Senior Environmental Specialist

The World Bank
Washington, DC, United States
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
International Organization
Experience Level: 
Mid-Level/Senior (8-9 Years)
Degree Required: 
Advanced Degree (Master's or JD)
Languages Required: 
English and Spanish and/or Portuguese


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Established in 1944, the WBG is one of the world’s largest sources of funding and knowledge for development solutions. In fiscal year 2018, the WBG committed $67 billion in loans, grants, equity investments and guarantees to its members and private businesses, of which $24 billion was concessional finance to its poorest members. It is governed by 188-member countries and delivers services out of 120 offices with nearly 15,000 staff located globally. 

The WBG consists of five specialized institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the International Development Association (IDA), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), and the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). The World Bank is organized into six client-facing Regional Vice-Presidencies, several corporate functions and thirteen Global Practices to bring best-in-class knowledge and solutions to regional and country clients.

Sustainable environment and natural resources management (ENRM) is at the heart of the WBG's poverty agenda. Biodiversity and natural resources constitute the social safety net of the poor, representing a food bank and often their only source of livelihood.   Sustainable ENRM promotes a green, clean, and resilient world where natural resources – from forests to fisheries, freshwater, oceans, coastal zones and ecosystems – are managed to support livelihoods and strong economies. Sustainable ENRM builds a world better prepared for shocks and global challenges, helping countries limit their exposure to resource scarcity, more-volatile weather patterns, and the long-term consequences of climate change. 

The Environment & Natural Resources (ENR) Global Practice has been set-up to deliver on the opportunities, benefits and outcomes offered by enhanced management of the environment and natural resources. The ENR GP has close to 300 operations under management, representing close to $7 billion, and a growing pipeline of new investments under active development. The practice consists of some 300 staff across the world plus numerous other staff in other Practices and Cross Cutting SAs that are professionally associated with it.  ENR GP also manages the environmental risk aspects of about 2000 projects in the World Bank’s global portfolio.  About 150 staff work specifically on environmental risk management safeguards.    

The Environment & Natural Resources Global Practice has three broad and distinct functions: 

  1. Provides clients with lending and non-lending services aimed to support the GP’s three core business lines, namely: (i) Forests, Watersheds and Sustainable Landscapes; (ii) Marine, Coastal and Aquatic Resources; and (iii) Pollution Management and Environmental Health. The GP’s activities also include a focus on Clean and Resilient Growth through its work on environmental economics and support to institutional development. 
  2. Supports effective environmental risk management and sustainability by managing risk at the project level and creating opportunities to advance sustainable development, in part through the implementation of the Bank’s environmental policies.
  3. Works closely with other sectors, including by leveraging grant financing, to mainstream environmental considerations into their policies, strategies, and operations.


The Latin America and Caribbean Region (LCR) unit of the ENR GP (GENLC) is comprised of professionals, based in LCR country offices and Washington DC, who work on a dynamic program that includes lending operations under implementation and preparation, policy dialogue, thought leadership and environmental risk management. In addition, there is a strong demand for Green Growth and Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) implementation and broader climate change-related analytical, advisory and technical assistance work.

The Amazon plays a critical role to climate regulation regionally and globally. The Amazon forests helps regulate temperature and humidity, and is linked to regional climate patterns through hydrological cycles that depend on the forests. Given the large amount of carbon stored in the forests of the Amazon, there is considerable potential to influence global climate if not properly protected or managed. The Amazon contains 90-140 billion metric tons of carbon, the release of even a portion of which could accelerate global warming significantly. Land conversion and deforestation in the Amazon release up to 0.5 billion metric tons of carbon per year, not including emissions from forest fires, thus rendering the Amazon an important factor in regulating global climate. 

The Amazon Biome is defined as the area covered predominantly by dense moist tropical forest, with less extensive areas of savannas, floodplain forests, grasslands, swamps, bamboos, and palm forests. The Biome encompasses 6.70 million km2 and is shared by eight countries (Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana and Suriname), as well as the overseas territory of French Guiana (WWF, 2009).   The Amazon includes 610 protected areas, as well as 2.344 indigenous territories that cover 45% of the basin.   More than 40 percent of the rainforest remaining on Earth is found in the Amazon and it is home to at least 10 percent of the world’s known species, including endemic and endangered flora and fauna.  The Amazon River is the largest river basin in the world and accounts for 15-16% of the world’s total river discharge into the oceans. The Amazon River flows for more than 6,600 km and with its hundreds of tributaries and streams contains the largest number of freshwater fish species in the world. The Amazon forest and river ecosystem is one of largest natural areas that still has the potential to remain sustainably conserved and managed.

