UNDP Afghanistan Mission Statement:

UNDP supports stabilization, state-building, governance and development priorities in Afghanistan (AFG). UNDP support, in partnership with the Government, the United Nations system, the donor community and other development stakeholders, has contributed to institutional development efforts leading to positive impact on the lives of Afghan citizens. Over the years, UNDP support has spanned such milestone efforts as the adoption of the Constitution; Presidential, Parliamentary and Provincial Council elections; institutional development through capacity-building to the legislative, the judicial and executive arms of the state, and key ministries, Government agencies and commissions at the national and subnational levels. UNDP has played a key role in the management of the Law and Order Trust Fund, which supports the Government in developing and maintaining the national police force and in efforts to stabilize the internal security environment. Major demobilization, disarmament and rehabilitation and area-based livelihoods and reconstruction programmes have taken place nationwide. UNDP Programmes in Afghanistan have benefited from the very active support of donors. UNDP Afghanistan is committed to the highest standards of transparency and accountability and works in close coordination with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and the UN system as a whole to maximize the impact of its development efforts on the ground.

Organizational context

UNDP is committed to supporting the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GoIRA) with the achievement of its core objectives of self-reliance and peace and helping it to meet the challenge of the transition from a war to a peace economy. To meet these goals, the Government has identified a comprehensive set of national priorities in the Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework (ANPDF). To achieve the Agenda 2030, the Government has also developed a set of 16 Afghan Sustainable Development Goals (A-SDGs) and ten National Priority Programs (NPPs) to place the country on a path towards sustainable development. Progress towards self-reliance and peace across the country will be guided and measured by the targets and indicators described in each of these frameworks.

To support the Government’s efforts to implement the ANPDF, NPPs and the A-SDGs, UNDP offers a unique and highly integrated model for sustainable development based mainly on its traditional strengths in three main areas:

Promoting Human Development to improve human wellbeing, resilience and support environmental sustainability
Providing technical expertise in the use of a Multi-Dimensional Poverty approach to reduce vulnerabilities, inequalities, and exclusions
Promoting Human Rights to ensure a fair distribution of development opportunities and benefits in social, political, economic and environmental dimensions

In addition, UNDP now has the mandate to support SDG Integration to ensure faster progress on sustainable development and can offer support in four areas, (1) Integrated policy and programming solutions, (2) SDG metrics, data and analysis using state-of-the-art tools for modelling and forecasting, (3) Knowledge and innovation and (4) SDG Financing services to help countries identify innovative ways to expand public and private contributions to reach the 2030 agenda. Lastly, the COVID-19 pandemic has also highlighted an urgent need to adopt a Systems Approach that is orientated towards building Resilience to future shocks through continuously reviewed scenario analyses.

However, to make significant progress on the many highly complex development issues that is faced, the country will require new ways of thinking, new skills and a much more collaborative and inclusive approach. UNDP will need to:

Attract the right staff: New staff need to be engaged who have the sort of development policy expertise required to tackle the many highly complex development issues facing the country. As the COVID-19 crisis has clearly shown, these staff will need to be able to understand the interconnections and interrelationships between different issues and be able to incorporate multiple-perspectives in the approaches developed. For example, to move people out of multi-dimensional poverty, a systemic understanding of the interplay between socio-economic factors, regional differences, and shifts in the political economy will be needed.
Provide high-quality policy analysis: To ensure that interventions selected are those most likely to have the greatest national-level impact, UNDP’s economic modelling team will carry out economic analyses of the options available to help build greater trust in Government, reduce the economic impact of COVID-19 and help to forge a sustainable peace.
Develop new modes of collaboration: UNDP’s new way of doing business will also involve leveraging a wider range of expertise and resources by working across organizations through a Government-led platform approach. Country Support Platforms harness collective intelligence and action to benefit communities and people at a greater scale, more quickly, making the best use of resources.

This job description is a direct response to these needs and UNDP’s improved business model. It reflects a new office structure that has recently been put in place to support the vision expressed in an emerging portfolio of ten new Country Office (CO) programmes and to facilitate a more collaborative approach to work across the office and with external partners. This structure is also designed to provide the foundation for a new emphasis on sub-national level work, support higher delivery rates, and to transform UNDP into a learning organization and ‘fit-for-purpose’ to deliver on Agenda 2030 which in turn will support national staff and institutional capacity development.

