Work with us

Research Consultant on Bioenergy for a Circular Economy in Peri-Urban Areas in Developing Countries

Reference number: 2028
Job Status: In-progress
Job Category: Consultancy
Duty Station: Bonn
Download PDF:

The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and World Agroforestry (ICRAF) envision a more equitable world where forestry and landscapes enhance the environment and well-being for all. CIFOR-ICRAF are non-profit, scientific institutions that conduct research on the most pressing challenges of forest and landscape management around the world. Using a global, multidisciplinary approach, we aim to improve human well-being, protect the environment, and increase equity. Our work focuses on innovative research, developing partners’ capacity, and actively engaging in dialogue with all stakeholders to inform policies and practices that affect forests and people. Our work spans the globe, with expertise in the ‘global South’. Founded in 1993 and 1978 respectively, CIFOR-ICRAF began merging on January 1, 2019. They are members of CGIAR, a global research partnership for a food secure future dedicated to reducing poverty, enhancing food and nutrition security, and improving natural resources.

CIFOR-ICRAF is looking for a

Research Consultant on Bioenergy for a Circular Economy in Peri-Urban Areas in Developing Countries


Despite the massive economic crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic, global GHG emissions continue almost unabated. The objective to “build back better” requires a better economic model respecting the planetary boundaries and involving a circular bioeconomy with sustainable management of forested landscapes. Diverse landscapes provide a multitude of bioproducts that provide food, animal feed, timber, fuels and many other products that, properly managed, could help in reducing dependence on fossil fuels and building better livelihoods while sustaining productive landscapes. Humans have always been exploring bio-goods from trees (coffee, tea, cocoa, fruits, timber and non-timber forest products), and recent innovations offer exciting new ways to substitute non-renewable, energy-intensive goods with more sustainably produced ones (bioenergy, wood-based buildings, etc.). New woodscrapers can be up to 70 stories high and replace emission-intensive cement. Fast-growing bamboo varieties provide many products from furniture to charcoal. Oilseed trees can be harvested for energy, yet permanently restore forest cover in a degraded landscape. Production systems are being reengineered in ways that interconnect them into circular “value webs” where everything is utilized, and waste and pollution are reduced.Working on bioproducts, CIFOR and ICRAF bring in their joint experience from 40 years of promoting sustainability for people and landscapes in the developing world. We will combine this with new approaches, such as the integration of so far separate production lines into interconnected, low-waste value webs, and with global discussions on production models and objectives. This program has three global thrusts: Choosing Goals (global and local societal debates and decisions on diets, products, land use and emissions in view of the planetary boundaries); Going Green (developing new biomaterials from forests, plantations and agriculture); and Weaving Together (advising communities, businesses and governments on integration across value webs).We will pilot this innovative approach with stakeholders, producers and consumers in two peri-urban areas of two medium-to-large cities in developing countries. Peri-urban areas are highly dynamic ‘interfaces’ between rural and urban production and lifestyles, making them the ideal environment to bring policymakers, practitioners from business and activists in government and non-government together to realize circular economy principles in specific developing country contexts. Futuristic optimism will be underpinned with solid research and pragmatic know-how. Covid has displaced many people in developing countries and pushed back many into poverty. Covid revealed the vulnerability of international supply chains. New approaches to the use of land and resources to develop food, materials and products are needed to create new green jobs as part of a sustainable “build back better” process, and to implement circularity in local production-and-consumption cycles.A Transformative Partnership Platform (TPP) is developing that builds on and expands existing CIFOR/ICRAF partnerships, programs and projects, and our engagement with the private sector, on issues such as forest and climate policy; forest products and bioenergy; agroecology; agrivoltaics (combined crop and solar energy production); resource recovery and reuse (RRR) for energy and food security; economics and value chains; people and rights; and working with migrants.

Duties and responsibilities

Objectives of the assignment

The consultant will be reviewing the relevant literature, databases and the internet to work on the potential of bioenergy for a circular economy in peri-urban areas in developing countries. With the methods of literature review and stakeholder interviews the paper will cover the topic of biomass energy production and its use/demand, e.g. looking at sourcing areas, management and harvesting practices, processing transport, matching these with demand, and in particular the need of urban people as well as industries. It will identify opportunities for better value chain integration enhancing multi-functionality/multi-purpose bioenergy. It will provide a life cycle analysis for specific products such as firewood and charcoal, and specific sourcing materials such as bamboo. Opportunities to facilitate transition to circularity will then be analyzed, such as the integration of value chains with non-energy products, the reduction of transport needs, costs and emissions, waste and pollution reduction (including recovering biomass waste for energy, biochar or compost), the use of biomass residues to produce biochar for soil?improvement, post-harvest processing and unexplored business opportunities. It will look into the role of small and medium enterprises for supply of biofuel/biomass and implements (stoves) and how those SMEs can improve on circularity. Finally, the paper will identify best practices, upscaling opportunities that are already available and identify research gaps.

Summary of responsibilities
The consultant is expected to work closely with the supervisors at CIFOR and ICRAF and deliver a report with a minimum of 40 pages of content text (besides table of contents, references and annexes). This report will also include an alphabetical list of references, and an appendix section, i.e. a reference list by topic/technology, a list of web pages, and a list of contact people, e.g. authors of key papers or intellectual property holders of key technologies; and contact people in construction or technology companies, including their contact details (phone, email) for each of the technologies.

Education, knowledge and experience

  • PhD in social sciences, economics, forestry, environmental sciences, ecology, biology/botany, earth systems science or related field
  • 5 years of research experience.
  • Strong knowledge of bioenergy, woodfuels, charcoal and, more generally, forest-related interventions, is advantageous.
  • Experience on these topics in Africa is an asset.
  • Fluency and high quality in English writing.

Terms and conditions

  • This is a Part-time Consultancy position.
  • Duration of assignment is 4 months.
  • The duty station will be in Bonn, Germany, but also possible for home-based.To apply, please visit our career site at: learn more about CIFOR, please visit our website at: https://www.cifor.orgCIFOR is an equal opportunity employer. Staff diversity contributes to excellence.

Application process

The application deadline is 06 Oct-2020
We will acknowledge all applications, but will contact only short-listed candidates.

Apply this job Download

Another open position

General Call for Applications - Science Roster (International)
Based in Various Location

General Call for Applications - Consultant Roster (Consultancy)
Based in Various location

French - English Translator (Consultancy)
Based in Home-based

Spanish - English Translator (Consultancy)
Based in Home-based

Communications Specialist (Nationally Recruited Staff (NRS))
Based in Bonn, Stadt, Germany

Consultant for the Assessment of a Project in Bioenergy Production on Degraded Land in Indonesia (Consultancy)
Based in Home-based, Indonesia

Field Project Facilitator (Consultancy)
Based in Bolgatanga, Ghana

Social Safeguards Consultant (Consultancy)
Based in Livingston, Zambia