The majority of the Amazon forest is contained within Brazil, with 60% of the rainforest, followed by Peru with 13%, Colombia with 10%, and with minor amounts in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. Brazil, Peru and Colombia (together making 83% of the total biome), individually face continued threats to their Amazon biodiversity and ecosystem health and at the same time can generate scalable results in terms of forest conservation and furthermore would benefit greatly from incentives to tackle these drivers nationally and regionally. There are a number of interrelated factors constituting the drivers and root causes of the deforestation and degradation of the Amazon Biome.  These are related to export markets (e.g. international demand for agricultural and forest goods, minerals and energy), transport infrastructure development, social inequality and poverty.  For example, the deforestation caused by cattle ranching in the whole Amazon is responsible for the release of 340 million tons of carbon to the atmosphere every year, equivalent to 3.4% of current global emissions (McGrath and Almeida 2007).  Beyond forest conversion, cattle pastures increase the risk of fire and are a significant degrader of riparian and aquatic ecosystems, causing soil erosion, river siltation and contamination with organic matter.  Related to the mining sector, just in the Madre de Dios region of Peru, the total impact of small-scale gold mining activities has been estimated to have impacted more than 116,000 hectares of critical wetlands.  All these factors are linked to the context of each country in the Amazon and in some cases to shortcomings of the policy frameworks to support sustainable development in various sectors and value ecosystem services, weak governance of some institutions and governmental entities to establish and enforce legislation for nature conservation and other sustainable development policies and lack of appropriate land use planning.   These threats can be found in varying degrees in individual countries conforming the Amazon, and could be exacerbated by the lack of regional coherence in laws and policies among the Amazonian countries.  

The major barriers to achieving environmentally, economic and socially sustainable development of the Amazon Biome include, among others: shortcomings in national policy and legal frameworks for land and natural resources access and utilization, inefficient enforcement of these regulatory frameworks at the national level, limited collaboration and learning from best practices across borders, inappropriate technical capacity and incentives for sustainable resource utilization. 


The GEF Amazon Sustainable Landscape Program (ASL) was approved by the GEF council in October 2015 and consists of four national child projects executed by the countries (Brazil, Colombia and Peru) and a regional coordinating grant (fifth child project).  The national child projects will be implemented by the respective national agencies through either the WBG, UNDP or WWF.  The GEF committed $113.6 million for the Amazon Sustainable Landscapes Program that is expected to leverage $682 million in additional financing and span over five years. The national child projects aim to improve management of 82,000,000 hectares of forest land, promote sustainable land management in 8.5 million hectares, and support actions that will help reduce CO2 emissions by 300 million tons by 2030.  The World Bank is the lead agency of the coordinating grant and implementing agency of a child project in Brazil and one in Colombia,  WWF is implementing agency of Peru child project and UNDP of a child project in Peru and in Colombia.  

The coordinating grant is complementing the national child projects and accelerates learning in the individual projects as well as provide opportunities for south-south learning, foster intergovernmental cooperation, use M&E tools and geospatial services, apply best practices and peer review and develop portfolio-wide training and communication strategies. This coordinating grant is helping in the learning uptake and adaptive management of each national project and strengthens the interventions on building productive and protected landscapes in the Amazon region under a harmonized approach under the participating countries. Analysis of best practices and capacity building activities that can promote regional collaboration focuses on strategies to address drivers of deforestation and unsustainable use of natural resources in the Amazon basin.

The innovative feature of the coordinating grant is a shift toward a new model that aims to move away from the nationally and implementing agency focused interventions that has shaped the Amazon portfolio over the past few years to a more harmonized approach at the ecoregional level that would strategically support key partners in Brazil, Colombia and Peru to deliver a range of project interventions to reduce deforestation and promote sustainable landscapes at the national and regional level.  This model responds to a concern raised by the GEFSEC and the Client countries about the design and implementation of operations disconnected which represent a missed opportunity for coordination and policy harmonization. This coordinating grant and the child projects seek to achieve greater strategic coherence in related interventions and simplify how the countries can ensure policy harmonization in support of the sustainable management of its forest landscapes in the Amazon. 

The WBG is leading the coordination and knowledge exchange components of the ASL to enhance the individual results achieved by national projects. The WBG coordination project enhances coordination among stakeholders, monitors outcomes of national projects, supports preparation and supervision, develops a knowledge management platform and strengthens key institutions involved the implementation of the national child projects.  The WBG coordination activities  help maximize the potential national project impacts.  

The second phase of the ASL program is currently under preparation and includes 7 Amazon countries (Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru and Surinam).  This second phase will include national projects, Brazil and Colombia with WBG as GEF IA, Peru with FAO, IFAD and UNIDO, Bolivia with CAF, Ecuador with WWF and CI, Surinam with UNDP and Guyana with WWF.   These institutional arrangements will require of additional effort to maintain the positive coordination and relationships among national project focal points and the GEF IA.  The GEF has set aside US$ 9 million for the WBG coordination project.  The second phase is expected to be approved by the GEF council in June 2019.  Knowledge of issues related to biodiversity, deforestation and sustainable development in the Amazon.

