1963-2018 - 55 years of Research for Social Change

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Advance Information: Recruitment of UNRISD Director

2 Mar 2015


The following announcement about the position of UNRISD Director is being provided for information purposes. For the official job opening and to apply, visit the UN Careers website.

The United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) is seeking to appoint a new Director to deliver on its ambitious research and influencing agenda at a moment of significant change in the global development landscape.

One of the world’s leading think tanks on social issues, UNRISD is an autonomous, multidisciplinary research organization which is funded by voluntary contributions. Located in Geneva, the Institute has a core staff of around 25 people. Working through its global network of partners, it generates evidence, frames debates and helps to shape social development policies and practices at global, national and local levels, grounded in the United Nations values of equity, justice and rights for all.

The Director reports to the Board of UNRISD, which meets annually and provides oversight and guidance on the agenda of the Institute and its finances. On behalf of the Board, the Director makes a biennial report to the Commission for Social Development in New York. UNRISD is supported in its regular administrative functions by the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG).

The Director’s position offers an exciting opportunity to initiate global research programmes, influence international policy dialogue, and work with government and civil society organizations to realise shared development goals. The ideal candidate will have leadership experience at a national or international level in research or policy organizations, and be a successful fundraiser with proven capacity to secure an institution’s financial stability. S/he will have a proven record of research excellence, be sympathetic to interdisciplinary research, capable of motivating an international team of researchers, and committed to ensuring the quality and policy relevance of the Institute’s research outputs. S/he will have strong international networks in the development research community and among donors, a strong record of fundraising at institutional and research programme levels, and demonstrated capacity to build and strengthen partnerships among UN and international agencies, and development research and civil society organizations. S/he will be able to foster collaboration and teamwork within the Institute, and will be committed to the values of UNRISD. Familiarity with the UN system is a major advantage.

Overall, the Director will exercise intellectual leadership, positioning UNRISD strategically within a changing global development knowledge and funding environment, ensuring its financial security, and further strengthening its reputation and visibility as a leading research organization on social development that delivers high-quality research evidence and results. The Director will work effectively with the UNRISD Board, relevant UN bodies and donors to ensure the highest standards of governance of the Institute. Within delegated authority, the Director will be responsible for the following.

Intellectual leadership
  • Articulate the major components of a cutting-edge, multi-disciplinary global research agenda, and contribute to the translation of the agenda into fundable, practical and appropriate research that is conducted and communicated in a creative and effective way.
  • Manage, guide, develop and train staff; foster teamwork and communication among staff in UNRISD and across organizational boundaries. Motivate an international team of researchers to produce high quality research, and ensure that the activities of the Institute deliver impact, maintaining relevance and influence in a changing global context.

Resource mobilization
  • Lead the preparation and implementation of a strategy for resource mobilization and diversification for the Institute; work with existing and potential donors to secure a sustainable funding model and consolidate funding relationships with new donors.
  • Develop project proposals and actively undertake fundraising efforts in order to support the Institute’s staff and activities.

Representation and partnerships
  • Chair meetings, seminars, etc., on substantive-related issues; represent the Organization at international, regional, inter-agency meetings, seminars and conference; provide programmatic/substantive expertise on relevant issues, and hold programmatic/substantive and organizational discussions with representatives of other institutions.
  • Establish and maintain effective relationships with Member States, donor governments and foundations, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations, representing the interests of UNRISD within the UN and global governance system.
  • Represent UNRISD in global and national fora, presenting research and engaging in policy dialogue within the UN system and intergovernmental bodies, national policy processes and high-level academic events.
  • Develop partnerships and networks with academic and policy research centres or think tanks worldwide, including North-South and South-South collaborations, to undertake cutting-edge knowledge generation, support the capacity strengthening of institutions and researchers in the South, and maximize potential for impact.
  • Communicate effectively and carry out extensive advocacy initiatives to promote the work of the Institute, to bridge research and policy and to deliver impact.

  • Direct, appoint and supervise the staff of the Institute, and undertake performance evaluations.
  • Lead strategic planning and budget processes, to ensure that institutional objectives and work plans are aligned, measurable results are defined, financial resources are used effectively to deliver results, and value for money is achieved.
  • Provide leadership to the development of innovative and/or change management programmes.
  • Formulate and implement the Institute’s substantive work programme, determining priorities, and allocating resources for the completion of outputs and their timely delivery.
  • Ensure that outputs maintain high quality standards; are clear, objective and based on evidence and analysis.
  • Support innovative approaches to the dissemination of research findings and to the effective communication of research and results.
  • Oversee and coordinate the activities of the Institute, be accountable for all expenditures authorized in the budget, and ensure timely reporting within a results-based framework.

  • Advanced university degree (Master’s degree or equivalent) in the social sciences, public policy, international development or other fields relevant to the work of UNRISD.
  • A PhD or equivalent attainment is desirable.

  • Over fifteen years of progressively responsible professional and management experience at the national or international level in development research, policy analysis or research organizations.
  • Strong professional and publications record, with an international reputation for research is required.
  • Proven experience in mobilizing resources for research and for programme or institutional activities is required.
  • Engagement in and familiarity with academic, policy and development institutions and professional networks; experience within the UN an advantage.

  • English and French are the working languages of the United Nations Secretariat.
  • For this post, fluency in English (both oral and written) is required, and knowledge of French is desirable.
  • Knowledge of an additional UN official language is an advantage.

For the official job opening and to apply, visit the UN Careers website.