Head, Development Equities Programme

United Nations University Centre for Policy Research (UNU-CPR)


Position description

The credibility of the multilateral system hinges on its capacity to deliver on the promise of leaving no one behind. This requires a greater focus on equity in the Organisation’s development work. The Development Equities Programme aims at identifying and remedying the structural barriers that set individuals and communities back in their progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

Today, calls for vaccine equity, climate equity, and debt equity are heard from across the world. They bookend longstanding calls for significant reforms of the multilateral system and a reimagining of global governance, notably, global debt, tax and migration architectures. Progress across all these domains is currently hampered by structural inequities that impede not only fair outcomes, but fair pathways to development for all those who claim a stake in a greener, safer, more sustainable future. Impediments to equitable development are also increasingly understood to feed structural inequalities and deeply rooted imbalances that contribute to State fragility and risks of violent conflict.

The Development Equities Programme focuses on interventions and insights that will improve access to essential services and resources, help secure rights for marginalised peoples, and address socioeconomic inequalities that may be exacerbated by rapid and disruptive changes from markets, demographics, technologies, migrations, and environmental change. The projects designed in the Development Equities Programme will take account of emerging trends and provide policy insights, supported by data, multistakeholder partnerships, and perspectives from global and local policymaking contexts. The programme will draw on insights and methodologies from a broad range of disciplines—economics, law, politics, among others—and pay particular attention to marginalised and vulnerable populations, including displaced persons, women, youth, indigenous peoples and individuals affected by human trafficking and modern slavery.

The position 

The Development Equities Programme is a newly formed cluster of projects at the UNU Centre for Policy Research that provides bespoke policy research for senior UN policymakers as well as large, multi-year and multi-stakeholder initiatives. The Head, Development Equities Programme is a senior policy and/or research leader who will strengthen existing projects and launch complementary initiatives in these areas.

This position offers significant scope for innovation and partnership. Working with the UNU-CPR team and across the institutes of the United Nations University, the Head of the Development Equities Programme will bring intellectual leadership, creative drive, and a commitment to working with and within the United Nations to strengthen the evidence base and policy options available the Organisation and its Member States.

About you 

You have extensive knowledge of the United Nations, its principal agencies, bodies and partners, as well as programmes and field operations in your area of expertise, ideally covering one or more of the following themes: development, political economy, human rights, labour rights, humanitarian assistance and/or human mobility. Recent academic literature, public opinion, and political currents related to these themes will be familiar and accessible through your networks.

Your prior experience will demonstrate you have the capacity to translate empirical research findings into practical policy guidance for senior UN and government actors. You are an excellent writer capable of producing rigorous, accessible reports and of mentoring staff to deliver written products of the highest quality. You have experience communicating research ideas and research findings in clear and compelling ways for diverse audiences in both closed door and large public forums. Over the course of your career, you will have mobilised resources to support research and dissemination activities in support of your own work and the work carried out by teams under your supervision. Experience in field settings and/or with human subjects is especially helpful. You are politically astute, comfortable working with civil society, scholars, and senior government representatives, charismatic and empathetic, and have a proven track-record working as a coalition-builder. You thrive in innovative, entrepreneurial, purpose-oriented settings and are committed to diversity, equality, and building a workplace that values excellence, empathy, and individual growth equally.

Responsibilities and deliverables 

The Head of the Development Equities Programme will report to the Director of Programmes and the Executive Director and will be expected to:

1. Define an impactful work programme that builds on your expertise and network, and across UNU-CPR projects

  • identify ways of scaffolding a new impactful programme of policy research on existing UNU-CPR contributions to the fields of development reform/coordination, labour rights, human mobility, international debt architecture, and development finance, drawing on your specific academic expertise and networks
  • identify and engage target policy audiences, drawing on UNU-CPR’s network and your own
  • identify synergies with research programmes across UNU and across UNU-CPR, and invest in joint research projects and collaborative fundraising

2. Fundraise to support the financial sustainability of this pillar

  • identify fundraising pathways, donors, and new partners to support work in this area
  • attract and retain personnel that can contribute to the success of this pillar
  • diversify UNU-CPR’s donor pool and build ties to relevant foundations

3. Direct, produce and strategically disseminate targeted research, analysis, and commentary for UNU-CPR stakeholders

  • deliver long-form, editorial, and collaborative publications with significant potential for uptake in the UN system
  • contribute to enhancing UNU-CPR’s visibility by serving as an expert contributor on high-level or high-visibility panel
  • build a community of research collaborators that will deepen UNU-CPR expertise on issues relevant to this pillar
  • organise high-level meetings and events drawing together key UNU-CPR stakeholders with experts at UNU-CPR and/or within our networks

4. Support management at UNU-CPR

  • support the Executive Director and UNU-CPR administrative and management personnel as required to ensure sound and effective management and administration of UNU-CPR
  • contribute to quality assurance processes that ensure high-quality outputs at UNU-CPR

5. Support requests from UNU Headquarters

  • be available to support the UNU Rector and HQ colleagues on substantive and administrative requests that may be made

6. Perform other duties as assigned by supervisors

Required qualifications and experience 

Required qualifications and experience of the position include:

  • a PhD in a relevant academic discipline, including but not limited to, law, political science, economics, international relations, international development, migration, human rights, or public policy is strongly preferred. A Master’s degree in combination with two additional years of qualifying experience and a strong publication record in a relevant field may be accepted in lieu of a PhD
  • at least 10 years of relevant policy research experience with a PhD (12 years with a Master’s degree), or a combination of field and research experience
  • extensive knowledge of the United Nations, its principal agencies and bodies, as well as programmes and field operations in your area of expertise, ideally covering one or more of the following themes: development, political economy, human rights, labour rights, humanitarian assistance, and/or human mobility
  • recent academic literature, public opinion, and political currents related to these themes will be familiar and accessible through your networks
  • demonstrated experience in translating empirical research findings into practical policy guidance for senior UN and government actors
  • familiarity with and, ideally, experience of UN-Member State dynamics
  • experience in field settings and/or with human subjects is especially helpful
  • fluency in English required and an excellent writer capable of producing rigorous, accessible reports and of mentoring staff to deliver written products of the highest quality
  • experience communicating research ideas and research findings in clear and compelling ways for diverse audiences in both closed door and large public forums
  • demonstrated success in fundraising and in managing donor relations
  • over the course of your career, you will have mobilised resources to support research and dissemination activities in support of your own work and the work carried out by teams under your supervision
  • self-direction and the ability to establish priorities, and report work activities in a timely and proactive manner, and work within tight timelines
  • comfort with a range of statistical analysis methods, data analysis and other research methodologies
  • solid interpersonal and problem-solving skills demonstrated by the ability to work in a multicultural environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity, equality and gender parity
  • knowledge of another UN official working language is an asset

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