Global Future Cities Programme Urban Planning and Finance Expert

Result of Service

Provide strategic recommendations, guidance and for technical reviews in the development of projects in specific countries

Work Location


Expected duration

6 months

Duties and Responsibilities

About UN-Habitat
UN-Habitat, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, is mandated by the UN General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable and resilient towns and cities. It is the focal point agency for all urbanization and human settlement matters within the UN system. UN-Habitat envisions well-planned, well-governed and efficient cities and towns, with adequate housing, infrastructure and universal access to employment and basic services such as water, energy, and sanitation.
Being the custodian agency in particular for SDG11 - the cities’ goal - of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and the focal point to oversee the implementation of the New Urban Agenda, UN-Habitat has an existing mandate for global monitoring and supporting cities in preparing for a better urban future. Furthermore, UN-Habitat is supporting the urban implementation of the Sendai Framework and Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
The New Urban Agenda, aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change, is an inclusive, action-oriented, and concise document intended to guide the next 20 years of sustainable and transformative urban development worldwide. It has a strong focus on the inclusion and participation of stakeholder groups, civil society, and grassroots organizations. Sub-national and local governments are supported as strategic and operational partners for implementation, along with national governments.
As our cities and towns grow at unprecedented rates, setting the social, political, cultural and environmental trends of the world, sustainable urbanization is one of the most pressing challenges for the global community in the 21st century. In 1950, one-third of the world’s population lived in cities. Just 50 years later, this proportion has risen to one-half and will continue to grow to two-thirds, or six billion people, by 2050. Cities are now home to half of humankind. They are the hub for much national production and consumption- economic processes that generate prosperity and opportunity. But they also create disease, crime, pollution and poverty. In many cities, especially in developing countries, slum dwellers number more than 50% of the population and have little or no access to shelter, water and sanitation. This is where UN-Habitat is mandated to make a difference for the better. Recently, the ongoing COVID-19 crisis has been highlighting the importance of a paradigm shift that acknowledges the role cities can and ought to play in ensuring global health, sustainability and finance to shocks and stresses – particularly for the most vulnerable and marginalised population groups.

UN-Habitat Urban Planning Lab
The Urban Planning and Design Lab (Urban Lab) is an initiative from UN-Habitat to promptly respond to the requests of national and local governments to support sustainable urban development.
The Urban Lab is the integrative facility of the Agency where innovative processes and partnerships are translated into tangible and transformative solutions to complex urban challenges. Throughout, the Urban Lab acts as a neutral broker, managing knowledge in complex stakeholder settings to resolve multi-sectoral, multi-scalar and multi-stakeholder challenges.
The Lab brings together a multidisciplinary team of urban planners, environmental, data-science, mobility, legal and financial experts, providing a holistic and proactive approach to sustainable urbanization. Hence, the Lab captures the necessary thematic disciplines, experts, actors and stakeholders.
In this context, the Urban Lab applies an integrated approach to systemic and strategic planning to deliver transformative change for sustainable urbanization and to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the New Urban Agenda.
The thematic areas of the Urban Lab are:
• Strategic urban planning for (rapid) urbanization and urban transformation, incl. the development of strategic and structural planning and guidelines
• Innovation, data and frontier technologies for urban planning and urban management
• Spatial planning for climate change and Public Finance
• Area-based responses to conflict, disaster, displacement and new approaches to the humanitarian development nexus
• Financing and bankability of transformative urban plans, projects and programmes

The Lab is currently working on concrete projects joining international and local expertise in more than 60 countries and 80 cities in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Asia.
The Urban Lab is also the cornerstone of the Global Network of Planning and Design Labs, an initiative supported by member states during the 25th Governing Council of UN-Habitat. The Network promotes the collaboration of international experts working together in different countries with local partners to propose and prepare implementable projects and plans.

Global Future Cities Programme
The Global Future Cities Programme (GFCP) under the UK Foreign and Commonwealth’s Prosperity Fund (UK FCO) aims to deliver targeted interventions in 19 cities across 10 countries to encourage sustainable development, increase prosperity whilst alleviating high levels of urban poverty. The programme will also create significant short and long-term business opportunities in growing markets forecast to be regional growth hubs. In addition, the programme will make a significant contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and implementation of the New Urban Agenda (NUA). The Global Future Cities Programme includes cities in Brazil, South Africa, Nigeria, Turkey, Burma/Myanmar, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.

