Organizational Setting and Work Relationships
Refugee and IDP situations are more and more protracted and of urban nature. To better respond to displacement, UNHCR is adapting its approaches and adopting these to medium- and longer-term perspectives rooted in humanitarian and development principles. A critical part to improve the lives of refugees and IDPs are holistic human settlement approaches, promoting socially and environmentally sustainable areas, in safe areas and a house for people to live in. UNHCR is working towards improving and focusing on protection-oriented approaches which are inspired by urban principles, to facilitate greater inclusion, resilience and solutions, as well as ensure peaceful living together.
The incumbent will work keeping in mind the key principles of human settlement, as well as the UNHCR developed master plan approaches. The incumbent will be a senior staff member providing strong analysis on human settlement, ensuring that spatial allocation of lands is decided in support of the protection, taking into account the development aspects of the entire area, access to basic services, livelihoods, and socio-cultural life of displaced people in integrated approaches. To achieve these objectives, the Senior Human Settlement Officer shall build, lead and maintain strong cross sectoral synergies with a wide variety of sectors.
The Senior Human Settlement Officer will support UNHCR in delivering sustainable, up-to-standard technical responses in human settlements, from acute emergencies to longer-term inclusion, benefitting refugees, IDPs and their host communities, seeking improved integration, resilience and solutions. As displaced situations are becoming more protracted and of scattered, urban nature, the incumbent will need to have proven expertise in urban planning, use of area-based approaches, integrated infrastructure management, (housing, land and property) HLP barriers, with a strong focus on adjusting technical responses to the social, cultural and protection needs of (people of concern) PoC. The incumbent will ensure a holistic approach to settlement planning, shelter and housing, WASH and energy, working closely interdivisional and across divisions. The incumbent will ensure a holistic approach to settlement planning, shelter and housing, WASH and energy, working closely interdivisional and across divisions. Furthermore, s/he will pursue strategic technical collaboration with a wide range of external stakeholders, both from the humanitarian and development spectrum, academia and the private sector, with relevance in both urban and rural contexts.
The Senior Human Settlement Officer will perform leadership, coordination, planning, strategy development and advocacy function in ensuring a holistic approach to human settlement.
All UNHCR staff members are accountable to perform their duties as reflected in their job description. They do so within their delegated authorities, in line with the regulatory framework of UNHCR which includes the UN Charter, UN Staff Regulations and Rules, UNHCR Policies and Administrative Instructions as well as relevant accountability frameworks. In addition, staff members are required to discharge their responsibilities in a manner consistent with the core, functional, cross-functional and managerial competencies and UNHCR’s core values of professionalism, integrity and respect for diversity.
- Support country operations and provide strong technical advice, interactive sessions and assist in developing planning, design, and general development plans for human settlements of any nature, ensuring that these are people-centred, inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
- Promote and ensure the accountability to affected populations and the identification of durable solutions that also promote peaceful coexistence with the host communities, with the ultimate goal of facilitating the integration of human settlements, their services and infrastructures into local development, taking into consideration protection, national legislation, environmental factors, climate related risks, appropriate density, and access to basic services including water, transport, socio-economic vulnerabilities and housing, land and property.
- Actively contribute based on evidence, research and analysis to the discussions internally and externally on strategic urban and regional planning for refugees and IDPs.
- Coordinate the community of practice and assess capacity needs in human settlement across the organization, developing adequate capacity building strategies in collaboration with relevant colleagues.
- Coordinate policy development, including the review and analysis of issues and trends related to urban planning and design, city extensions and densification, expansion and integration of human settlements and their interrelation with local finance and economic development.
- Generate survey initiatives; city and human settlement profiling activities, design data collection tools; review, analyze and interpret responses; identify problems/issues around planning and design of human settlements and prepare conclusions.
- Prepare and supervise written and graphic outputs, e.g. develop local level plans at city, neighbourhood and settlement level, draft background papers, analysis, sections of reports and studies, inputs to publications as required.
- Work in close collaboration with UN-Habitat, development, and multi-lateral actors with a view of ensuring the full inclusion of refugees and IDPs in their planning and programming.
- Lead and participate in relevant fora, including the Camp Coordination and Camp Management Strategic Advisory Group (CCCM SAG) on behalf of UNHCR.
- Perform other duties as required.
