Senior Consultancy: Palm Oil Sector Study at UNICEF


Recognizing the need for explicit guidance about what it means for business to respect and support children’s rights, in March 2012 the UN Global Compact, Save the Children and UNICEF released the Children’s Rights and Business Principles (CRBP). Building on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the CRBP identify a comprehensive range of actions that companies should take to respect and support children’s rights in the workplace, marketplace and the community. In order for companies to meet their responsibility to respect children’s rights, the CRBP call on business to put in place appropriate management systems, including a policy commitment, a due diligence process and remediation mechanism for addressing their potential and actual impacts on children. UNICEF has developed a range of tools to assist companies in these efforts by offering practical guidance on how to respect and support children’s rights. The tools provide information on ways to draft and implement appropriate policies, conduct impact assessments, integrate programmes and systems based on assessment findings, and monitor and report on children’s rights.

Building on this work, UNICEF has launched a set of innovative projects in 2015 to promote respect and support for children’s rights in global supply chains. With pilot project in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors, this work will draw on existing experience and concentrate on the development and testing of innovative concepts and solutions with industry leaders, worker representatives, civil society organizations and governments to develop child-friendly business practices in supply chains.


To support the engagement with the private sector on children’s rights in palm oil supply chains, UNICEF is looking for an international expert who will undertake a study to identify the impacts of the palm oil sector on children’s rights in Indonesia and Malaysia. The assessment will include mapping potential and actual impacts, which affect children both directly and indirectly. The results from the study will help UNICEF implement targeted activities with the private sector, including the development of good practice material on child-friendly business practices in the palm oil supply chain.


The objective of the study is to build a comprehensive understanding of the multiple ways in which children’s rights are affected in the palm oil sector in Indonesia and Malaysia, both within and outside plantations. This includes an analysis of the key drivers and underlying root causes, and steps companies can take to mitigate adverse and strengthen positive impacts.

The specific objectives of the study include:

  • To build an understanding of the legal, policy and corporate social responsibility landscape in relation to children’s rights in the palm oil sector in Indonesia and Malaysia.
  • To identify the specific ways in which business activities potentially and actually impact children’s rights both directly (e.g. child labour) and indirectly (e.g. working conditions for parents) in Indonesia’s and Malaysia’s palm oil sector, and the steps companies can take to mitigate adverse and strengthen positive impacts.
  • To build evidence base to help UNICEF implement effective and targeted activities and develop guidance material for companies at the local and international levels.


In close coordination with UNICEF Geneva (CSR), UNICEF Indonesia and UNICEF Malaysia, the consultant has the overall responsibility for undertaking a study to identify the impacts of the palm oil sector on children’s rights. This includes, but may not be limited to:

  1. Revise UNICEF impact assessment methodology on assessing business impacts on children in supply chains
  • Tailor UNICEF impact assessment methodology to the specific country and industry context in Indonesia and Malaysia.
  • Identify and map relevant stakeholders for engagement during impact assessment phase
  • Develop stakeholder engagement plan and material (in line with UNICEF’s Stakeholder Engagement Tool). This includes outreach and development of interview material (e.g. semi-structured interviews, worker surveys and focus-group discussion with children).
  • Engage relevant stakeholders (selected by UNICEF) to review the project methodology and stakeholder selection (e.g. 2-3 international brands, industry initiatives and child rights/human rights organisations).
  1. Undertake foundational research and develop specific research questions for the field assessment
  • Undertake desk research on the palm oil sector in Indonesia and Malaysia, outlining the industry backgrounds and the legal and regulatory framework on human rights, labour standards and community impacts in both countries.
  • Undertake desk research to identify all intersection points between children’s rights and the palm oil sector in both countries (both direct and indirect impacts).
  • Develop specific research questions and refine outreach material based on desk research
  • Undertake telephone interviews with selected, key stakeholders in Indonesia and Malaysia to verify desk research findings and further refine research questions.
  1. Organise field trip (including logistical arrangements, stakeholder engagement, worker surveys and focus group discussions)
  • Engage 2-3 international brands (selected by UNICEF) and child rights/human rights organizations to facilitate access to supplier factories.
  • Organise stakeholder interviews, including meetings with various palm oil plantations, civil society organisations, government and other relevant stakeholders (as agreed with UNICEF and corporate partners).
  • Organise logistical details for the field trip, including transportation and translations during interviews (as necessary)
  • Engage local civil society organisations to conduct worker surveys and focus group discussions with stakeholders, including workers, caregivers, community members, health and education experts, and children (as appropriate).
  1. Undertake field research to identify and assess actual and potential impacts
  • Undertake field research in Indonesia and Malaysia to assess the impacts of the palm oil sector on children’s rights.
    • In Indonesia, field research is expected to be conducted in Jakarta, Kalimantan and Sumatra over 21 days on the ground. The field research will be undertaken in close coordination with UNICEF and corporate partners.
    • In Malaysia, field research is expected to be conducted in Kuala Lumpur, West Malaysia, Sarawak and Sabah over 21 days on the ground. The field research will be undertaken in close coordination with UNICEF and corporate partners.
    • Interview wide range of stakeholders to identify the full range of impacts on children in the palm oil sector, including plantation owners and management, workers, worker representatives, caregivers, community members, teachers, health, education and nutrition experts, and children (as appropriate)
  1. Analyse research findings and draft summary report
  • Communicate assessment findings to selected stakeholders in Indonesia and refine assessment findings based on their feedback.
  • Draft a summary report that will cover industry background, list of identified impact areas (including root causes and priority issues), and recommendations to UNICEF how to engage the private sector and government to improve the impact of the palm oil sector on children (40-50 pages, including executive summary of up to 5 pages)
  • Develop presentation material summarising assessment findings and present at workshop organised, co-hosted or selected by UNICEF (to be confirmed)
  1. Revise UNICEF’s impact assessment methodology
  • Revise and update UNICEF’s impact assessment methodology to include lesson learned from field research and report writing experience.

In arranging the logistics for the field trip, the consultant will be required to hire the services of external organisations. In particular, it is foreseen that the consultant will need to hire services and work with local organizations for:

  • Transport and logistics
  • Translation during interviews
  • Worker surveys and focus group discussions with workers and community members
  • Participatory stakeholder engagement

The consultant will be reimbursed by UNICEF for the arrangement of these services up to a specified maximum budget and the applicable market rate for the type, quality and volume of services required. Prior to the arrangement of these services, the consultant is required to obtain approval from UNICEF. It is expected that these services will not exceed a maximum amount of US$10,000.

There is a possibility that UNICEF may additionally contract a local non-governmental organisation to support the arranging of logistics and interviews (as outlined above). In this case, the international consultant will be required to closely work with the selected implementing partner.

Job title: Senior Consultancy: Technical Support to Implement Study on Children’s Rights in the Palm Oil Sector in Indonesia and Malaysia at UNICEF

Location: Home-based with a significant amount of travel to and within Indonesia and Malaysia. 

Closing date: 22 November 2015