Job Description

Over the past two decades Cambodia has realized exceptional rates of economic growth (averaging 7.7% between 1995 and 2018) and has delivered an economic transformation. This has been accompanied by persistent declines in poverty and rapid improvements in human development. Cambodia also performed strongly on the MDGs, fully achieving the vast majority of the targets and several ahead of time. It has made a strong start with the more ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).Yet Cambodia does face several development challenges going forward. As poverty has fallen, vulnerability has risen. Disparities in human development levels and incomes between areas, specifically urban and rural, remain. Pressures stemming from Cambodia’s progression as a Middle-Income Country (MIC) and future graduation from the Least Developed Countries (LDC) category, are likely to also place stress on its development model. The economic base is narrow and structural change – the pace of industrialization and urbanization - has slowed in recent years. Productivity gains have levelled off, and informal employment remains high. Additionally, the growth process has tended to be resource and carbon intensive, therefore, raising questions about sustainability. Cambodia has as a result, experienced both environmental degradation and natural resource depletion. In sum, the policy challenge is one of maintaining the high level of growth alongside improving its quality (having regard to the above domains).The Covid-19 pandemic has had major economic implications for Cambodia. While the number of cases have been low and the outbreak has been effectively controlled within Cambodia, its economy has suffered major demand shocks from the global impacts of the crisis in its key north American and European markets. The country’s leading sectors – textiles, tourism and construction have suffered major declines. Estimates suggest that growth will turn negative in 2020 (from a pre-crisis growth position of over 6.5%). Moreover, that the employment and poverty effects will also be considerable.The Country Economist post is located within the Country Office and lead the socioeconomic team within the Policy and Innovation Hub (PIH). In recent years, the team has developed a strong relationship with key Royal Government partners, most notably, the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) and this was codified within a formal MOU. Therefore the post holder would also be required to act an Adviser and potentially spend extended periods within Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) ministries. While reporting to the Resident Representative (RR) the Economist will work closely with RGC counterparts on issues of policy development, planning and research. In doing so, the Economist will support institutional strengthening and build staff skills to develop technical and policymaking capacities within the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF). It is key that she/he source and enable innovative and alternative directions and policy choices to be considered by decision makers.A key focus of recent work has been the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic – modelling and advising on the immediate crisis effects and stimulus and enabling/ sporting Cambodia’s medium-term recovery through key policy reforms. The Socioeconomic team’s ongoing work has prioritised 4 topic areas, farmed in in line with the UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) and Country Programme Document’s (CDP) Property Pillar (which aims to ensure economic growth is inclusive and sustainable). These are: social protection polices and reforms (including graduation-based models); developmental macroeconomic policies and tools (notably GE modelling); finance for development/ SDG achievement (government bonds, impact finance and metrics); and Industry 4.0 (adoption and adaptation of new technologies).The Economist will report to the Resident Representative (RR) and the Assistant RR (Policy and Innovation) and work with both the Policy and Programme clusters, and UNDP projects, enabling a strong team response to the challenges faced by Cambodia. The postholder would also be expected to access expertise and experiences in the region and beyond, via UNDP’s network of country and regional offices.Duties and ResponsibilitiesSummary of key functions:
  1. Serve as lead technical adviser on economics topics: Identify research directions for UNDP/ UN; support needs of UNDP projects; and provide high level technical inputs to Government partners. This will include application of advanced analytical tools and methods (statistics and econometrics, macroeconomic models, development and welfare metrics).

  2. Provide high level policy advice to senior government policymakers and UN/ UNDP managements: Offer authoritative, high caliber technical advice to government (specifically MEF) to strengthen policy responses, long term strategies; and develop staff and institutional capacities. Additionally, advise UN and UNDP senior managements on directions and priority topics, and contribute to UNDP and UN strategies.

  3. Represent UNDP in major forums: Lead dialogues with Government, national think tanks, and development partners, at high level, often in large events, including at regional and global levels.

  4. Exercise thought and policy leadership: Lead the Socioeconomic Team, within the Policy and Innovation Hub, and advocate for UNDP/ UN normative positions (human development, the Sustainable Development Agenda etc.). Build effective networks and policy influencing circles, particularly engaging with young and emerging voices and commentators within and outside Government.

1. Serve as lead technical adviser on economic topics:
  • Assist MEF (and other strategic ministries) with Analysis and interpretation of economic and statistical data, thorough monitoring of trends and application of advanced analytical methods (econometrics, poverty/ welfare/ human development metrics and economic modelling).

  • Support the transfer and application of tools, methods and capacities (notably on economic modelling and econometric techniques) to the MEF macro policy team and other analysts.

  • Offer bespoke technical inputs on COVID-19 impacts and aftermath, on macro policies and recovery options.

  • Produce relevant research on standing priority topic areas (social protection, developmental macroeconomic policies, financing for development and Industry 4.0) and promote inclusive and substantiable economic policymaking.

  • Provide relevant and robust analysis and contribute to evidence base for RGC policy and planning instruments such as the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP), the Rectangular Strategy and others (as required).

  • Support the development of signature analytical products such as the National Human Development Report.

