Environmental and Social Sustainability Policy Consultant

Terms of reference

Location: Remote
Type: Consultancy Position until December 31, 2024

About AKFC

Aga Khan Foundation Canada (AKFC) is an international development organization and registered charity. AKFC partners with communities, businesses, and governments to find innovative, lasting solutions to global challenges. Working in Africa and Asia, we invest in local institutions and systems that anchor progress over the long term. In Canada, AKFC mobilizes funding and expertise, and promotes awareness of global issues. AKFC is an agency of the Aga Khan Development Network, one of the world’s most comprehensive development organizations. Since 1980, AKFC has helped millions of women and men to unlock their own potential to build a better life.

Position Summary

Aga Khan Foundation Canada (AKFC), Aga Khan Foundation USA (AKF USA), and Aga Khan Foundation (United Kingdom) (AKF UK) are seeking an experienced environmental expert for a short-term consultancy to:

(1) Review AKFC’s progress against its Policy for Environmental Sustainability (PES) 2015-2024.
(2) Combine AKFC’s and AKF UK’s PES/Policy for Environmental and Social Sustainability (PESS) into one draft policy for AKF globally, ensuring it meets sector best practice and the requirements of AKF’s main bilateral and multilateral donors.1
(3) Strengthen the capacity of AKFC, AKF USA and AKF UK staff as well as key project focal points in Africa and Asia to uphold the PESS to ensure that AKF-supported initiatives are environmentally and socially sustainable.

The dates of this assignment are subject to final confirmation once the consultant has been selected.

Background and Context

The Aga Khan Development Network is a group of private, non-denominational international development agencies with individual mandates that address the social, economic, and cultural dimensions of development – ranging from health and education to rural development, microfinance, disaster reduction, the promotion of private-sector enterprise, architecture, and the revitalization of historic built environments. Together, these efforts contribute towards building a vibrant civil society that address the needs of vulnerable populations.

As agencies of the worldwide Aga Khan Development Network, Aga Khan Foundation Canada (AKFC), Aga Khan Foundation USA (AKF USA), and Aga Khan Foundation (United Kingdom) (AKF UK) are non-profit international development organizations, working in Asia and Africa to find sustainable solutions to the complex problems causing global poverty. Established in 1980, 1981 and 1973 respectively, AKFC, AKF USA and AKF UK partner with communities, business, and governments across Africa and Asia to break the cycle of poverty. AKFC undertakes these efforts in cooperation with the Government of Canada, Canadian institutions, and individuals across Canada. Similarly, AKF USA works in cooperation with the US Government, non-government organizations, socially responsible corporations, foundations, and individuals across the US to achieve its mission. AKFC and AKF USA work together under an informal North America structure to ensure regional synergies and coherence. AKF UK works in cooperation with the UK Government, the European Union, and individual governments within the EU, as well as NGOs, foundations, multilateral institutions, and individual donors.

Policy Description

Recognizing the interrelationship between poverty reduction and environmental sustainability, AKFC adopted its first PES in 2005, which included an environmental screening and assessment process and sector-specific Environmental Guidelines. This was supported by AKFC and partner staff training and training-of-trainers, monitoring and technical assistance. AKFC is currently implementing the PES 2015 (refer to Annex A), which covers the period 2015-2024, and includes an Environmental Integration Process, tools, templates and technical guidance. The goal of the PES 2015-2024 is to ensure that AKFC and AKFC-supported initiatives are environmentally sustainable. This is achieved by ensuring that AKFC and its partner organizations:

(1) Mitigate possible negative impacts of their initiatives on the environment.
(2) Enhance positive environmental impacts (benefits) from their initiatives.
(3) Address possible negative impacts of the environment on their initiatives (e.g., natural disasters, natural resource degradation).
(4) Address possible impacts of climate change on their initiatives, incorporating climate adaptation and resilience strategies, as needed.
(5) Strengthen their capacity to design, implement and monitor environmentally sustainable initiatives.
(6) Help Canadians learn about and support environmentally sustainable development.

