Programme Specialist (Digital Transformation)

UNDP Careers

Job Description


Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are core principles at UNDP: we value diversity as an expression of the multiplicity of nations and cultures where we operate, we foster inclusion as a way of ensuring all personnel are empowered to contribute to our mission, and we ensure equity and fairness in all our actions. Taking a ‘leave no one behind’ approach to our diversity efforts means increasing representation of underserved populations. People who identify as belonging to marginalized or excluded populations are strongly encouraged to apply. Learn more about working at UNDP including our values and inspiring stories.

UNDP does not tolerate sexual exploitation and abuse, any kind of harassment, including sexual harassment, and discrimination. All selected candidates will, therefore, undergo rigorous reference and background checks.

The Europe and Central Asia region consists of mostly middle-income countries at various levels and stages of digitalization and technology adaption. While a number of countries have introduced legislations, policy frameworks, and/or strategies to digitalize, adopt and use technology, there remains significant gaps and challenges with regard to their full implementation and scaling up, thereby missing on reaping the full potential benefits from digitalization and technological adoption. The region is categorized into three programmatic sub-regions – Central Asia, Western Balkans, Cyprus and Türkiye, and Eastern Neighborhood/Caucasus – each of which have their own distinct contexts, policy and regulatory frameworks, strategies, and programmatic priorities.

As the world responded to COVID-19 impacts and restrictions in the past years, the ECA region also saw an unprecedented increase in the introduction and adoption of digital or digitally-enhanced solutions, products and services in both public and private sectors. At the same time, the pandemic revealed the significant digital divide and unequal state of digital access and digital literacy between and within countries. High scores and ratings amongst many countries in global/regional digitalization indices have proven to be rather inadequate to demonstrate the real state of digitalization. Even countries with high internet and mobile penetration rates struggled in ensuring business continuity, timely communications, and effective coordination of the pandemic response. Many education and health systems ground to a halt, and the most vulnerable suffered the most. While many governments and public sector institutions have adapted digitalization strategies and frameworks, they suffer from fragmentation, weak understanding of digitalization and technology and their role in development, inefficient and expensive legacy systems, poor digital literacy, lack of adequate financing and infrastructure, inadequate data systems, and an inability to harness the expertise of private sector, academic institutions, and civil society organizations, among others. Enhancing cybersecurity and enhancing national capacity to immediately recover from cyber attacks has become an importance. The importance of effective digital governance – particularly at the local level – becomes even more crucial. At the same time, there is significantly increasing role of digital and technology in innovation, economic development, gender equality, peacebuilding, disaster and conflict prevention, recovery and response, and in climate mitigation and adaptation, environment and natural resource management.

With The Digital Strategy 2022-2025, UNDP Puts Forth a Long-term Vision To Create a World In Which Digital Is An Empowering Force For People And Planet. This Vision Is Closely Aligned With The UNDP Strategic Plan 2022-2025, Which Outlines How UNDP Will Seek To Support Countries In Three Directions Of Change – Structural Transformation, Leaving No One Behind, And Building Resilience – And Underlines The Importance Of Digital As One Of Three Enablers To Achieve This Change. The Digital Strategy Defines Three Objectives

  • Digitally enabled programming: amplify development outcomes by embedding digital across all UNDP programing
  • Empowering digital ecosystems: Support societies in their efforts to create more inclusive and resilient digital ecosystems
  • Digitally Native UNDP: Transform UNDP so that it has fit-for-purpose digital systems, processes, tools, and data, as well as a digitally competent workforce to effectively support the first two objectives.

Moreover, digital technologies have a significant impact on human rights – they can be used to better promote human rights, but also to undermine the protection and implementation of these rights. According to the UNDP Digital Strategy (2022-25), human rights are at the heart of UNDP’s approach to people-centred digital transformation. This is an important approach that needs to be implemented more effectively in development practice. To achieve this goal, it is necessary to understand the real impact of the increasing use of digital technologies and AI on the realization of human rights. Privacy is a prerequisite for the full exercise of other human rights, notably the right to freedom of opinion and expression. The increasing use of the digital sphere to communicate and source information has also openend new challenges to, and opportunities for social cohesion between communities and with institutions. This is leading technology and digitalization to the core of conflict risks identified by both communities and governments across the region. In this environment, UNDP must enhance its understanding of the impacts of digital tools and their uses on conflict and peacebuilding dynamics–both in terms of negative and positive impacts across all stakeholders.

