Soil Specialist

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FAO - Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

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Application deadline 1 year ago: Thursday 27 Apr 2023 at 21:59 UTC

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Organizational Setting

The Land and Water Division aims at enhancing the agricultural productivity and advancing the sustainable use of land and water resources through their improved governance, development and management. It addresses the challenges member countries face in ensuring productive and efficient use of land and water resources in order to meet present and future demands for agricultural products, while ensuring the long-term sustainability of the land, soils and water quantity and quality. It promotes equitable access to these natural resources with a view to enhancing productivity, livelihoods and ecosystem services. It provides assistance to member nations in developing policies and programmes, and adopting best practices and tools in the fields of irrigation and drainage, soil and water conservation, drought mitigation, water rights and access to natural resources.

In view of its global mandate, the Global Soil Partnership Secretariat is hosted at the Land and Water Division. The Global Soil Partnership was established in December 2012 as a mechanism to promote sustainable soil management under a strong interactive partnership and enhanced collaboration and synergy of efforts between all stakeholders. From land users through policy makers, one of the key objectives of the GSP is to improve soil governance and promote sustainable management of soils. The Global Soil Partnership Secretariat facilitates the implementation of activities through its regional soil partnerships and scientifically guided through its Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils.

FAO International Consultant/PSA and Call purpose

The purpose of this call is to provide FAO’s Land and Water Division (NSL) and the Global Soil Partnership (GSP) Secretariat with a list of qualified candidates for a number of profiles with different specializations to enhance the FAO/GSP soil’s programme of work as indicated below:

• Sustainable soil management Consultant/PSA • Soil laboratory Consultant/PSA • Soil health Consultant/PSA • Soil governance Consultant/PSA • Soil data and information Consultant/PSA • Communication Consultant/PSA

Contracts will be based in FAO HQs with required travel for field missions, where relevant. Home-based positions may also be considered.

Reporting Lines

The International Consultant/PSA reports to the Director, Land and Water Division and to the GSP Secretary.

Technical Focus

Supporting the development, quality control and effective implementation of FAO’s soil portfolio including the Global Soil Partnership work plan through the provision of expertise in relevant technical areas including project formulation and implementation to support member countries.

Tasks and responsibilities

Sustainable Soil Management/Soil health Consultant/ PSA

• Supports the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines for Sustainable Soil Management and the International Code of Conduct for the Sustainable Use and Management of Fertilizers; • Leads and coordinates the implementation of the RECSOIL initiative and the Global Soil Doctors Programme in pilot countries throughout their entire project cycle: initiation, planning, design, execution, monitoring, controlling and closure; • Organizes national trainings and field activities to strengthen technical capacities on sustainable soil management practices; • Leads and directly coordinates small teams of consultants in a multi-cultural and multi-geography context to implement RECSOIL and Global Soil Doctors Programme at country level; • Assembles and disseminate global and national workshop findings, including recommendations on priorities for research and policy in terms of soil fertility and sustainable soil management; • Coordinates one of the GSP International Networks on Soil Biodiversity (NETSOB), Soil Pollution (INSOP), Salt-affected Soils (INSAS), Black Soils (INBS) and Soil Fertility and Fertilizers (INSOLFER); • Facilitates the implementation and review of the network´s work plan in line with international agreements, the three UN Rio Conventions (Climate Change, Desertification and Biological Diversity), and mandates from the FAO Conference, Council and Committee in Agriculture (COAG); • Coordinates the international working group on soil governance and legislation; • Compiles global, regional and national data on soil governance, current legislations, and the inclusion of soils in major international and regional agreements and conventions; • Compiles global and national findings on soil degradation processes, its importance to soil health and how are affected by soil management practices; • Provides technical support/analysis to various assessments, studies, initiatives and field projects on sustainable soil management to prevent soil degradation and restore soil health; • Facilitates the implementation of the outcome document of the Global Symposia held by the Global Soil Partnership; • Supports resource mobilization activities in accordance with the FAO Corporate strategy and under the Healthy Soils Facility; • Compiles global and national findings on carbon sequestration and emission reduction strategies to mitigate and adapt to climate change focusing on the financial valorisation of soil carbon sequestration and ecosystem services; • Participates in multidisciplinary teams and collaborate with working groups and committees of other FAO divisions and UN agencies to promote the integration of sustainable soil management into climate change, biodiversity, pollution and food security’ • Supports the execution of the GSP action framework 2022-2030 and the Regional Soil Partnerships Implementation Plans as a contribution to FAO’s mandate on food security, One Health, the SDGs, biodiversity conservation and climate change efforts;

Soil Laboratory Consultant/PSA

• Supports the implementation of activities of the Global Soil Laboratory Network (GLOSOLAN) work plan and the Spectroscopy (GLOSOLAN- Spec) network; • Writes technical documents, manuals, scientific articles and international resolutions as requested; • Provides technical support/backstopping for the establishment and/or implementation of the work plan of the Regional Soil Laboratory Networks (RESOLANs) and the National Soil Laboratory Networks (NASOLANs); • Implements a capacity development programme on standard operation procedures, proficiency testing, quality assurance and quality control, health and safety in soil laboratories, and the use of laboratory equipment, including NIR/MIR; • Provides technical inputs for the preparation of communication and awareness raising material on soil laboratories; • Provides technical support to different projects related with soil laboratory including training activities and procurement; • Produces a variety of data, statistics, information and reports for different reports, including support to the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils; • Provides support to the Regional Soil Partnerships in the execution of their regional implementation plans; • Represents GLOSOLAN at international events, preparing presentations, abstracts and articles as needed.