While AKF USA has not established its own PES, it ensures compliance with the environmental requirements of its donors (e.g., US Government) and the targeted needs of its programming. To support with this, AKF USA has adapted the AKFC PES 2015-2024 for its use on an as-needed basis.

AKF UK adapted AKFC’s PES into its own PESS and adopted it in the beginning of 2024.

Together, AKFC, AKF USA, and AKF UK are committed to creating a global, coherent approach to environmental and social sustainability.

Purpose of the Consultancy

The purpose of this consultancy is to:

(1) Review AKFC’s progress against its PES 2015-2024.
(2) Combine AKFC’s and AKF UK’s PES/PESS into one draft policy for AKF globally, ensuring it meets sector best practice and the requirements of AKF’s main bilateral and multilateral donors.
(3) Strengthen the capacity of AKFC, AKF USA, AKF UK and relevant AKF country unit staff to uphold the PESS to ensure that AKF supported initiatives are environmentally sustainable.

The final outputs of the consultancy include a report outlining the application, impact, and learnings of AKFC’s PES 2015-2024, a draft integrated Global PESS, the development of a blended learning training plan and the training of key staff and project focal points.

Approach

The consultant, in collaboration with AKFC, AKF USA, and AKF UK will use or adapt the following framework to meet the objectives of the consultancy.

Objectives Guiding Questions Tasks Deliverables
Objective 1 – Review AKFC’s progress against its Policy for Environmental Sustainability 2015-2024. a) What has been the impact of the 10-year PES against its goal and objectives? To what extent can its impact or results be measured? If substantially measurable, what are they? If this is not feasible, why not?
b) Was the PES evaluated through its life as designed? If not, what were the barriers to this?
c) What are the strengths or learnings of the PES that can be applied to the design and implementation of an updated PES?
d) Do the AKFC and National Partner Organizations (NPO) teams apply the environmental tools to grants and programs as outlined by the PES?
e) Is there regular follow up and monitoring of each SEA, EA, and Class EA each SEA (using the Follow up and Monitoring Checklist and/or an Environmental Management Plan), as part of routine project monitoring and evaluation?
f) Where regular follow-up and monitoring has been conducted, has this resulted in actionable recommendations? Where taken, did this result in substantive action, and
was feedback on impact provided?
g) Where routine project monitoring and evaluation of the environmental integration tools is not happening or is limited, what is contributing to this?
Task 1.1 – Assess the application of the PES to grants and programs.
– Review a selection of grant and program reports to assess the application of the PES against objectives.
– Review of Annual Work Plans (AWPs) against AWP deliverables to assess adherence to EIP requirements.
– Review of implementation of EMS, EAs, and Class EAs (if indicated in EMS) in programs against implementation deliverables to assess adherence to EIP requirements.
– Conduct survey and interviews with a select number program focal points to understand the process used to apply the PES to grants and programs.
– Identify strengths and weaknesses of the integration of the PES within grants and programs.
– Identify barriers and opportunities to the effective application of the PES tools and deliverables to grants
and programs.Task 1.2 – Assess the impact of the PES against its goal and objectives.
– Identify and document results/outcomes of the PES over its 10-year implementation against its goal, objectives and action plans.
– Conduct interviews and surveys with key staff to assess the perceived impact of the PES against all three policy implementations areas (see Annex A).
– Assess the effectiveness of the current PES monitoring and evaluation plan and document challenges to its evaluation and learnings that can be taken forward.

Task 1.3 – Identify lessons learned and recommendations based on current application of the PES.
– Further to tasks 1.1 and 1.2, compile lessons learned and recommendations for consideration in the development of an updated PES.

