Lead, Water Innovation Agenda (Centre for Nature and Climate)

World Economic Forum (WEF)

Geneva, Switzerland 🇨🇭

Permanent contract with 5-year funding term

The World Economic Forum, committed to improving the state of the world, is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.  The Forum engages the foremost political, business, and other leaders of society to build coalitions, projects and initiatives – digitally and physically – to address industry, regional and systemic issues.

The Centre for Climate & Nature seeks to bring innovation and frontier approaches to help the international system be more agile and equipped to respond to today’s challenges. The Centre does this by helping the international community leverage public-private cooperation, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, systems thinking and a platform approach for improved management of the global commons and building sustainable markets for the 2030 development goals.

The Global Water Initiative is seeking a Lead for the Water Innovation Agenda, reporting to the Head of Water and Environmental Resilience at the World Economic Forum with a ‘dotted-line’ reporting to the UpLink team’s Head of Curation.  This role will be responsible for overseeing the overall project management and team of a new track of work to accelerate the innovation agenda for healthy and resilient freshwater ecosystems. 

Why we are recruiting 

Whether “too much, too little, or too polluted”, the world’s water systems have long been imbalanced and vulnerable. Hindered by chronic under-investment and the impacts of climate change, water insecurity is a top global social and economic risk.

Water must be seen as an enabler and impact-multiplier – creating domino effects across SDG agendas, revitalizing jobs and ensuring global health – rather than competing against these equally important economic and social priorities.  Innovation – in the form of new ideas and applications of technology, fresh approaches, and models of collaboration – is required at scale and speed. 

The UN Water Conference set to take place March 2023 is a major international milestone for the water agenda.  The first in over 44 years, the conference has the potential to be a watershed moment to address the systemic shortcomings and inequities of our global water systems. 

In this context, the Forum’s Global Water Initiative  will  ramp  up  its  activities  to  shine the spotlight on the risks  and  opportunities that water plays in a successful transition to a green economy, bring together industry and regional leaders and water champions in action-oriented multi-stakeholder partnerships, and accelerate an innovation and entrepreneurship agenda for healthy and resilient freshwater systems.  At its Annual Meeting 2022, the Forum announced a new partnership with HCL, a global technology company, to support water-focused entrepreneurs – “aquapreneurs” – to drive innovation in freshwater resource management.

Reporting lines and interactions

The role will be based at the World Economic Forum’s Geneva office, within the Centre for Nature and Climate (CNC), reporting to the Head of Water and Environmental Resilience, who is based in the Forum’s New York office.  Internally, this person will work with colleagues in the broader CNC, as well as a wide range of other teams and colleagues in the Forum.  Externally, this person will work with Forum partner companies, and a broad range of stakeholders including governments, multilateral development organizations, civil society, and academia.

The selected candidate will be responsible for:

Strategy Development and Project Management

  • Lead and manage the workflow to keep the project and deliverables on-track and meeting timelines
  • Lead the development of a strategy and pathway to mainstream, accelerate, and scale innovation in the water sector using the Forum’s UpLink and other platforms
  • Lead the organization and delivery of community interactions, events and/or sessions to help deliver on the strategy – from conceptualization to handling logistics and operations to on-site/virtual delivery
  • Support the build-up of an alliance of high-level champions to raise ambition and commitments on water and innovation
  • Keep all relevant documentation for any necessary reviews, audits and reporting – in particular internal/external financial audits and Impact, Measurement, and Monitoring (IMM)
  • Draft update and progress and audit reports for Partners

Stakeholder Engagement

  • Keep strategic overview of the strategic relationships with key internal stakeholders and external partners
  • Ensure strong communication with all relevant internal teams to ensure visibility and understanding of the work and how their respective constituents can engage.  This includes, but not limited to, teams in:  CNC, UpLink, industry, regional, public engagement, partner engagement, finance
  • Exhibit the One Forum spirit and actively drive linkages and identify opportunities to strengthen the value proposition across initiatives.
  • Help shape the Forum’s engagement and its key stakeholders in the run-up to and during the 2023 UN Water Conference

Thought Leadership and Insight Generation

  • Research, generate and disseminate new insights (through blogs and other social/digital media channels) to position the Forum at the forefront of the water innovation agenda
  • Frame, articulate, and communicate compelling ways that highlight interlinkages between water and other key topics such as climate change, nature, health and wellbeing, social justice, and resilience

Preferred requirements and experience:

  • Professional with 10+ years of experience and a graduate degree (or equivalent experience) in sustainability and sustainable development.
  • Strong understanding in sustainability and the issues core to the global water security agenda, including climate change, resilience, nature, and circular economy
  • Understanding or interest in innovation and start-up ecosystem is an asset
  • Excellent strategic thinking and program and people management skills involving multiple stakeholders to deliver impact.
  • Demonstrated track-record in successfully managing a team and direct reports
  • Strong diplomacy and relationship management skills to execute complex and impact-driven national platforms across cultures.
  • Demonstrated ability to work with industry leaders at the executive and subject matter expert levels
  • Excellent network-building and collaboration skills and ability to build trust-based relationships, foster cooperation across stakeholders, and thrive in a flexible environment and situations of ambiguity
  • Responsible, independent and self-driven; demonstrates excellent organizational, strong work ethic, project and time management skills, and possess high attention to detail
  • Creative thinker with ability to frame compelling ways to convey information and insights
  • Strong communicator with excellent written and verbal communication skills.  Ability to be concise and clear.  Fluency in English
  • Proficiency in using CRM tools

Why work at the Forum:

The Forum believes that progress happens by bringing together people from all walks of life who have the drive and the influence to improve the state of the world by building awareness and cooperation, shaping mindsets and agendas, and driving collective action. Join us and become a driver for positive change!





IHE Delft Institute for Water Education - MSc in Water and Sustainable Development