Economic Specialist

United Nations Development Programme

Hanoi, Vietnam

Globally, UNDP has a mandate to support SDG Integration to ensure faster progress on sustainable development and offers support in four areas, (1) integrated policy and programming solutions, (2) SDG metrics, data and analysis using state-of-the-art tools for modelling and forecasting, (3) knowledge and innovation and (4) SDG Financing options to help countries identify innovative ways to expand public and private contributions to reach the 2030 agenda.

The Economic Specialist works under the guidance of the UNDP Resident Representative in the country and collaborates closely with the programme and operations teams in the Country Office, Accelerator Lab, and Regional Bureau of Asia and the Pacific, including the Asia-Pacific regional network of country economists. S/he will develop and maintain a professional network across development partner agencies, government institutions, the private sector, academic institutions and civil society at the country level.

At COP 26, Vietnam pledged net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and to phase out coal power generation in the 2040s. These commitments represent an historic challenge for a country that has pursued an energy-intensive strategy of development, integrating into global production systems especially in manufacturing. Moreover, Viet Nam is among the countries in the region most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The energy transition and adaptation to climate change therefore constitute a major focus of the work of the Economic Specialist. The impact of the energy transition and climate change on vulnerable people and communities is a central concern of UNDP. UNDP also works closely with government and other partners on sustainable financing for the energy transition, energy security and carbon markets.  Other policy priorities relating to sustainability in the promotion of circular economy approaches, biodiversity conservation and the blue economy.

Vietnam has achieved great success in reducing extreme and multidimensional poverty. While official measures of inequality have been relatively stable, specific groups of Vietnamese citizens have benefited less from growth and are at risk of marginalization. Reform of the social protection system to improve coverage of vulnerable people, including ethnic minorities and people living in remote, rural locations, migrants, people living with disabilities, and the elderly. As the rate of migration accelerates, the issue of access to affordable housing and essential services in cities will become more important. Although women and girls have equal access to education, progress in other dimensions of gender equality has stalled. UNDP is a leading voice advocating a more creative, active role for youth in development policy and programming. 

Under the strategic guidance of the Resident Representative (RR), the Economic Specialist advises Senior Management, other members of UNDP and its partners on economic policies, trends and relevant linkages to UNDP programmes. The Economic Specialist monitors economic policy developments and provides analysis and reports for formulation of strategies and senior level briefings. The Economic Specialist works closely with Government counterparts to identify alternative economic policy options and to enhance the policy impact of UNDP projects and programmes.

UNDP adopts a portfolio approach to accommodate changing business needs and leverage linkages across  interventions to achieve its strategic goals. Therefore, UNDP personnel are expected to work across units, functions,  teams, and projects in multidisciplinary teams in order to enhance and enable horizontal collaboration.

Duties and Responsibilities 

Advise Country Office management and programme team to strengthen programme development and implementation:

  • Advise UNDP country office management and programme teams with preparation and implementation of country programmes and strategies, including the development of country programme document and related analysis.
  • Facilitate UNDP country office programme teams to identify and develop strategic thematic portfolios, taking into account the policy and economic implications, NextGen technology and innovation;
  • Lead and provide analysis and research in priority and strategic thematic areas at the country level, including publication of policy briefs or other analytical outputs;
  • Provide advice and support the UNDP country office programe teams with the analysis of economic (cost-benefits), national and regional development implications, and potential impact on multiple development goals and targets for the programmatic analytical work in the key  areas of  sustainable domestic financing, circular economy, green growth Just Energy transition, ocean economy, climate change adaptation and mitigation, , the development of carbon markets and the implications of climate agreements and negotiations on trade, etc.;. 
  • Facilitate the preparation of policy briefs, background notes, speeches, talking points, presentation materials, etc. on critical development issues within the SDG framework for senior management at the country and regional levels.
  • Lead the development of National Human Development Report (NHDR) and ensure that it provides added value in terms of development economic analysis, updated data and information for policy formulation.
  • Compile and analyze statistical data as required in support of UNDP country programme and activities.
  • Collaborate across UNDP teams, especially to ensure linkages to the Country Office policy agenda.

Provision of technical advice to national government counterparts and other partners 

  • Work closely with programme teams to identify strategic development opportunities, needs, gaps, and challenges, promote and facilitate dialogue with government officials, development partners, civil society, and the private sector; at the national, provincial and regional levels;
  • Contribute to the identification and analysis of interventions that can impact multiple development goals and targets at the same time; 
  • Facilitate the programme teams in consolidating and providing inputs to the development of the Government policy framework and regulations. 
  • Advise leveraging UNDP’s regional and global programmes, to provide holistic and effective support to the country.
  • Leverage support and expertise from the UNDP’s global/regional economist networks to assist in strengthening UNDP support on economic analysis and policy development to Government and the UN Country Team.
  • Facilitate monitoring and reporting of progress related to SDGs and other national development frameworks relating to UN treaties, conventions and agreement to which Viet Nam is the signatory, including to help strengthen national and local level data collection and statistical capacity.

Representation, advocacy, and partner engagement to support UNDP’s institutional positioning and advance its mandate:

  • Contribute, in close collaboration with senior management, to the development and/or strengthening of partnerships with UN agencies, IFIs, bilateral development agencies, private sector entities, financial institutions and civil society.
  • When delegated, represent UNDP country office in relevant forums, conferences or workshops, including to present research or programmatic results.
  • Contribute to national, regional, and global knowledge networks and communities of practice.

Contribution to UNDP’s work across the Asia-Pacific region, including collaboration with the regional economist network and analysis of priority regional thematic areas:

  • Participate actively in the UNDP Asia-Pacific regional network of economists, through attending regional meetings (in-person and/or virtual), sharing relevant experiences, and conducting peer reviews.
  • Collaborate and contribute to regional publications, practice notes, and Regional Human Development Reports.
  • Substantively contribute as possible to UNDP regional knowledge products and development of programming offers in regional priority areas (e.g., inequality, future of work, innovative financing);
  • Enhance UNDP’s understanding and design of new approaches to sustainable development across the region by acting as a regional thematic lead where possible.

Required Skills and Experience


  • Advanced university degree (master’s degree or equivalent) in Economics is required, or
  • A first-level university degree (bachelor’s degree) in the above-mentioned field of study, in combination with an additional two years of qualifying experience will be given due consideration in lieu of the advanced university degree.
  • A PhD will be an asset. 


  • Minimum of 7 years (with master’s degree) or 9 years (with bachelor’s degree) of relevant experience at the national or international level that includes extensive experience in research and policy-level analysis, and some experience in design, monitoring, and evaluation of development projects.
  • Experience in research and publications in Development, Environmental or Energy Economics, or related fields is required.
  • Extensive experience in research and policy-level analysis is desired. 
  • Demonstrated experience in policy, advisory and advocacy is required. 
  • Experience in preparing high quality policy briefs and guidance notes for use by senior policy makers is desired. 
  • Experience and knowledge of the SDGs and their application at the national level, politically astute with demonstrated experience in stakeholder analysis and engagement is desired.
  • Demonstrated capacity in statistical analysis, especially the presentation of statistical and econometric results in a manner accessible to policy makers and the public is desired.
  • Senior level relevant work experience in Vietnam or Asia and the Pacific Region will be preferred.
  • Experience in the use of computers and office software packages (MS Word, Excel, etc) and advanced knowledge of web-based management systems such as ERP and advanced programmes for statistical analysis of data is required.

Language Requirements:  

  • Fluency in English and Vietnamese is required. 
  • Expected Demonstration of Competencies