Senior Cities and Climate Change Specialist

Washington, DC, United States 🇺🇸

Background / General description:


Established in 1944, the WBG is one of the world’s largest sources of funding and knowledge for development solutions. In fiscal year 2014, the WBG committed $65.6 billion in loans, grants, equity investments and guarantees to its members and private businesses, of which $22.2 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). IBRD and IDA are commonly known as the World Bank, which is organized into six client-facing Regional Vice-Presidencies, several corporate functions, and – as of July 1, 2014 – has introduced fourteen Global Practices (GPs) as well as five Cross-Cutting Solution Areas (CCSAs) to bring best-in-class knowledge and solutions to regional and country clients.


The 14 GPs are: Agriculture; Education; Energy and Extractives; Environment and Natural Resources; Finance and Markets; Governance; Health, Nutrition and Population; Macroeconomics and Fiscal Management; Poverty; Social Protection and Labor; Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience; Trade and Competitiveness; Transport and ICT; and Water. The 5 CCSAs are: Climate Change; Fragility, Conflict and Violence; Gender; Jobs; and Public-Private Partnerships. The new operating model is part of a broader internal reform aimed at delivering the best of the World Bank Group to our clients, so that together we can achieve the twin goals of (1) ending extreme poverty by 2030, and (2) promote shared prosperity for the bottom 40% of the population in every developing country.


Urbanization is occurring at an unprecedented pace. Cities generate 80% of global GDP and are key to job creation and the pursuit of shared prosperity. Yet one billion city residents live in slums today, and by 2030 one billion new migrants will arrive in cities. This concentration of people and assets will exacerbate risk exposure to adverse natural events and climate change, which affects the poor disproportionately. The absence of secure land tenure underpins deprivation and is a major source of conflict in the urban and rural space. One and a half billion people live in countries affected by repeated cycles of violence. In the absence of services, participative planning and responsive institutions, these trends will result in increased poverty, social exclusion, vulnerability and violence. Finally, avoiding a 4-degree warmer world requires drastically reducing the carbon footprint of cities.

The WBG is in a unique position to support national and sub-national clients to: harness urbanization and enable effective land management in support of both growth and poverty reduction; foster social inclusion of marginalized groups; support the responsiveness and fiscal, financial, and management capacities of local governments – cities, municipalities, and rural districts – to deliver local infrastructure and decentralized services; strengthen resilience and risk management related to natural disasters; reduce conflict and violence; scale-up access to finance for sub-national governments; and reduce the carbon footprint of cities. The WBG brings a combination of lending ($7-8 billion in annual lending to cities), analytical and advisory services (e.g., social inclusion flagship, urbanization reviews, Sendai dialogue), its growing portfolio of reimbursable advisory services, its convening power (e.g., understanding risk and the land conferences), its leveraging capacity (e.g., guarantees and risk mitigation), and its ability to work with the private sector to tackle the challenges at scale and to effect.

The SURR GP covers a wide gamut: (i) developing green, inclusive and resilient cities; (ii) addressing the social inclusion of the poor, vulnerable and excluded groups through accountable institutions, and ensuring compliance with social safeguards; (iii) enhancing urban and rural development through supporting and managing the urban-rural transition, assisting local development through developing land tenure, management and information systems; and (iv) assisting in disaster risk management through issues of risk assessment, risk reduction (including flood management, urban drainage, coastal management, and retrofitting of infrastructure), disaster preparedness (including hydromet services, early warning systems, and civil defense), risk financing (including CAT-DDO), and resilient reconstruction (including post-disaster damage and loss assessment). A key responsibility of the GP is to provide professional expertise and operational support to other GPs to implement the WBG social policies (the WB’s safeguard policies and the IFC’s Performance Standards) to deliver sustainable development results that ensure that any adverse impacts of WBG interventions are limited and mitigated.

The World Bank Group is committed to achieving diversity in terms of gender, nationality, culture and educational background. Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply. All applications will be treated in the strictest confidence.


The GPSURR Global Programs Unit consists of a multi-disciplinary teams working to design and deliver innovative and high-quality development solutions to support clients in achieving goals including, among others: understanding better the opportunities of urbanization; enhancing the potential for inclusive growth, poverty reduction, shared prosperity, and livability of communities, cities, and territories; strengthening financial and service delivery capabilities of urban and sub-national governments, including through harnessing the potential of new technologies; improving the preparedness and resilience of cities and regions with respect to economic downturns and natural disasters; and helping urban and regional governments identify and implement the best approaches to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change.

The Global Programs Unit supports knowledge generation and exchange across the global practice through research, global advocacy, and knowledge sharing and is closely aligned with 9 Global Solutions Groups housed within the GP. Of these groups, the Sustainable Infrastructure and Services group will spearhead the cities and climate change (low carbon cities and urban resilience) agenda. In supporting the low carbon cities and urban resilience agendas and other projects related to climate change and sustainable cities, the team is responsible the development of new knowledge products, capacity building initiatives, decision support tools, and program incubation, as well as bringing intellectual leadership and advice to task teams working on the preparation and supervision of lending projects. Current and recent examples include the low carbon cities scenario planning software (CURB), the City Climate Planner professional certification program, the City Creditworthiness Academy, training programs on municipal finance and transport-oriented development, and the GEF Sustainable Cities integrated assistance program. The mix of activities undertaken each year reflect the team’s global perspective, and ability to work across regions and disciplines to develop programs serving clients, Bank colleagues, and external stakeholders.

