Senior Communications Officer (Environment & Natural Resources)

Washington, DC, US

Background / General description:


Developing countries have an unprecedented opportunity to end extreme poverty within a generation. Inspired by this prospect, the World Bank Group has set two goals: eradicate extreme poverty by 2030, and promote shared prosperity by fostering the income growth of the bottom 40 percent in every country.  To achieve this, the organization is implementing a new strategy combining the strengths of the five WBG institutions: finance, global knowledge, convening services, and the ability to work with both public and private sectors. The architecture underpinning the strategy, and instrumental to its success, is the establishment of Global Practices that, in concert with the Bank Group regional units, will design customized solutions that address our clients’ most pressing development challenges.


The ECR Vice-Presidency’s mandate is to strengthen the World Bank Group’s development impact by building political and financial support for the World Bank Group and its mission. ECR’s role is to provide trusted advice and communications strategies in support of our advocacy goals, while enhancing and protecting the reputation of the institution. ECR manages corporate communications, issues and risk management, global engagement with key stakeholders, including media, civil society, private sector, and international organizations, as well as employee engagement. ECR is responsible for the Group’s corporate online and social media presence, and produces content for a wide variety of platforms, including print, broadcast, and web.


ECR’s Department for Global Practices Communications (ECRGP) was established to meet the communication needs of the World Bank Group’s 14 Global Practices and of its Cross-cutting Solutions Groups. Through specialized communication services, the Department serves the WBG’s twin goals and supports their mandate for global engagement, reputation risk management and change management.


The World Bank Group’s vision is a world free of poverty. The Environment and Natural Resources Global Practice contributes to achieving that vision and sustaining gains over the long-term by helping countries factor in the value of natural resources in their development trajectory. This involves understanding the linkages between development and environmental sustainability, and thinking through both the synergies and trade-offs that maximize welfare gains today while keeping development options open for tomorrow.

The adoption of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in 2015 marks a growing understanding that economic growth, poverty eradication and environmental sustainability are inextricably linked. Yet, from forests to drylands, coastal mangroves to the ocean depths, and aquifers to the ozone layer, the natural resources required for long-term human well-being are under considerable threat. Unsustainable use, habitat loss and pollution are degrading the health of ecosystems that are a backbone of development. Environmental degradation erodes natural capital, shortens lives and weakens the foundations of all economies. But the degradation is disproportionately felt by hundreds of millions of poor families who depend on natural resources for their livelihoods and are less able to protect themselves from the impacts of pollution and climate change.

To address these issues, the World Bank’s Environment and Natural Resources Global Practice supports critical investments and analytical and advisory services that improve the management of land-based and aquatic natural resources and reduce the burden of pollution in cities and rural areas, to ensure green, low-carbon, and climate-resilient growth . It provides the hard evidence and knowledge that policymakers need to invest in more efficient resource use, shape sustainable and inclusive policies, and cope with uncertainty in increasingly challenging circumstances. Furthermore, the Environment and Natural Resources Global Practice plays a key role in advancing the environmental performance and outcomes of World Bank projects and programs across sectors, to eradicate poverty and boost shared prosperity in a sustainable manner.

The Environment and Natural Resources Global Practice oversees a portfolio of about 170 projects and programs worth US$7.4 billion (as of July 2016). About 56 percent of commitments approved in Fiscal Year 2016 support climate change goals, with much overlap between adaptation, mitigation and poverty reduction benefits. The Global Practice’s five areas of focus are: forests, watersheds and sustainable landscapes; fisheries and coastal resources; pollution management and environmental health; policies, institutions and environmental economics; and environmental risk management.

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.


The Senior Communications Officer, also known as the Communications Lead (CL), will be embedded in the front office of the Environment and Natural Resources GP to manage strategic communications of the practice.  The CL will be responsible for managing communications within the GP and will report directly to the ECR Manager for the Sustainable Development Practice Group, and will also have a dotted line to the Senior Director of the Environment and Natural Resources GP.

The CL’s main role is to plan, develop, and implement effective communications and outreach strategies in order to raise awareness and understanding of the WBG’s work in Environment and Natural Resources. The CL’s responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

