Health Specialist - Environmental Health (P-4), FT, # 00113277, Health Section, PD - NYHQ
United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
Close on 13 Jul 2020
Location: New York (United States)
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Job Description

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. To save their lives. To defend their rights. To help them fulfill their potential.

Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, every day, to build a better world for everyone.

And we never give up.

UNICEF crystallized and clearly articulated its Health programme priorities towards  the Sustainable Development Goals, in documents such as the Strategy for Health, 2016-2030; Health Systems Strengthening Approach, and most recently the Strategic Plan, 2018-2021. The 2018 Global Conference on Primary Health Care recommitted to strengthening primary health care (PHC) as the most inclusive, effective and efficient approach to enhance people’s physical and mental health, as well as social well-being, and that PHC is a cornerstone of a sustainable health system for universal health coverage (UHC) and health-related SDGs. These agreements and developments at the global level serve to guide UNICEF’s health programmes at country, regional and global levels.

Research has documented that environmental pollution is a major factor of ill health, poorer developmental outcomes, and death among children, as well as a contributor to worse health outcomes later in life. Millions of children living in low- and middle-income countries are at risk from elevated lead levels in their blood. Around 300 million children under 18 years globally, including 17 million infants, currently live in areas where the air is toxic – exceeding international limits by at least six times. Children are also uniquely vulnerable to pollution – due to their physiology, child-specific behaviors and the type and degree of their exposures.

Climate change is having far-reaching consequences on children’s lives as over half a billion children live in extremely high flood risk areas while nearly 160 million live in high or extremely high drought risk areas.  This climate change crisis, a child’s rights crisis, is particularly impactful on children already suffering multiple deprivations. Additionally, children are particularly vulnerable to vector-borne diseases. UNICEF’s Health Programme is currently developing its strategic framework on Healthy Environment for Healthy Children that aims to expand UNICEF’s health programmes to address these challenges as part of multiple SDGs.


For every child, a good health……

Under the overall guidance of the Senior Programme Manager, you will support embedding Environmental Health in UNICEF’s Health Programmes at all levels to support holistic, integrated and multi-sectoral primary health care at the national level. You will also provide policy, technical and programming guidance to address environmental health as part of UNICEF’s Health Programme and support representational and partnership work at global, regional and country levels, within the overall UNICEF framework on healthy environment for healthy children. In addition, you will provide technical leadership in the implementation of the multi-country programme on preventing lead exposure in children in collaboration with internal and external partners.

How can you make a difference?

Advocacy, networking and partnership building:

  • Build and strengthen strategic partnerships with global partners/UN agencies/foundations/donors/ research organizations through active networking, advocacy and effective communication to develop capacities, exchange knowledge/expertise and/or promote cooperation and alliances to achieve health program goals in the areas of environmental health, harmonized with the overall advocacy on climate change and environment.
  • Prepare communication, information materials, reports and funding proposals to highlight program goals, achievements and/or needs to promote awareness, establish partnership/alliances and support resource mobilization for health programs
  • Represent UNICEF and participate in relevant partnership coordination forums by maintaining the highest level of contacts and collaboration with partners working in the area of environmental health.
  • Help leverage resources for scale-up and ensure adequate partner commitment to support countries in their efforts to accelerate healthy environment interventions in their Health programmes

 Technical guidance, quality assurance and advice

  • Provide technical guidance, quality assurance and advice to UNICEF country offices implementing programmes to address the health impact of lead exposure in children and other environmental pollutants.
  • Participate in strategic discussions/planning and provide technical advice/contribute policy discussions and agenda setting to promote healthy environment interventions in UNICEF’s Health programmes
  • Support countries in situation analysis, identify programme opportunities and provide technical assistance to improve programming and delivery of healthy environment interventions in Health programmes
  • Provide technical guidance for monitoring and evaluation in coordination with internal and external partners

 Innovation, knowledge management and capacity building

  • Promote critical thinking and innovative approaches and good practices for sustainable health programmes/projects initiatives
  • Keep abreast, research, benchmark and implement best and cutting-edge practices
  • Contribute to the development of policies and procedures and introduce innovation and best practices to ensure optimum efficiency and efficacy of sustainable health programs and projects.
  • Lead/plan/implement capacity development initiatives to enhance the competencies of UNICEF staff and partners to promote sustainable results
  • Participate in the development and scale-up of innovations including supporting operational research to improve in-country capacity
  • Institutionalize and share best practices and knowledge learned.

 Programme development and planning

  • Track and monitor the implementation of multi-country programmes and resources for the Healthy Environment programme
  • Consult and collaborate with Health Units, Climate, Environment, Resilience and Peacebuilding (CERP) Section and external colleagues and partners to provide technical and operational support to ensure integration, coherence and harmonization of programmes/projects in this area
  • Actively monitor projects to assess progress, identify bottlenecks and potential problems and take timely decisions to resolve issues.
  • Prepare corporate and key programme/project reports for donors and other partners to keep them informed of programme progress.

To qualify as a champion for every child, the candidate must have…

  • Advanced university degree (Master’s or higher) in environmental health, environmental engineering, toxicology, public health or related field is required.
  • A minimum of eight (8) years of relevant progressive professional work experience at the national and international levels in environmental health and child health is required.
  • Prior experience in providing technical guidance on public health policy and programme response to environmental pollution and climate change is required.
  • Prior experience in advocacy, policy, strategy development and programme design, monitoring and evaluation is desirable.
  • Prior experience in partnership building across donors, foundations, multi-laterals, academia and governments at international and national level is an asset.
  • Prior experience working in a developing country is considered as an asset.
  • Relevant experience in a UN system agency or organization is considered as an asset.
  • Fluency in English is required. Knowledge of another official UN language (Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian or Spanish) is an asset.

For every Child, you demonstrate…

Remark: This is re-opening of the VA to expand the pool of candidates. Previously applied candidates do not need to re-apply as their applications were given due consideration.

UNICEF’s core values of Care, Respective, Integrity, Trust and Accountability.

Mobility is a condition of international professional employment with UNICEF and an underlying premise of the international civil service.

For more information on remuneration and benefits, please visit UNICEF’s Entitlements’ page.  If you would like to find estimates for entitlements, you may use the online Salary Estimate Calculator

Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted and advance to the next stage of the selection process.

UNICEF is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages all candidates, irrespective of gender, nationality, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including persons living with disabilities, to apply to become a part of the organization.

UNICEF has a zero-tolerance policy on conduct that is incompatible with the aims and objectives of the United Nations and UNICEF, including sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment, abuse of authority and discrimination. UNICEF also adheres to strict child safeguarding principles. All selected candidates will, therefore, undergo rigorous reference and background checks, and will be expected to adhere to these standards and principles.


For 70 years, UNICEF has been working on the ground in 190 countries and territories to promote children’s survival, protection and development. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.

UNICEF is the driving force that helps build a world where the rights of every child are realized. UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is also the world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries. As a global authority UNICEF is able to influence decision makers at the global level and turn the most innovative ideas into reality.