Report outlining the application, impact, and learnings of AKFC’s PES 2015-2024.
Objective 2 – Combine AKFC’s and AKF UK’s PES/PESS into one draft policy for AKF Globally, ensuring it meets sector best practice and AKF’s main bilateral and multilateral donor environmental and social sustainability requirements. h) What updates have been made to the Global Affairs Canada (GAC) environmental integration process
since 2015 that would need to be incorporated into an updated PESS?
i) What are AKF’s main bilateral and multilateral donor environmental and social sustainability requirements? Do they follow a similar structure in terms of the project life cycle as GAC’s, that would facilitate a global PESS?
j) What are the best practices that have been put forward by other Canadian, US, and UK international development organizations/ foundations/agencies/ academia within their PES (e.g., WB, Oxfam, CARE, Save the Children, UNEP, ACTED, etc.)?
k) What level of evaluation/action planning is necessary and achievable to ensure environmental and social sustainability results while remaining feasible?
l) What resources should be budgeted to ensure the effective implementation of the global PESS?
Task 2.1 – Review and analyze AKF’s main bilateral and multilateral donor requirements for environmental and social sustainability.
– Identify areas where the current PES needs to be further aligned to these requirements.Task 2.2 – Assess sector good practices related to environmental sustainability.
– Research and assess sector-specific good practices in environmental and social sustainability.
– Review other PES/PESS documents of other institutions in the international development sector (e.g., GCF, NGOs, institutions, research institutes, UNEP, etc.).
– Consider consultant’s own technical expertise.
– Identify and review AKDN/AKF resources and knowledge that can be leveraged.Task 2.3 – Conduct a feasibility assessment/resource assessment.
– Provide recommendations/solutions to evaluate/monitor the impact of the updated PES/PESS in a way that is cost effective and feasible within AKFC, AKF-USA and AKF UK resources.Task 2.4 – Draft a global, combined PESS.
– Based on the outcomes of the above tasks, draft an updated PESS that aligns with AKF’s main bilateral and multilateral donor environmental and social sustainability requirements, incorporates sector good practices, and is financially feasible to implement/monitor.
– Consult key stakeholders to gather feedback on the draft PESS and incorporate inputs into a final document.
Updated Global PESS.
Objective 3 – Strengthen the capacity of AKFC, AKF USA and AKF UK staff as well as key project focal points in Africa and Asia to uphold the PESS to ensure that AKF-supported initiatives are environmentally sustainable. a) What specific gaps in understanding, capacity, resources, and knowledge need to be addressed to ensure program focal points can effectively apply the PESS within grants and programs?
b) Are there capacity gaps among staff, beyond the application of tools to grants and programs, that would strengthen the ability to implement the PESS?
Task 3.1 – Develop a PESS blended learning training plan.
– Develop a blended learning training based on gaps in knowledge and capacity identified from Task 1.1.
– Combine the existing PES/PESS online training with supplementary workshops or webinars to strengthen specific capacity
or knowledge gaps identified.
– Consider opportunities for the training to go beyond the application of the PESS tools to include broader knowledge and capacity in environmental sustainability.Task 3.2 – Deliver the PESS blended learning training plan.
– Conduct virtual and in-person trainings. Overseas travel may be considered, as appropriate.
– Trainings should build AKF in-house capacity through a Training of Trainers approach.
PESS blended learning training plan developed and delivered.

 

Timeline and Deliverables

May to December 2024

  • Report outlining the application, impact, and learnings of AKFC’s PES 2015-2024.
  • Draft Global PESS.
  • PESS blended learning training plan developed and delivered to key staff and project focal points.

Reporting

On technical and contract-related matters, the Consultant will report to the AKFC Program and Partnerships Officer and the AKF UK Senior Partnerships Manager (Climate Resilience).

Remuneration and Payment modalities

Payment is linked to receipt and satisfactory acceptance of deliverables.

Qualifications

Applicants must demonstrate how they meet the following requirements:
The consultant(s) should be a senior professional with an advanced degree in a relevant field and a minimum of 10 years’ experience.

