Spatial Planner (Urban Water Resilience Initiative)

World Resources Institute (WRI)

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 🇪🇹

This is limited-term full-time position ending December 31, 2021 (or one year from start date. May be extended based on funding.)

Job Summary

In this role, you will work with 6 cities (2 each in Rwanda, Ethiopia and South Africa) in Africa to recommend and develop spatial interventions to improve urban water resilience in those geographic contexts. You will work closely with the Project Lead, the GIS team, and the research team to assess and understand the key urban water challenges each city faces. Scope of work for this role will include identifying and recommending urban design, land use, zoning and regulatory interventions/changes that will improve overall water quality, improve water security, conserve natural assets and mitigate water risks facing the city.

Working closely with city stakeholders and experts, you will identify and develop opportunities to better align the city’s urban development plans with the water budget and the natural water cycle. You will participate in stakeholder workshops to brainstorm, ideate and integrate these interventions in the city’s urban water resilience action plan. Ultimately you will become fluent in the water resilience needs of cities across the region. In addition, you will assess and integrate local policy, regulatory & institutional context while making recommendations on specific interventions.

Supporting the Project Lead and Thriving Resilient Cities Director in developing agreements & securing political commitments for these spatial interventions; organizing activities such as conferences and workshops; scoping technical assistance and researching best practices in water sensitive urban design and spatial planning to share across the Africa water resilience network will be part of your role.

Job Responsibilities

  • Work closely with the Project Lead, the Research Lead, the GIS Lead to review key challenges the city faces in addressing its water needs, managing its water assets and mitigating risks from water hazards, assess the spatial context and recommend strategic place-based interventions that will better align urban development choices (infrastructure and investment plans) with the city’s natural water cycle. Knowledge of flood plain management, storm water management, water source development, landscape design and whole water cycle management would be key in developing this work
  • Conduct background research on a variety of best practices: infiltration and recharge strategies to restore water sources/reduce run off, design of blue-grey-green infrastructure interventions to mitigate water risks, watershed and ecosystem conservation & management approaches, water harvesting and recycling strategies that can be implemented at the building and neighborhood scale
  • Work closely with project team members and participate in problem framing and the visioning workshop with city stakeholders to create a shared vision of urban water resilience. Synthesize and analyze workshop outputs and develop approaches for spatial interventions that will address priority water challenges
  • Assist in developing written material including city reports, policy briefs as well as brochures, newsletters, handouts, power points, talking points and background documents related to the spatial interventions proposed
  • Scope technical assistance services from partners/experts to support city governments in advancing action on priority spatial interventions, this may include more detailed vulnerability assessment, scenario planning, scoping based on high level cost benefit assessment and phasing and financing model
  • Contribute to blogs and framing documents for the project in coordination with the technical lead and the communications team 
  • Develop workplan for each city, including key milestones and deliverables for spatial analysis, identifying intervention pathways, scoping & designing interventions and securing finance
  • Support the project lead in designing and implementing network exchange programs between cities that support peer to peer learning on spatial planning that builds urban water resilience

Job Qualifications

  • Master’s degree (or 2 additional years of experience) in urban studies, urban/regional planning, environmental science or related; with a focus on physical planning, master planning, urban design and or landscape design skills.
  • Experience in designing hard and soft landscape strategies to address water related risks including flooding, pollution, siltation, landslides as well as recharge and restoration solutions for degraded aquifers, water bodies and water sheds is highly desired
  • Minimum of 5 years of relevant, full-time work experience; focus on water issues crucial; internships may be counted towards this requirement
  • Experience working with multi-disciplinary teams including water, energy, landscape, environment, transport and engineering disciplines
  • Demonstrable previous experience in supporting original projects, programs in spatial planning and urban design. Experience in problem solving, consensus building and lateral thinking would be key
  • Experience with strategic planning processes, and knowledge of land use planning, zoning and building regulations with a focus on water related matters
  • Demonstrated knowledge of and interest in key issues in sustainable cities, climate resilience, and water-wise development
  • Strong drawing, design and presentation skills
  • Demonstrated ability to work both independently as well as part of a team, including actively contributing to team discussions 
  • Willingness to work effectively under pressure and take on new challenges as required
  • Extremely well organized, detail oriented, independent thinker, effective at organizing tasks and coordinating with partners to achieve project milestones and deliverables
  • Excellent computer skills in design, illustration, spatial analysis knowledge of GIS, AutoCAD and other related software
  • Flexible, responsible and self-motivated
  • Strong interpersonal skills and ability to work with teams of individuals and colleagues
  • Full fluency in English required as well as a second language
  • Ability to travel 30% regionally and internationally once the pandemic allows
  • Prior experience of working in the international NGO sector 

How to Apply 

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

Program Overview

The WRI Urban Water Resilience initiative works to help cities overcome water challenges through research to illuminate urban water resilience challenges and pathways, partnerships with cities to enhance capacity and demonstrate solutions, and collective action to improve enabling environments. This is a joint initiative of WRI Africa, the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, and the WRI Water Program, as well as other partners. Together, these programs and offices bring experience creating accessible, equitable, healthy, and resilient urban areas for people, businesses and the environment. We work with businesses, governments, and civil society to ensure a water-secure future by addressing water quantity, quality, and access challenges together.

WRI Overview 

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 in order to secure a sustainable future for people and the planet: climate change, energy, food, forests, watersustainable cities, and the ocean. 

We are passionate. We value our diversity of interests, skills and backgrounds. We have a flexible work environment. And we share a common goal to catalyze change that will improve the lives of people. Our shared ideals are at the core of our approach. They include: integrity, innovation, urgency, independence and respect. 

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.  

We have been growing rapidly: our staff has doubled in size over the past 5 years and our operating budget is now $150 million. Founded in 1982, WRI has a global staff of 1,000+ people with work spanning 60 countries. We have offices inAfrica, Brazil, China, Europe, India, Indonesia, Mexicoand theUnited States as well as a growing presence in other countries and regions.   

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