In 2022, IRH prepared a scoping study of the emerging trends, challenges, and regulatory frameworks related to data protection and the impact of technologies and AI on human rights in the ECIS region. The lack of national regulatory frameworks and capacities on issues of privacy and data protection in cybersecurity was highlighted as one of the areas for UNDP’s engagement.

The Istanbul Regional Hub is UNDP’s main knowledge and advisory hub for the countries serviced by UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Europe and CIS (RBEC). It supports integrated approaches and solutions to sustainable development through its thematic teams working on Governance and Peacebuilding, Inclusive Growth, Health and Development, Gender Equality, Knowledge and Innovation, Disaster and Risk Reduction, Nature, Climate and Environment, SDG Finance and New Partnerships. In alignment with the UNDP Strategic Plan (SP 2022-2025) and the ECIS Regional Programme Document (RPD 2022-2025) which recognizes the critical role of digital transformation and digital solutions in achieving the 2030 agenda and contributing to UNDP’s priority areas ,i.e., structural transformation, including green, inclusive and digital transitions; leaving no one behind; and building resilience. The SP identifies Governance as one of the UNDP signature solution and digitalization as an enabler of scaled up development impact. IRH also facilitates the RBEC Digital Advocates Network (DAN), in partnership with the Chief Digital Office.

Duties And Responsibilities

Under the supervision of the Governance and Peacebuilding Team Leader at the UNDP Istanbul Regional Hub (IRH), and with a dotted-line reporting association with the global Chief Digital Office, Head of Data and Technology.the Programme Specialist is expected to deliver on the following areas, in coordination with other thematic clusters at the IRH.

Programme And Policy Development

  • Provide cutting edge intelligence and analysis to inform policy and programmatic offers to advance whole-of-government, whole-of-society digital transformation focusing on future-oriented solutions;
  • Ensure alignment of RBEC’s digital transformation framework and strategy with UNDP’s Strategic Plan, UNDP Digital Strategy, the RBEC Regional Programme Document, and related corporate priorities, as well as with international digital development policies, norms and standards;
  • Foster digital and tech integration and policy innovations in various thematic areas with focus on advancing smart, rights-based and inclusive digital governance and digital ecosystems;
  • Together with UNDP Country Offices and IRH Teams, actively lead the identification, conceptualization, design, evaluation and scaling up of policy and programmatic initiatives including legislative, institutional, regulatory and financing frameworks to advance coherent digital transformation at national and sub-national levels;
  • Advise on the identification and mitigation of potential digital risks and threats related to advanced technological solutions, applications and issues such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, data privacy, misinformation and disinformation, among others.

Partnerships, Advocacy And Resource Mobilization

  • Support the mobilization of digital partnerships and resources to advance digital transformation in the region, including preparation of proposals, donor briefings, reporting, advocacy and information-sharing;
  • Establish strategic partnerships with tech companies and solutions providers, private sector, civil society, academia and the private sector, with a focus on advancing approaches, solutions, insights and innovations to advance digital transformation;
  • Support the design, conceptualization and organization of needs-based conferences, workshops and/or learning initiatives (online and offline), ensuring close engagement with external knowledge and expertise to inform internal approaches and solutions;
  • Pursue opportunities for inter-agency engagement at national or (sub-)regional levels;

Knowledge Management

  • Coordinate timely and forward-looking knowledge extraction, analysis, documentation, and codification of results/lessons learned on digital transformation in the region, including facilitating communications between CDO, IRH and CO digital focal points;
  • Harness and mobilize the regional Digital Advocates Network (DAN) and digital focal points in the region as a strong knowledge network and active part of the global digital community of practice, towards ensuring robust capabilities on digital transformation at CO and regional levels;
  • Support cross-regional exchange of knowledge by collaborating with policy teams in HQ and Regional Hubs to research, develop and share knowledge-based tools, guidance and case studies to help influence/advance policy dialogues on digital transformation in the region.

