Urban Biodiversity Consultant, MULTIPLE DUTY STATIONS At United Nations Human Settlements Programme

Closing date: Wednesday, 8 November 2023
Result of ServiceThe ultimate service of the consultancy is to show how the urban dimension can be highlighted in global biodiversity frameworks and urban approaches can be funded for use in subnational strategies, plans and projects.

Work LocationHome-based

Expected duration6 months

Duties andResponsibilities

The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) is mandated by the UN General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable human settlements development and the achievement of adequate shelter for all. For close to forty years, UN-Habitat has been working in human settlements throughout the world, focusing on building a brighter future for cities and towns of all sizes. One of the four focus area under the new Strategic Plan 2020-2023 is Strengthened Climate Action and Improved Urban Environment. UN-Habitat’s Global Solutions Division is overseeing the Agency’s operational work as well as the institutional and programmatic relationship with climate and biodiversity initiatives, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. The Global Solutions Division (GSD) is responsible for providing programmatic direction to UN-Habitat and accountable for the programmatic delivery of its strategic plan. The division leads tools and methodology production and the integration of substantive competencies towards effective delivery. The Programme Development Branch (PDB) is responsible for the overall coordination of programme development. It brings together normative and operational expertise supporting high-quality integrated programmes that maximize results across the outcomes and the domains of change in UN-Habitat’s strategic plan. PDB also builds on concrete demands of national and local governments, strengthening the capacity of government and urban stakeholders at all levels to address the social, economic, environmental and crisis dimensions of sustainable urbanization. And the branch focuses on supporting global programme development to strengthen normative capacity and knowledge generation to increase impact and influence, through strategic partnerships. As the sixth mass extinction of wildlife accelerates, land use conversion continues to degrade and destroy natural habitat. Agriculture is a greater driver of land use change by area, but urban expansion has greater permanence, making it difficult and expense to retrofit. Ecosystem restoration has an important role to play but it cannot keep up with the pace of destruction. Most fast-growing cities in the developing world will not have a second chance to get things right. Though often treated in policy and planning as binary and static, built and natural environments are in constant flux. Every day in most places the frontier of the former is pushing into the latter. 90% of cities with more than 300,000 inhabitants are expanding in direct conflict with natural habitat in biodiversity hotpots. It is critical that cities plan their growth in a manner that helps preserve and conserve the world’s biodiversity. The Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) adopted in 2022 by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) at its 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) contains goals to conserve, restore, and sustainably use biodiversity. The GBF also features targets on spatial planning (Target 1), the protection of 30% of land by 2030 (Target 3), and the quantity, quality, connectivity, access to, and benefits from green and blue spaces in cities (Target 12). In parallel, COP15 also endorsed the Plan of Action on Subnational Governments and Cities for Biodiversity, which highlights the role of subsidiarity in planning and management of cities and biodiversity. Since then, the 2nd United Nations Habitat Assembly (UNHA) adopted resolution 2/7 on biodiverse and resilient cities: mainstreaming biodiversity and ecosystem services into urban and territorial planning. This resolution mandates UN-Habitat to, inter alia, compile examples of best practices, assess criteria and guidelines, compile innovative methodologies, and develop a toolkit for spatial planning and management of cities to contribute to the preservation, conservation, preservation, restoration, and sustainable use of biodiversity within and around cities. Resolution 2/7 also mandates UN-Habitat to explore financing options and implement pilot projects on urban development for more biodiverse and resilient cities. UN-Habitat’s project entitled Cities and Nature: planning for the future along a spectrum of ecological preservation, conservation, restoration, and creation, supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, will help cities make educated, nature-positive decisions about where and how to develop. It builds on UN-Habitat’s white paper, Cities and Nature: Planning for the Future, launched at CBD COP15. It will scope opportunities for new biodiversity strategies and action plans at national and local levels and related funding possibilities. And it will advance UN-Habitat’s methodology that (1) projects spatial growth to proactively guide urban expansion, (2) predicts land use conflict zones where urbanization and climate change are at odds with biodiversity, (3) prioritizes areas of most suitability/least harm (i.e. preserving or densifying as ecologically appropriate), and (4) prevents wasteful and dangerous land conversion at the peri-urban edge. Objectives 1. To analyze urban opportunities emerging from recently-adopted global biodiversity frameworks 2. To scope possibilities for strengthening urban content in new and revised biodiversity strategies and plans 3. To recommend new funding opportunities and partnership configurations Duties and Responsibilities The consultancy is located in the Programme Development Branch and may coordinate with colleagues in the UN-Habitat’s Regional and Country Offices. Under the overall guidance of the Branch Coordinator, and direct supervision by the Programme Management Officer, the consultancy will involve the following typical main duties leading to the ultimate requested outputs: 1. Undertaking a desk review of documents and publications including but not limited to: UNHA resolution 2/7 on biodiverse and resilient cities: mainstreaming biodiversity and ecosystem services into urban and territorial planning, the Global Biodiversity Framework, Plan of Action on Subnational Governments and Cities for Biodiversity, Cities and Nature: Planning for the Future, BiodiverCities by 2030: transforming Cities; relationship with nature, Swiss Re Institute’s Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, Nature in the Urban Century, The Hotspot Cities project, The Atlas for the End of the World, the UN Biodiversity Lab, Cities and Biodiversity Outlook: Action and Policy, Urban Patterns for a Green Economy: Working with Nature, and the Singapore Index on Cities’ Biodiversity. 2. Tracking and analyzing urban content of new/revised National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) 3. Tracking formulation of new Local Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (LBSAPs) and coordinating in-house advice to same 4. Researching and flagging new funding opportunities, including under the new Global Biodiversity Fund 5. Analyzing prevention-oriented interventions in white paper on Cities and Nature to long-list successful multiscalar planning and governance models 6. Compiling data that will contribute to projections of urban expansion, biodiversity loss, and climate risk 7. Supporting expert group meeting on prevention-oriented methodologies and multiscalar spatial planning and management for biodiversity

Qualifications/special skillsA master’s or advanced degree in urban planning, landscape architecture, or related field is required. First degree with two additional years of experience may be accepted in lieu of the advanced degree. A minimum of five years’ experience in urban or landscape planning or architecture is required. Experience on projects in the developing world is desirable. Experience with intergovernmental and/or multilateral organizations is desirable.

LanguagesEnglish and French are the working languages of the United Nations Secretariat. For this consultancy, fluency in oral and written English is required. Fluency in other UN languages is an advantage.



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December 2023