Vacancy announcement

Consultant - Pre-feasibility Study for the Establishment of a Centre of Excellence on Circularity in India - Extended to 17 September 2021

Vacancy type Consultant/Individual Contractor
Duration of the contract
4 months (Output-based)
Deadline for submission of applications
17 September 2021
Organizational Unit
Green Development and Climate Change Programme Unit (GDCCPU)
To be defined in accordance with competences and experience of the candidate
Area of Specialization/Thematic Areas:

Economics, Circularity, Environmental Sciences, Sustainable Development

  • Programme Background

India boasts of a wealth of research capacity, both nationally and sub-nationally, with the potential to play a transformational role in bringing IGE approaches into the real economy.  At this time it is the understanding of the PAGE partners that there is no clear ‘go to’ institution with the mandate to undertake SDG 12 related research and to provide policy advice. At the same time, there is emerging domestic willingness, investment and experience across industry sectors to put in place new practices that are more closely aligned with SDG 12 targets and circularity. Mostly such initiatives are driven by resource efficiency considerations and the intent of the proposed Centre for Circularity would be to give greater visibility to this experience and to push the boundaries towards a more comprehensive circular economy approach in the future.  Ideally the Centre would define key focal areas working in partnership with both international and national entities to deliver high quality research, assessment, advice and training. For example, the Reserve Bank of India expenditure data indicates (Switch-Asia) that household expenditures have risen most sharply for automobiles, private phones, food and personal care. Linked to this existing analysis the issue of e-waste management could potentially provide a starting point around which to launch the Centre given burgeoning demand for electronic goods linked to increasing disposable income, high rates of obsolescence, with waste largely managed by the informal sector. It is intended that the Centre does not become a repository of knowledge but rather an accelerator of innovative ideas for circularity with the potential to impact on markets. The main services provided would include research, policy dialogue, research briefs, media briefs, monitoring and reporting, training and knowledge transfer.

  • Context

India joined the Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE) in 2018. PAGE provides policy analysis to support countries to move towards a green transition and, more recently in the wake of the global pandemic, to support fiscal and other decision making towards promoting a ‘green’ recovery.  The partnership is based on a collaboration of 5 UN agencies including UNE, UNDP, ILO, UNIDO and UNITAR, currently working in 20 countries worldwide with a plan to scale up towards 2030. The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change is the lead ministry for PAGE andconvenes the National Steering Committee for PAGE, the inaugural meeting having been held on 17 November 2020.

India has committed itself to a path towards sustainable development by undertaking a number of measures – including those targeting resource efficiency and cleaner production - that are compatible with green economy. For example, the Government of India has established the Indian Resource Panel, an advisory body under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), to advise the government on a comprehensive strategy for resource efficiency. MoEFCC has also constituted a multi-stakeholder Resource Efficiency Steering Committee. The role of this body is to make recommendations regarding appropriate policies and legislative frameworks, suggest an action plan for the government with respect to resource efficiency, and promote the use of secondary resource materials. The National Institution for Transformation of India (NITI Aayog), the government thinktank, collaborated with the European Union to develop the Strategy on Resource Efficiency in 2017. NITI Aayog has also convened a national steering committee, comprising of line ministries, the private sector and development partners, for the implementation of the strategy. In addition, NITI Aayog also partnered with the United Nations Country Team for the development of the UN Sustainable Development Framework (UNSDF) 2018-2022 for India in which one of the results areas (number 5 of 8) targets “Natural resources management, community resilience and energy efficiency.” .” The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, GoI, has come up with the draft National Resource Efficiency Policy, which envisions a future with environmentally sustainable and equitable economic growth, resource security, healthy environment (air, water and land) and restored ecosystems with rich ecology and biodiversity.

It was acknowledged during PAGE inception discussions held in Delhi in November 2018 that there is a capacity challenge in promoting a green and circular economy; specifically there are questions about ‘what and where’ capacity is needed, in the form that can help to inform and frame national policy objectives.  Programmes such as SWITCH Asia have been asked by the government to help with this, working with stakeholders both and federal and state levels. While there are several technical centres across the country with the capacity to help to derive new economic narratives, they tend to be scattered and disconnected. Therefore, PAGE could find ways to help to connect these centres, build partnerships and link up also with other centres around the world that are attempting to address the same issuesSome of the recognised international centres with capacity in the area of circularity and SDG 12 include:  TU Leyden, TU Delft, TU Berlin, TU Hamburg, Tokyo University, Rochester Institute of Technology, Lund University, Jiao Tong University, University of Naples, Worcester Polytechnic, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and UNITAR-SCYCLE.

