Senior Disaster Risk Management Specialist

Washington, DC, United States 🇺🇸

Background / General description:

Established in 1944, the WBG is one of the world’s largest sources of funding and knowledge for development solutions. In fiscal year 2014, the WBG committed $65.6 billion in loans, grants, equity investments and guarantees to its members and private businesses, of which $22.2 billion was concessional finance to its poorest members. It is governed by 188 member countries and delivers services out of 120 offices with nearly 15,000 staff located globally.

The WBG consists of five specialized institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the International Development Association (IDA), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), and the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). IBRD and IDA are commonly known as the World Bank, which is organized into six client-facing Regional Vice-Presidencies, several corporate functions, and – as of July 1, 2014 – has introduced fourteen Global Practices (GPs) as well as five Cross-Cutting Solution Areas (CCSAs) to bring best-in-class knowledge and solutions to regional and country clients.


The 14 GPs are: Agriculture; Education; Energy and Extractives; Environment and Natural Resources; Finance and Markets; Governance; Health, Nutrition and Population; Macroeconomics and Fiscal Management; Poverty; Social Protection and Labor; Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience; Trade and Competitiveness; Transport and ICT; and Water. The 5 CCSAs are: Climate Change; Fragility, Conflict and Violence; Gender; Jobs; and Public-Private Partnerships.  The new operating model is part of a broader internal reform aimed at delivering the best of the World Bank Group to our clients, so that together we can achieve the twin goals of (1) ending extreme poverty by 2030, and (2) promote shared prosperity for the bottom 40% of the population in every developing country.


Urbanization is occurring at an unprecedented pace. Cities generate 80% of global GDP and are key to job creation and the pursuit of shared prosperity.  Yet one billion city residents live in slums today, and by 2030 one billion new migrants will arrive in cities.  This concentration of people and assets will exacerbate risk exposure to adverse natural events and climate change, which affects the poor disproportionately.  The absence of secure land tenure underpins deprivation and is a major source of conflict in the urban and rural space.  One and a half billion people live in countries affected by repeated cycles of violence.  In the absence of services, participative planning and responsive institutions, these trends will result in increased poverty, social exclusion, vulnerability and violence.  Finally, avoiding a 4-degree warmer world requires drastically reducing the carbon footprint of cities.

The WBG is in a unique position to support national and sub-national clients to: harness urbanization and enable effective land management in support of both growth and poverty reduction; foster social inclusion of marginalized groups; support the responsiveness and fiscal, financial, and management capacities of local governments – cities, municipalities, and rural districts – to deliver local infrastructure and decentralized services; strengthen resilience and risk management related to natural disasters; reduce conflict and violence; scale-up access to finance for sub-national governments; and reduce the carbon footprint of cities.  The WBG brings a combination of lending ($7-8 billion in annual lending to cities), analytical and advisory services (e.g., social inclusion flagship, urbanization reviews, Sendai dialogue), its growing portfolio of reimbursable advisory services, its convening power (e.g., understanding risk and the land conferences), its leveraging capacity (e.g., guarantees and risk mitigation), and its ability to work with the private sector to tackle the challenges at scale and to effect.

The SURR GP covers a wide gamut: (i) developing green, inclusive and resilient cities; (ii) addressing the social inclusion of the poor, vulnerable and excluded groups through accountable institutions, and ensuring compliance with social safeguards; (iii) enhancing urban and rural development through supporting and managing the urban-rural transition, assisting local development through developing land tenure, management and information systems; and (iv) assisting in disaster risk management through issues of risk assessment, risk reduction (including flood management, urban drainage, coastal management, and retrofitting of infrastructure), disaster preparedness (including hydromet services, early warning systems, and civil defense), risk financing (including CAT-DDO), and resilient reconstruction (including post-disaster damage and loss assessment)..

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.


The mission of the Latin America and Caribbean Disaster Risk Management and Urban Unit is to work with national and local governments to reduce urban poverty, expand access to services, and enable cities to become more livable, economically productive, environmentally sound, and less vulnerable. The Unit pursues these objectives by (i) financing investments, (ii) providing technical assistance, and (iii) undertaking non-lending analytical and policy advisory work. In the field of Disaster Risk Management (DRM), the Practice focuses its work around four pillars: (i) risk identification; (ii) risk reduction; (iii) risk financing; as well as (iv) disaster recovery and reconstruction.