The programme builds upon three integrated pillars, that collectively will address key barriers to prosperity, in selected cities:
• Urban planning – technical assistance for spatial restructuring (city strategies, urban renewal, regeneration, master planning and planning frameworks)
• Transportation – technical assistance to support cities to develop integrated multi-modal public transport systems
• Resilience – technical assistance to develop strategies to address the impact of climate change (e.g. flooding) and ensure development is sustainable

The programme is delivered in two phases: a Strategic Development Phase, followed by an Implementation Phase.

Strategic Development Phase
The Strategic Development Phase of the GFCP was implemented by UN-Habitat’s Urban Lab as a lead executive agency from April to December 2018. This phase aimed at supporting the UK FCO in the identification, further definition and validation of 30 urban interventions in the 19 cities part of the Programme. UN-Habitat’s contribution focused on supporting an improved definition of strategic and transformative projects that are implementable and which contribute to the city’s objectives, while at the same time ensuring an adequate level of city ownership and citizen engagement.
This resulted in the development of Terms of References (ToRs) for each of the 30 urban interventions, supported by 19 city context reports, eight thematic cluster papers, five policy papers and two normative reports, as input and basis for the Implementation Phase. The Strategic Development Phase contributed to demonstrating how each intervention could contribute to multiple SDGs and gave recommendations based on international practices, while aligning with city visions for development.

Implementation Phase
The Implementation Phase of the GFCP will occur from September 2019 to March 2022. During the Implementation Phase, the 30 urban interventions will be delivered also contributing to the positioning the GFCP in an international context and demonstrating the added value of bridging global and local development agendas through achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and implementing the New Urban Agenda.
While the UK FCO is ultimately responsible for the delivery of the Global Future Cities Programme, the 30 urban interventions will be carried out in the form of Technical Assistance by private sector Delivery Partners with international and national presence, as well as expertise in cross-cutting issues, SDGs and the NUA.
Across the programme, the urban projects identified cover thematic areas such as: transport and mobility strategies, policies and plans; urban planning and urban renewal plans and policies; street design and public space; strategies, systems and policies to enhance resilience in an urban context; smart city development and sustainable systems for management and governance of urban data.
The UK FCO has requested UN-Habitat’s Urban Lab to support the Implementation Phase by providing strategic advice, knowledge management and quality recommendations on both Programme and local levels. A programme level capacity building component will be delivered with the support of an implementing partner, the United Kingdom Built Environment Advisory Group (UK BEAG). The Urban Lab’s main contribution will be to work as a neutral actor, facilitating processes to make sure that interventions adequately incorporate principles for sustainable urbanization, that cities are capacitated to sustain the interventions in the long-run and that knowledge will be shared on local and global level.
UN-Habitat’s Urban Lab now seeks to strengthen its team in the delivery of the programme by engaging an urban planner with experience on urban economy and project finance.

Urban Planning and Finance Expert
The Urban Planner will provide expertise towards the delivery of the Global Future Cities Programme by providing strategic advice on programme and project level; provide guidance and technical support in the further development of projects, and; contribute to the development of normative outputs. Although the initial contract is for 6 months only, the aim is to find a suitable candidate who will be continuing in the role as Urban Planner for the entire programme period until March 2022. In order to provide the support needed in the delivery of the various programme components, the consultant will, in essence, have a good understanding and experience of urban development, planning and design on various urban levels and scales, and preferably also from an international development context. Documented experience of the thematic pillars of the programme, the SDGs and the New Urban Agenda, the countries involved as well as an understanding of municipal finance and project finance mechanisms will be considered added values for an effective and efficient delivery of the programme.
In addition to providing strategic advice and technical support to the projects in a short-, medium- and long-term perspective, the consultant will on daily basis be responsible for management of country specific projects. As a country focal point, the consultant engages and liaises with the key partners within a particular country. Further, the urban planner will contribute to knowledge creation and exchange on urban development, planning and design, and hereby be able to extract lessons learnt and key recommendation from the projects.
The urban planner will work collaboratively with the UN-Habitat’s Global Future Cities Programme core team at UN-Habitat’s Headquarters (in Nairobi), the programme’s Hub in Bangkok, as well as with Habitat’s regional and country offices where relevant. The entire programme team also includes a network of Local Strategic Advisers spread across the 10 countries of the Programme.
The ultimate result of the consultancy services includes: supporting cities develop practical, feasible approaches to implementing urban planning interventions through direct planning support; assisting national and local governments to scale up successful local-level approaches through tools development; building the capacities of planning institutions, and; developing the Urban Lab portfolio.


