ICASS Project Lead

The Nature Conservancy (TNC)
India
Position Type: 
Full-Time
Organization Type: 
NGO/Civil Society
Experience Level: 
Senior (10+ Years)
Degree Required: 
Bachelor's (Or Equivalent)
Apply By: 
ASAP

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A LITTLE ABOUT US

ORGANIZATIONAL OVERVIEW:  A PIONEER IN CONSERVATION LEADERSHIP

This is an exciting time at The Nature Conservancy (TNC) as we are shifting our strategy for greater impact in the world—seeking to address some of the most complex challenges facing people and nature—issues such as climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more resilient and sustainable. 

Our Mission: The Nature Conservancy, a global non-profit organization with a million members, is dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends.

Our Vision: A world where the diversity of life thrives, and people act to conserve nature for its own sake and its ability to fulfil our needs and enrich our lives.

The Conservancy Team: We achieve this through the dedicated efforts of our 3,800 diverse staff, including more than 600 scientists, all of whom support conservation in 70 countries and all 50 United States. We are striving to develop a workforce as diverse as the places where we work, and we have a deep commitment to diversity.

Our Work in India: TNC’s India program was launched in 2015. TNC is registered in India as a not-for-profit Section 8 Company. The team is comprised of 25+ high-performing individuals with an annual operations budget of around USD 5.5M. We are focused on eight initiatives that are advancing environmental solutions for some of India’s most pressing challenges. Currently our programs cover six States of India and we are working with more than 15 partner organizations. Both the program and budget are growing at a healthy rate.  We are working hard to demonstrate conservation results and achieve early “win-wins” that promote equitable economic development while conserving natural resources for people and nature. We aim to meet increasing demands for energy resources, water supply and food production with low environmental impact, and in a mindset where nature is seen as a critical input to these key human needs. We do this by engaging governments, the private sector and civil society to ensure that conservation is a critical outcome in economic development. We address challenges to nature with the goal of promoting healthy waters, lands, and oceans and promoting Climate Mitigation and Adaptation. TNC pursues a shared nature-people agenda and is working to demonstrate that conservation and development can be pursued in tandem.

YOUR POSITION WITH TNC

We seek a Project Lead for a collaborative flagship initiative between TNC and Tata Trusts, called the Indian Collaborative for Applied Sustainability Solutions (ICASS). ICASS will bridge the gap between applied science and policy design and implementation with the goal of advancing sustainability in India. The Project Lead-ICASS will facilitate the co-production of science-based sustainability solutions through multi-stakeholder engagements. Our goal is to bridge the policy and practice challenges at the nexus of development and conservation and to promote multi-stakeholder, multi-institutional scientific collaborations in India that respond to “asks” from policymakers. This role ensures effectively connecting India’s scientists and research institutions within government and non-government institutions and decision-makers in public policy businesses to enable the development of scientific and scalable solutions. ICASS will enable the simultaneous pursuit of economic growth and environmental sustainability in India. This engagement will help mainstream the idea that development and the environment can and must be integrated in mutually supportive ways through creating win-win solutions. Applying scientific knowledge to solve real-world sustainability challenges through the production of usable tools and approaches will, over time, benefit millions of Indians and enhance their long-term wellbeing.

ICASS is currently in its Planning Phase, and will be launched as a full-fledged initiative within the next 12 to 18 months. We anticipate a minimum 10-year lifecycle for the ensuing ICASS Action Phase. The ICASS Planning Phase, which is now entering its final year, has two main objectives:

  1. The first objective is to prepare a business plan for the ICASS Action Phase that will guide the establishment of the collaborative and articulate its vision, goals, objectives, timelines, operational structure, staffing plan and fundraising plan. To a great extent this has been achieved but it still needs to be fleshed out and assembled as a formal document.
  2. The second objective is to initiate a few on-the-ground pilot conservation projects that would serve as “learning laboratories” to inform the ICASS business strategy and the type of projects it will facilitate. These pilot projects were to be progressed with engagement of relevant policy makers and largely undertaken in the ecologically significant region called the Central Indian Landscape (CIL), across parts of the states of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. This work has progressed significantly, and is ongoing.

The key objectives of your role over the next 12-18 months include: finalizing the ICASS Action Phase business plan; curating three to five “working group” models of multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary science partnerships in support of sustainability policy asks by the government; and finalizing funding partnerships to support the ICASS Action Phase.

This is a 2-year funded position with TNC India with the possibility for renewal subject to funding. The position is based in New Delhi & reports to our Director of Programs.

ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS

The Project Lead-ICASS provides strategic conservation and management leadership to a significant, game-changing institutional initiative by TNC and Tata Trusts. This position effectively connects India’s scientists and research institutions within government and non-government institutions with decision-makers in public policy and businesses, enabling development of scientific and scalable solutions for environmental challenges.

S/he combines deep expertise in conservation and planning with business acumen, exercises financial and management controls, and provides overall programmatic and administrative oversight of ICASS. Essential functions also include grants and contracts management as well as budget preparation and tracking. Specific subject areas in which ICASS would work for the first five years fall under the broad umbrella of Climate Change, and include a focus on land-based conservation, regenerative agriculture/food systems and sustainable water management.

The Project Lead-ICASS will work to develop and collaborate with a network of scientific institutions and with TNC colleagues to support (1) curating multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional scientific groups responding to key challenges identified by policy makers for recommendations and input; (2) working with the Director of Programs, to ensure that learning laboratory projects being executed by TNC as part of ICASS are on track.

They may play a leading role in donor identification and cultivation. The Project Lead-ICASS advances TNC’s ICASS objectives with the government of India and other key institutions/stakeholders. S/he also supports engagement and funding opportunities with bilateral and multilateral institutions.

