Senior Disaster Risk Management Specialist

Washington, DC, United States 🇺🇸

Background / General description:

The Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), established in 2006, is a multi-donor partnership and grant-making financing mechanism. The Facility supports on-the-ground technical assistance to help developing countries integrate disaster risk management (DRM) and climate change adaptation into development strategies, policies and investment programs, including post-disaster recovery and reconstruction.
GFDRR implements the majority of its activities in countries through the World Bank, in partnership with national, regional, and other international agencies. To support country engagements, GFDRR maintains eight thematic initiatives that provide grant recipients with specialized knowledge and quality assurance in the design and implementation of activities. These initiatives allow GFDRR to collaborate with a broad array of partners, facilitate global engagements and capacity building, and produce innovative knowledge. These are: the Innovation Lab, Hydromet, Disaster Risk Financing and Insurance (DRFI), Resilient Recovery, Inclusive Community Resilience, Urban Resilience, Safer Schools, and the Small Island States Resilience Initiative (SISRI).
The GFDRR Secretariat is hosted within the Climate Change Group at the World Bank in Washington D.C. with satellite offices in Brussels and Tokyo. The Secretariat is responsible for awarding and managing grants, reporting on results, and carrying out outreach and partnership development. It also acts as the support hub for a decentralized network of DRM experts in the World Bank and provides a global platform for knowledge-sharing and capacity building.
GFDRR is seeking a Senior Disaster Risk Management Specialist to lead the GFDRR Innovation Lab (www.gfdrr/innovation-lab).

Founded in July 2010, the mission of the GFDRR Innovation Lab is to use science, technology, and innovation to better empower decision-makers in the developing world to increase their resilience to disasters in a changing climate. GFDRR Innovation Lab works in partnership with World Bank regional and thematic teams and global, regional and national institutions to identify, disseminate, facilitate and apply best-practice approaches to risk reduction and recovery. Moreover, the team partners with international experts and institutions that are at the forefront this field. The GFDRR Innovation Lab is focused on five key areas:

1.    Enhanced collaboration and sharing of ideas and approaches in the identification, communication and application of natural hazard risk information to increase resilience;
2.    Continued adoption of the Open Data for Resilience (OpenDRI) program which includes promotion of open data, geospatial data sharing, participatory mapping and user-friendly analytical tools to improve generation, use and communication of disaster risk information;
3.    Development of robust risk information, that considers current and future climates, for use in risk-sensitive decision making;
4.    Improving the accuracy and efficacy of ex-ante impact forecasts and ex-post damage assessments through appropriate use of earth observation technologies, forecast models, exposure datasets, and ground survey tools; and
5.    Developing and promoting innovative open-source software, open data, and innovative ideas and approaches supported by global user communities, for use in ex-ante risk identification and risk modelling and ex-post disaster and climate adaptation planning.

Key programs managed by the GFDRR Innovation Lab include: Open Data for Resilience; Challenge Fund; Understanding Risk Community of Practice; the Think Hazard! tool; and activities across the globe aimed improving the robustness, visualization, utility and uptake of risk information.  

The incumbent will provide leadership of the GFDRR Innovation Lab program, under the direct supervision of the GFDRR Manager, in close coordination with other GFDRR teams, and with regional experts forming the DRM and Climate Change Communities of Practice.

Further information is available at and

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.

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 2 year term appointment.

Duties and Accountabilities:

The team leader of the GFDRR Innovation Lab has the following roles:

1. Effective leadership and supervision of the GFDRR Innovation Lab team, comprised of staff and consultants from a wide range of specialist backgrounds, nationalities and work locations, to ensure on-time and quality delivery of all Innovation Lab products.

2. Provide specialist advice, expertise and leadership to WB teams on the assessment of single and multi-peril risk under current and future climates; strategies to build government capacity to understand, communicate and manage risk; and the use of disaster risk assessments in decision making (from preparedness to building financial resilience).

3. Lead advances and overcome entrenched issues in disaster risk assessment, disaster risk management and climate change adaptation through the development and application of innovative approaches, tools and ideas.

