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Regional Blue Science and Business Innovation Manager, Nairobi

Vacancy #:   6847
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 June 2024
Type of contract:   Fixed-term (24 months)
Closing date:   21 May 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, plastic 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.

1 cross-cutting:
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 Science and Business Innovation Manager will drive engagements with scientists and experts, researchers and partners to design and implement a regional solution-oriented scientific programme that informs regional and national policy and business innovation to towards a plastics-free ocean. He/she will spearhead the development of a strategy to advance the generation of multi-purpose, actionable scientific knowledge that contributes to effective implementation of a Regenerative Blue Economy for achievement of positive outcomes for people and biodiversity, linked to the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), as well as promoting and catalyzing strengthened implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

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 other members of the team in strategic planning; monitoring and evaluation; and learning, innovation and knowledge generation at the overall Programme level.

Programme development, implementation and portfolio management;
Lead responsibility for designing, resource mobilization and implementation of research, and support for new and ongoing coastal and marine science and research projects through all phases from concept and proposal development to implementation and reporting;
Assist with project-specific research tasks, especially those envisaged in the ‘IslandPlas: Advancing Circular Solutions to Plastic Pollution in African Islands’ project, including but not limited to compiling and synthesizing scientific background information, designing and preparing research tools and materials, assisting with external engagement and management of contractual arrangements with experts, and identifying priority research needs in the region;
Propose, plan and help facilitate research on initiatives that advance scientific insights relevant to policy reform and business innovation and to biodiversity conservation outcomes, with a particular attention given to addressing plastic pollution;
Facilitate the synthesis of science-focused informational and knowledge products to help develop an evidence base to inform actionable plastic-reduction policies and strategies for State and non-state actors;
Assist the IslandPlas and ‘End Plastic Pollution International Collaborative (EPPIC)’ projects to compile or develop resources, collate insights from engagements and preparation of inputs to meetings and/or conferences;
Support preparation of written project updates (including reports, white papers, presentations, and e-mail text) and their promotion with donors, supporters, partners, collaborators, and with IUCN’s wider Ocean Plastics community;
Facilitate and support regional deliberations on emerging priority topics of scientific relevance arising from the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution, Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs), and regional conventions and agreements to inform reforms in policies, with a particular attention given to plastics pollution discourse;
Participate in the development of scientifically-relevant key performance indicators (KPIs), with a particular attention for plastics initiatives, and ensure their adequate monitoring and reporting.

Technical scientific leadership and external engagement;
Function as a COR Programme subject matter expert on ocean plastics science and ensure that IUCN is adequately represented in relevant international, regional and country fora and facilitate discussions on emerging issues of concern to position IUCN as a reference in the region;
Lead the COR Programme’s convening and participation in regional science-policy-business platforms to contribute to discussions on locally-relevant innovations required, with a particular attention given to plastic value chains;
Represent IUCN at key conferences, meetings and convenings, presenting information and novel findings from primary research and assessments, and reporting broader convening insights back to the team;
Act as a focal point in facilitating and supporting the involvement of IUCN Commissions, Members and other members of the Secretariat in the development of innovative projects, with a particular attention given to projects aiming at bridging the gap between the science and business community and enhancing strong collaboration between scientists and private sector/entrepreneurs;
Maintain an up-to-date understanding of relevant peer-reviewed literature and new publication and select key takeaways for sharing and updating the regional COR Programme team members and for programme development;
Maintain an up-to-date archive of scientific studies and outputs from IUCN and partners to ensure ease of access to the most up-to-date, reliable and credible data, and the development of a system to maintain up-to-date fact sheets, blog posts, infographics, figures, and other scientific materials for journalists, general audiences, and/or decision- and policy-makers;
Provide support to develop new and compelling communication assets for use in response to scientific informational requests and opportunities;
Assist with drafting information outputs and reports that integrate an understanding of the global plastic pollution crisis with policy, waste management, and other relevant upstream, midstream and downstream solutions;
Work collaboratively with the regional communications team to convey important insights about ocean plastics science in a variety of formats including (but not limited to) blogs, action alerts, comment letters to governments and national authorities, presentations, reports, media inquiry responses, social media posts and peer-reviewed publications.

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

An advanced university degree preferably in relevant disciplines, such as, marine science, marine ecology, oceanography, chemistry, sustainability studies, environmental science, environmental engineering, marine resource management, or related fields; A PhD degree would be considered an asset.
Professional certification in circular economy, waste innovation, environmental design, sustainable material management or in related areas will be an added advantage;
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 (8-10) years of prior proven experience in:
spearheading science and research, in particular on ocean plastics;
skilled in collaborative science and research programmes with demonstrated ability to engage across cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary boundaries, displaying sensitivity and respect for diversity;
highly collaborative mentality, with a record of successfully leading or participating in collaborative research;
interested and enthusiastic to help drive collaborative scientific research in the Western Indian Ocean;
advanced quantitative skills, including analysis of quantitative datasets, code-writing and producing effective and captivating data visualizations for communication purposes;
experienced in engaging global, regional and national stakeholders, and particularly business and industry representatives, in particular on emerging plastics sector innovation;
able to interact effectively with and directly support or identify experts required to support varying aspects the programme, in particular of the plastics area of work;
good understanding of core principles that promote environmental justice and equity, including just transition in environmental sustainability;
interested in marine conservation, and has in-depth knowledge of marine and coastal ecosystems, and societal impacts and threats facing the ocean;
strong verbal and written communication skills, including the ability to communicate complex scientific or technical concepts to varied and cross-sector audiences;
ability to work under pressure managing competing demands and complex situations and deliver satisfactory and timely results;
committed to continuous learning and proactive and mature attitude towards self-development.

Language requirement;
Excellent verbal and written communication skills in English is essential. Ability to communicate in French and/or Portuguese 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 collaborative scientific research skills and experience;
Ability to manage complex situations in the design and roll-out of a fully-fledged scientific research programme in the area of ocean plastics;
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.