Under the overall supervision of the Head of UN-Habitat’s Urban Lab and UN-Habitat’s Programme Managers of the Global Future Cities Programme, the Urban Planning expert will engage under the following key areas:

Technical Review of Deliverables: UN-Habitat’s role in the programme is to provide strategic advice and recommendations at programme level and for the individual projects. This includes the review of Logical Frameworks and Theory of Change, outlining the potential barriers, drivers and preconditions for achieving the expected outcomes. Throughout the programme period, UN-Habitat will support the UK FCO as well as the City Authorities with the review of deliverables/ outputs of the Delivery Partners. The aim is to improve and optimise the quality of the projects as they are being developed. Each of the urban projects, will comprise several accumulative milestone deliverables, produced by private sector Delivery Partners. During the contract period, the Urban Planner will be responsible for:
¿ Technically review deliverables (urban plans, strategies, systems, policies, etc.) and provide recommendations on projects in 2 countries of the Global Future Cities Programme, eventually adapted into roadmaps/ strategies to sustain the interventions beyond the programme period (considering financial strategies, legal frameworks, local capacity, governance, etc.);
¿ Align project recommendations to the SDGs and New Urban Agenda and safeguard UN-Habitat's cross-cutting issues on Climate Change, Gender Equality, Human Rights, and Youth;
Application of the SDG Project Assessment Tool: The ‘SDG Project Assessment Tool’ (the SDG Tool) has been developed for the Global Future Cities Programme, and provides a framework to help capacitate city authorities in assessing the development of the urban projects, and to provide recommendations to enhance their quality, effectiveness, viability and sustainability beyond the Programme’s timeframe. The SDG Tool has been tailored to each urban project in a collaborative workshop involving the Donor, the City Authorities and the Delivery Partners. Over the course of the programme, the SDG Tool will be periodically applied in participatory workshops (approximately 4 per project) during which City Authorities, Delivery Partners, the Donor and UN-Habitat jointly will discuss the progress and development potential for the project implementation. During the contract period, the Urban Planner will be responsible for:
¿ Coordinate Project assessment sessions for projects in 2 countries of the of the Global Future Cities Programme together with the UK FCO Country Programme Managers and UN-Habitat's local presence;
¿ Apply the SDG Project Assessment Tool (in collaboration with City authorities and Delivery Partners) on projects in 2 countries of the Global Future Cities Programme to assess milestone deliverables (urban plans, strategies, systems, policies, etc.);
Capacity Building Programme: The Global Future Cities Programme aims to build capacity and raise awareness on sustainable and inclusive urban development among participating cities. Capacity building directly related to each project will be provided by the respective Delivery Partner. To complement, UN-Habitat and its implementing partner, the UK Built Environment Advisory Group (UKBEAG), will offer programme level capacity building. The methodology and the thematic areas of the capacity building activities will be jointly developed by UN-Habitat and the UKBEAG, who will lead the execution. During the contract period, the Urban Planner will be responsible for:
¿ Provide technical advice and support the development of methodology and content of the programme level capacity building component, including in-country- and/or programme-level training and dialogue events, thematic learning webinars, etc;
¿ Provide technical and policy advice on urban planning and design to build capacity of city authorities.
Normative Outputs: In addition to supporting the technical delivery of the projects, UN-Habitat is also responsible for extracting global norms and lessons from the programme. Over the course of the Implementation Phase, 6 normative outputs will be produced. These outputs will facilitate two-directional learning by (i) enabling practical lessons from the delivery of the 30 urban projects to feed into the global debate on sustainable and inclusive urbanization, and (ii) allowing global knowledge to filter down and become practically applicable at the local level. Embedded in the normative outputs, three Expert Group Meetings (EGMs) will be organized bringing together globally leading expertise on a certain thematic area. The EGMs will help explore contemporary research and analysis, identify inspiring practices and lessons learnt. The EGMs will deliver independent recommendations on the selected topic. During the contract period, the Urban Planner will be responsible for:
¿ Provide technical advice and develop one or several normative outputs, including Expert Group Meetings (EGM);
Knowledge Management: The Programme aims to capture and build knowledge on the thematic pillars of the programme, vis-à-vis; urban planning, mobility/transport, resilience and data systems. To facilitate the management of the knowledge captured and produced from the different activities of the Programme, a web-based platform will be used as a tool also for disseminating knowledge between the multiple partners and stakeholders of the Global Future Cities Programme. This is envisioned to enable knowledge exchange and particularly city-to-city learning. A public component of the platform will disseminate knowledge to the global audience. During the contract period, the Urban Planner will be responsible for:
¿ Carry out research on best practices and international benchmarks that could be applied across the projects of the Programme in the areas of urban planning, mobility, resilience and data systems;
¿ Provide advice and develop the main thematic areas for city-to-city learnings and knowledge exchange;
¿ Support the facilitation and curation of the Knowledge Management Platform
Other Duties: In addition to the key areas outlined above, the Urban Planner will also engage on: research under the three pillars and themes of the Programme, UN-Habitat’s mandate and new global trends; build thematic capacity of the Urban Lab and the wider team of UN-Habitat; explore linkages between the Global Future Cities Programme and other initiatives and programmes within UN-Habitat; providing input and participate in regional and/or international forums and platforms, and; safeguard the cross-cutting issues of the programme that are considered in each project (Climate Change, Gender Equality, Human Rights, and Youth). During the contract period, the Urban Planner will be responsible for:
¿ Development and review of project proposals and concept notes as part of building the overall portfolio of the Urban Lab.
¿ Contribute to the management of projects and initiatives within the Urban Lab and Section.
¿ Engage on other activities with the Urban Lab and the Planning, Finance and Economy Section as required.

