Research Director (Global Commission on Adaptation)

World Resources Institute (WRI)

Washington, DC, United States 🇺🇸


The Global Commission on Adaptation

Over the last decade, more countries, cities, and communities have sought to protect economic growth and reduce extreme poverty by better managing the impacts of climate change. With the signing of the Paris Agreement, 192 governments agreed to a global goal on adaptation. This goal is mirrored in Sustainable Development Goal 13, with its target to strengthen climate resilience. States, cities, and communities across the world are taking action. Many organizations and global adaptation partnerships have risen to the challenge, providing technical assistance, funding, and other support.

But despite these terrific points of light, progress is dauntingly piecemeal. The decisions we make today – on how we manage our natural and built environment as well as our economic systems – could undermine food, water and energy security for decades to come. Or, they could lead us toward a more climate resilient future.

To achieve the future we desire, we need a revolution. We need to integrate adaptation into economic and development policies and investments at the scale and rate of urgency required. The Global Center on Adaptation (GCECA) and the World Resources Institute (WRI) will support the launch of a Global Commission on Adaptation in close collaboration with partners to achieve this goal, and as a result, help empower vulnerable countries and communities in their efforts to improve resilience, tackle extreme poverty and achieve their Sustainable Development Goals.

The Global Commission is overseen by a group of global commissioners comprising current heads and former heads of government and leaders from business, philanthropy and civil society. The Commission will be chaired by former UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and convened by a set of developed and developing countries. The Global Commission will be launched in October 2018 and present recommendations from a Flagship Report in September 2019, catalyzing a Year of Action. The GCECA and WRI will jointly host a Secretariat to support the Commission.

The Flagship Report will be led by the Research Director and supported by a team of experts drawn from a partnership of leading research and policy institutes from around the world. An Advisory Group will be convened to provide expert review of the work.

Job Summary

As a strategic thinker with specialized expertise in climate change adaptation, you will excel in this position. You will be well versed in the challenges and opportunities for progress on the global adaptation agenda and have a strong background in forming diverse international coalitions and networks to promote progress. You will also have experience in engaging with high-level stakeholders at the international and country levels, developing networks and collaborations, monitoring program impact and managing a diverse team.

You will lead the research effort on behalf of Global Commission on Adaptation’s core partners. You are expected to initiate and oversee leading edge synthetic research and ensure the scientific rigor of the findings and recommendations. You need to have a strong research/academic background and networks with leading researchers and institutions.

This is a joint appointment with the GCECA. You will be accountable to the GCECA and WRI on program delivery and will oversee the production of the Flagship Report and its uptake. You will be employed by WRI, with senior oversight by WRI and GCECA, and included in WRI’s performance management review system.

You will be coming in at the inception phase of the Global Commission on Adaptation (May-October 2018) and play an important leadership and strategic role in developing this exciting new initiative and expanding its reach and impact over time. The appointment is time limited through December 2019 with the completion of the flagship report and early dissemination and outreach. The appointment can be made on secondment terms or as a sabbatical arrangement. You are expected to divide your time between Washington, D.C. and Rotterdam.

Job Responsibilities

Research Leadership

  • Developing an overall research strategy and intellectual framework, with guidance from WRI/GCECA, institutional partners, and Advisory Group
  • Leading the design, writing and delivery of a Flagship Report by September 2019, with responsibility for commissioning background papers for the launch by October 2018
  • Pulling together an integrated program of work, together with the core partners and affiliated institutions

Stakeholder Engagement

  • Developing influential presentations for internal and external audiences 
  • Ensuring outreach to keep stakeholders (e.g. partner organizations, Conveners, Commissioners) are informed and engaged and that their input is actively sought in the production of the Flagship Report
  • Building relationships with a diverse network of relevant public and private sector actors to maintain a strong network for program deliverables

Job Qualifications

  • Advanced degree (PhD or Masters plus substantial experience) in Climate Science and Environmental Science, International Development, or a related field, with expert knowledge of climate adaptation
  • 15+ years of full-time work experience in a relevant field, with evidence of delivery of high impact systematic reviews and publications
  • Evidence of strong leadership skills plus excellent communications and diplomatic skills
  • Demonstrated ability to build and steward relationships with high-level stakeholders from the public and private sectors
  • Track record of effective supervision and mentorship of expert staff, with at least 10 years’ experience in team management
  • Strong track record of collaboration at the national and international levels
  • Proficiency in English

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, sustainable cities and a new oceans initiative.

WRI is committed to advancing gender and social equity for human well-being in our mission and applies this principle to our organizational and programmatic practices. 

You will be expected to identify and advance opportunities to strengthen attention to gender and social equity within your work to ensure WRI elevates solutions to climate and other urgent environmental issues through approaches that improve human well-being.

WRI’s Climate Resilience Practice (CRP) assists governments, civil society, and the private sector to develop adaptation solutions in line with the scale and scope of climate change. We work at multiple scales to develop adaptation strategies that serve and engage vulnerable people, with a focus on the poor.  CRP helps countries understand and assess climate risks and vulnerabilities; strengthen institutions, policies and incentives for adaptation; identify and communicate adaptation priorities and options; access finance; and monitor and evaluate progress.

Global Center on Adaptation

At COP24 in Bonn, the Netherlands, UN Environment, Japan and the Philippines, in close collaboration with other partners, such as the World Bank Group and WRI, launched the Global Center of Excellence on Climate Adaptation (GCEA, This new international organization, headquartered in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, is dedicated to transform and catalyze the adaptation agenda by unlocking finance for transformative action at scale, sharing existing and new knowledge and best practices, and by convening leaders to raise the political importance of the adaptation agenda.

How to Apply

Cover letter explaining relevant experience and CV. Applicants must apply through the WRI Careers portal to be considered.

The World Resources Institute ( is an environmental and development research and policy organization that creates solutions to protect the Earth and improve people’s lives. As an Equal Opportunity Employer, it is WRI’s policy to recruit, hire, and provide opportunities for advancement in all job classifications without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, citizenship, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, parental status, protected veteran status, or disability. WRI’s global agenda requires a staff that is diverse – with respect to race, gender, cultural, and international background. Diverse perspectives and experience enhance the way WRI selects and approaches issues, as well as the creativity and applicability of WRI’s policy research and analysis. WRI, therefore, encourages applications from U.S. minorities, persons from other countries (especially developing nations), and from women of all backgrounds.