Lead Disaster Risk Management Specialist

Washington, DC, US

Background / General description:

Established in 1944, the WBG is one of the world’s largest sources of funding and knowledge for development solutions. In fiscal year 2014, the WBG committed $65.6 billion in loans, grants, equity investments and guarantees to its members and private businesses, of which $22.2 billion was concessional finance to its poorest members. It is governed by 188 member countries and delivers services out of 120 offices with nearly 15,000 staff located globally.

The WBG consists of five specialized institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the International Development Association (IDA), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), and the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). IBRD and IDA are commonly known as the World Bank, which is organized into six client-facing Regional Vice-Presidencies, several corporate functions, and – as of July 1, 2014 – has introduced fourteen Global Practices (GPs) as well as five Cross-Cutting Solution Areas (CCSAs) to bring best-in-class knowledge and solutions to regional and country clients.


The 14 GPs are: Agriculture; Education; Energy and Extractives; Environment and Natural Resources; Finance and Markets; Governance; Health, Nutrition and Population; Macroeconomics and Fiscal Management; Poverty; Social Protection and Labor; Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience; Trade and Competitiveness; Transport and ICT; and Water. The 5 CCSAs are: Climate Change; Fragility, Conflict and Violence; Gender; Jobs; and Public-Private Partnerships.  The new operating model is part of a broader internal reform aimed at delivering the best of the World Bank Group to our clients, so that together we can achieve the twin goals of (1) ending extreme poverty by 2030, and (2) promote shared prosperity for the bottom 40% of the population in every developing country.


Urbanization is occurring at an unprecedented pace. Cities generate 80% of global GDP and are key to job creation and the pursuit of shared prosperity.  Yet one billion city residents live in slums today, and by 2030 one billion new migrants will arrive in cities.  This concentration of people and assets will exacerbate risk exposure to adverse natural events and climate change, which affects the poor disproportionately.  The absence of secure land tenure underpins deprivation and is a major source of conflict in the urban and rural space.  One and a half billion people live in countries affected by repeated cycles of violence.  In the absence of services, participative planning and responsive institutions, these trends will result in increased poverty, social exclusion, vulnerability and violence.  Finally, avoiding a 4-degree warmer world requires drastically reducing the carbon footprint of cities.

The WBG is in a unique position to support national and sub-national clients to: harness urbanization and enable effective land management in support of both growth and poverty reduction; foster social inclusion of marginalized groups; support the responsiveness and fiscal, financial, and management capacities of local governments – cities, municipalities, and rural districts – to deliver local infrastructure and decentralized services; strengthen resilience and risk management related to natural disasters; reduce conflict and violence; scale-up access to finance for sub-national governments; and reduce the carbon footprint of cities.  The WBG brings a combination of lending ($7-8 billion in annual lending to cities), analytical and advisory services (e.g., social inclusion flagship, urbanization reviews, Sendai dialogue), its growing portfolio of reimbursable advisory services, its convening power (e.g., understanding risk and the land conferences), its leveraging capacity (e.g., guarantees and risk mitigation), and its ability to work with the private sector to tackle the challenges at scale and to effect.

The SURR GP covers a wide gamut: (i) developing green, inclusive and resilient cities; (ii) addressing the social inclusion of the poor, vulnerable and excluded groups through accountable institutions, and ensuring compliance with social safeguards; (iii) enhancing urban and rural development through supporting and managing the urban-rural transition, assisting local development through developing land tenure, management and information systems; and (iv) assisting in disaster risk management through issues of risk assessment, risk reduction (including flood management, urban drainage, coastal management, and retrofitting of infrastructure), disaster preparedness (including hydromet services, early warning systems, and civil defense), risk financing (including CAT-DDO), and resilient reconstruction (including post-disaster damage and loss assessment).

The World Bank Group is committed to achieving diversity in terms of gender, nationality, culture and educational background.  Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply.  All applications will be treated in the strictest confidence.


