Head (Global Water Initiative)

World Economic Forum (WEF)

Geneva, Switzerland 🇨🇭

New York, NY, USA 🇺🇸

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 (CNC) 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 CNC is seeking a Head of Water to lead and continue building out the water agenda at the Forum, reporting to the Head of Impact and Engagement; Member of the Executive Committee.  This role will be responsible for leading and shaping the water agenda at the Forum, and engaging Forum Partners and stakeholders into the work to accelerate and scale impact on the water agenda. 

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.  Innovative ideas, new models of collaboration, fresh approaches to stimulate and channel investment and technology solutions 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 since 1977, 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.  

Reporting lines and interactions

The role will ideally be based in Geneva within the Centre for Nature and Climate (CNC), reporting to the Head of Impact and Engagement, Member of the Executive Committee, who is based in the Forum’s Geneva 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 lead the Forum’s engagement in water with Forum partner companies, potential Forum partners, and a broad range of stakeholders including governments, multilateral development organizations, civil society, and academia.

The selected candidate will be responsible for

Thought Leadership and Insight Generation

  • Maintain a future and frontier outlook on the water agenda, keeping a pulse on global trends and importantly “white spaces” in the water agenda
  • Inspire new ways to think about and collaborate on water, in particular frame, articulate, and communicate compelling and practical ways to collaborate with other key topics such as climate change, nature, health and wellbeing, social justice, and resilience
  • Translate these ideas and opportunities into viable engagement opportunities and value propositions for Partners to advance the water agenda towards achieving the SDG on water (SDG 6) to position the Forum at the forefront of the water agenda

Strategy Development, and Project Management

  • Lead and keep an overview of the water initiative and workflow to keep the project and deliverables on-track and meeting timelines
  • Lead the development of a strategy to grow the water initiative and agenda at the Forum, through the Forum’s community of water champions to raise ambition and commitments on the water agenda
  • Lead the organization and delivery of community interactions, events and/or sessions to help deliver on the strategy

Championing Existing and Emerging Partnerships/Programs/Initiatives

  • Champion and lead the Forum’s efforts across existing and emerging efforts, including – but not limited to:
  • 2030 Water Resources Group (closing the gap between demand and supply of water resources)
  • 50L Home Coalition (drive energy and water efficiency in households)
  • Hand Hygiene Market Accelerator (investing into high quality yet affordable hand hygiene products and services)
  • Aquapreneur Innovation Initiative (recently announced a new partnership with HCL, a global technology company, to support water-focused entrepreneurs – “aquapreneurs” – to drive innovation in freshwater resource management)
  • Develop a strategic roadmap and funding strategy to expand reach and long-term impact and identify
  • Identify and secure relevant direct-funding opportunities

Stakeholder Engagement and Management

  • Identify, build, and manage strategic relationships with key partners from business, government, academia, investors, innovators to support the strategy delivery, build out, and continued interest and engagement in the Forum’s water agenda. In the short term, this in particular includes the key champions and stakeholders for the 2023 UN Water Conference
  • Engage with all relevant internal Forum teams to ensure visibility and understanding of the work, identification of synergies and opportunities to collaborate and accelerate/scale efforts.  This includes, but not limited to, teams in:  CNC, UpLink, industry, regional, public engagement, partner engagement, finance.
  • Responsible for any reviews, audits and reporting related to the water initiative (both internal and external)

Preferred requirements and experience

  • Professional with 15+ years of experience and a graduate degree (or equivalent experience) in a relevant field (business, economics, sustainability)
  • Strong understanding in sustainability and the issues core to the global water security agenda, including climate change, resilience, nature, and circular economy
  • Demonstrated leadership and delivering results with large scale coalitions, and strong track record in working across stakeholder groups – in particular private sector, government, and international organizations.  Experience with a professional services organization or role is an asset
  • Top-tier network across all stakeholder groups in the water sector
  • Inspiring leader with a good facilitation skills, a strong business acumen and an entrepreneurial mindset
  • Excellent strategic thinking, program management skills, and ability to connect the dots to deliver impact
  • Strong diplomacy and relationship management skills to execute complex and impact-driven national platforms across cultures
  • Demonstrated ability to work with 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
  • A strong and motivating people leader and excellent team manager
  • Creative thinker with ability to frame compelling ways to convey information and insights
  • Strong communicator and engaging storyteller 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 MSc in Water and Sustainable Development