METI Job Vacancy: US Forest Service Asia Regional Forestry Advisor - Bangkok, Thailand

Over the past several decades, Asia’s developing countries have experienced remarkable economic, industrial, and urban growth, and this rapid development is expected to continue.

The US Government is working collaboratively with Asian countries to address and mitigate some of the negative consequences of this rapid growth for climate change, biodiversity and land management. As part of this effort, the US Forest Service is working with the US Agency for International Development’s Regional Development Mission for Asia (USAID/RDMA), based in Bangkok, Thailand. RDMA promotes innovative solutions to regional challenges for a healthier, greener, safer and more prosperous Asia.

Asia’s increasing energy demand and fossil fuel consumption, industrial activity, deforestation, forest degradation, and land use change all make the region among the world’s highest contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions. It is estimated that carbon dioxide emissions from conventional energy use in Asia’s developing countries will increase from 33 percent of the world total in 2008 to 45 percent by 2030. The forest and land-use sector is expected to further contribute to these emission trends; up to 80 percent of emissions of some countries in the region are from forest and land use sources.

RDMA’s work on mitigation (i.e., reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions) is designed to help countries slow or curb carbon emissions while achieving clean and sustainable economic development through activities that promote low emission development strategies (LEDS), sustainable landscapes, and clean energy. Deforestation and forest degradation is estimated to contribute about 15% of global GHG emissions. The U.S. Government recognizes the important role of forests—in storing carbon, conserving biodiversity, supporting local livelihoods, and providing critical goods and services—and has committed over $1 billion to support global efforts to protect forests and reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+). RDMA also recognizes the importance of steering investment flows on forests in a positive direction, and the need to strengthen civil society networks in the Lower Mekong region to more effectively engage in forestry-related policy decisions.

The United States Forest Service (USFS) is the principal domestic technical agency for forestry and natural resources management in the United States, managing 78 million hectares of forests and rangelands. The USFS has deep expertise in a wide range of relevant themes, which are priority program areas for USAID/RDMA, including global climate change, biodiversity, science and technology exchange, economic growth and good governance. The USFS also has substantial technical capacity to apply remotely sensed and field data for natural resources monitoring and decision-making. The USFS already works closely with USAID/E3 Bureau, RDMA and bilateral Missions to integrate best management practices from the US and US technical tools, approaches and perspectives into ongoing USAID climate change and biodiversity efforts. These efforts ensure high caliber technical approaches that are consistent with US government policies, experiences and perspectives, particularly those associated with measuring, reporting and verifying carbon emissions from land use.

The USFS has a long history of technical cooperation with Asian and Pacific partners and is viewed by governments, private sector firms and NGO partners as an honest broker for issues such as appropriate technologies for monitoring forest resources. In the Asia and Pacific Region, USFS already works bilaterally with Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Philippines and Vietnam and is also supported by the State Department in Philippines, Indonesia and China.  USFS has had a long-term partnership with USAID/RDMA providing technical assistance in support of their strategic objectives to improve sustainable management of forest resources and to address global climate change in a regional context.  Much of the regional efforts supported by RDMA are co-funded by USAID and State Department global programs.  For example, USAID is also supporting the SilvaCarbon program, together with the US State Department and in cooperation with other US agencies (USFS, USEPA, USGS, and NASA), which aims to enhance capacity worldwide for monitoring and managing forest and terrestrial carbon.

For the past three years, USFS has placed an Asia Regional Forestry Advisor in Bangkok who both directly supports RDMA’s Regional Environment Office (REO) and also leads coordination of USFS technical support activities with RDMA partners. USFS is extending its partnership with RDMA through the continuation of the Advisor position as well as technical assistance to RDMA partners in land cover monitoring, mangrove restoration, and other priority topics, as they emerge.

Along with numerous other development partners and USAID bilateral Missions across the region, RDMA is supporting efforts to strengthen capacities of developing countries in Asia to produce meaningful and sustainable reductions in GHG emissions from the forestry-land use sector and to participate in and benefit from the international REDD+ framework. RDMA’s Regional Environment Office is currently developing multiple new strategies that will frame the future of its investments in the forestry and environment sector, including sustainable landscapes, urban issues, and adaptation. As these strategies develop and program implementation begins, USFS will provide technical assistance as requested to RDMA and their partners.

Previous programs by USAID/RDMA have laid the foundation for collaborating with developing countries in the region through the Low Emissions Asian Development (LEAD) program on the development and implementation of LEDS and GHG accounting systems, through promoting carbon market development, and through regional-level knowledge-sharing and capacity building efforts such as support for the Asia LEDS Partnership and LEAD’s proposed training center. Additionally, the Lowering Emissions in Asia’s Forests (LEAF) program contributed by guiding policy and market incentives for GHG reductions; building and institutionalizing technical capacities for economic valuation of forest ecosystem services and monitoring changes in forest carbon stocks; demonstrating innovation in sustainable land management though sub-national field demonstration activities; and replicating and scaling-up innovation through regional platforms and partnerships. USAID/RDMA is actively building new Sustainable Landscapes partnerships on this foundation.

