Researcher (Nature-based Climate Adaptation and the Private Sector)

Arlington, VA, United States 🇺🇸


At the Paris COP, the global community reiterated its pledge to provide $100 billion/year in climate finance by 2020. Yet global estimates of the likely magnitude of finance needed for adaptation alone range up to $300 billion/year by 2050. That figure is more than 10 times the current global level of finance for adaptation. Given the sums needed, relying on existing public finance alone to meet the world’s adaptation needs is not an option. There is a critical need therefore to mobilize the vast potential of the private sector. Nature-based solutions focused on climate change adaptation (ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA)) face an even greater hurdle. Comprising just 2-4% of total climate finance, the need to leverage new funding streams is perhaps the single biggest factor preventing EbA from being pursued at a scale concomitant with its potential.

Conservation International (CI) seeks a Researcher – Nature-based Climate Adaptation and the Private Sector to begin to address the core question of “Why and through what pathways should private sector actors engage in scaling-up and financing EbA?” There is an urgent need to: (1) directly engage the private sector in order to better understand core climate risks and adaptation needs and opportunities as perceived by major corporate actors; (2) evaluate how EbA could potentially mitigate identified climate risks and support companies in their efforts to maintain their ‘social license to operate’; (3) define which metrics and standards would facilitate greater investment in EbA by private sector actors; and (4) better understand existing (and potential short-to mid-term) incentives and regulatory measures that are likely to drive private sector engagement in adaptation generally, and EbA specifically. These will include reformulations of existing pathways, such as payments for ecosystem services, to be adaptation specific, but will also include the identification of novel pathways, such as EbA-focused social impact bonds.

Working in close collaboration with members of multiple Divisions within CI (the Moore Center for Science, the Center for Sustainable Production, the Ecosystem Finance Division, the Policy Center for Environment and Peace, Global Strategy Group, and relevant Field Programs) the Researcher will lead interactions with corporate partners and help drive the development of CI’s understanding of the role of the private sector in benefiting from and financing nature-based solutions.


  • Responsible for the day-to-day management, implementation and success of the project, working closely with scientists from Conservation International’s (CI) Moore Center for Science (MCS) and colleagues from the Center for Sustainable Production, together with additional colleagues in CI and beyond, reporting to the Senior Director, Global Synthesis in MCS.
  • Lead survey dialog with a targeted cross-section of private sector actors (e.g. the insurance sector, the energy and mining sector) to better understand their perception of the climate risks they face, adaptation actions being considered or implemented, and how those risks/adaptation costs are incorporated into their accounting, to inform how EbA could help reduce climate risks.
  • Collate and synthesize existing adaptation activities and tools that private sector actors are already utilizing, including the tools and processes developed to ensure the resilience of business operations, as well as the resilience of communities and ecosystems within that businesses area of influence.
  • Review the current (and potential short-to-mid-term) incentives and regulatory environment, barriers and opportunities, focused on climate adaptation, in which these actors operate.
  • Review and evaluate the suitability of indicators being developed within CI and externally for tracking outcomes and co-benefits of EbA, and their likely utility in supporting private-sector investment in EbA.
  • Identify key external partners and explore options for convening a consortium to promote knowledge exchange and ensure complementarity with ongoing efforts led by peers in the broader adaptation community.
  • Develop a typology of existing and potential novel pathways for engaging the private sector in EbA, with a view to publishing the results in a peer-review journal.
  • Working with CI staff, explore in-country opportunities across CI’s portfolio of field projects for accessing one or more of these pathways for application in at least one existing project.
  • Contribute to the communication and application of this research for inclusion in CI’s broader climate work, including informing relevant national and international policy priorities.


  • The position will be located in CI’s Moore Center for Science (MCS) in Arlington, VA.
  • This is a 12 month fixed term position
  • Some travel (within US and international) for engaging privates sector partners likely required.



  • Masters or MBA in an applicable business, social or environmental science.
  • 2-4 years of relevant experience either in a private sector, climate finance and/or climate adaptation context.
  • Demonstrated understanding of technical and policy issues surrounding nature-based adaptation options (i.e. EbA).
  • Demonstrated understanding of relevant corporate contexts – e.g. corporate social responsibility, environmental standards and regulation, etc.
  • Highly resourceful and demonstrated ability to work independently while embedded within a broader team of researchers and policy experts.
  • Excellent communication skills and a willingness to engage with corporate (and other) partners in often disparate fields of research and policy.
  • Strong research, analytical and writing skills.
  • Highly organized and attention to detail.


  • PhD in related field.
  • Spanish or Portuguese language skills.