Innovation Specialist (Behavioural Science)

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  • Contract
  • Rome

FAO - Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations


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  • FAO is committed to achieving workforce diversity in terms of gender, nationality, background and culture.
  • Qualified female applicants, qualified nationals of non-and under-represented Members and person with disabilities are encouraged to apply;
  • Everyone who works for FAO is required to adhere to the highest standards of integrity and professional conduct, and to uphold FAO’s values
  • FAO, as a Specialized Agency of the United Nations, has a zero-tolerance policy for conduct that is incompatible with its status, objectives and mandate, including sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment, abuse of authority and discrimination  
  • All selected candidates will undergo rigorous reference and background checks
  • All applications will be treated with the strictest confidentiality

Organizational Setting

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) contributes to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda through its Strategic Framework by supporting the transformation to more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agri-food systems, for Better production, Better nutrition, a Better environment and a Better life, leaving no one behind.
The Office of Innovation (OIN) is an important instrument within FAO to provide strategic direction and help drive and coordinate innovation across the work of the Organization, i.e., to consolidate and strengthen FAO’s innovative spirit, including the innovation of approaches and cooperation models. OIN supports the Programme Priority Areas (PPAs), ensuring that FAO mainstreams innovation in its programs, facilitates cross-collaboration between the various FAO units, and aids in forging and reinforcing transformative partnerships.
In line with the FAO Director-General’s call to change approaches and business models for transformational change, and in parallel with the UN Secretary General’s call for UN agencies to increase their use of behavioural science, OIN is spearheading FAO’s effort to explore the benefits of behavioural science and behaviour change methodologies as vehicles for innovation across Priority Programme Areas (PPAs) and Functional Objectives.

Reporting Lines

The consultant/PSA reports directly to the relevant Team Leader in the Office of Innovation.

Technical Focus

The consultant/PSA is engaged by the Organization to provide expertise, skills or knowledge for the performance of a specific task or piece of work, which would be short-term by nature. The assignment may involve full-time or part-time functions. The purpose of this Call is to identify suitably qualified and experienced consultants and/or PSA subscribers to populate a roster for the following profile\: Behavioural Science Specialist.

Candidates may be involved in more than one orientation/initiative and may be invited to undertake short-term assignments ranging in duration from a few days or weeks to a maximum of 11 months. The possibility of extension is subject to satisfactory performance and depending on the resources and needs of the Organization.

The specialist will provide support to the FAO Science and Innovation Strategy at global, regional, sub-regional and country level in three pillars\:

Pillar I\: Strengthening science and evidence-based decision-making.
Pillar II\: Supporting innovation and technology at regional and country level; and
Pillar III\: Serving member better reinforcing FAO’s capacities.

Tasks and responsibilities

The Consultant/PSA will provide support to FAO’s vision at global, regional and country level, applying behavioural insights to different programmatic areas across FAO.

Tasks and responsibilities

• Support (category C) / Coordinate (category B) / Lead (category A) the implementation of formative behavioural science research, literature reviews and scoping exercises;
• Support / Coordinate / Lead teams in the implementation of the application of behavioural science by a stepwise approach (e.g. Define, Diagnose, Design, Test, Scale or similar) to\: i) promote human-centered thinking; and ii) generate where feasible behavioural insights together with teams.
• Support / Coordinate / Lead the piloting of behavioural science projects in the field; including co-design of behavioural science interventions / prototypes through a data-driven perspective, building on existing knowledge from the formative or explorative research phase in projects and aligning with technical teams to deliver quality behavioural science outputs that contribute to desired innovation outcomes
• Support / Coordinate / Lead the organization and implementation of co-innovation workshops (e.g. behaviour design sprints), making use of established diagnostic tools and frameworks (e.g. EAST, COM-B, BASIC, MINDSPACE) to design and implement workshops, as appropriate.
• Support / Coordinate / Lead the application of qualitative, quantitative and/or mixed methods research to capture evidence generated from behavioural science applications; provide guidance on instrument design, integrating of behavioural indicators; capture, analyse and translate pilot results for technical and non-technical audiences
• Support / Coordinate / Lead the iteration of interventions to identify scalable policy elements and / or adapt previous pilots to agrifood system contexts.
• Any other duties as required.


