Climate Change Adaptation Scientist

Wildlife Conservation Society
New York, NY, United States
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
NGO/Civil Society
Experience Level: 
Entry Level (0-2 Years)
Degree Required: 
Advanced Degree (Master's or JD)


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Job Description

Title: Climate Change Adaptation Scientist
Department & Program: Conservation Solutions (CS)
Reports to: Director, Conservation Planning
Location(s):New York, NY
Application deadline:    Open until filled

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) is an international conservation NGO founded in 1895 and headquartered at the Bronx Zoo in New York City. WCS’s mission is to save wildlife and wild places through worldwide science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. WCS focuses its efforts on the most intact, “last of the wild” ecosystems in 16 Global Priority Regions around the world.

The WCS Conservation Solutions Program at WCS uses cutting-edge science to understand the impacts of climate change on wildlife and natural resources, plan conservation for a rapidly changing world, and implement on-the-ground solutions to protect ecosystems.

Climate change is a perverse threat already impacting species (including human communities) and ecosystems, which will only get worse in the future. WCS needs to be able to makefuture-smart decisions that takes into account the certainty of climate change, wherever we work. This position will support efforts to adapt anthropogenic climate change and helpWCS (and its partners) by providing thought leadership and technical support across WCS landscapes and seascapes. The immediate focus area is a climate vulnerability assessment andclimate-smart conservation planning within two regions of Afghanistan but this effort will evolve over time to become a global position. The scientist will be integrated within theconservation planning initiative to ensure climate adaptation efforts are expertly undertaken across WCS’s 16 Global Priority Regions that span North America, Central and South America,Africa, Asia, and marine sites in meso America, Gulf of Guinea, western Indian Ocean, and the western Pacific.

Position Objectives:

The Climate Change Adaptation Scientist will undertake practical science-based assessments of the vulnerability of biodiversity and human communities to climate change, make climate-smart recommendations for conservation planning, and help set-up monitoring programs at various scales to measure impacts. The goal of this work will be to improve conservation outcomes of WCS activities and our partners by incorporating climate change adaptation strategies and practices into landscape and regional program activities.

A significant focus of the role will be to provide technical design and implementation of adaptation planning, monitoring and training for components of a large, multi-partner EU-fundedclimate change adaptation effort across two regions of Afghanistan, a 46 month-long program on “Addressing Climate Change in Afghanistan through Sustainable Energy and Ecosystem Management.” The location of the action is in Wakhan District (Badakhshan Province), Saygan, Kamhard, and north of Yakawlang districts (Bamyan Province), and Kabul.The Adaptation Scientist will help to identify how monitoring results will feed into adaptive management planning activities and implementation actions on the ground in these regions.The Adaptation Scientist will be expected to participate in meetings and public presentations to share experiences and best practices in watershed management, ecosystem-based adaptation and management of rangelands, woodlands/forest resources and arable lands with a diversity of audiences both in-and-out of country. The position will work in close collaboration with regional and landscape leaders within both the WCS Conservation Solutions division and the Asia Program, as well as across other organizations including, universities, government agencies, and diverse stakeholders.

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Work with the WCS Conservation Solutions team and in-country program staff to implement climate change adaptation projects, and synthesize lessons learned on climate change adaptation across WCS priority landscapes.
  • Provide support to existing adaptation efforts by contributing ideas on how to approach adaptation planning and implementation, helping to facilitate climate change knowledge sharing,conduct workshops and working group meetings, contribute to writing of reports and peer-reviewed publications, and other project activities.
  • Conduct climate vulnerability assessments and reports. Specifically, the Adaptation Scientist will be responsible for implementing climate vulnerability assessments, provide expertise and guidance through the process, ensure that final outputs will be useful to country staff, and provide necessary training to country staff on how best to utilize these assessments.
  • Conduct climate-smart conservation planning assessments including understanding potential climate impacts and incorporating into management objectives and strategies, spatial mapping and modelling based on conceptual models, prioritization and risk assessment, stakeholder and expert engagement, and recommendations for relevant field research.
  • Help to lead spatial analyses and spatial planning components that involve climate change adaptation projects. These plans will form the baseline data for assessments of management strategies to reduce climate threats to biodiversity and human communities, create effective and sustainable plans for long-term social, cultural, economic, and ecological adaptation for systems to sustain both human livelihoods and functioning ecosystem services.
  • Work to train and build capacity of national and subnational government officials on climate change scenarios and modelling, climate change impact analysis, risk identification and prioritizing, adaptive policies, planning and management of watersheds, rangeland, forest resources, agriculture, wildlife and other biodiversity.
  • Contribute to the development of new projects aimed at incorporating climate change adaptation science into WCS field projects across regional and landscape programs.
  • Serve as lead on collaborative projects with responsibilities for project organization and development, and the delivery of products.
  • Synthesize, analyze, and interpret emerging climate change science for conservation practitioners and policy-makers, and stay current of the latest developments in climate change adaptation for biodiversity conservation and other sectors.
  • Report project findings in peer-reviewed scientific publications as well as through appropriate internal and external communication vehicles where appropriate.
  • Prepare and deliver public presentations on WCS climate change adaptation projects at professional conferences and other venues.
  • Provide climate change adaptation expertise to international, national, regional and local climate change planning efforts.
  • Contribute to grant writing and other development activities related to raising funds for climate change projects in multiple landscapes across WCS’s Global Priority Regions.

Qualification Requirements


  • Demonstrated commitment to the mission of the Wildlife Conservation Society.
  • At least a Master’s degree and 3-4 years of experience, or Ph.D. (preferred) and 1-2 years of experience in climate adaptation for land, biodiversity or for community resilience.
  • Familiarity with both quantitative and spatial modeling techniques for analyzing ecological and human impacts from climate change. Strong spatial analysis (e.g. ARCGIS) and statistical modelling   (e.g. R) skills.
  • Ability to develop conceptual models of ecosystems, threats, objectives and management strategies and actions.Preferable experience with Miradi software.
  • Significant knowledge of and experience in the field of climate change adaptation for both biodiversity and human communities. 
  • Background knowledge in community-based and ecosystem-based adaptation practice. Preferably including field experience working directly with communities, local government officials, agricultural  and livestock producers, and other  natural resource-dependent business sectors. Background knowledge of systematic conservation planning theory and practice. 
  • Experience translating science research into practical and applied guidance for conservation and management, preferably on the topic of climate change. 
  • Demonstrated ability to operate independently, plan work flow,  prioritize tasks across multiple projects, and deliver on deadlines.
  • Demonstrated strong writing and oral communications skills to effectively communicate project findings to a broad constituency, including both scientific and lay audiences (e.g., scientists, policy staff, government agency managers,   donors, and the general public).
  • Experience presenting and effectively translating complex scientific concepts to diverse audiences of varying levels of background, experience and expertise.
  • Record of successful fundraising, grant writing, or research proposals.
  • Ability to work in a fast-paced, dynamic environment, adjusting to changing program priorities and responding to opportunities. 
  • Strengths in working as a member of a diversified and dispersed team of colleagues.

To apply, please submit a cover letter, CV, and list references via WCS’ website (