The World Bank Group serves more than 20 client countries in the Latin-American and the Caribbean (LCR) region. Clients range from middle-income countries (MICs) such as Mexico, Brazil, Chile, and Argentina, with demand for cutting-edge knowledge services and technical assistance in addition to lending, to IDA countries like Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Bolivia, with an emphasis on poverty reduction and programs that support equitable and enhanced access to social and economic opportunities.

The Latin America and Caribbean Region contains 17 of the top 50 countries identified in the World Bank-sponsored Hotspot study with highest GDP exposure to natural disasters.  With an increasing concentration of assets in urban or semi-urban areas, human and physical losses from floods, landslides, earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, and other natural events are on the rise and important development gains are being erased overnight.  Population growth and the ever-increasing concentration of infrastructure in urban or semi-urban areas have been clear drivers of the growth in human and physical losses from adverse natural events.  This trend is now being exacerbated by increasing climate variability, bringing disaster risk management and climate change adaptation to the forefront of the Region’s development agenda.

The Disaster Risk Management team of GSU10 provides technical, analytical and financial support to regional clients in the fields of: i) risk identification; ii) risk mitigation and preparedness; iii) risk financing; and iv) post disaster reconstruction.  Examples include flood protection in Argentina; reducing the financial vulnerability of the State through risk mitigation and risk transfer in Colombia; vulnerability reduction in OECS; the CAT bonds emission in Mexico and the development of the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility.  GSO10 provides support to client countries with IBRD and IDA financing, as well as through significant partnerships with the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) and the Climate Investment Funds.  

GSU10 is seeking a highly qualified and motivated individual for the position of Lead Disaster Risk Management Specialist to lead the DRM team.  He/she acts will act as the focal point for disaster risk management issues and as Regional Coordinator for GFDRR activities in LCR, and report to the GSU10 Practice Manager.

The Lead DRM Specialist plays an important leadership and strategic role in the technical areas of GSU10 and GSURR in general. S/he is expected to provide technical leadership to team members working on tasks within the unit and across the global practice. The Lead Specialist also has a leadership role complementary to that of Practice Managers, Program Lead and Global Leads, in areas such as technical quality enhancement, technical learning, technical mentorship, and innovation.  More generally, s/he will be expected to take a leading role in knowledge management to ensure global best practices and lessons learned related to DRM are reflected in the relevant operations or technical assistance activities.

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.

Duties and Accountabilities:

The specific responsibilities will include:
1. Intellectual, strategic and technical leadership in DRM
 • Develop knowledge products and training activities to improve best practice in and outside of the Bank.  
 • Strengthen the Bank’s internal best practice, as well as working to enhance the capacity of our clients to respond to disasters through the preparation of high priority risk mitigation strategies, programs and projects.  
 • Establish and maintain productive relationships with external actors in the disaster risk management and disaster recovery field (governments, international agencies, private sector, NGOs, donors and academic institutions) and across Bank Regions and Networks and work with internal and external partners to scale up the DRM agenda and lead strategic thinking.
 • Develop/ strengthen the Unit’s business lines.
 • Provide intellectual, technical mentorship to junior specialists in DRM.
2. Business development, policy dialogue, and client relationship
 • Lead business development through innovative use of financing instruments and modalities for delivering assistance required by client countries and in line with the Bank’s country sector strategies and in close collaboration with other Sustainable Development units, as well as other sectors within the Bank.
 • Lead and contribute to the development DRM in work program agreements in the region and the inclusion of DRM in country strategies, etc.
 • Lead and contribute to the development of new reimbursable advisory services with a focus on strategic clients and innovative business lines that can leverage Bank knowledge and expertise.
 • Represent GSU10 in external fora and interactions with external clients, and lead the coordination of selected partnerships with external organizations.
3. Program and project management
 • Lead and contribute to the preparation of priority or flagship AAA and thereby support GSU10 in credibly delivering high visibility advisory services that may result in innovating or scaling-up the unit’s investment and analytical and technical assistance program.
 • Manage and contribute to priority lending projects under preparation and supervision in the sector including complex, multi-sector operations and participate in multi-sector activities led by other units.
 • Provide operational and technical leadership to DRM staff in the unit at each stage of the project cycle for lending operations and AAA, and in particular for those with less experienced TTLs, in addressing complex analytical and implementation issues.
4. Knowledge management and dissemination
 • Lead strategic communications, outreach activities and knowledge management to ensure best practices and lessons learned are reflected in the unit’s operations.
 • Sponsor/contribute to knowledge exchanges and dissemination across the Bank and in external fora in the area of DRM.
 • Peer review/cross support to other units/regions in sector lending, analytical activities, and strategic sector documents.
5. Contribute to sector management
 • Lead the unit and activities with GFDRR and multi-donor trust funds.  Act as the liaison between the GFDRR and the region, organizing the calls for proposal, the selection processes and the monitoring of Grant execution.
 • Assist the Practice Manager in providing administrative oversight for the team members, including selection, task assignment and coaching and mentoring.  
 • Support Departmental/Unit Management on selected strategic staffing issues, including identification and grooming of staff with potential for growth in the sector.
 • Support Practice Management with quality enhancement reviews and oversight, monitoring and supervision of deliveries and the portfolio of analytical and advisory and lending activities.
 • Represent the practice at corporate meetings and act for the practice manager.