Another key internal role of the Global Programs team include liaising with other Global Practices and Cross-Cutting Solutions Areas within the World Bank Group. Key outward-facing roles including representing the GSURR and/or the WBG on working groups related to different aspects of urbanization (including Urban SDGs, Habitat III, and various climate change-focused meetings such as the Council of the Parties (COP)). Team members also represent the Bank in managing partnerships closely related to functions of the team, including the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, the GEF Sustainable Cities initiative, the Joint Work Program on Urban Resilience, the Medellin Collaboration on Urban Resilience, the City Climate Finance Leadership Alliance, and the Compact of Mayors. Finally, the team also serves as a liaison to different city networks focused on climate change and urban sustainability.

Note: If the selected candidate is a current Bank Group staff member with a Regular or Open-Ended appointment, s/he will retain his/her Regular or Open-Ended appointment. All others will be offered a 3 year term appointment.

Duties and Accountabilities:

Duties and Responsibilities

• Develop and implement strategies to increase GSURR engagement on analytical and investment activities related to low carbon city development and urban resilience.
• Provide technical leadership and support to task teams working on investment, analytical and advisory tasks in the areas of low carbon city development and urban resilience.
• Participate in reviews of major climate-related analytical products and operational projects and provide mentorship to other WBG and departmental colleagues.
• Provide strategic advice to GSURR management on issues, innovations and emerging good practice related to climate change and cities.
• Develop guidance and methods, in consultation with operations teams, to support inclusion of climate mitigation considerations in WBG policies, strategies and focus on impact/result.
• Working with operational teams and Global Solutions Groups, actively generate, curate and disseminate knowledge to enhance staff capacity and client engagement.
• Coordinate with other units within the World Bank Group, such as the Climate Change CCSA and the various GPs, on work and issues related to low carbon cities.
• Support WBG efforts to increase and document the level of climate finance; cultivate and expand strategic partnerships for scaling up innovation on climate finance and investment activities.
• Represent GPSURR in corporate assignments, technical working groups and policy discussion on climate mitigation issues.
• Represent the WBG in discussions with international organizations, donor groups, clients and stakeholders on issues related to mainstreaming climate in urban sector activities.

Selection Criteria:

Selection Criteria:

• Business Development – Proven ability to develop advisory, analytical and/or operational business engagement. Must have a strong client orientation, with proven ability to provide evidence-based advice and solutions based on sound diagnosis and knowledge and maintain/build client relationships in the face of conflicting demands or directions.
• Development Bank Experience – Candidate should have significant operational (client-level) experience within World Bank operations or at other development banks or donor aid organizations.
• Climate Change – Extensive experience working on climate change issues and projects, with particular focus on mitigation. Expertise in the area of cities and climate, such as defining the role of cities in climate change, assessing the impact of climate change on cities; planning and implementing climate change action plans, is essential for the position.
• Drive for Results – Proven ability to identify the needed resources to accomplish results involving multiple stakeholders and finds solutions to obstacles affecting key deliverables.
• Teamwork (Collaboration) and Inclusion – Proven leadership in ensuring the team stays organized and focused, and actively seeks and considers diverse ideas and approaches.
• Integrative Skills – Able to undertake cross-sectoral work, applying a climate resilience lens to lending and non-lending operations.
• Knowledge, Learning and Communication – Leads in the sharing of best practice, trends, knowledge and lessons learned across units and with clients and partners, articulating ideas, verbally and in writing in a clear and compelling way across audiences of varied levels.
• Business Judgment and Analytical Decision Making – Gathers inputs, assesses risk, considers impact and articulates benefits of decisions for internal and external stakeholders over the long term.

Other Selection Criteria:

• Masters and or advanced degree in environmental economics, urban planning, natural sciences, engineering, public policy or related discipline.
• At least 8 years of international working experience in sustainable development, climate mitigation and management.
• Previous management or strategic, consulting experience highly desirable.
• Experience working in multiple developing and middle-income countries and regions.
• Solid familiarity with climate strategies, metrics, policy frameworks, and financing mechanisms including in urban areas.
• Demonstrated ability to lead or contribute to high-level analytical work and investment operations,
• Ability to deliver in a dynamic environment with multiple demands and quick turnaround of outputs. Ability to work under pressure while retaining perspective and professionalism.
• Results oriented, with an ability to work independently as well as devise and produce results in collaboration with departments across the WBG.
• Excellent report writing and communications skills in English, knowledge of another major language desirable.
• Strong interpersonal, organizational and team management skills, with demonstrated ability to build strong networks and teams to achieve results.
• Knowledge of social media and other knowledge communications tools is an advantage.