In the context outlined above, the practice is seeking a Senior Disaster Risk Management Specialist to lead the development and management of a broad spectrum of financing and technical assistance engagement with both low income and high income countries, as well as to mentor and coach more junior team members to help ensure operational quality for the teams disaster risk management portfolio.

Overview and reporting arrangements

The Senior Disaster Risk Management Specialist will work on operations and with teams in the Caribbean and in Latin America. Specific tasks will depend on the language and technical skills of the successful candidate. The Senior Disaster Risk Management Specialist will report to the Practice Manager for DRM and Urban Development.

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.


The Disaster Risk Management Specialist will participate in the implementation of technical assistance services and lending in the Central America DRM program. The incumbent will perform the following duties and accountabilities:

• Lead high-level dialogue on DRM with governments and strategic partners and represent the Bank in this technical capacity at internal and external meetings.  
• Provide technical advice to Governments related to the implementation of World Bank-financed DRM portfolios;
• Lead DRM dialogue with Country Management Units and other World Bank internal clients.
• Manage a portfolio of financial and technical assistance engagements on disaster risk management, including all aspects of the World Bank project cycle and associated documentation and reporting requirements;
• Mentor more junior staff;
• Support the DRM team’s contributions to GFDRR and GSURR knowledge products and provide peer review of World Bank DRM products as requested.


• A Master’s degree in Urban Planning, Disaster Risk Management, Geography, Engineering, Economics, Business, Social Science or closely related field;
• A minimum of 8 years of relevant professional experience in fields which include disaster risk management, environmental management, and land use planning;
• A minimum of 8 years of professional experience in project management and implementation;
• Extensive knowledge of disaster risk management;
• Demonstrated analytical and writing skills;
• Demonstrated ability to deliver high quality outputs while working under pressure and within tight time schedules;
• Demonstrated ability to work effectively with Government officials and technical staff and with other DRM stakeholders,
• Proven strong leadership and communication skills and ability to work cross-sectorally and lead inter-disciplinary teams;
• Strong task and project management skills, with a proven record of problem-solving capability and a proven ability to conceptualize, design and implement major projects;
• Familiarity with Latin America and prior experience in the region highly desirable;
• Fluent in English. Professional proficiency in at least one of the following languages: Spanish, French, Portuguese.
• Ability to research and write under pressure and to a professional standard.  


• Client Orientation – Takes personal responsibility and accountability for timely response to client queries, requests or needs, working to remove obstacles that may impede execution or overall success.
• Drive for Results – Takes personal ownership and accountability to meet deadlines and achieve agreed-upon results, and has the personal organization to do so.
• Teamwork (Collaboration) and Inclusion – Collaborates with other team members and contributes productively to the team’s work and output, demonstrating respect for different points of view.  
• Knowledge, Learning and Communication – Actively seeks knowledge needed to complete assignments and shares knowledge with others, communicating and presenting information in a clear and organized manner.  
• Business Judgment and Analytical Decision Making – Analyzes facts and data to support sound, logical decisions regarding own and others’ work.
• General Economic Knowledge and Analytical Skills – Possesses a demonstrated track record of working with economic and sectoral data and analytical tools and models to conduct economic analyses and produce user-friendly written outputs; understands underlying statistical concepts.  
• Knowledge and Experience in Development Arena – Understands policy making process; distills operationally relevant recommendations/lessons for clients.  
• Policy Dialogue Skills – Identifies and assesses policy issues and plays an active role in the dialogue with the government and/or other stakeholders.  
• Integrative Skills – Working to develop an integrated view across all facets of current global practice.  
• 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 respective capacities.
• DRM Infrastructure – Deep experience in at least one subtopic; develops novel approaches to mitigate risk or overcome difficult challenges.
• Emergency Preparedness and Early Recovery – Broad understanding of emergency preparedness and recovery strategies, with ability to support operations and analytical work, and draw conclusions and take action based on results of analyses.
• Disaster Risk Financing – Solid knowledge of a wide range of disaster risk financing alternatives; can propose solutions to