In addition to having Bank-wide Grade GH level clearance for the position, it is expected that the incumbent meets the following selection criteria:


Policy Dialogue Skills – Has a track record of conducting effective policy dialogue with country counterparts; communicates and defends difficult issues and positions to senior bank management and government officials.  

Integrative Skills – Possesses in-depth understanding of Bank resources in all areas of work in the network, and proven fungibility.  

Client Orientation – Translates insight into practice across disciplines, hierarchies, geographies and organizational units in service of clients.
Drive for Results – Ensures successful implementation and delivery of key programs and projects, ensuring that outputs positively impact results.  

Teamwork (Collaboration) and Inclusion – Creates a team climate of practical and innovative action, facilitating collaboration between competing interests and stakeholders.  

Knowledge, Learning and Communication – Demonstrates command of all forms of communication and presents in a clear, objective and engaging manner in high-level settings; ensures knowledge is captured and shared in a variety of ways.  

Business Judgment and Analytical Decision Making – Serves as a trusted advisor to others on their decisions, ensuring alignment across units and optimal impact on the organization as a whole.

Project Design for Impact and Sustainability – Gauges appropriately the time/resources required to undertake a specific reform, design a policy / program, or improve efficiency of key procedures/systems.  

Team Leadership – Demonstrates inspirational leadership combined with practical delivery of large-scale Bank initiatives; sought out to mentor other team leaders.  

Knowledge of Relevant Operational Policy and Associated Good Practices – DPL – Has an advanced understanding of all aspects of OP 8.60 and associated Good Practice Notes, including fiduciary aspects, disbursement arrangements, and risk assessment.  

Extensive knowledge and experience in at least two of the following areas:

DRM Policy, Strategy, and Institutions – Comprehensive understanding of disaster risk management institutions and governance; develops and proposes strategies for strengthening institutions to improve their functionality and meet the needs of the project.  

DRM Infrastructure – Extensive experience with disaster risk management infrastructure, with ability to apply knowledge to policy-related decisions and advice.  

Emergency Preparedness and Early Recovery – Comprehensive understanding of emergency preparedness and recovery strategies as well as depth in one or more subtopics; can lead high-level client discussions as well as deeper technical dialogue and application.  

Disaster Risk Financing – Advanced understanding of disaster risk finance; can conduct complex analyses and develop financial models.
Disaster Analysis / Economics – Deep understanding of most of the economic and analytical concepts relevant to disasters, with significant experience.  

• Advanced degree Master’s or PHD in the relevant field/discipline plus a sustained record of achieving high-quality substantive results over an extended period (typically at least ten years in positions of increasing responsibility).
• Prior work experience and results on the ground in more than one region (including both pre-Bank and Bank experience).  A corporate assignment (e.g., network anchor), may substitute for experience in another region.
• Good understanding of the range of the Bank’s lending and non-lending instruments, including those for emergency operations such as those processed under OP/BP 8.0.
• Proven skills and state-of-art knowledge in the design and structuring of innovative and practical approaches to mainstream hazard risk management in infrastructure or risk financing area.