Open position: chief of section (Ocean Science)

Overview of the functions of the post

Under the authority of the Executive Secretary of Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and Assistant Director-General of UNESCO (ADG/IOC), the incumbent will lead, coordinate and organize the activities of the IOC Ocean Science Section (OSS).
The Ocean Science Section’s role is to support Member State-driven programmes in maintaining and strengthening the highest level of expertise in ocean sciences. It also helps to review the requirements and opportunities for the development of ocean sciences through international cooperation.

The incumbent will be driven by priorities and directions set by IOC Governing Bodies and his/her main tasks will be to shape the IOC UNESCO response to ocean science challenges and to advise Member States on a broad spectrum of emerging issues. The incumbent will facilitate formulation of the IOC UNESCO priorities, agendas, policies and design of knowledge-based products and ensure the technical accuracy of deliverables.

The incumbent will be preparing bi-annual work programme and budget of OSS and will supervise its team. The collective effort of the Section is on development of international ocean science and delivering scientific advice for ocean policy, including on issues of climate change and variability, ocean health and disaster risk reduction. The OSS supports expert groups on ocean acidification; ocean deoxygenation; multiple ocean stressors; ocean carbon research; global capacity in ocean science; the state of the Ocean; as well as task teams of the IOC-FAO Intergovernmental Panel on Harmful Algal Blooms, the Joint Steering Committee for the World Climate Research Programme, sponsored working groups of GESAMP. The Section implements projects related to the development and exploitation of ocean science. It engages scientific communities and partner organizations in global and regional activities towards achieving IOC objectives.

In particular, the incumbent will:

  • Provide leadership and guidance to ensure strategic vision, formulation, efficiency and strategic thinking to foresee ocean science challenges and advise Member States on emerging ocean science issues and means to address them; identify corresponding governmental research priorities and increase awareness of such priorities; contribute strategic considerations towards shaping the ocean science agenda. communicate with scientists from all Member States to leverage international scientific projects/programmes. Define priorities and agenda for staff and Section and locate and pursue resources.
  • Develop a coherent narrative on an integrated approach to ocean science and the science-policy nexus and help project this narrative to external audiences including bilateral donors, other UN agencies and multi-lateral financial institutions. Ensure the robustness of scientific deliverables produced or provided by the IOC. Coordinate the production of relevant policy guidance, analysis, tools and knowledge products to support an integrated approach of IOC UNESCO to climate change, ocean health, ecosystem services and other IOC’ strategic matters.
  • Seek and explore resource mobilization opportunities for extrabudgetary resources for relevant programmatic and thematic areas including engaging potential donors with projects plans which could attract support.
  • Direct the design and implementation of the OSS programme in the areas of Climate Change Impacts in the Marine Environment, Ocean Health, and Marine Environmental Modelling.
  • Assure the necessary coordination with relevant partners within and outside the UN, in particular FAO, UNEP, WMO, IAEA and SCOR, that contribute to the various components of the IOC value chain linking ocean science with forecasting, solutions and service delivery.

Required qualifications:


  • Advanced university degree (Master’s or equivalent) in the ocean, marine, or related sciences.

Work Experience 

  • A minimum of 10 years of progressively relevant professional experience in the ocean, marine, or related sciences, with preferably 5 years at the international level.
  • Experience in coordinating, managing, and implementing projects or programmes.
  • Experience in managing staff and teams.

Skills and Competencies

  • Good knowledge of in situ sustained ocean science networks and their users.
  • Excellent analytic skills, including the ability to identify complex issues, and decide on ways forward respecting the constraints of the organizations involved.
  • Demonstrated strategic thinking and change management skills.
  • Strong programme management skills.
  • Very good communication skills (oral and written) with proven ability to make effective and persuasive oral presentations to both technical and general audiences.
  • Proven ability to advocate and negotiate with colleagues, staff, and stakeholders at all levels, internal and external, including building and maintaining partnerships.
  • Ability to lead and empower teams and maintain effective working relationships in a multi-cultural environment.


  • Excellent knowledge and drafting skills in English and working knowledge of French.

Selection and Recruitment process:

Please note that all candidates must complete an on-line application and provide complete and accurate information. To apply, please visit the UNESCO careers website. No modifications can be made to the application submitted.

The evaluation of candidates is based on the criteria in the vacancy notice, and may include tests and/or assessments, as well as a competency-based interview.

UNESCO uses communication technologies such as video or teleconference, e-mail correspondence, etc. for the assessment and evaluation of candidates.

Please note that only selected candidates will be further contacted and candidates in the final selection step will be subject to reference checks based on the information provided.

For further information, please follow this link.

NF-POGO Alumni Network for Oceans (NANO), 27 March 2023. More information.

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