areas, adaptation to climate change and disasters risks reduction.

In order to accelerate and scale up efforts in the region towards coastal and ocean resilience, IUCN has been coordinating efforts, together with countries and partners, in developing the Great Blue Wall initiative. The Great Blue Wall is a Western Indian Ocean (WIO)-born, Africa-driven roadmap to achieve a nature positive world by 2030. It aims at unlocking unprecedented nature-based recovery efforts through the establishment of a transformational movement. Its goal is to dramatically accelerate and upscale ocean conservation actions while enhancing socio-ecological resilience and the development of a regenerative blue economy by catalyzing political leadership and financial support. This will be achieved by spearheading the establishment of a connected network of nature-people positive seascapes (or regenerative seascapes). This network of seascapes will be connected by a living blue wall that will act as a regional ecological corridor formed by conserved and restored critical blue ecosystems such as mangroves, seagrasses and corals. While the Great Blue Wall will act as a wall against climate change impacts and biodiversity loss, it will also shelter coastal communities and create the enabling conditions and necessary mechanisms to empower local stakeholders to become stewards of the ocean while accelerating the development of a regenerative blue economy. The Great Blue Wall is an action-focused and action-driven regional response to three interconnected crises, i.e. Biodiversity - Climate – Socioeconomic with three clear objectives to be achieved by 2030:
i. Effectively and equitably conserve at least 30% of the ocean by 2030;
ii. Conserve and restore critical blue ecosystems to achieve net-gain by 2030;
iii. Unlock the development of a regenerative blue economy that directly benefits coastal communities while also delivering conservation outcomes.

To guide its development, implementation and in order to achieve its goals, the COR programme is based on the premises of IUCN Eastern and Southern Africa’s Blue Resilience Programme Framework, composed of three key pillars and one cross-cutting: Blue Planet, Blue Nature, Blue People and Blue Partnerships. The Blue Resilience Framework aims at structuring IUCN’s interventions in the region and build resilience at ocean and seascape level and can be described as follows:

Three key pillars:
Blue Planet: As the world embarks on an ambitious journey of conservation and protecting 30% of the ocean by 2030, it is of paramount importance to ensure that such target is not only achieved on paper but importantly on the ground by empowering local stakeholders to become stewards and managers of the ocean. This pillar therefore focuses on this effort by supporting the establishment of relevant governance frameworks at seascape level as well as the necessary enabling policy frameworks at national, regional and international levels. It also focuses on increasing the effectiveness and equity of area-based conservation measures.
Blue Nature: Like any living organism, a seascape has its own critical features (or “organs”) that need to be protected and restored (or “healed”) if the rest of the seascape is to stay healthy. This pillar therefore focuses on securing the integrity of critical ecosystems by accelerating and upscaling the restoration and conservation of critical blue ecosystems by driving the implementation at scale of Nature-based Solutions.
Blue People: For a large-scale seascape to thrive and be effectively managed, it is of paramount importance that stakeholders directly benefit from these areas and from ocean conservation efforts. To achieve the scale of impact required, it is crucial that economic activities are not only sustainable and produce socio-economic benefits but also contribute to the regeneration of the ocean. This pillar therefore focuses on unlocking the potential of our blue natural capital by supporting the development of a regenerative blue economy.

Blue Partnerships: Because overcoming today’s challenges will require all parties to join forces, and for conservation efforts to be sustainable and impactful at scale, innovative and ambitious partnerships will be a critical piece of the solution. Setting-up such type of partnerships is IUCN’s DNA. Areas of work include innovative finance, technology and communication as well as broader ecosystem of partners, coalition building as well as knowledge and experience sharing.

The Regional Blue Finance & Innovation Manager will drive the implementation of blue finance and innovation in support of all four pillars at the regional level. This position reports directly to the Regional Head, Coastal and Ocean Resilience programme. He/she will serve as a member of the Regional COR Team that helps set strategic directions and define priorities for IUCN’s broader engagement on Marine and Coastal issues at the regional level and, accordingly, works with the other members of the team in strategic planning; monitoring and evaluation; and learning, innovation and knowledge generation at the overall Programme level.

