Local recruitment: Urban Water Resilience Finance Intern

World Resources Institute (WRI)

Washington, D.C., USA 🇺🇸


About the Program:

Africa is the most rapidly urbanizing continent. By 2050, Africa’s urban population will more than double. Impacts from climate change will worsen water availability in city-regions, while water demand in Africa is projected to triple. Led by WRI and partners, the Urban Water Resilience (UWR) in Africa Initiative is working with key stakeholders in Africa to help cities address their water risks and vulnerabilities through research, spatial analysis, technical assistance, capacity building to undertake strategic planning and identify place-based interventions and securing funding and financing resources to implement solutions. It is critical to leverage more private finance while better utilizing and coordinating public sector funds and climate development aid to increase access to safe water services and reduce exposure to water-related hazards. As part of the UWR initiative, the African Cities Water Adaptation Fund (ACWA Fund) uses an integrated approach to finance innovative urban water resilience solutions at scale. The fund offers full project lifecycle support, helping local leaders utilize the latest knowledge and resources to understand their climate and water risks and socioeconomic impacts; identify, prioritize, and prepare projects; structure deals and connect to grants and capital; and scale delivery by standardizing project development manuals, deals and contracts. It will enable city leaders to directly access funding and technical support to implement innovative solutions targeting a range of water issues, including integrated governance, watershed management, increasing sanitation services, improved stormwater management and wastewater management.

This position is fully remote.

What you will do:

In this role, you will work closely with the Project Lead and the team to help implement the operational plan for the ACWA Fund and provide support in developing research on innovative financing mechanisms for low carbon water resilience solutions that could meet the needs of African cities. The goal of the research will be to create a repository of successful case studies that identify how cities and communities are blending public and private capital to deliver innovative practical solutions to mitigate flood risks; extend affordable & reliable water and sanitation services; reduce risk of water pollution and improve wastewater management; improve water security by promoting water reuse, recycling; and advance the use of grey-green and blue solutions to build water resilience. The case study writeups will focus on identifying and describing funding and financing models in detail for each project/solution type. This would include the three traditional funding streams that water sector projects are dependent on, Tariffs, Taxes and Transfers. In addition to other blended finance elements like grant, debt and equity investment from private sector, philanthropy, multi-lateral/bilateral donors, financial institutions, banks, etc. This includes research on mechanisms such as green bonds, pay for success (PFS) risk sharing strategies, pooled funding models like water funds, payment for ecosystem services models, etc. The project types to research include but are not limited to:

  • Nature based solutions for flood management, water quality improvement and wastewater treatment.
  • Performance based contracts for non-revenue water reduction strategies for utilities.
  • Household and city scale rainwater harvesting programs.
  • Integrated fecal sludge management programs.
  • Job creation and circular economy programs for solid waste management.
  • Wastewater treatment, reuse, and recycling solutions.
  • Decentralized sanitation solutions like container-based sanitation solutions, solar composting toilet units and financing models to deploy them at scale.
  • Point of use and decentralized water treatment solutions.
  • Digital solutions for water resilience including smart metering and billing. systems, early warning systems, integrated customer service and payment portals and leak detection & pressure management services to reduce non-revenue water loss and improve cost.

Internship Learning Outcomes:

  • Build on existing case studies and conduct research on project financing in the water sector for the urban water resilience program including key institutions supporting funding in the water sector and their mission and impact priorities.
  • Catalog 4-5 successful case studies across the ACWA Fund investment menu types as priorities (9 priority areas listed above) listed above.
  • Develop detailed understanding of how cities are innovating to meet funding and financing gaps in the water sector.
  • Review and synthesize research and document analysis on project level funding and financing mechanisms in a systematic and organized manner.
  • Work with the project team to identify and develop effective approaches to share case study information with city stakeholders through workshops, webinars, etc.
  • Liaise with WRI staff and partners to confirm case study research and project synergies.
  • Provide support in integrating case study research insights in funding proposals for the ACWA Fund.

What you will need:

  • Must be a student enrolled in a graduate program pursuing a master’s degree in finance, business administration, municipal finance, natural resource economics, microeconomics, or related field with a focus on project or infrastructure finance and funding.
  • Candidates with specific interest in water sector policy, funding and financing issues will be given preference.
  • Previous interest and research experience in public finance, municipal finance/budgeting and or international climate finance, etc. are relevant for this work.
  • Strong research, written and oral communication skills are required, particularly when it comes to communicating technical concepts to non-technical audiences.
  • The ability to present complex information in a clear and concise manner.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of and interest in key issues in sustainable cities, climate resilience, and water-wise development.
  • Comfortable interning remotely.


The pay range for this internship opportunity is $20/ hour for undergrads and $22/ hour for graduates.

Length of Contract:

This is a full-time, 3-month internship with a flexible start and end date.


  • This is a remote-based internship with the option to work out of the Washington D.C. office once it reopens.
  • WRI will provide a laptop for the duration of your internship.

How to Apply:

Please submit a resume with a cover letter. Applicants must apply through the WRI Careers portal to be considered.

About Us: Founded in 1982, World Resources Institute (WRI) is an independent, nonprofit global research organization that turns big ideas into action at the nexus of environment, economic opportunity, and human well-being. We are working to address seven critical challenges that the world must overcome this decade to secure a sustainable future for people and the planet: climate change, energy, food, forests, water, sustainable cities, and the ocean. WRI has a global staff of over 1,800 people with work spanning 60 countries. We have offices in Africa, Brazil, China, Europe, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Colombia and the United States, as well as a growing presence in other countries and regions.  

The foundation of our work is delivering high-quality research, data, maps, and analysis to solve the world’s greatest environment and international development challenges and improve people’s lives. We work with leaders in government, business, and civil society to drive ambitious action and create change on the ground. Equally important, we bring together partners to develop breakthrough ideas and scale-up solutions for far-reaching, enduring impact.

Internships at WRI are learning experiences designed for current students, recent graduates, and other candidates who wish to gain knowledge about a specific area of our work. We strive to attract diverse, intellectually driven candidates who have a passion for sustainability and development. WRI provides many internship opportunities throughout the year in all our programs.  

WRI is committed to advancing gender, racial, and social equity for human well-being in our mission and applies this principle to our organizational and programmatic practices. 

Our mission and values:

WRI’s mission is to move human society to live in ways that protect Earth’s environment and its capacity to provide for the needs and aspirations of current and future generations.

Our values are shared ideals that bind us together: Integrity, Innovation, Urgency, Independence, Respect.





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