S/he works closely with the TNC India ICASS team to form or strengthen relationships with governments in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, as well as with the relevant central government ministries. Internally, s/he will also develop and implement a bilateral/multilateral partner leverage strategy to help raise funds that enables achievement of our objectives of the ICASS project.

S/he will contribute significantly to the management of TNC India’s ICASS initiative, working closely with the Director of Programs, Managing Director and Tata Trust colleagues. In launching/curating and coordinating working groups to address key knowledge gaps for the most pressing sustainability policy challenges, s/he will manage key relationships, including with policy makers and key scientists. S/he will help to shape strategies and projects, and ensure work is delivered on time and with the highest quality results.

RESPONSIBILITIES AND SCOPE

  • Provides conservation and climate change leadership, advances government/policy maker as well as scientist and scientific institution relationships.
  • Participates in Fundraising meetings with fundraisers to help secure funding from bilateral and multilateral funding agencies.
  • May lead and monitor working groups consisting of scientific staff, interns and volunteers covering different conservation topics related to Climate Change.
  • Builds relationships with external parties and negotiates complex agreements to accomplish program goals.  
  • Makes independent decisions based on analysis, experience and judgment.
  • Ensures proper and timely donor reporting to all donors including TATA Trusts.
  • Ensures regular ICASS steering committee meetings are held with clear and concrete agenda.
  • Advances and executes ICASS’s main purpose of bridging the gap between policy decision makers and the applied conservation research community.
  • Facilitates a working group of scientists to undertake a PAN-India analysis on the interconnection between biodiversity, ecosystem services, and their sustainable use in relation to long-term human well-begin and sustainable development in India.
  • Facilitates additional working groups responding to policy asks by bringing together relevant scientists from multiple institutions.
  • Ensures the drafted ICASS business plan endorsed by the Steering Committee is finalized into a complete written document at the earliest and its successful implementation is initiated by next year.
  • Prepares and presents project proposals and negotiates with federal, bilateral and multilateral agencies and/or the business and corporate sector, to achieve program goals. Overall responsibility for working with multilateral and bilateral agencies in India.
  • Ensures regular consultation with senior policy makers to obtain their guidance on the structure of ICASS. Builds buy-in for the collaborative, identifies focal areas and opportunities for ICASS to address their most pressing needs, and leverage ICASS as a platform.
  • Tracks policies and strategies of key Indian government and public institutions and communicates implications and opportunities to TNC India and global strategy programs.
  • Ensures that TNC India and its work is appropriately represented in meetings with Government Agencies and other external stakeholders.
  • Persuasively conveys the mission of ICASS and The Nature Conservancy to diverse groups including key government officials and others who are critical to TNC’s overall public funding strategies.
  • Develops constructive and effective working relationships inside and outside TNC.
  • Builds strategic, scientific and/or technical capacity in the field or within a program.
  • Mentors teams and individuals to improve the TNC’s strategies and impact.
  • Prepares business proposals, presentations and/or strategic work plans.
  • Facilitates trainings, workshops and focus groups.
  • Develops innovative methods, analysis, tools and frameworks to address organizational system needs.
  • May work in variable weather conditions, at remote locations, on difficult and hazardous terrain, and under physically demanding circumstances.
  • May require evening and weekend hours and, post-Covid, frequent travel domestically and/or internationally.

MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS

  • BA/BS degree and 12 years’ experience in conservation practice or equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Senior level management and leadership experience.
  • Fundraising experience, including identifying donor prospects and donor cultivation.
  • Experience designing, implementing, and directing complex or multiple projects of strategic importance, including managing finances, supervising multidisciplinary professionals and coordinating the work of partners while meeting deadlines.
  • Experience working with current trends and practices in relevant discipline(s) and geographic regions.
  • Supervisory experience, including motivating, leading, setting objectives and managing performance.
  • Politically experienced in partnership development with non-profit partners, community groups and/or government agencies.
  • Experience working with methods and standards of biodiversity information systems and initiatives.
  • Experience conceiving and implementing strategic and creative initiatives.
  • Experience negotiating and influencing.

DESIRED QUALIFICATIONS

  • Master’s degree in conservation science or public policy or broadly in sustainability and at least 15+ years of related work experience.
  • This could be an ideal position for a senior conservation professional in academia willing to take a 2 or three year sabbatical; however, others are equally welcome to apply.
  • Working knowledge of current government policies and trends in conservation, climate change and sustainability.
  • Demonstrated experience working for, or with, multilateral and bilateral institutions and/or mobilizing funding support would be an added asset.
  • Outstanding analytical and project management capabilities. Demonstrated ability to successfully develop and implement complex projects in an unstructured environment.
  • Multi-lingual skills and multi-cultural experience appreciated.
  • Experience presenting to and communicating with policymakers and management-level individuals within the corporate sector.
  • Excellent team player with experience working in multi-disciplinary groups, using influence and interpersonal skills, listening, diplomacy and tact to build strong relationships with governments, corporations, partners, donors, volunteers, and all levels of staff.
  • Experience conceiving and implementing strategic initiatives.
  • Outstanding written and oral communication, negotiating and organizational skills.
  • Independent and self-motivated with the ability to participate effectively in a remote team environment.
  • Ability to make sound decisions based on analysis, consultation with others, experience, and judgment. 
  • Experience communicating complex processes and ideas effectively to a variety of audiences within and outside an organization.
  • Extensive networking skills with high level conservation contacts.
  • Experience developing practical applications of scientific concepts and technical innovations for conservation purposes.
  • Experience delivering practical, adaptable products and services to customers.
  • Demonstrated leadership and visionary qualities and ability to work effectively with and through others in a decentralized and geographically dispersed organization.
  • High level of gender sensitivity and respect for diversity.

HOW TO APPLY

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