Institutional Arrangement

The Programme Specialist (Digital Transformation) will report to the Team Leader, Governance and Peacebuilding Team, Istanbul Regional Hub. S/he is expected to work closely with other thematic teams in IRH to ensure integration of digital and technology in all thematic areas of work. The Programme Specialist will also maintain a dotted-line reporting association with the global Chief Digital Office, with the Head of Data and Technology


Core Competencies

  • Achieve Results: LEVEL 3: Set and align challenging, achievable objectives for multiple projects, have lasting impact
  • Think Innovatively: LEVEL 3: Proactively mitigate potential risks, develop new ideas to solve complex problems
  • Learn Continuously: LEVEL 3: Create and act on opportunities to expand horizons, diversify experiences
  • Adapt with Agility: LEVEL 3: Proactively initiate and champion change, manage multiple competing demands
  • Act with Determination: LEVEL 3: Think beyond immediate task/barriers and take action to achieve greater results
  • Engage and Partner: LEVEL 3: Political savvy, navigate complex landscape, champion inter-agency collaboration
  • Enable Diversity and Inclusion: LEVEL 3: Appreciate benefits of diverse workforce and champion inclusivity

Cross-Functional & Technical Competencies

  • System Thinking:
    • Ability to use objective problem analysis and judgement to understand how interrelated elements coexist within an overall process or system, and to consider how altering one element can impact on other parts of the system
  • Intelligence Design:
    • Ability to bring together diverse groups of people, data, information or ideas, and technology to design services or solutions
  • Data privacy and digital ethics:
    • Knowledge of ethical usage of digital technology (e.g. AI, robotics, automation) and data. Ability to assess ethical implications when using, combining or sharing data, when building or implementing AI systems, and when advising on robotization and automation etc.
    • Ability to design privacy protocols to ensure data is protected and used for legitimate purposes without unnecessary privacy risks
  • Data Governance:
    • Knowledge of data science, skills to develop data management tools, organize and maintain databases and operate data visualization technologies
  • Digital product management:
    • Ability to design and lead digital product development including testing, ongoing product iteration, product strategy and delivery.
  • Partnership Management/ Strategic engagement:
    • Ability to capture and sustain attention, interest and agreement of high-level, influential policy and decision makers and secure their buy-in of high-level vision and objectives
  • Governance:
    • E-Government


Required Skills and Experience

  • Master’s degree in computer science, information science/technology, engineering, governance, political science, social science or related field
  • Bachelor’s degree in above mentioned fields with additional two years of experience will be given due consideration in lieu of the Master`s degree


  • A minimum of 7 years (with Master´s degree) or 9 years (with Bachelor´s degree) of relevant professional experience including demonstrated experience on digital transformation and technological innovations and application in development programming is required


  • Fluency in English with excellent writing skills is required
  • Knowledge of another UN language(s) would be an asset

Required Skills

  • Experience in the use of computers, office software packages (MS Word, Excel, etc.) and web-based management systems, and advanced knowledge of spreadsheet and database packages

Desired Skills

  • Digital product development in support of programmatic/policy and/or research and analysis is an advantage
  • Work experience with the UN/UNDP is an advantage.
  • Progressively responsible experience in digitalization, technology, digital data and systems, in a governmental, multilateral, private/business, academic, or civil society organization is an asset.
  • Demonstrated professional work experience and/or expertise on the Europe and Central Asia region is an asset.
  • Demonstrated experience in leading, working with and/or mobilizing networks and/or communities of practice for common goals


Applicant Information About UNDP Rosters

Note: UNDP reserves the right to select one or more candidates from this vacancy announcement. We may also retain applications and consider candidates applying to this post for other similar positions with UNDP at the same grade level and with similar job description, experience and educational requirements.


UNDP has a zero-tolerance policy towards sexual exploitation and misconduct, sexual harassment, and abuse of authority. All selected candidates will, therefore, undergo rigorous reference and background checks, and will be expected to adhere to these standards and principles.

UNDP is an equal opportunity and inclusive employer that does not discriminate based on race, sex, gender identity, religion, nationality, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, disability, pregnancy, age, language, social origin or other status.

Scam warning

The United Nations does not charge any application, processing, training, interviewing, testing or other fee in connection with the application or recruitment process. Should you receive a solicitation for the payment of a fee, please disregard it. Furthermore, please note that emblems, logos, names and addresses are easily copied and reproduced. Therefore, you are advised to apply particular care when submitting personal information on the web.

To apply for this job please visit