Minimum Requirements

• University degree in Behavioural Science, Behavioural Economics or any related studies.
• At least 1 year (category C), 5 years (category B) or 12 years (category A) of relevant work experience in the areas below\:
o Applied behavioural science expertise in behavioural assessments, barrier and lever analysis, running experiments, lab-in-the-field or other forms of applied research.
o Application of qualitative, quantitative and/or mixed research methods
o Research instruments, protocols, recruitment screening procedures, enumerator trainings and pre-analysis plans (data analytics including skills in identifying and visualizing data-driven causes and correlations; running experiments and surveys; SQL and ability to query and manipulate datasets; use of statistical packages [e.g. Stata, R] would be preferred)
o Behavioural design in prototyping, user testing and other related participatory research designs
o Behavioural co-design workshop planning, event planning and/or management (e.g. hackathons, behavioural design sprints) including alignment on pre- and post-workshop preparations such as worksheet development and follow-up with teams.
o Design and/or delivery of introductory training on behavioural science concepts and processes for internal and external audiences
o Project management
o Relationship management
• Working knowledge (level C) of English and limited knowledge (level B) of another official language of the Organization (Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian or Spanish).

Personal Service Agreement (PSA)
• University degree, technical specialization or equivalent in Behavioural Science, Behavioural Economics or any related studies.
• At least 1 year (category C), 5 years (category B) or 15 years (category A) of relevant work experience the aforementioned areas.
• Working knowledge (Level C) of English is required.

FAO Core Competencies

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

Selection Criteria

• University degree in behavioural science, behavioural economics, decision sciences, psychology, social psychology, organizational psychology, organizational design, statistics, sociology, economics, business administration, public policy, or a related field. Advanced degree will be considered an asset.
• Experience supporting, coordinating or leading behaviour change projects.
• Pilot and field-work experience applying behavioural principles in agriculture-related programmes (e.g. food loss and waste, resilience).
• Experience enabling the uptake of innovations in vulnerable communities with exposure to contexts in the Global South preferred.
• Familiarity with liaising with central and decentralized offices and field teams, preferably in the United Nations context, will be considered an asset.

Please note that all candidates should adhere to FAO Values of Commitment to FAO, Respect for All and Integrity and Transparency


  • FAO does not charge any fee at any stage of the recruitment process (application, interview, processing)
  • Please note that FAO will only consider academic credentials or degrees obtained from an educational institution recognized in the IAU/UNESCO list
  • Please note that FAO only considers higher educational qualifications obtained from an institution accredited/recognized in the World Higher Education Database (WHED), a list updated by the International Association of Universities (IAU) / United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The list can be accessed at http\://
  • For more information, visit the FAO employment website
  • Appointment will be subject to certification that the candidate is medically fit for appointment, accreditation, any residency or visa requirements, and security clearances.


• To apply, visit the recruitment website at Jobs at FAO and complete your online profile. We strongly recommend that your profile is accurate, complete and includes your employment records, academic qualifications, and language skills
• Candidates are requested to attach a letter of motivation to the online profile
• Once your profile is completed, please apply, and submit your application
• Candidates may be requested to provide performance assessments and authorization to conduct verification checks of past and present work, character, education, military and police records to ascertain any and all information which may be pertinent to the employment qualifications
• Incomplete applications will not be considered
• Personal information provided on your application may be shared within FAO and with other companies acting on FAO’s behalf to provide employment support services such as pre-screening of applications, assessment tests, background checks and other related services. You will be asked to provide your consent before submitting your application. You may withdraw consent at any time, by withdrawing your application, in such case FAO will no longer be able to consider your application
• Only applications received through the FAO recruitment portal will be considered
• Your application will be screened based on the information provided in your online profile
• We encourage applicants to submit the application well before the deadline date.

If you need help or have queries, please create a one-time registration with FAO’s client support team for further assistance\: https\://


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