Consequently, this pre-feasibility study aims to assess the relevance and viability for establishing Center on Circularity for India dedicated to enriching the policy dialogue in clearly defined sectors of the economy, and potentially also acting as a resource for the training of public servants.

General Objective of the contract

The objective of this pre-feasibility study is to identify candidate host entities for a proposed Centre of Excellence on Circularity in India based on agreed criteria, define a theory of change for the Centre as well as a suitable governance framework and financing plan.

It is expected that the proposed CoE on Circularity will contribute to taking forward India’s intent to align future economic policies and investments more closely with SDG12. While the specific services that the Centre could provide are yet to be defined, it is expected that the Centre will provide a range of analytical, policy design, training and advocacy services.  

Similarly various options exist with regard to proposed structure and governance. Should the Centre, for example, be self-financing or publicly financed? What level of independence should exist within the governing body? How can the Centre ensure that it serves state level actors and concerns as well as national goals? It will be one of the foremost tasks of the Pre-feasibility Study to consider the pros and cons of all these possibilities and to weigh them.

The Pre-feasibility Study

  1. Approach 

    The consultancy will be implemented in close cooperation with relevant key Indian stakeholders and under the supervision of technical group which will be established to support the establishment phase of the CoE. This group shall include relevant stakeholders from the GoI, academic institutions, the NGO sector, and international science institutions.

    The project will require the participation of representatives from several stakeholder groups. Consultations will take place in the context of on-going discussions on inclusive green economy under PAGE  through the  existing PAGE National Steering Committee, PAGE India agencies and related sectoral line ministries/departments

    From the government side key stakeholders, in addition to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Ministry of Commerce and Industry (Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade); NITI Aayog; Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Science and Technology, Agriculture, Consumer Affairs, New and Renewable Energy, Tourism, Corporate Affairs. Selected State level governments will also be consulted. The list of participants for stakeholder consultations will include national/subnational/regional level representatives from relevant agencies, experts, and others. This list will also include the stakeholders consulted during the scoping study done under PAGE India. National/subnational/regional economic priorities also needs to be considered while developing the list of stakeholders for consultations.

    Other stakeholders: will include existing national universities and research entities; selected State Departments/associations responsible for science and technology; private sector, civil society organisations and industry associations.

    Information and data shall be derived as far as possible from existing literature, research, and ongoing projects. Though the outstation meetings will be preferably virtual in nature, but if the current pandemic situation is better and if the situation permits then field trips and first-hand data collection shall be done, where possible, in the interests of engaging with selected State governments in order to reflect interests and review possible modus operandi at this level.

  2. Scope of Tasks 

    The Pre-feasibility Study is expected to focus on the following main issues:

  • Establishment of Criteria for Selection of Host Entity

This is likely to be a multiple set of standard criteria with an agreed weighting taking into account national context. The selection and weighting of the criteria will be carried out in close consultation with the project steering group. It is likely, for example, that financial stability of a suitable host institution may need to be considered. However this criterion may be judged less important than knowledge and track record in the area of environmental sustainability or economic analysis particularly given that the Centre will be dependent on a separate financing plan.  Whether or not a possible host entity is known and respected is also likely to be weighted highly compared to other factors.

  • Market Assessment

While the initial discussions on the need for a CoE on Circularity indicate that there is demand and space for such an entity to be successfully established, the consultant will need to carry out a rapid survey of existing and related organisations and entities, in order to confirm this assessment. While this is not a detailed market assessment it will help to map out the existing landscape for related services that the CoE may perform and provide an indication of exiting gaps and possible entry points during an establishment phase.

  • Development of Governance Arrangements

International experience indicates that successful and well-known policy think tanks are highly independent with their own governing body and financing arrangements.  The relative merits of independence versus government owned or driven will need to be evaluated with regard to the stated objectives and models in practice at this time in India. Several suitable models will need to be presented with the advantages and risks associated. A key factor will be the decision making approach and process for the identification of priority areas through which the services that the Center provides will be established and revised over time.