The Regional Blue Finance & Innovation Manager will manage IUCN Coastal and Ocean Resilience programme activities in the region that advance innovation in blue finance in close collaboration with the Regional COR team. He/she will lead or oversee the development of a bankable project pipeline, engagement and negotiations with financial institutions such as the World Bank, African Development Bank, European Investment Bank, UN Economic Commission for Africa, and others on the establishment of e.g. a regional blue bond, debt-for-nature swaps and related instruments for ocean conservation, review of the regulatory landscape in support of blue financing and advisory thereof.

Implementation and portfolio management;
Lead responsibility to develop a new program of work on Blue Finance and Innovation across a range of blue economy sectors, including in addressing plastic pollution in collaboration with regional teams and partners;
Coordinate regional alignment of Blue Finance work with other IUCN affiliated financing initiatives, including the Blue Natural Capital Financing Facility (BNCFF), Blue Carbon Accelerator Fund (BCAF), and others;
Day-to-day coordination of projects implementation and activities delivery in line with blue finance and innovation in order to ensure the highest quality of outputs and outcomes as well as guarantee that activities are implemented in line with project workplans and budgets;
Participate in the develop of relevant programme KPIs and ensure its good monitoring and reporting;
Support the regional COR team on technical reporting and on the development of a regional finance and innovation annual report.

Strategic and Technical leadership;
Provide leadership, strategic guidance and direction in building a new blue financing constituency for a regenerative and sustainable Blue Economy, including liaising with external partners and organizations in the blue finance and innovation space
Advise on emerging opportunities on blue finance and innovation that demonstrate potential to change the ocean investment landscape in the WIO;
In collaboration with the IUCN Ocean team, identify and implement strategic initiatives to support the establishment of a WIO regional Science-Business-Policy platform, incorporating key corporate partners to support agenda-setting and action in blue finance and innovation;
Act as a driving force for innovation to position IUCN as a leading organization in the region in blue finance and innovative conservation approaches and mechanisms, and in particular on efforts to reach a nature and people positive 30x30 target;
Ensuring that IUCN’s work in the region is of high technical quality, based on good science and drawing upon state-of-the-art thinking and knowledge;
Unlock synergies and collaboration with other regional and national COR area of works and IUCN ESARO’s programmes and projects when and where possible;

External engagement and communication:
In consultation with the Regional Head, Coastal and Ocean Resilience ensure that IUCN is adequately represented in relevant international, regional and country fora and facilitate discussions on relevant marine and coastal emerging issues to position IUCN as a reference in the country;
Lead responsibility in identification and establishing and sustaining relationships with relevant financial institutions and platforms in the region and internationally;
Provide evidence-based support and facilitate multi-stakeholder dialogues on emerging issues and policy debates around blue finance and innovation;
Lead coherent and consistent communication of lessons learnt to key decision-makers and other stakeholders within the region and globally as appropriate, including via the web, print and media;
In collaboration with Regional Head, Coastal and Ocean Resilience identify and manage potential risks associated with IUCN’s public positions in the region and design strategies to mitigate the identified risks;
Act as a focal point for facilitating and supporting the involvement of IUCN Commissions, Members and other members of the Secretariat in the development and implementation of programmatic activities related to blue finance and innovation.

Programme Development and Resource Mobilization:
As appropriate contribute in fundraising activities including through development of concepts and projects documents. Contribute to establishing, maintaining and nurturing good relationships with donors, funding agencies and other technical partners so as to ensure the financial viability of the blue finance and innovation area of work in the COR programme;
Spearhead the development of a pipeline of bankable projects in the coastal and marine conservation realm, including on actions that unlock a regenerative blue economy for coastal communities;
Undertake research and synthesize briefs on the growing body of work on blue finance and innovation through other strategic opportunities and initiatives in the ocean ESG space.