The Senior Environmental Specialist will be based in Washington DC and s/he will report to the Practice manager (GENLC) in Washington.  The Senior Environmental Specialist will be responsible for the day-to-day coordination of the ASL program.     Many tasks under the Program are in the implementation stage requiring an individual with certain skill sets who is familiar with the components of the Program to carry out complex tasks that require sound decision making and negotiation skills, understanding the complexities of the diverging agendas of the different stakeholders, the Program design, monitoring of results, procurement processes, strong technical knowledge of the issue and leadership with the outside partners.  
In addition to the leadership and complex coordination function, the Senior Environmental Specialist will be supervising other administrative staff and consultants as well as follow up and monitoring all components, draft TORs, help select consultancies and process contracts, follow up with payments, review and comment on inception and other reports, keep a good system of filing and monitoring, organize videoconferences, teleconferences, workshops and the annual ASL Conference, organize virtual webinars and other communication events, write sections of the program, assist in writing briefs to higher management and provide support to communication materials and in any other tasks that may be needed to ensure the full implementation of the Program.

Specific tasks:

  1. Program Steering Committee:  The main task will be to manage the Program’s steering committee. This involves organizing meetings with all members, prepare agenda, send out invitation, write minutes of the meetings and execute any follow up actions. The frequency of these meetings is around 4 times per year.
  2. Donor Coordination:  The Senior Environmental Specialist will lead the donor coordination activities, particularly a donor portfolio review of the Amazon. This will include coordinating regular donor virtual meetings and face to face donor roundtable/s to exchange information of various programs being funded for the Amazon. 
  3. Program Monitoring & Evaluation: The Senior Environmental Specialist will support the Program’s monitoring and evaluation system including the harmonization of each child project GEF core indicators and results frameworks.   She/he will help the coordination team to develop a simple but effective tool to monitor each child projects results and will be responsible for preparing annual progress reports. 
  4. Knowledge Management Platform:  The Senior Environmental Specialist will support the design, development, and deployment of a KM platform to promote efficiency and learning amongst Program stakeholders. This will include helping determine the priority topics selected by the countries, the methods to capture and deliver the knowledge (visits, conferences, practical training, virtual, exchanges, etc..). She/he will consolidate a database of key available specialized knowledge, tools, and techniques to help Program stakeholders prepare and deliver their interventions.  In addition, she/he will lead the delivery of one or two Conferences annually with the national stakeholders on a specialized topic. This will involve many tasks from preparing the agenda, identify and secure speakers, develop working group guidelines and coordinating the input from experts and national projects. 
  5. Communication Activities: The Senior Environmental Specialist will innovate on the best way to have a strong communications strategy surrounding the Program and related activities to further publicize these issues and potential solutions.  The Senior Environmental Specialist will manage a small team of communication consultants that will prepare a website and other communication materials for the program.  She/he will support  the preparation of briefs for upper management, deliver presentations on the ASL program in different fora, write content for different virtual events, write blogs and content for website, contact the speakers, prepare announcements, liaise with EXT staff   off the other implementing agencies and national projects teams.
  6. Support Bank Investment Project:  S/he will prepare and supervise Bank lending projects upon request by his/her manager.

Selection Criteria

  • Master in Environment or Natural Resources Management discipline +8 years of relevant experience working on similar assignments related to this position.
  • Understands relevant cross-sectorial areas in lending and non lending.
  • Thorough understanding of Amazon issues and applied solutions of issues related to biodiversity, deforestation, sustainable development and enhance livelihoods of communities and indigenous peoples.
  • Translates technical and cross-country knowledge into practical applications for projects, and policy. 
  • Demonstrated ability to lead discussions at operational levels in the following areas: protected areas management, reforestation and landscape management, community natural resources management or climate change mitigation.
  • Demonstrated client orientation through identifying, evaluating, and addressing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to assist with delivery beyond client expectations.
  • Ability to function effectively in a multi-cultural environment with government officials and equivalent contacts in international organizations, partner entities, etc; 
  • Attention to details and strong capacity to be organized and follow through on commitments.
  • Have strong initiative.
  • Be flexible and adapt to changing situations.
  • Thrive to see the positive without being naive.
  • Portuguese and/or Spanish required
  • Excellent writing skills in English.
  • Have strong leadership skills and being a good public communicator.
  • Excellent teamwork and interpersonal skills in working closely and collaboratively across organizational boundaries.


  • Lead and Innovate - Develops innovative solutions.
  • Deliver Results for Clients - Proactively addresses clients’ stated and unstated needs.
  • Collaborate Within Teams and Across Boundaries - Collaborates across boundaries, gives own perspective and willingly receives diverse perspectives.
  • Create, Apply and Share Knowledge - Applies knowledge across WBG to strengthen solutions for internal and/or external clients.
  • Make Smart Decisions - Interprets a wide range of information and pushes to move forward