Freshwater Lead

Bogota, , CO


Conservation International (CI) protects the nature that people around the world rely on. Many of the strongest connections between people and natural ecosystems are mediated by water. Healthy ecosystems support water supplies, regulate droughts and floods, underpin freshwater fisheries and agricultural production, reduce water pollution, help vulnerable communities cope with impacts of climate change, and harbor extraordinary biodiversity. CI is developing and launching a Freshwater Initiative to orchestrate CI programs, resources, and relationships in support of maintaining water-related ecosystems and embedding nature directly into water management throughout CI’s country programs and worldwide.

Conservation International seeks a Freshwater Lead to serve as CI’s overall point of contact and director for fresh water and to drive the refinement and implementation of CI’s institution-wide Freshwater Strategy. This is a high-profile position responsible for leading all facets of a key institutional priority; the Freshwater Lead thus acts with a high degree of independence in representing CI externally, advancing CI’s thought leadership on fresh water, building and maintaining relationships with key partners, leading the shaping and implementation of CI strategy through interaction with CI Leadership and all CI programs, and providing authoritative advocacy on fresh water and related issues within the institution.

The success of the Freshwater Lead requires breadth of knowledge in a range of freshwater issues (spanning policy, science, finance) and experience in the management of water-related ecosystems. The position leads the design and implementation of the 5-year Freshwater Strategy; advances the portfolio of related work in alignment with CI’s regional and thematic strategies; and refines evolving priorities on fresh water. S/he will contribute to CI’s international policy, science, and business engagement objectives on fresh water, and will lead fundraising for CI’s freshwater work. S/he will establish relationships across CI


Lead the overall management and implementation of institutional Freshwater Strategy (Percentage of time for this function: 50%)

  • Oversee design and implementation of CI’s institutional Freshwater Strategy, and the evolution of its goals and priorities over time
  • Develop and implement detailed work plans on major activities within the Freshwater Strategy
  • Develop and implement a dashboard tracking execution of the Freshwater Strategy, using it as a means for reporting to CI’s leadership, Board, and key donors
  • Ensure alignment with other regional and thematic strategies by guiding other strategies and divisions to support delivery of Freshwater Strategy outcomes/goals, advise all levels of CI management on the extent of alignment between the Freshwater Strategy and CI programs
  • Manage the budget of the Freshwater Strategy, developing criteria for allocation of freshwater funds and ensuring their effective spending

Provide authoritative internal and external leadership on fresh water (Percentage of time for this function: 30%)

  • Display and drive institutional thought leadership and advisory support to advance CI’s expertise and credibility on water-related issues, including through external speaking engagements and innovative research products
  • Represent and serve as overall lead at CI on freshwater issues internally to support existing partnerships and communications efforts, and externally by building and maintaining relationships with key partners
  • Identify, secure, and maintain key strategic partnerships contributing to our freshwater work
  • Engage key international policy, scientific, business, and other events to advance CI’s freshwater objectives, and organize other CI staff to do the same as needed
  • Advise CI staff on policy, science, and business engagement related to fresh water (positions, messaging, opportunities and engagements with water-related components, climate COPs, SDGs, needs and applications of tools, evidence, and analysis, etc)

Mobilize resources for CI’s Freshwater Strategy (Percentage of time for this function: 20%)

  • Oversee management of current and future Freshwater Strategy grants, relationships with donors, and cultivation of prospect donors
  • Advise and guide the development and global public funding teams to target fundraising opportunities for concrete activities within the Freshwater Strategy


  • The position is based in CI-Headquarters in Arlington, VA (Washington, DC area), Singapore, or Bogota, Colombia.  
  • International and domestic travel time up to 20%.


Required (critical to successful job performance.  Applicants not meeting required skills may not be hired)

  • Graduate degree in environmental sciences, water management, or similar
  • At least 10 years of experience on freshwater issues
  • Proficiency with a range of freshwater issues as related to natural ecosystems (e.g., watershed management, disaster risk reduction, sanitation, agriculture and fisheries, managing water-related climate vulnerability, managing risks to water-related ecosystems), and in particular the development and application of novel tools and approaches in supporting governments, businesses, and/or communities in addressing water-related challenges
  • Experience in strategy development, execution, and reporting
  • Excellent presentation, writing, and communications skills in English
  • Able to work in a team and effectively across the full diversity of CI’s global organization
  • Ability to synthesize large amounts of information and make succinct recommendations for staff and decision makers within and outside CI

Record of convening diverse individuals and institutions to address environmental challenges


  • Fundraising experience
  • Experience in developing countries

Ability to communicate in Spanish, French, and/or Portuguese

To apply, please include cover letter, resume and writing sample