  • Development of Investment Strategy

The study will look into various possible funding mechanisms for the proposed centre, including fee based, government backed, or PPP based. The analysis will be closely linked to the market assessment and align service provision with most promising revenue streams. The selection of a potential host entity will equally affect the investment strategy.


Responsibilities/description of professional services:

In order to achieve the goal of the Pre-feasibility Study, the following activities should be performed. The list serves as orientation and needs to be refined as deems necessary.

  • Establishment of criteria for the selection of candidate host entities, in consultation with key stakeholders
  • Developing a work plan and methodology for the study and presenting the same in the kick-off meeting to be participated by representatives from PAGE India agencies, Chatham house, Ministry focal points and other stakeholders. In the kick-off meeting the consultant will provide an overview of the assignment, work plan, methodology and expected outcomes from the assignment. The suggestions received during the meeting will need to be carefully documented and considered by the consultant in refining the work plan and methodology)
  • Develop a brief inception report including a long list of potential agencies and screening criteria, list of participants for wider stakeholder consultations and the revised work plan with and methodology for the study based on suggestions received in the kick-off meeting
  • Stakeholder identification (listing of key actors from government, research, educational communities as well as potential private sector interest groups, international organisations and others)
  • Stakeholder prioritisation
  • Organisation of stakeholder consultation workshop (sending invitations, follow up, ensuring participation, minutes of meetings and other related tasks)
  • Consultations with PAGE India agencies, PAGE India Nodal Ministry and suitable key stakeholders including governmental and non -government actors at national and state levels (scope of proposed CoE, governance arrangements, objectives, and proposed selection criteria) Review of legal and institutional requirements
  • Design of draft service model and governance structure for the Centre based on successful examples drawn from other sectors/countries
  • Identify decision making processes for defining priority service areas for the Centre (for example in the area of SDG monitoring at State level, or efficient use of Natural Resources)
  • Measures to ensure gender equity both in the CoE structure and service areas that it provides.
  • Demand side and market/user assessment and analysis
  • Barrier and risk assessment to market entry
  • Financial planning and sustainability
  • Based on the above develop draft report on pre-feasibility study and present to PAGE India agencies and the PAGE nodal ministry
  • Presentation of draft report on pre-feasibility study in the stakeholder consultation workshop/meetings
  • Developing the Final Report of the Pre-Feasibility Study in which a resume of the services provided is presented with respective documentation
Skills and Competencies expected from the individual:
  • Good understanding of sustainable consumption and production topics and inclusive green and circular economy
  • Well versed in Agenda 2030 and particularly the environment related SDGs
Reporting structure:

The incumbent will report to the Director, Division for Planet, Manager, Green Development and Climate Change Programme Unit, Division for Planet.

Minimum requirements


  • Post graduate degree in economics or natural sciences related disciplines

Work Experience:

  • At least 10 years of relevant professional experience
  • Proven expertise and experience in formulating high level strategic recommendations around environment/sustainable development/circular economy/resource efficiency, based on research, market analysis and multi-stakeholder consultations
  • Experience in research and market analysis will be desirable
  • Proven experience of carrying out stakeholder consultations and strong network with state/non-state actors in sectors relevant to circular economy/resource efficiency/sustainable Consumption and production.
  • Published high quality reports or peer-reviewed journal papers related to the mentioned topics will be an advantage
  • Proven experience of working with government bodies at national/subnational level
  • Experience in undertaking market analysis and research in areas of resource efficiency, environmental protection, circular economy and understanding institutional mechanisms and good governance will be an advantage.
  • Good professional experience and knowledge of the research and academic sectors in India
  • Prior experience in the delivery of feasibility studies
  • Proven track record in project planning and design;
  • Experience in preparing proposals, cost-estimates and financial offers;


  • Excellent oral and written communication skills;
  • Proficiency in the English language.

The assignment will be home-based. The Consultant will be therefore required to use his/her own computer and required software.

Consultants are responsible for determining their tax liabilities and for the payment of any taxes and/or duties, in accordance with local laws. UNITAR does not reimburse Consultants for any taxes, duty, or other contribution payable by the Consultant on payments made under the consultancy contract.

The Institute does not provide or arrange life or health insurance coverage for Consultant, and Consultant are not eligible to participate in the life and health insurance schemes provided by the UN for its staff members.

How to apply

Please submit your application along with a letter of motivation as soon as possible.

Only short-listed candidates will be contacted.