4. Lead the development and delivery of high-quality publications on issues relevant to disaster risk assessment.

5. Connect relevant global advances, innovations and international expertise to GFDRR, WB teams and Governments to enable more efficient and effective development and use of risk information – including the promotion open data and open-source technologies.

6. Participate in country missions where the development of geophysical and hydro-meteorological risk is required; provide technical inputs and guidance to counterparts on appropriate scope, technology, costs, etc that contribute to preparation of terms of reference for project- or sector-related work.

7. Contribute to the broader directions and management of GFDRR through expert inputs into the GFDRR work plan, annual report, Consultative Group meetings and donor discussions.

8. Support the broader Climate Change Group, through the development of customized solutions and innovations to enable resilience to climate change to be embedded in all development programs.

9. Lead collaboration with other technical teams in GFDRR, Climate Change Group and the World Bank to ensure widespread uptake and collective use of Innovation Lab data, tools and expertise (for example, collaboration between Think Hazard! Platform and the Resilience Indicator).

10. Mentor staff and share technical guidance with colleagues.

Selection Criteria:

• A minimum of Master’s degree in a field relevant to developing disaster risk assessment and information (e.g., disaster risk management, geosciences, physics, engineering, spatial analysis etc). A PhD in a relevant field is highly desirable.

• A minimum of eight years’ professional experience, or equivalent combination of PhD education and experience, in the design, implementation, communication and use of disaster risk assessments for disaster risk management. Demonstrated experience of working across both geophysical and hydro-meteorological hazards is essential.

• Substantial knowledge of, and experience in, multi-peril risk assessment and the mitigation of risk through a range of structural and non-structural measures. This should include experience in the supervision of disaster risk assessment projects and the rigorous assessment of result quality.

• Experience in the identification of needed resources to accomplish results involving multiple stakeholders and finding solutions to obstacles affecting key deliverables. Experience in designing and facilitating training/skill enhancement activities or programs for disaster risk management.

• Demonstrated track record of developing and applying innovative solutions, open-source tools and/or open data to disaster risk management and/or climate change problems. Experience in the effective use of processes/procedures in bureaucratic organizations to achieve desired goals/objectives within tight timeframes. Experience managing programs (including budget and resource allocation, reporting etc).

• Track record of working independently, seeking guidance on complex projects/issues from senior specialists.

• Highly developed communication and advocacy skills, including ability to write concisely and clearly in English and synthesize complex documentation and ideas for a range of audiences. Demonstrated skills and experience in speaking and writing to senior management, government officials, donor partners, etc.

• Highly developed international network among academic, private sector and international organizations working on disaster risk assessment and management.

• High degree of motivation, initiative, flexibility, reliability, and responsiveness to changing demands; capacity for effective multi-tasking, with demonstrated ability of being an independent starter with minimal supervision, and a high capacity to persevere for results.

• Ability to travel extensively

• Excellent organizational and task management skills, with appropriate attention to details and ability to prioritize work among multiple competing demands, and under tight deadlines.

• Written and spoken fluency in English is required. Fluency in other languages is desirable (French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian and/or Arabic).


•  Integrative Skills – Understands relevant cross-practice areas how they are interrelated; able to undertake cross-practice work in lending and non-lending operations.

•  Knowledge and Experience in Development Arena – Translates technical and cross-country knowledge into practical applications and contributions to country and practice strategies; interacts with clients at the policy level.

• Policy Dialogue Skills – Anticipates needs and requests in the field and conducts independent policy discussions with representatives of the government and non-government partners.

• Lead and Innovate – Develops innovative solutions with others.

• Deliver Results for Clients – Achieves results and identifies mission-driven solutions for the client.

• Collaborate Within Teams and Across Boundaries – Initiates collaboration across boundaries and broadly across WBG, and brings differing ideas into the forefront.

• Create, Apply and Share Knowledge – Creates, applies and shares knowledge from across and outside WBG to strengthen internal and/or external client solutions.

• Make Smart Decisions – Recommends and takes decisive action.

• 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.

• DRM policy, strategy and institutions – Understands the institutions and governance issues related to DRM, with specific firsthand experience on engaging institutions as well as assessing their res