Qualifications/special skills

Competency: • Competency: Technological Awareness. Keeps abreast of available technology, understands applicability and limitations of technology to the work of the office, actively seeks to apply technology to appropriate tasks, shows willingness to learn new technology.

• 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; demonstrates openness in sharing information and keeping people informed, Excellent drafting ability and communications skills, both oral and written; proven ability to communicate complex concepts orally; ability to prepare written reports that are clear, concise and meaningful.

• Teamwork. Works collaboratively with colleagues to achieve organizational goals; is willing to learn from others; places team agenda before personal agenda; supports and acts in accordance with final group decision, even when such decisions may not entirely reflect own position; shares credit for team accomplishments and accepts joint responsibility for team shortcomings.

• 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.
Skills: • Clear knowledge and understanding of theories, concepts and approaches to urban development, planning and design, particularly in an international development context, is an asset;
• Strong analytical skills of urban form, urban systems, underlying social, legal and financial mechanisms and the political context;
• Practical experience of project development from the perspectives of urban planning and design, mobility, resilience and smart technology projects is an asset;
• Understanding of urban development, planning and design from a local authority perspective is considered an asset;
• Understanding of urban planning and sustainable urbanization in the context of the countries of the Programme is an asset;
• Working knowledge and understanding of the Sustainable Development Goals (and their monitoring/evaluation) and of the New Urban Agenda is an asset;
• Ability to develop strong graphic materials (concept plans, diagrams, street sections) as well as substantive reports;
• Proven experience in producing feasibility, evaluation or policy recommendation reports;
• Strong communications skills, including writing, presenting and facilitating workshops.
• Ability to work independently and as part of a team in multi-national/ cultural environment and flexibility in understanding and accepting different assignments;
• Ability to lead and provide technical guidance to an international team;
• Ability to work under pressure, prioritize and meet deadlines; work well under time constraints while retaining attention to detail; and
• Ability to manage data, documents, correspondence and reports information and workflow.
Academic Qualifications: • Advanced university degree (master’s degree or equivalent) in Architecture, Urban Development and Planning, Urban Economy or a related field is required. A first-level university degree in combination with (2) additional years of qualifying experience may be accepted in lieu of the advanced university degree.
Experience: • At least 3 years of relevant work experience in the field of urban development and planning (and/or related fields) with direct proven experience of programme/project management is required;

• Experience working in the public sector, e.g. local governments is considered an asset;

• Experience of urban economy is considered an asset;

• Experience from development of urban projects and their financing is considered an asset;

• Understanding of and experience from managing urban data is an asset;

• Experience in any of the countries or cities of the programme is an asset;

• Experience working on social change projects is an asset;

• Leading, designing and managing capacity building processes is an asset;

• Working experience with international development agencies and in particular the United Nations is an asset.
Language: Proficiency in English is required. Knowledge of other UN official languages is advisable

Additional Information

Interested candidates are invited to submit (i) a cover letter, outlining their interest and relevant skills and experiences for the position, and (ii) a portfolio or selection of relevant work samples showing practical as well as research experience. The submitted documents should be labelled with the Job Opening Number.

No Fee


Source: UN Careers

This article is culled from daily press coverage from around the world. It is posted on the Urban Gateway by way of keeping all users informed about matters of interest. The opinion expressed in this article is that of the author and in no way reflects the opinion of UN-Habitat.

Deadline/closing date: 
Tuesday, August 4, 2020