The design of UNDP’s new programme portfolio is intended to support progress towards sustainable development and sustainable peace. It focuses on economic transformation, sustainable energy, social protection, environment and climate change, and governance issues such as anti-corruption, local government, justice and security sector reform, peace and reconciliation. The design of each of these programmes is based on the UN’s three core principles of human rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment, and environmental sustainability and is guided by the UNDP Strategic Plan (2018-2021). Taken together and implemented in an integrated way through a platform approach, the proposed programmes will contribute towards achieving Peace, Prosperity and Sustainability in Afghanistan. Each of these themes is reflected in the new organizational structure for the CO.

The Policy Advisor will work under the direct supervision of the Resident Representative. S/he will work in collaboration with an SDG Integration and Modeling Lab, housing UNDP’s economic modeling, R&D, and innovation expertise as well as a reinvigorated Development Effectiveness Team, and ensure closer integration with the ground-level work of programmes and projects. Programme Teams will work in strategic synergy with the SDG Integration and Modeling Lab to maximize intersectoral development approaches thus fostering innovation and creativity exchange within the Country Office (CO) and the organization at large.

Duties and Responsibilities

  1. Policy-relevant research
    Identify and monitor human development and economic trends in Afghanistan and in the region and identify new and dynamic opportunities, especially for women, youth and other vulnerable groups;
    Engage policy makers, thinktanks on specific policy ideas and insights to clarify development priorities and challenges – and set the stage for programmatic responses to put solutions into practice;
    Actively work to facilitate the exchange of ideas and working-level linkages among policy, programmatic, and operations experts in the country office to help formulate a balanced, impactful portfolio of projects in the CO;
    Develop innovative offers for the AFG Country Office that are contextualized to national needs and priorities and the conflict setting, promoting youth empowerment, gender equality and inclusion of women and youth in the development agenda;
    Working with the CO Economist, undertake budget analysis to inform UNDP’s advocacy and technical assistance to Ministry of Finance and social sector ministries to improve equitable allocations for essential services;
    Identify policy options for improved domestic provision and financing of child-sensitive and conflict-sensitive social protection interventions;
    Establish networks with institutions, create entry points and platforms for collaboration on relevant research and intelligence in support of SDG achievement;
    Propose and manage deployment of investment, technical assistance and capacity packages to support AFG in the implementation of the national five-year plan, taking into account identified sectoral priorities;
    Work with sector colleagues to build capacity to undertake costing and cost effectiveness analysis on priority interventions to help inform policy decisions on Leave No One Behind (LNOB) focused investments.
  2. Improving data on poverty and vulnerability for policy and programme action
    Oversee the collection, analysis and user-friendly visualization of data on income and multi-dimensional poverty, including the strengthening of national capacity to compile, report and use relevant and timely data for policy decision-making;
    Provide timely, regular data-driven analysis for effective prioritization, planning, and development; facilitate results-based management for planning, adjusting, and scaling up specific policy initiatives to reduce poverty and help attain SDGs;
    Analyze the macroeconomic context and its impact on the economic, social and environmental pillars of development, emerging issues and social policy concerns, as well as implications for the most vulnerable. Propose appropriate responses in respect of such issues and concerns, including government resource allocation policies and the effect of social welfare and environmental policies;
    Collaborate with the central and local authorities to strengthen capacity on quality data collection, analysis for policy development, planning, implementation, coordination, monitoring of essential public services, with emphasis on community participation and accountability.
  3. Knowledge Management:
    Contribute to the development and maintenance of programme knowledge networks and practices, and the development of relevant knowledge products;
    Participate in and contribute to internal and external knowledge networks and other fora;
    Assist in developing and maintaining policy-relevant information systems that will ensure maximum transparency;
    Use sound judgment in all communication and ensure that communication meets the needs of different audiences (notably government, Development Partners and the private sector) in line with UNDP Policies;
    Lead the process of knowledge creation and dissemination related to national, regional and global know-how in programmatically relevant subject areas. In this context, partner with practitioners and members of national think tanks, UNDP regional and global networks, leadership of the practice and sub-practice teams in civil service, and relevant Bureaux on knowledge management services;
    Communicate progress, risks, expectations, timelines, milestones and other key metrics to UNDP AFG Senior Management;
    Organize internal and external networks or communities of practice covering prominent experts in government, non-government organizations, think tanks, private companies, international development organizations and the UN system;
    Identify areas of improvement by applying best practices/lessons learnt using UNDP corporate monitoring tools and corporate reports.
  4. Managerial Leadership
    Establish the unit’s annual work plan with the Policy team; set priorities and targets and monitor work progress to ensure results are achieved according to schedule and performance standards;
    Establish clear individual performance objectives, goals and timelines; and provide timely guidance to enable the team to perform their duties responsibly and effectively;
    Plan and ensure timely performance management and assessment of the team;
    Promote cross-unit teamwork and skills development for the team members and encourage a culture of knowledge sharing and learning;
    Supervise the staff, provide coaching and effective leadership to staff.
    Innovation: Ability to make new and useful ideas work
    Level 6: Exercises stakeholder-centered design approaches for office / programme / division

