Environmental and Social Safeguards Specialist

Terms of Reference

Consultancy national
Environmental and Social Safeguards Specialist


SNV is a not-for-profit international development organisation that applies practical know-how to make a lasting difference in the lives of people living in poverty. We use our extensive and long-term in-country presence to apply and adapt our top-notch expertise in agriculture, energy and WASH to local contexts. SNV has an annual turnover of €130 million, over 1,250 staff in more than 25 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. We are proud to be a not-for-profit organisation that uses project financing to implement our mission. This requires us to work efficiently and to invest in operational excellence.

In its new Strategic Plan period (2019 – 2022), SNV will more explicitly aim for systems change during project preparation and implementation - by strengthening institutions and kick-starting markets that help many more to escape poverty beyond our projects. We will continue to position ourselves as a premium organisation, with decentralised management. Our Global Support Unit (70 staff) backstops our teams around the world.

SNV has been working in Vietnam since 1995, and currently has over 40 national and international staff. SNV Vietnam operates from a head office in Hanoi and supports projects in over 50 provinces in the country, including in the poorest and most remote areas.

Job Description

Vietnam’s rapidly growing economy is creating an increase in energy demand forecast to grow by 10% per year until at least 2035. A significant, and growing percentage of this energy need is being met by coal-fired power plants, leading to increased carbon emissions and air pollution and the well documented impacts of these. SNV Vietnam is supporting efforts to assist Vietnam in a shift towards a more sustainable energy development pathway. Endowed with ample solar radiation, solar power is one of the renewable energy sources that offers great opportunities to Vietnam.

No fewer than 332 solar PV farms projects have been designed so far, of which 127 projects have been approved in provincial power plans, and a further 205 projects are pending approval.

Among those that have been approved, over 80 solar PV farms with a total capacity of 5,404 MW are already in operation, and around 40 PV farms are under construction.

Unfortunately this positive energy transition that is taking place is also often accompanied by costs such as social disruption, land allocation conflicts, reductions in food security and agricultural production as well as environmental risks associated with land use conversion and impacts on landscapes, forests, biodiversity, hydrological systems etc.

The concept of “Dual land use” is an approach that allows local communities to take part in the energy transition, while also continuing their agricultural livelihoods on their land. See more on the concept in this link: http://bit.ly/2Q3qPmp

SNV is working with relevant stakeholders to explore the current status in Vietnam and to identify the entry points to play a role in the Energy sector as a broker and facilitator towards an equitable energy transition.

SNV Vietnam is therefore looking for an expert with a background in environmental and social safeguards to support the creation of innovative intervention modalities that offer low carbon development pathways whilst achieving multiple co-benefits and minimising environmental and social risks.

SNV is working in close partnership with Green ID http://en.greenidvietnam.org.vn/  and Climate Sense in the development of Dual Land Use solutions for Vietnam.

This assignment aims to assess the environmental and social benefits and risks associated with existing and potential dual-land-use applications and Agri-Photo-Voltaic (APV) solar farming in Vietnam through desk study, field trips, attending relevant workshops & meetings and information collection and assessments.

The consultant will work with the SNV Agriculture and Energy teams of SNV Vietnam (and contracted energy specialists) to further develop the APV concept by identifying the key environmental and social co-benefits and risks associated with PV solar (particularly based on existing case studies/projects) in comparison with anticipated co-benefits/risks of APV along the description below:

  • Review by desk study the current practices of “Dual use of land for PV farms and Agriculture” around the world, as well as available environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) reports and information from other sources, especially in Vietnam, pertaining to the documented environmental and social benefits and risks of such projects.
  • Identify and review relevant national legislation and regulations regarding PV projects and ESIA requirements and the institutions responsible for their monitoring and enforcement. This review should also highlight gaps and weaknesses in national institutions in comparison with international environmental and social safeguards standards i.e. the IFC’s Environmental and Social Performance Standards.
  • Conduct a rapid desk-based assessment of investors/investment portfolios that are targeting renewable energy and specifically PV solar in Vietnam, their environmental and social commitments, criteria and requirements and corresponding potential interest in APV. 
  • Based on the above review and in consideration of likely project locations and contexts in the Mekong Delta and South Central Coast region, perform a desk-based assessment identifying environmental and social co-benefits and risks of typical PV solar projects (e.g. using existing EIA reports where available) as well as potential APV approaches or models being developed by the SNV Agriculture and Energy team and other contracted specialists.
  • Conduct rapid site visits to potential project locations in the Mekong Delta and/or South Central Coast region to collect relevant information and consult with local authorities, communities on potential environmental and social considerations.
  • Identify the role and added value that SNV and partners can play in intervening to improve the integration of PV projects with agriculture, landscapes and society.
  • Develop an outline Environmental and Social Management Framework that would seek to maximise benefits (do good) whilst avoiding, minimising and mitigating any other identified environmental/social risks of potential APV projects.
  • Prepare a summary report and presentation covering the above aspects


In cooperation with the SNV team (and contracted agriculture and energy specialists), the consultant will produce the following deliverables:

  • Work plan
  • Desk study report summarising and comparing environmental and social co-benefits and risks associated with PV solar and APV projects; ESIA requirements, relevant legislation and gaps against international standards.
  • Final report integrating field consultation findings and proposed outline ESMP.
  • One presentation will be provided to the SNV Energy/Agriculture team and partners about the study progress.
  • One final presentation for an external audience.


The assignment will take place from October 2019 - to November 2019 with a total of 25 days (noting that the assignment covers a light ESIA screening process, not a full ESIA).


The national consultant will have the following profile:

  • Professional background as an Environmental and Social Safeguards Specialist (>10 years) with relevant qualification i.e. MSc/PhD in Environmental Science, Sociology/Social Development or similar
  • Experience in the conduct of ESIAs, especially for renewable energy projects. Experience with the conduct of ESIAs of PV solar projects in Vietnam will be highly desirable.
  • Familiarity with international environmental and social safeguards standards i.e. IFC, World Bank/ADB
  • A good professional working knowledge of English (ability to communicate fluently, present and write reports in English)

How to apply

Deadline for submission of proposals is 5 pm on 30th September 2019.

Interested consultants are requested to submit a short research plan (maximum 3 pages) for implementation of the assignment and CV (s) to the link: https://smrtr.io/3sV6k with the title: “Environmental and Social Safeguards Specialist”.

Job Details
Organisation Name: 
Application Deadline: 
Mon, 2019-09-30