Years of Experience / Degree Level
For P4 – 9 years relevant experience with Undergraduate degree; or 8 years relevant experience with Graduate degree; or 7 years relevant experience with Doctorate degree
Field(s) of Education
Architecture; Urban Studies; Urban Development;
or other relevant field that is relevant for sustainable human settlement planning, design and development.
(Field(s) of Education marked with an asterisk* are essential)
Certificates and/or Licenses
Relevant Job Experience
Knowledge and understanding of theories, concepts and approaches relevant to strategic and statutory planning, urban design, public space and regional planning. Good understanding of urban spatial dynamics and their relation with sustainable development and of the linkages between urban planning and social, institutional and capacity development. A minimum of 9 years of progressive responsible experience in urban planning and design with direct proven experience in drawing and preparing graphical material using computer assisted design tools combined with management of multi-stakeholder programmes, is required. Ability to identify, analyse and participate in the resolution of complex urban development problems. Ability to apply judgment in the context of assignments given, utilize different source of data and inputs for decision making, plan own work and manage conflicting priorities. Show pride in work and in achievements; demonstrate professional competence and mastery of subject matter; be conscientious and efficient in meeting commitments, observing deadlines and achieving results; be motivated by professional rather than personal concerns; show persistence when faced with difficult problems or challenges; remain calm in stressful situations. Take responsibility for incorporating gender perspectives and ensuring the equal participation of women and men in all areas of work.
A portfolio of plans and designs of which the incumbent is an author is considered highly desirable. Experience from the UN-system and specifically in refugee and IDP responses is considered an important asset.
PR-Camp Coordination and Camp Management
TR-Facilitation – Virtual and Face to Face
SP-AutoCAD for settlement planning
(Functional Skills marked with an asterisk* are essential)
For International Professional and Field Service jobs: Knowledge of English and UN working language of the duty station if not English.
For National Professional jobs: Knowledge of English and UN working language of the duty station if not English and local language.
For General Service jobs: Knowledge of English and/or UN working language of the duty station if not English.
All jobs at UNHCR require six core competencies and may also require managerial competencies and/or cross-functional competencies. The six core competencies are listed below.
Teamwork & Collaboration
Commitment to Continuous Learning
Client & Result Orientation
Judgement and Decision Making
Empowering and Building Trust
Strategic Planning and Vision
Planning and Organizing
All UNHCR workforce members must individually and collectively, contribute towards a working environment where each person feels safe, and empowered to perform their duties. This includes by demonstrating no tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse, harassment including sexual harassment, sexism, gender inequality, discrimination, and abuse of power.
As individuals and as managers, all must be proactive in preventing and responding to inappropriate conduct, support ongoing dialogue on these matters and speaking up and seeking guidance and support from relevant UNHCR resources when these issues arise.
This is a Standard Job Description for all UNHCR jobs with this job title and grade level. The Operational Context may contain additional essential and/or desirable qualifications relating to the specific operation and/or position. Any such requirements are incorporated by reference in this Job Description and will be considered for the screening, shortlisting and selection of candidates.
Desired Candidate Profile
The Senior Human Settlement Officer will report to the Chief of the Technical Support Section in DRS, and plays a crucial role in ensuring that UNHCR delivers on its commitments and accountability to protect and improve the lives of refugees and IDPs through holistic human settlement approaches, promoting socially and environmentally sustainable areas, in safe areas and a house for people to live in. The position aims at improving and focusing on protection-oriented approaches which are inspired by urban principles, to facilitate greater inclusion, resilience and solutions, as well as ensure peaceful living together.
The incumbent of this position should have demonstrated experience in leading and managing a hybrid and complex context. The incumbent will need to have proven expertise in urban planning, use of area-based approaches, integrated infrastructure management, housing, land and property (HLP) barriers, with a strong focus on adjusting technical responses to the social, cultural and protection needs of the people UNHCR serves. As UNHCR is increasingly engaged in Climate Action, it is essential for the incumbent to have substantial experience in managing complex situations and related multi-functional knowledge required to effectively manage and operationalize responses. As such the incumbent will work closely with wide variety of colleagues including protection, shelter and housing, WASH and energy and public health.
