Associate II (Natural Infrastructure for Water)

World Resources Institute (WRI)

Washington, DC, United States 🇺🇸

About WRI

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 six 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, water and sustainable cities.

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 values are at the core of our approach. They include: urgency, integrity, innovation, 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 $100 million. Founded in 1982, WRI has a global staff of nearly 700 people with work spanning 50 countries. We have offices in Brazil, China, Europe, India, Indonesia, Mexico and the United States.


 WRI seeks a full-time Senior Associate to help lead the Natural Infrastructure for Water project of WRI’s Water Program. The aim of the Natural Infrastructure for Water project is to make WRI a top source for high-quality and actionable information about the restoration, protection and sustainable management of landscapes that can provide water-related services (flood protection, drought mitigation, clean drinking water, etc.) to downstream communities and other users across the globe. The position will help lead a team of research and policy analysts and economists to support this work. The position will report to the Manager of the Natural Infrastructure for Water project, and work closely with colleagues in the Water and Forests Program as well as the Economics, Governance and Finance centers to conduct research on best practices and economic return on investment and cost-benefit analysis, innovative financing strategies, and help develop a programmatic build-out to Africa, India, Latin America and other locations.  


 Research and Analysis (55%)

  • Lead economic and financial analysis to assess the business case for natural infrastructure investments.
  • Help identify and pursue a set of thematic and geographic research priorities through which WRI can advance global understanding of the benefits of natural infrastructure investments.
  • Establish new areas of policy and data analysis that can provide needed resources to scale healthy forest management and other natural infrastructure approaches as a core means for sustaining plentiful, clean water supplies and reducing downstream flooding and other disasters.
  • Lead the development and production of original, policy-relevant research and analytical outputs (e.g., reports, tools, blogs, articles, etc.) under the WRI brand.
  • Develop innovative new approaches to scale up investment in natural infrastructure, such as dedicated green bonds, pay for performance approaches and multi-lateral bank and private sector investments.
  • Identify, collaborate with and support partners to produce research and analysis using WRI data analysis (e.g., Global Forest Watch Water), including through the provision of subgrants.
  • Further cultivate and grow a global network of practitioners and researchers to apply WRI natural infrastructure data and resources to implement on-the-ground projects and develop peer-reviewed research.

 Outreach and Communication (15%)

  • Support efforts to communicate about natural infrastructure for water data and analytical content to non-technical audiences, including existing and prospective funders.
  • Support in-country capacity building efforts by leading the development of new analysis, convening key parties, and providing training and other materials on natural infrastructure approaches, including economic impact and cost-benefit analysis.
  • Represent the Water (and Forests, economics, governance and finance where applicable) teams and give presentations at relevant global conferences and workshops.

 Staff Management and Fundraising (30%)

  • Help supervise a team of researchers and economists working on natural infrastructure projects, as well as other Water and WRI staff on a project basis.
  • Fundraise to provide needed resources to implement the project’s strategies, and help manage annual revenues and expenses in collaboration with the Natural Infrastructure for Water Manager.


 Required Qualifications

  • Advanced degree in water resources management, environmental science or policy, economics or a related field required.
  • Minimum of 5 years’ full-time experience, including supervisory responsibilities.
  • Proven ability to design and direct economic analyses while navigating significant scientific uncertainty, and to influence decisions through economic and policy analysis.
  • Experience performing policy and resource management analysis for a broad array of settings and intended audiences. 
  • Working knowledge of natural infrastructure concepts and the scientific and economic underpinnings of investments in the restoration, protection and sustainable management of landscapes for the provision of water-related services.
  • Experience with public finance concepts and strategy.
  • Proven ability to design and carry out research projects and publish findings in peer-reviewed reports and journals.
  • Proven ability to design and direct economic analyses while navigating significant scientific uncertainty, and to influence decisions through economic and policy analysis.
  • Ability to think strategically and build high-impact research strategies from the ground up.
  • Expertise in program performance management.
  • Ability to manage a small team of researchers and provide professional development.
  • Strong written and oral communication skills, particularly when it comes to communicating technical concepts to non-technical audiences.
  • Ability to cultivate and manage relationships with external partners.
  • Proven ability to fundraise, cultivate and manage partner relationships, and manage a large annual program budget.
  • Proven problem solver with demonstrated adaptability to changing circumstances and new challenges.
  • Ability to juggle multiple tasks and deadlines while setting and delivering on clear priorities.
  • Enjoys working within a large, diverse, and collaborative team environment.

Final candidate will be required to take a writing test.

Salary: Salary is commensurate with experience and skills.

Duration: 12-month term, full-time

Location: Washington, DC for at least the first six months, with remote work setting option in locations strategic to team (Portland, OR, Sao Paulo, Bangalore)