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Secretary-General (D2)

CITES Secretariat

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Org. Setting and Reporting

The United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) is the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international agreement between states. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. The CITES Secretariat is located at the Geneva duty station. The CITES Secretariat is provided by the Executive Director of UN Environment. The Executive Director is responsible for ensuring that the Secretary-General (the Chief Officer of the Secretariat of the Convention) implements the policy guidance of the Conference of the Parties (CoP), and between the meetings of the CoP, the policy guidance of the Standing Committee in exercising the functions of the Secretariat in accordance with Articles XI and XII of the Convention, and other functions as may be entrusted to the Secretariat by the Parties. The Secretary-General is accountable to the UN Environment Executive Director, within delegated authority, for the management and administration of the CITES Secretariat. The Secretary-General is accountable to the CITES Parties, including the Standing Committee, for the implementation of the CITES Programme of Work.


The incumbent will perform the following functions:

1. Provide leadership, direct and work with staff on the attainment of Secretariat and Convention goals;

2. Be responsible for the organization and direction of the work of the Secretariat in advancing the implementation of the Convention;

3. Represent the CITES Secretariat at various fora and intergovernmental meetings, conferences and UN processes;

4. Convene and prepare meetings of the Conference of the Parties, the Standing Committee and other subsidiary bodies, securing and negotiating arrangements with host governments and ensuring appropriate inputs from other entities for technical, logistical and servicing needs of meetings;

5. Formulate policies and procedures for the proper management of the CITES secretariat by assigning and delegating responsibility to senior managers for the implementation of the agreed work programme, planning with staff the distribution and coordination of major tasks, ensuring effective and harmonious linkage between units and encouraging teamwork.

6. Performs other duties as required.


Professionalism: Knowledge of the environment and sustainable development issues; Ability to manage complex human resources, financial and administrative management policy and programme matters; Ability to think strategically and to clearly articulate a strategic direction; Capacity to manage and develop people, to lead high performance teams and to work cooperatively; Ability to facilitate and conduct inter-governmental negotiating processes as well as handle a multidisciplinary portfolio of tasks and duties; Demonstrates integrity, openness and transparency in dealing with all stakeholders; Ability to defend and explain difficult issues with respect to key decisions and positions to staff, senior officials and members of intergovernmental bodies; Shows persistence when faced with difficult problems or challenges; Ability to identify issues, formulate opinions, make conclusions and recommendations. Shows pride in work and in achievements; demonstrates professional competence and mastery of subject matter; is conscientious and efficient in meeting commitments, observing deadlines and achieving results; is motivated by professional rather than personal concerns.

Communication: Speaks and writes clearly and effectively; listens to others, correctly interprets messages from others and responds appropriately; asks questions to clarify, and exhibits interest in having two-way communication; tailors language, tone, style and format to match audience; demonstrates openness in sharing information and keeping people informed.

Client Orientation: Considers all those to whom services are provided to be “clients” and seeks to see things from clients’ point of view; establishes and maintains productive partnerships with clients by gaining their trust and respect; identifies clients’ needs and matches them to appropriate solutions; monitors ongoing developments inside and outside the clients’ environment to keep informed and anticipate problems; keeps clients informed of progress or setbacks in projects; meets timeline for delivery of products or services to client.

Leadership: Serves as a role model that other people want to follow: empowers others to translate vision into results; is proactive in developing strategies to accomplish objectives; establishes and maintains relationships with a broad range of people to understand needs and gain support; anticipates and resolves conflicts by pursuing mutually agreeable solutions; drives for change and improvements; does not accept the status quo; shows the courage to take unpopular stands. Provides leadership and takes responsibility for incorporating gender perspectives and ensuring the equal participation of women and men in all areas of work; demonstrates knowledge of strategies and commitment to the goal of gender balance in staffing.

Vision: Identifies strategic issues, opportunities and risks; clearly communicates links between the Organization’s strategy and the work unit’s goals; generates and communicates broad and compelling organizational direction, inspiring others to pursue that same direction; conveys enthusiasm about future possibilities.


Advanced university degree (Master's degree or equivalent degree) in environmental science, environmental law, political science, public or business administration or a related field. A first-level university degree in combination with two additional years of qualifying experience may be accepted in lieu of the advanced university degree.

Work Experience

Over fifteen (15) years of progressively responsible experience in the field of environment and sustainable development or related area is required. Experience in resource management including human resources and financial management is required. Experience in programme and project planning and analyses is required. Experience in strategy setting and implementation as well as international negotiations is required. Experience in organizing or coordinating meetings of parties under multilateral environmental agreements is desirable. Experience in resource mobilization and donor reporting in an international organization is desirable. Experience in senior officer assignments in an international organization is desirable.


English and French are the working languages of the United Nations Secretariat. English, French and Spanish are the working languages of CITES. For the position advertised, fluency in English is required. Knowledge of French or Spanish is desirable.


Evaluation of qualified applicants may include an assessment exercise and a competency-based interview.

See full vacancy and apply on the UN Careers Portal