Global Freshwater Lead Scientist

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WWF’s half-century of conservation success is rooted firmly in science; it informs and underpins everything we do. The scientific rigor we bring to our work is unmatched in the nonprofit conservation sector. Building on this legacy, WWF is recruiting a Global Science Team to advance the organization’s mission to build a future where people live in harmony with nature.
To build this team, we are hiring six individuals to shape an interdisciplinary research agenda for each of WWF’s global practices—Climate & Energy, Sustainable Food, Forests, Freshwater, Oceans and Wildlife Conservation and two individuals to build teams in Sustainability Science and Data Analytics & Technology. We seek candidates to advance a coordinated WWF effort that will deliver science for tangible biodiversity conservation results at a speed and scale commensurate with the trends of the world today. The Leaders will report directly to the WWF Chief Scientist and are key members of WWF’s Network Science Team.
The Global Freshwater Lead Scientist (Lead Scientist) will provide scientific leadership for WWF’s Global Freshwater Practice (Practice Lead). The Lead Scientist will be a key partner to the Chief Scientist and the Practice Lead, providing thought leadership, science direction for goal setting, scientific analysis in support of strategy development and the management of internal and external science talent to support the Global Freshwater Practice team in advancing an ambitious agenda. The Lead Scientist will serve as a member of the WWF Global Science Leadership Team to provide expertise and support for interdisciplinary analyses to advance cross-functional strategies. This is an unparalleled opportunity for a dynamic, strategic thinker who is passionate about freshwater conservation and has demonstrated success in, and a thorough understanding of water science disciplines and water policy, economics and conservation practice. A full range of disciplinary expertises will be considered including hydrology and environmental flows, civil engineering, social and ecological modeling, sociology, behavioral psychology of resource use, and political economics.
Position Context 
Never before has the planet faced environmental threats of the scale and urgency we see today. But we also find ourselves in a unique time of extraordinary opportunity for change. Following the establishment of the new Sustainable Development Goals and the climate agreement reached in Paris, humanity has committed to accelerate a transition toward a more sustainable, ecologically sound and habitable future. The pace and scale of this transition will dictate success or failure. As the largest conservation organization in the world, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is determined to capitalize on this momentum. So we are re-inventing our practice of conservation, pursuing measurable results and thought partnerships that help shift humanity to a more sustainable footing.
Success will require a team that energetically embraces the opportunity and risks to produce solutions to the world’s largest environmental problems at the intersection of science and practice.


  • Qualified candidates will possess critical competencies that include:
  • Graduate degree with commensurate experience required; doctorate preferred
  • Broad knowledge of conservation and expertise in environmental flows and hydrology, socio-economic modeling and dynamics, civil/water resources engineering; economic and social-political dimensions of water conservation; or another area of science relevant to the Freshwater Practice
  • At least eight-12 years’ experience leading collaborative conservation research projects and integrating science into large-scale strategies and outcomes
  • Demonstrated experience leading and fundraising for major initiatives
  • Ability to work effectively with individuals across cultures and time zones
  • Extraordinary communication skills—written, oral, strategic; experience leading teams and leveraging the full range of modern media and visualization to realize programmatic goals
  • Vision and innovation—the ability to think and act on a global scale
  • Proven ability in the development and management of partnerships and alliances 
Position Responsibilities
  • Works with leadership and colleagues to ensure that goals, strategies, and estimation of impact are grounded in, and informed by, the best available science, providing scientific and policy-relevant science expertise and promoting innovative research and synthesis of research
  • Conducts and supports colleagues in conducting research in a conservation-relevant science discipline and publishes in high-profile journals for impact and stays abreast of the scientific literature and shares important findings with team staff
  • Disseminates latest scientific knowledge across the WWF network and externally, and in coordination with knowledge management leads
  • Builds and maintains an extensive network of science professionals and partnerships – with key conservation NGOs, government agencies, academics, and other groups – for the purposes of science collaboration, research and to advance WWF’s priorities
  • Represents WWF to promote conservation goals, activities and thought leadership in conservation
  • Leads and supports science and freshwater fundraising efforts, in collaboration with science and practice staff, to support the network’s Freshwater Practice
  • Manages, coordinates and supports science staff and external collaborators for implementation of priorities
  • Develops, analyzes and manages operating plans and grant budgets