Soil Data and Information Consultant/PSA

• Contributes to the development of GloSIS (Global Soil Information System) and NSIS (National Soil Information Systems) by providing technical expertise and support in the areas of soil data and information management; • Supports project activities involving data collection, sampling, and data management, harmonisation, digital soil mapping and modelling; • Supports the development of country-driven global datasets and databases; • Collaborates with technical networks such as ITPS (Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils) and INSII (International Network of Soil Information Institutions), as well as thematic working groups, to develop and implement standards and guidelines for soil information and data management; • Develops and deliver training programs and materials for soil information and data management, harmonisation, digital soil mapping and modelling, WebGIS tools and applications using open source tools and software; • Prepares technical reports, technical manuals, data repositories, policy briefs, and other dissemination materials for soil data and information products; • Works with project teams to ensure that data and information are collected and managed in a manner that is consistent with international standards and guidelines; • Supports the development and implementation of national and regional soil information systems, including the development of metadata standards, data harmonisation protocols, and quality control procedures; • Provides technical expertise and support for the development of web-based soil information systems and tools; • Provides technical guidance and support to national and regional stakeholders on the development and implementation of soil information and data management systems.

Communication Consultant

• Contributes to the development of information and communication materials and coordinates its dissemination; • Supports the development of corporate outreach plans in coordination with other FAO divisions; • Manages, maintains and develops the soil related web portals; • Produces soil related publications (books, brochures, leaflets, communication material etc...) from the design phase to the printing, dissemination and distribution; • Maintains and strengthens the presence of GSP soil related activities and products on the social media channels; • Supports partnerships with media, civil society, the private sector, research/academia institutions or other strategic players in the framework of the annual World Soil Day campaign; • Analyses statistics to support effective communication; • Responds to queries on soil publications and related products; • Liaises with new potential GSP partners, maintains the partners database and ensures a good and regular communication flow with the current GSP partners and Focal Points through the most appropriate communication tools; • Advises on strategies for advocacy with partners of the GSP; • Develops communication products and services to support regional resource mobilization and partnership strategies • Liaise with the Office of Communication (OCC) will be maintained, either directly or through an agreed focal point/coordinator, to ensure compliance with OCC standards, appropriate review and clearance processes.

All communication materials will follow FAO clearance processes and comply with FAO standards, including: FAOSTYLE (English:; French:; Spanish:; Arabic:; Chinese:; FAO terminology; FAO Names Of Countries; Story guidelines; Story template; UN map standards (available to staff); FAO Brand and policy book (available to staff). Further guidance regarding FAO communications, policies and procedures can be found through the FAO intranet, OCC section.


Minimum Requirements

• University degree or equivalent in soil science, agriculture, environmental sciences, climate change, international law and governance, journalism, communication, graphic design or a related field with some specialization in soil science, or extent and relevance of experience in soil; • Minimum one year of relevant experience (for category C), minimum five years of relevant experience (for category B), minimum twelve years of relevant experience (for Cat. A) and fifteen years of relevant experience (For PSA Cat. A); • Working knowledge (level C) of English, and limited knowledge (level B) of French, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, or Russian (for consultants); Working knowledge of English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese or Russian (For PSA). A higher knowledge of more than two languages is an asset.

FAO Core Competencies

• Results Focus • Teamwork • Communication • Building Effective Relationships • Knowledge Sharing and Continuous Improvement

Technical/Functional Skills

• Work experience in more than one location or area of work, particularly in field positions is desirable; • Understanding of FAO policies and programmes and familiarity with UN policy agendas; • Extent and relevance of experience or knowledge of issues related to soil laboratory functioning and soil sample analyses or statistical analysis or sustainable soil management and agriculture (including forestry) and natural resources management in developing countries and in particular in relation to climate change mitigation and adaptation, sustainable agriculture and forestry in developing countries; • Extent and relevance of experience in the formulation and implementation of projects related to sustainable soil management and knowledge of the Healthy Soils Facility will be an asset; • Extent and relevance of experience in the preparation of technical and policy reports and capacity development materials; • Extent of experience in organizing medium to large scale international technical meetings and conferences; • Experience in the development of teaching materials is an asset. • Experience in the establishment and facilitation of technical networks. • Demonstrated experience of work with member countries in terms of normative and technical work on soils; • Demonstrated experience of work and interactions with smallholder famers and technical work on agricultural practices; • Demonstrated ability to deliver results within deadlines.

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