The candidate(s) should bring to the position:

  • Demonstrable experience in environmental and social sustainability in international development;
  • Demonstrable experience in developing or advising on environmental and social sustainability and integration policies for multi stakeholder international development organizations;
  • Knowledge and experience of GAC, US Government, UK Government, and Green Climate Fund requirements and sector best practices related to environmental integration, climate change (mitigation and adaptation), and environmental and social sustainability;
  • Strong capacities in assessing organizational and staff capacity needs with relation to environmental and social sustainability;
  • Experience developing and executing blended learning training programmes in environmental and social sustainability for multi-stakeholder international development organizations;
  • Experience working with multiple implementing partners with cross-cultural communication;
  • Outstanding written and interpersonal communications skills in English, additional languages are an asset;
  • Experience in/understanding of the development contexts in Central Asia and East Africa and the application of environmental and social sustainability measures would be an asset;
  • Knowledge of AKF and AKDN is an additional asset.

Proposal

Consultants meeting the above criteria are invited to submit a proposal by email to [email protected] no later than April 14, 2024. Please use the subject line “Environmental and Social Sustainability Policy Consultant” in all correspondence with AKFC regarding this opportunity.

Proposals should include the following:

  • Letter of interest, including the names and contact information of two previous clients who can be contacted regarding relevant experience. Consultants are also expected to disclose any conflict of interest related to this mandate with AKF.
  • Detailed technical proposal of not more than 6 pages clearly demonstrating a thorough understanding of this request for proposals and including the following:
    • Description of proposed approach
    • Demonstrated previous experience and other qualifications relevant to the requirements outlined in this TOR
    • A proposed timeframe detailing activities and a schedule/work plan (including a Gantt chart)
    • Team composition and level of effort of each proposed team member (where the consultant proposes a team to undertake this assignment)
  • A financial proposal with a detailed breakdown of costs for the study, in USD:
    • Itemized consultancy fees/costs
    • Itemized administrative expenses
    • Validity period of quotations
    • Expected payment plan and method
  • CV of the consultant(s), outlining previous environment and policy development experience and accomplishments;
  • A cover letter, outlining the proposed approach, proposed schedule, and the consultant’s proposed daily rate with justification;
  • Two examples of environmental and social sustainability policies or other environmental assessment reports recently completed. If possible, at least one of the reports should be relevant to the sectors/geographies of this assignment.
  • Consulting firm profile (if applicant is a firm)

Each proposal will be evaluated based on evidence of the following items:

Technical Proposal (50 points)

  • Clarity of proposal and compliance with Terms of Reference;
  • Appropriateness of time frame;
  • Understanding of the assignment’s questions and objectives; and
  • Soundness of approach proposed.

Consultant’s Demonstrated Capacity (50 points)

  • Experience conducting assessments in the relevant sectors and/or geographies;
  • Quality and suitability of the consultant to manage the project; and
  • Consultant’s qualifications.

Financial Proposal (30 points)

  • Realistic and appropriate costs for proposed work
  • All relevant costs included to carry out proposed work

How to apply

Consultants meeting the above criteria are invited to submit a proposal by email to [email protected] no later than April 14, 2024. Please use the subject line “Environmental and Social Sustainability Policy Consultant” in all correspondence with AKFC regarding this opportunity.

Deadline for submissions: April 14, 2024

Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted. Applications will be reviewed on an ongoing basis. Please note that applicants must be eligible to work in Canada.

AKFC is committed to advancing gender equality and inclusion through our programming and operations in Canada and overseas. AKFC requires all employees and consultants to review and abide by the AKFC Gender Equality Policy.     

AKFC recognizes the importance of safeguarding and is committed to ensuring it manages a wide range of risks such that beneficiaries, staff, other associates, and the organization as a whole are kept safe from harm. All employees and consultants must respect the AKF Code of Conduct and Safeguarding Policy.   

AKFC welcomes and encourages applications from people with disabilities. Accommodations are available on request for candidates taking part in all aspects of the selection process.

Annex A: AKFC Policy for Environmental Sustainability 2015-2024
Annex B: AKF UK Policy for Environmental and Social Sustainability 2024