Senior Water Associate

World Resources Institute (WRI)

Beijing, , CN

WRI Overview

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 ideals are at the core of our approach. They include: integrity, innovation, urgency, 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 AfricaBrazilChinaEuropeIndiaIndonesiaMexico and the United States.  

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.  

Position Overview

The Senior Associate III will lead WRI China’s water related program work and contribute to WRI’s global water program. The position reports to the WRI China Country Director, Lailai Li, and will work closely with WRI’s Global Water Director, helping to achieve WRI’s five-year strategic plan and ensure that WRI achieves significant impact in China and globally. The China Water Senior Associate with work with the China water team of four staff to implement ongoing work related to water and clean energy, analysis and policies to help China improve water quality and overall water security, as well as innovative waste-to-energy efforts to reduce sewage pollution and provide clean biogas energy in China’s cities. The position will be responsible for developing and implementing the China Water strategy, leading outreach to key government and other policymakers and research leaders, and fundraising to support the program and China water team staff. The China Sr. Water Associate will also participate in global discussions and meetings with WRI staff across its international and global offices, as well as international conferences and events.


The Associate’s main areas of responsibility will include the following:

Program Development

  • Helps WRI’s China Office, Water Program and WRI-Ross Sustainable Cities Center manage cross-cutting projects with global significance, and engages in work planning efforts, global program retreats and management meetings.
  • Contributes to China Office, Water Program and City Program strategy development, partnership development, and fundraising proposals.
  • Acts as chief fundraiser for the China water program, leading proposal development and other fundraising efforts consistent with meeting the team’s six figure annual fundraising goal.
  • Leverages new and maintains existing relationships with foundations, governments and individual donors, and develops and leads outreach/funding presentations to potential donors.
  • Supports the assigned program’s team members across countries and programs (strategy development, work planning, study tours, workshops, internal consultation processes).
  • Develops communications materials, concept notes, and timely content related to sustainable water management trends and solutions.
  • Develops, and manages others to develop, presentations for internal and external audiences, and speaks frequently at major China and global conferences.

Program/Project Management

  • Serves as China Water Lead and leads multiple water projects in China.
  • Helps junior staff develop professionally and grows the China water team into a recognized and highly respected team within China as well as with global audiences.
  • Sets project objective strategies and outcomes for a minimum of 1 large or 3 smaller projects.
  • Provides oversight of major financially integrated efforts for China water team.
  • Monitoring budgets and financial performance, taking appropriate action to ensure key financial objectives are met, including resolving difficult or sensitive financial issues.
  • Proactively manages changes in objective scope, identifies new opportunities and needed shifts in program and project activities, and devises contingency plans.
  • Defines project success criteria and disseminates them to involved parties throughout the project life cycle.

Research & Knowledge

  • Identifies water knowledge gaps where WRI research can produce changes in China and globally. consistent with WRI’s mission, in collaboration with research staff from the global water team, city team, energy team, and other programs/centers/international offices.
  • Identifies the data and methods needed to produce robust, unbiased research that addresses. knowledge gaps and informs the China Office, Water Program, and City Program’s influence strategies.
  • Authors or co-authors knowledge products (e.g., reports, briefs, data-products).
  • Supervises multiple junior researchers.
  • Reviews 4-6 knowledge products written by other WRI researchers yearly.


  • Seven+ years of full-time, relevant work experience with program implementation, project management, and fundraising
  • Three+ years of experience in a leadership role
  • Masters or PhD in a related field; recognized as an expert in the field
  • Demonstrated ability to connect research results to measurable external change
  • Prior supervision and mentorship of one or more junior staff
  • Experience with external communications and/or donor management
  • Exceptionally good communication and interpersonal skills
  • Strong quantitative, analytical research skills 
  • Detail-oriented and organized thinker who can juggle multiple, competing priorities
  • Ability to travel when needed