• Design, implement, monitor and assess a comprehensive, results-oriented communications strategy and plan for the Environment and Natural Resources GP that will include effective positioning, messaging stakeholder engagement, advocacy, creating and leveraging communications opportunities, and horizon risk scanning and management.
• Provide strategic and timely advice to the Environment and Natural Resources GP Senior Director and GP leadership team on high-profile or sensitive internal or external communications issues, including potential reputational risk issues, and keep abreast of relevant developments in the Environment and Natural Resources arena.
• Manage media relations by proactively cultivating global, regional and national media relationships, including looking for opportunities to leverage Environment and Natural Resources GP’s leadership in the media and through speaking opportunities; pitching stories; and handling incoming media queries.
• Proactively manage relationships and communications with a wide array of stakeholders, opinion leaders, influencers, and partners in global Environment and Natural Resources issues and development, and identify opportunities to build and sustain understanding and support of the WBG’ priorities in Environment and Natural Resources.
• Develop and implement diverse and sometimes complex global communications and advocacy campaigns, including engagement with global partners.
• Develop and/or oversee development of an array of communications products, including (but not limited to) speeches and talking points for senior management; events or launches; news releases;  stories; op-eds; blogs; multimedia products; etc.
• Work in close partnership with the online communications associate for the Environment and Natural Resources GP to ensure a strong and growing digital presence for the GP across WBG and partner websites, blogs, and social media channels.  
• Coordinate the day to day work of Environment and Natural Resources GP communications team, providing task management support, guidance and mentoring to other team members.
• Work closely with other World Bank Group corporate, GP, CCSA, country and regional communications staff to align, coordinate and support communications around Environment and Natural Resources issues, initiatives, projects or programs.
Specific duties may include the following:
• Within the practice’s communications strategy framework and overall objectives, is responsible for overall planning, designing, executing, and monitoring and evaluating the impact of sometimes complex communications strategies, activities, and campaigns about the Bank Group’s work in Environment and Natural Resources. Also leads broader strategy development with regard to the unit’s overall work program.
• Determines the types of information and communications activities that are best suited to addressing issues or problems and identifies relevant information sources. Accordingly, writes and/or oversees the preparation, production and dissemination of both routine and complex outreach products that promote the strategic and timely flow of information and key messages about the Bank Group, its policies and operations to key internal and external audiences.
• Initiates and sustains effective professional relationships with key internal and/or external constituencies (including the media, civil society, academia, UN partner agencies, key bilateral donors, the private sector, government agencies, parliamentarians, etc.). Identifies opportunities for and forges strategic partnerships both inside and outside the Bank to improve dialogue and outreach and to strengthen the practice’s overall effectiveness and image.
• Monitors and analyzes current events and public and press opinion with a view to risk management. Advises management and other relevant Bank Group staff on trends, news developments, or changing/unexpected circumstances that may impact the GP’s work, and helps to determine appropriate strategic responses to address them.
• Oversees planning, coordination, scheduling and logistics, often across multiple teams, for press briefings, major conferences and seminars, public or broadcast appearances, and other communications-related activities sponsored by the Bank Group (including some that involve the Bank Group President). May assign work and provide guidance to others charged with developing various communications products for specific deliverables.
• Actively seeks opportunities to collaborate with other Global Practices and CCSAs to mutually amplify and deepen the impact of communication.

Selection Criteria:

• Master’s degree (Communications, International Relations/Public Affairs, Economics or other related field) plus a minimum of 8 years of relevant work experience or a Bachelors with at least 13 years of relevant work experience.
• Demonstrates substantial and current knowledge of issues and developments in the global Environment and Natural Resources arena, with proven understanding/experience working in one or more of the following areas: Environment and Natural Resources, sustainable development, and climate change.
• Demonstrates excellent English language skills and proficiency to write and edit complex communications products for purposeful structure, clarity of ideas, and logical, persuasive presentation.
• Demonstrates ability to nurture and maintain relationships and communications with critical internal and external constituencies and stakeholders.
• Demonstrates ability to think strategically and rapidly analyze diverse information from varied sources.
• Solid understanding of development topics and ability to identify communications-related opportunities and risks in an international environment.
• Demonstrates ability and the necessary personal organization skills to take initiative, personal ownership, and accountability to meet deadlines, work under pressure, and achieve agreed-upon results.  
• Experience using digital and social media to stimulate conversations with stakeholders, develop strategies to position across websites, blogs and other channels.
• Demonstrates ability for teamwork in a multicultural environment; regional experience would be a plus.
• Experience working with senior executives.
• Capacity in other languages is desirable.
In addition to the above, successful candidate must demonstrate the following competencies:
• Communication in International Development – High-level ability to communicate with internal and external partners, based on understanding their communication needs and possessing significant experience with international development topics and issues.
• Social Media, Information Channels, and Communication Tools Awareness – Able to assist, consult, or lead others in assuring existing or new, upcoming communication tools and media channels are fully leveraged to assure proper communication.
• Access to Information Policy – Recognized as an authority in information access, and in the distribution, design, and delivery of communications products and in other information dissemination activities.
• Content Development – Has significant experience in and/or demonstrates broad, in-depth proficiency in this competency and is therefore able to clear for internal or external use material that is developed.
• Content and Style Editing – Has significant experience in, leads others and demonstrates in-depth proficiency in rewriting or editing complex communications products for purposeful structure, clarity of ideas, and the logical persuasive presentation of content.
• Communication Strategy, Planning, and Execution – Has significant experience in and/or demonstrates in-depth proficiency at a level sufficient to assist, consult, or lead others in the planning, development, and execution of communication strategies for complex projects.
• Relationship Management and Political Awareness – Has significant experience and/or demonstrates ability to lead and manage relationships with critical internal and/or external high-risk constituencies to foster strategic partnerships and to strengthen the Bank’s image or mitigate reputational risk.
• Client Orientation – Maintains client relationships in the face of conflicting demands or directions and provides evidence-based advice and solutions based on sound diagnosis and knowledge.
• Drive for Results – Identifies the needed resources to accomplish results involving multiple stakeholders and finds solutions to obstacles affecting key deliverables.
• Teamwork (Collaboration) and Inclusion – Shows leadership in ensuring the team stays organized and focused, and actively seeks and considers diverse ideas and approaches.
• 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.