2. Provide high level policy advice to senior policymakers in MEF and other ministries and UN/ UNDP managements:
  • Advise on near term policymaking and the macro stance, with special refence to ongoing work on the covid-19 emergency and inputs on medium term recovery.

  • Provide timely and useful policy advice to Government on priority topics (see above).

  • Specifically advise and support with RGC actors (e.g. Ministry of Environment, Council for the Development of Cambodia) on MIC transition issues (LDC graduation, industrial development policies) and energy transition and resource economics (working with other UNDP colleagues)

  • Help to provide links through other UNDP offices and other counterparts to experiences and innovations in the region and globally, relevant to economic policy issues. Facilitate South/South exchanges, also to showcase policy successes from RGC.

3. Represent UNDP in key forums:
  • Directly participate in inter-ministerial, inter-agency and cross-sector consultations related to economic policymaking, pro-poor growth and inclusive planning;

  • Facilitate policy advice in support of achieving the SDGs, Human Development and inclusive and sustainable economic growth by participating in relevant forums, conferences and training.

  • Collaborate Government-led as well as donor-sponsored research and policy processes with a focus on supporting MIC economic transition and sustainable development.

4. Exercise thought and policy leadership:
  • Network with Government and national counterparts to ensure UNDP’s support is closely aligned with national priorities and well suited to UNDP’s comparative advantages;

  • Connect with think tanks, academia and other development partners doing interesting and relevant work.

  • Liaise with UN partner organizations, World Bank, ADB and other development partners, to maximize collective support and to avoid duplication.

  • Undertake and support resource mobilization efforts to support the CPD and the UNDAF.

  • Network regionally and globally using UNDP’s system and others where opportunities lies to stimulate and strengthen policy effectiveness.

CompetenciesCompetencies and Selection Criteria The primary outputs are the building of MEF and wider Government capacity to prepare and implement national economic policy and provision of bespoke TA and policy advice to decision makers. With the impact being, facilitation of policy choices are supportive of more inclusive and sustainable economic growth. The key results of the post are expected strengthen UNDP’s contribution to the national policy dialogue and enhance the impacts UNDP programming. Additionally, the postholder’s work should support creation of strategic partnerships and enable realization of resource mobilization targets. The postholder is expected to maintain the visibility of UNDP in economic analysis and policy circles. Core Competencies: InnovationAbility to make new and useful ideas workLevel 6: Exercises stakeholder-centered Design approaches for office / programme / division LeadershipAbility to persuade others to followLevel 6: Ensures teams are resourced for success and empowered to deliver People ManagementAbility to improve performance and satisfactionLevel 6: Guides substantive specialists / teams and expands credibility and innovation capacity CommunicationAbility to listen, adapt, persuade and transformLevel 6: Creates confidence among stakeholders by delivering authoritative positions, compelling analysis, and contextual acumen DeliveryAbility to get things done while exercising good judgementLevel 6: Accepts accountability for the outcomes of programme delivery and facilitates improvement and innovation in the delivery of products and services Technical/Functional Competencies: Economic GeneralKnowledge of economics concepts, principles and policies and ability to apply to strategic and/or practical situationsLevel 6: Integrate & Empower: Leads integral work of teams utilizing expertise, vision, problem-solving capability, and collaborative energy in professional area of expertise Economic Planning Knowledge of Economic Planning concepts and the ability to apply to strategic and/or practical situationsLevel 6: Integrate & Empower: Leads integral work of teams utilizing expertise, vision, problem-solving capability, and collaborative energy in professional area of expertise Economic RecoveryKnowledge of Economic Recovery concepts and the ability to apply to strategic and/or practical situationsLevel 6: Integrate & Empower: Leads integral work of teams utilizing expertise, vision, problem-solving capability, and collaborative energy in professional area of expertise Effective Development CooperationKnowledge of development cooperation which can then be carried forward into inclusive, country-led mechanisms for development cooperation at national and regional levelsLevel 6: Integrate & Empower: Leads integral work of teams utilizing expertise, vision, problem-solving capability, and collaborative energy in professional area of expertise Innovation Ability to manage organizational resources and deployment in pursuit of innovative approaches and initiativesLevel 6: Integrate & Empower: Leads integral work of teams utilizing expertise, vision, problem-solving capability, and collaborative energy in professional area of expertise Required Skills and Experience
  • Master’s degree in economics/ development economics essential, PhD in economics is desirable.

  • At least 10 years of relevant experience at international level in research and analysis and provision of policy advice and technical assistance (TA). Experience of UN or international organizations; knowledge of UN/UNDP, and/or UN/UNDP procedures and approaches, is preferable.

  • High level policy experience of several policy areas: poverty reduction/ inequality; social protection policy reform; inclusive macroeconomics; productivity and industrial policies; green growth and resource economics; private sector development; and urban policy and urbanization.

  • Economic analysis skills (or strong awareness/ understanding of) modelling; use of advanced statistics and econometrics; poverty/ inequality and human development metrics; political economy analysis.

  • Competency in use of software packages for statistical/analysis (Stata, SPSS etc.).

  • Proficiency in English. Working knowledge of other UN language desirable

  • Excellent command of written and spoken English.

  • Knowledge of Khmer language would be an asset.


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