Leadership: Ability to persuade others to follow
Level 6: Ensures teams are resourced for success and empowered to deliver

People Management: Ability to improve performance and satisfaction
Level 6: Guides substantive specialists / teams and expands credibility and innovation capacity

Communication: Ability to listen, adapt, persuade and transform
Level 6: Creates confidence among stakeholders by delivering authoritative positions, compelling analysis, and contextual acumen

Delivery: Ability to get things done while exercising good judgement
Level 6: Accepts accountability for the outcomes of programme delivery and facilitates improvement and innovation in the delivery of products and services


Collaboration and Partnership: Ability to develop, maintain, and strengthen partnerships with others inside (Programmes/projects) or outside the organization who can provide information, assistance, and support. Sets overall direction for the formation and management of strategic relationships contributing to the overall positioning of UNDP;
Level 6: Integrate & Empower: Leads integral work of teams utilizing expertise, vision, problem-solving capability, and collaborative energy in professional area of expertise;

Global Development Finance: Knowledge of global development financial trends, global financial institutions and processes, and ability to apply in strategic and/or practical situations;
Level 6: Integrate & Empower: Leads integral work of teams utilizing expertise, vision, problem-solving capability, and collaborative energy in professional area of expertise;

Sustainable Development Goals: Knowledge of the Sustainable Development Goals and the ability to apply to strategic and/or practical situations;
Level 6: Integrate & Empower: Leads integral work of teams utilizing expertise, vision, problem-solving capability, and collaborative energy in professional area of expertise;

Substantive Networking: Ability to substantively engage and foster networks with academia, research institutions, and think tanks;
Level 6: Integrate & Empower: Leads integral work of teams utilizing expertise, vision, problem-solving capability, and collaborative energy in professional area of expertise;

Knowledge Management: Ability to capture, develop, share and effectively use information and knowledge;
Level 6: Integrate & Empower: Leads integral work of teams utilizing expertise, vision, problem-solving capability, and collaborative energy in professional area of expertise;

Management & Coordination: Ability to manage and coordinate campaigns and people with inspiration. Believe in and promote diversity in the workplace and reshaping the workforce to meet need;
Level 6: Integrate & Empower: Leads integral work of teams utilizing expertise, vision, problem-solving capability, and collaborative energy in professional area of expertise;

Data and Statistical Analysis: Knowledge of data and statistics analysis and the ability to apply to strategic and/or practical situations;
Level 6: Integrate & Empower: Leads integral work of teams utilizing expertise, vision, problem-solving capability, and collaborative energy in professional area of expertise.

Required Skills and Experience

PhD in economics or development economics or econometrics.

A minimum of 10 years of relevant experience working with the Government, Development Partners, or private sector in research and/or practical policy making and implementation;
Proficiency in quantitative economics, required;
Experience in designing and implementation of public policy, required;
Extensive knowledge of international, regional and Afghanistan development issues, including in economic development, trade, and investment, desirable;
In depth knowledge of Sustainable Development Goals modelling, analytics and simulations, highly desirable;
A track record of high-level experience in providing national policy advice and/or technical assistance will be an asset;
Experience in conducting quantitative research, writing technical and analytical policy papers, and having published in refereed journals, required;
Experience with research and analysis in a fragile/conflict context, required;
Work experience within a UN agency or intergovernmental organization and experience in collaborating with institutions, regional economic communities and other stakeholders is preferred;
Experience in gender mainstreaming into economic policy would be an asset.

Language Requirements:
Fluency in spoken and written English is required.
Important information for US Permanent Residents (‘Green Card’ holders)

Under US immigration law, acceptance of a staff position with UNDP, an international organization, may have significant implications for US Permanent Residents. UNDP advises applicants for all professional level posts that they must relinquish their US Permanent Resident status and accept a G-4 visa, or have submitted a valid application for US citizenship prior to commencement of employment.

UNDP is not in a position to provide advice or assistance on applying for US citizenship and therefore applicants are advised to seek the advice of competent immigration lawyers regarding any applications.

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Note: UNDP reserves the right to select one or more candidates from this vacancy announcement. We may also retain applications and consider candidates applying to this post for other similar positions with UNDP at the same grade level and with similar job description, experience and educational requirements.

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