Economist (Climate and Land Use Modeler)

New York or Washington DC, , US

Overall Function

The Economist will conduct in-depth economic analysis to help shape the organization’s policy positions and support its advocacy on tropical deforestation, sustainable agriculture, and other issues at the intersection of land use and global climate policies.  Such analyses will include original publishable research, “in-house” analyses for use by other staff within the organization, as well as white papers aimed at policy makers, journalists, and the public at large.  S/he will help guide EDF’s advocacy and support decision-making by government policymakers, business leaders, and other key stakeholders around the world.   A special focus will be conducting analysis of historical deforestation patterns and evaluating policies and finance strategies for reducing land-use emissions in Brazil and other countries.  This work will support efforts to develop incentive-based programs to conserve forests and promote sustainable agricultural development; mobilize finance for reducing emissions from tropical deforestation; and align these efforts with commodity sourcing decisions by major corporations.  The Economist will be based in New York, NY or Washington, DC.  S/he will report to the Chief Natural Resource Economist and will work with other economists, natural scientists, and policy specialists throughout EDF.  S/he may also have managerial responsibilities for more junior staff.

Key Responsibilities

  • Working independently and in teams to design, implement, and coordinate a range of original economic research on global climate and land-use policies, including econometric analyses of tropical deforestation and developing decision-support tools for evaluating alternative forest and agriculture policies in Brazil and other countries;
  • Working with the Chief Natural Resource Economist, other staff and collaborators to identify long-term research needed to inform and support the organization’s advocacy;
  • Working with junior staff and partners at other organizations outside EDF to conduct on analyses related to climate and land-use policies and, in some cases, overseeing research projects conducted by other organizations for EDF (e.g. universities and outside contractors);
  • Writing EDF research papers, reports, and advocacy products to communicate analytical results;
  • Summarizing research for a broad audience, as well as public communications including Congressional testimony, Op-Eds, articles, and blog posts;
  • Working with EDF’s development team, including communicating with donors and foundations and writing proposals to secure funding;
  • Participating in the development of public positions taken by Environmental Defense Fund;
  • Representing Environmental Defense Fund at public meetings including policy makers, academic conferences and workshops, gatherings of advocacy organizations, and the general public.


  • Ph.D. in Economics or related quantitatively rigorous discipline is preferred, though exceptional candidates with Master’s degrees will be considered;
  • Demonstrated ability and desire to develop and complete cutting-edge independent research projects;
  • Excellent data management and econometric/statistical analysis skills (e.g., using R, Stata);
  • Strong programming skills (e.g., R, GAMS, Python, Matlab);
  • Exceptional attention to detail and organizational skills;
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills;
  • Ability to convey economic concepts to non-economists;
  • Ability to deploy a diversity of analytical approaches, theoretical and/or econometric studies to back-of-the- envelope analyses;
  • Interest in relating economic research to real-world policy and in bridging the worlds of advocacy and academia;
  • Commitment to environmental/sustainability values and goals.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Two or more years of experience in research, ideally related to climate, forests, agriculture, and/or other environment and development issues;
  • Knowledge of R-GIS or ArcGIS;
  • Experience with platforms for managing large data sets;
  • Experience with economic, financial or related modeling;
  • Foreign language skills, especially Portuguese or Spanish.

Due to the volume of employment applications and queries received, EDF is unable to respond to each application individually.  Applicants will be contacted directly if selected as a candidate.

Environmental Defense Fund is an Equal Opportunity Employer.