USFS Asia Regional Forestry Advisor
The Asia Regional Forestry Advisor (‘the Advisor’) will lead development, implementation, and coordination of targeted technical assistance provided to USAID/RDMA climate change and forest conservation programs.  This includes providing technical advice and direct support to USAID/RDMA and relevant programs, and ensuring that activities are synergistic and well-coordinated with relevant global, regional and bilateral programs of USAID and other development partners. The initial task of the Advisor will be to guide the technical aspects of a new Sustainable Landscapes regional initiative by RDMA, which aims to demonstrate and promote low emission land management via private sector investment in sustainable landscapes business models. The envisioned guidance will include:
  • Serving as a technical advisor on environmental, socio-economic, business, and other dimensions of forestry, agroforestry, and commodity production in forested landscapes,
  • Supporting partnership development with relevant investors (e.g., banks and funds), companies (zero-deforestation pledge companies), donors (e.g., DFID) and partners (e.g., CIFOR) interested in sustainable landscapes via private sector investments,
  • Providing technical advice on practical opportunities for mobilizing conservation finance and related impact investments for sustainable landscapes, and
  • Providing technical advice on ecosystem services (ES) assessment and valuation approaches and tools that, among other things, quantify carbon storage and values, watershed financial flows, and other non-market values, as well as elucidate linkages of ES benefits across stakeholders.
The Advisor must have the following qualifications: 
  • American citizenship or legal status to work in the United States preferred, and willingness to obtain a secret level security clearance;
  • An advanced degree in natural resources management, forestry, environmental management, or related field, with a preference for an economics or conservation finance background;
  • 10 or more years of experience working with natural resources management (NRM) and/or forestry;
  • Experience conducting ecosystem services assessments and/or valuations and articulating how benefits of various ecosystem services accrue to different constituents;
  • Experience bridging technical aspects of forestry (or NRM) to conservation finance and business interests in production models that are sustainable and profitable;
  • Experience incorporating economic benefits into business plans for protected areas, especially in situations requiring negotiations between stakeholders with diverse interests (e.g., landscape managers, local residents, and finance sector);
  • Knowledge of the U.S. Forest Service and land management methodologies and approaches in the U.S.; 
  • Knowledge of forest carbon stock assessment and REDD+ programs, ecosystem service valuation, socio-economic contributions of tropical forests, forest governance issues, and related technical concepts and best management practices;
  • Experience working in a developing country context, with previous experience in Asia preferred;
  • Demonstrated ability to work effectively and independently without day-to-day supervision;
  • Demonstrated ability to work collaboratively and build and strengthen partnerships;
  • Excellent organizational and program management skills, including financial management, and reporting;
  • Excellent written and oral communication and interpersonal skills;
  • Computer proficiencies in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and the Internet; and
  • Language skills: fluency in written and spoken English.
The primary duties for the Advisor will be to:
  • Serve as the primary point of contact for USFS in the Asia region and between USAID/RDMA and USFS/International Programs (IP);
  • Develop, implement, and coordinate targeted, technical assistance activities (both existing and future) in collaboration with and in support of USAID/RDMA and its sustainable landscapes and biodiversity programs;
  • Develop and support activities that improve decision-making for coastal ecosystems, including investments and approaches to mangrove restoration and conservation;
  • Ensure USFS expertise contributes to the land classification and monitoring efforts by the ongoing USAID funded SERVIR-Mekong program;
  • Assist bilateral USAID Missions in Asia, upon request, with their programs related to sustainable landscapes, lowering emissions from development, climate adaptation and forest conservation.  The Missions in Cambodia, Indonesia, and Vietnam will be special areas of emphasis due to ongoing bilateral partnerships as well as the interest of the Missions for additional support.
  • Formulate a detailed Work Plan and specific scopes of work (SOWs) for USFS in Asia that reflect close integration of efforts with other USAID-funded activities such as USAID/RDMA’s programs and relevant USAID bilateral efforts in the region;
  • Collaboratively identify strategic opportunities for technical assistance from USFS and manage US expertise and inputs related to forest management and GHG mitigation;
  • Provide advice, direct support, and technical backstopping to USAID/RDMA and relevant programs, such as input on activities, work plans, and performance reports;
  • Ensure that activities are synergistic and well-coordinated with relevant regional and bilateral programs of USAID and USG (e.g., SilvaCarbon, other USFS efforts, bilateral USAID Mission programs, etc.), other development partners (e.g. UN-REDD, FAO, JICA, etc.), and government counterparts and are contributing directly to meeting developing country goals, needs and capacities (SDGs, NDCs, NGIs, National Adaptation Plans, Low-Emission Development Strategies, etc.);
  • Cultivate strong working relationships with private sector partners and investors, regional governments, multilateral, and non-governmental institutions involved in REDD+ issues; and
  • Coordinate and regularly communicate activities with USAID/RDMA and USFS/IP, and with relevant USG agencies and USAID Missions.
Position Location
The Advisor will be based at the USAID/RDMA office in Bangkok, Thailand upon receiving a secret security clearance. Frequent travel in the Asia region to visit project sites, implement and monitor activities, and collaborate with partners (government and non-government) regionally will be required. An annual trip to participate in USG planning meetings in Washington, DC is also envisioned.

Contract Oversight and Reporting
The Advisor shall report directly to the USFS/IP Asia-Pacific Program Coordinator or her designee, who will provide guidance and support. In addition, the Advisor shall provide regular quarterly updates and progress reports to USAID/RDMA.

Anticipated Period of Performance: August 1, 2016-July 31, 2018
This is a contract position intended to be for a total period of two years (based on the actual start date), subject to contract renewal after 12 months and successful performance review after an initial 6 month period to be conducted collaboratively between USFS/IP and USAID/RDMA.

Communication and Reporting
The Advisor will maintain close communication with USAID/RDMA and USFS/IP. The Advisor will submit a quarterly performance report for both internal and external audiences, including key updates to a wide range of USG stakeholders in the Asia region and in the US, to be submitted to the USFS and USAID/RDMA.  This will need to include a summary of activities undertaken during the reporting period, achievements, upcoming events, and budget expenditures. Quarterly reports will be compiled by USFS/IP staff in Washington, DC and distributed.

How to Apply
The successful applicant will be hired through a contractor, METI, Inc. Please email your resume and cover letter to: Please include “Asia Regional Forestry Advisor” in the subject line. In the body of the email, please indicate where you saw this posting.

Closing Date: 25 September 2016