S/he will be mature, be able to build bridges and pursue strategic technical collaboration with a wide range of internal and external stakeholders. The incumbent will be able to make linkages with both the humanitarian and development actors including UN-Habitat, UNICEF, NGO partners, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and academia, with relevance in both urban and rural contexts. S/he will lead and participate in relevant fora, including the Camp Coordination and Camp Management Strategic Advisory Group (CCCM SAG) on behalf of UNHCR.
The incumbent will have demonstrated ability to identify, analyze and participate in the resolution of complex development problems. The incumbent should be an out of the box thinker and can apply judgment in the context of assignments given, utilize different source of data and inputs for decision making, plan own work and manage conflicting priorities.
S/he should be able to work under pressure and effectively coordinate to meet multiple competing deadlines in an organized and structured manner. Strong communication, excellent writing and presentation skills are also essential. Knowledge of another UN language is an asset. A portfolio of plans and designs of which the incumbent is an author is considered highly desirable. Experience from the UN-system and specifically in refugee and IDP responses is considered an important asset.
Required languages (expected Overall ability is at least B2 level):
Occupational Safety and Health Considerations:
To view occupational safety and health considerations for this duty station, please visit this link:
Nature of Position:
The Senior Human Settlement Officeris an essential member of the Technical Support Section (TSS) in the Division of Resilience and Solutions (DRS). Under the direct supervision of the Chief of Section, the incumbent will play a key role in integrating technical, human and holistic aspects in human settlements. S/he will ensure that strong technical support and strategic guidance on all matters related to planning, organization, management and development of human settlements is provided, while fostering the strong interlinkages with shelter and housing, water and sanitation and energy, while ensuring that all environmental, social, economic and cultural considerations are taken into account
In line with TSS’ ambition to break silos across technical areas, and to act as knowledgeable and practical technical support provider while aligning with new emerging priorities, the Senior Human Settlement Officerwill support UNHCR in delivering sustainable, up-to-standard technical responses in human settlements. In particular, the incumbent is expected to drive a step-change in UNHCR approaches to human settlements: through innovative and creative thinking, the incumbent will set out action-oriented frameworks to make forcibly displaced settlements more human, resilient and “not left behind” from the onset of an emergency. The incumbent will also drive the conception of place-based strategic plans based on spatial, social and economic factors that will help most protracted and least resilient human settlements, realizing better broad protection outcomes and stimulating growth, productivity, prosperity and development, in the best interest of displaced people and their hosts.
Living and Working Conditions:
Geneva is a HQ duty station offering high standard living conditions with a relatively high cost of living. Switzerland is in general a safe place with very little crime.
Staff members assigned to Geneva have also been granted the opportunity to reside in neighbouring France on the understanding that the preconditions to acquiring a French residency permit are respected.
Medical care is up to international standards. Under the Swiss Federal Health Insurance Act health insurance coverage is compulsory for all persons domiciled in Switzerland within three months of taking up residence or being born in the country. International staff members and their family members holding a Carte de legitimation or an attestation delivered by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs are exempt from this compulsory insurance provided that they are covered by another health insurance scheme (i.e. UNSMIS).
With regard to educational facilities in the Geneva area, international schools (La Grande Boissière, Châtaigneraie and Pregny) have difficulties to find places for new admissions. It is therefore advisable to make requests for admission for children as early as possible. For more information on this subject, staff can contact the Association Genevoise des écoles privées in Geneva (www.agep.ch), tel: (+41 22 735 7671).
BA: Architecture, BA: Urban Planning, BA: Urban Studies
Accountability, Analytical thinking, Client & results orientation, Commitment to continuous learning, Communication, Empowering & building trust, Judgement & decision making, Leadership, Managing performance, Managing resource, Organizational awareness, Planning & organizing, Stakeholder management, Strategic planning & visions, Teamwork & collaboration
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Add.2 to Bi-annual Compendium 2022 – Part B
This position requires Functional Clearance
How to apply
For a full job description and to apply, interested candidates are requested to visit
The UNHCR workforce consists of many diverse nationalities, cultures, languages and opinions. UNHCR seeks to sustain and strengthen this diversity to ensure equal opportunities as well as an inclusive working environment for its entire workforce. Applications are encouraged from all qualified candidates without distinction on grounds of race, colour, sex, national origin, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity.
Please note that UNHCR does not charge a fee at any stage of its recruitment process (application, interview, meeting, travelling, processing, training or any other fees).
Closing date of receipt of applications: 16 Feb 2023 (midnight Geneva time)