Monitoring and Evaluation;
Contribute to the development of the COR Programme Monitoring and Evaluation Framework by providing leadership on identification and mitigation of key risks and barriers to regenerative blue investments in the WIO region;
Responsible for the coordination of programme monitoring and evaluation in the blue finance and innovation area of work.
In collaboration with the Regional Head, Coastal and Ocean Resilience, ensure IUCN’s work is accountable to donors and other stakeholders through the establishment and management of effective accountability mechanisms and processes;
Provide leadership to use data for programme decision-making, for the implementation of management actions based on the findings of monitoring, and to ensure that feedback from stakeholders inform programme development;
Contribute to programme reporting processes and requirements.

Other responsibilities:
Perform other duties as may be assigned from time to time.
  • Position requirements:

An advanced degree in Finance, Sustainable Financing, Development Investment, Innovation, Conservation Finance or related fields;
Computer literacy in relation to office applications (word processing, spreadsheets, PowerPoint) use of internet and online communication tools;

Work Experience;
We’re looking for an outstanding, hands-on, highly motivated, autonomous, innovative, solution oriented, results driven and resourceful individual with at least eight to ten years of proven experience in:
Sound expertise in formulating blue finance and innovation in support of conservation of marine and coastal areas including marine protected areas (MPAs) and conserved areas (LMMAs-locally managed marine areas) or related fields;
Practical experience in finance and investment roles, preferably in areas related to sustainability, environmental finance, or impact investing. This could involve working at financial institutions, investment firms, asset management companies, or environmental organizations focusing on sustainable finance.
Strong expertise and experience in engaging global, regional and national stakeholders in blue finance and innovation;
Up-to-date knowledge on emerging innovations and opportunities on blue finance in relation to coastal and marine biodiversity conservation, with particular focus on financing effective management of MPAs and LMMAs;
Familiarity with established blue finance biodiversity conservation approaches and methodologies and processes, in particular in the context of the Global Biodiversity Framework and 30x30 target;
Skilled in network development and alliance building to consult and collaborate across boundaries to build strategic relationships and achieve common goals, with demonstrated ability to build consensus in cross-cultural situations;
Ability to interact effectively with and directly support or identify experts required to support all aspects of the COR Programme in the blue finance and innovation area of work;
Experience with result-based portfolio and project cycle management, monitoring and evaluation methodologies and principles and facilitation skills;
Experience with project and programme development, management and reporting, with demonstrated budgeting and programme planning abilities;
Strong interpersonal, management and supervisory skills and experience, with a minimum of 2 years’ in managing teams;
Computer literacy in relation to office applications (word processing, spreadsheets, PowerPoint) use of internet and online communication tools;
Demonstrates strong leadership and people-management experience including supervision of staff, consultants and coordination and effective management of virtual team settings;
Demonstrated ability to work under pressure managing competing demands and complex situations and deliver satisfactory and timely results;
Must be a strong team player with proven communication and diplomacy skills and ability to work effectively with multicultural and multidisciplinary teams displaying sensitivity and respect for diversity;
Must be a proactive individual who is able to energize and motivate teams;
Committed to continuous learning and proactive and mature attitude towards self-development;

Language requirement;
Excellent verbal and written communication skills in English is essential, with ability to communicate in French and/or Portuguese is an added advantage;

Core Competencies;
Transparency: Able to build trust and contribute to informed and responsible decision making by carrying out the work of IUCN in a transparent manner; provides clear guidance to ensure that objectives and desired measurable results are understood by members of the team.
Inclusiveness: Understands and accepts cultural diversity, and provide a tolerant, positive and supportive working environment that fosters respect for diversity, demonstrates ability to work in a multicultural, multi ethnic environment and to maintain effective working relations with people of different nationalities and cultural backgrounds.
Professionalism: Promote the organization’s interests, objectives and values in a diligent and professional manner.
Accountability: Takes responsibility of individual and collective actions, promotes the IUCN One Programme approach.

Functional competencies;
Adheres to IUCN core values of Transparency, Inclusiveness, Professionalism and Accountability;
Strong interpersonal, management and supervisory skills and experience, with a minimum of 2 years’ in managing teams;
Ability to manage complex situations and lead the establishment of blue finance and innovation programme portfolios and network and alliance building;
Be willing to undertake frequent travel and interact with different stakeholders from diverse cultures.

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.