Conservation Finance Manager – Cities4Forests

Program Management Washington, DC, United States

This position is remote-eligible and only for consideration within the United States where WRI is state registered. Existing work authorization is required at the time of application submission. WRI is unable to sponsor any visa work sponsorship for this position. 

About the Program:

Cities4Forests ( and the Natural Infrastructure Initiative are cross-programmatic efforts – including WRI’s Land’s, Water, and Cities programs. Cities4Forests is a global alliance of more than 90 cities acting to conserve, restore, and sustainably manage nature, especially the world’s forests, for human well-being. Our member cities catalyze major forest-friendly policy changes, facilitate the flow of finance for nature-based projects, and advocate for forest and nature conservation and restoration on the local, regional, and global stage. Cities4Forests and the Natural Infrastructure Initiative support cities with technical assistance on policy; political engagement; economics and finance; gender and social equity; mapping and technology; monitoring, evaluation, and learning; and more. In addition to cities, the programs work closely with water and power utilities, multilateral development banks, public and private financial institutions, Fortune 500 companies, civil society and conservation organizations, and local community and Indigenous groups. Over the past decade, WRI has been at the forefront of increasing investment in well-designed nature-based solutions (NBS) for water security, disaster risk reduction, and climate and community resilience. The Cities4Forests and Natural Infrastructure Initiatives have developed guidance on best practices for evaluating enabling conditions for NBS and appraising NBS project readiness. We have pioneered an economic method for analyzing NBS investment opportunities and ROI and applied it with utilities in watersheds in both the US and Global South. We have also supported the US Forest Service, World Bank, African Development Bank, and Inter-American Development Bank with their NBS strategies and project pipeline development. The team has advanced the green bond certification standard for water infrastructure and supported utility issuance of the first-ever certified green bond for forest-based water infrastructure. And we have co-developed and piloted a multi-stakeholder finance platform, known as the Forest Resilience Bond, resulting in an unprecedented pipeline of blended finance NBS deals across the Western US. Our Learning Guide on Social Equity Considerations supports cities to advance inclusive and equitable NBS projects and our work with multiple Fortune 500 Companies has resulted in significant investment in watershed stewardship and collective action.

Job Highlight:

The Cities4Forests and Natural Infrastructure Initiative team seek a full-time Conservation Finance manager (Associate II) specialized in finance to advance funding and financing strategies for NBS in the United States, with the opportunity to engage on cutting edge projects across Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), Asia, and Africa. The primary role for the Conservation Finance Manager will be to co-lead WRI’s engagement on the Forest Resilience Bond (FRB) across the Western US, in partnership with Blue Forest Conservation, the US Forest Service, utilities, and other partners. The new hire will advance the existing project pipeline, and build out additional project opportunities, by supporting beneficiary engagement, assisting with economic analysis and financial structuring, co-developing strategy and work plans, and contributing towards communication efforts. The position will ensure the application of appropriate financing models and deal structuring to leverage public and private investments for source water protection, catastrophic fire risk reduction, disaster risk prevention and recovery, and ecosystem protection, restoration, and sustainable management, while ensuring equitable outcomes. Beyond the FRB, the Conservation Finance Manager may support other innovative finance engagements across the US focused on Green Bonds, urban wood reuse models, Resilience Funds, corporate investments to achieve Volumetric Water Benefits, and more. There will also be the opportunity to support global Cities4Forest members on their NBS financing needs, from funding green space priorities in India, to source water protection in Colombia. You will report to the Director of Cities4Forests and the Natural Infrastructure Initiative, and closely collaborate with other team members, economists, senior management, and external partners. A significant component of this role will be to co-lead projects with Blue Forest Conservation. You will have outstanding finance and strategic skills, an ability to cultivate and manage relationships with external partners, and a talent for communicating new and complex NBS projects to stakeholders and investors. You will also have an entrepreneurial spirit and capability to support a rapidly growing work area.

What will you do:

Project Development, Economic and Financial Analysis, and Project Delivery (60%):

  • Co-develop projects, strengthen partnerships, and execute strategies to deliver on conservation finance efforts and institutional objectives
  • Engage water and electric utilities, corporations, and other beneficiaries to make a strong business case that incentivizes project participation and funding
  • Support financial and economic analysis to help articulate a Return on Investment (ROI) and clear rationale for financing or funding contributions from utilities, land managers, corporations, investors, public agencies, and/or insurance companies
  • Work with partners to develop work plans, implementation schedules, and problem solve when barriers arise
  • Ensure program design and execution incorporates Gender and Social Equity considerations
  • Track progress and co-lead project reporting both internally and externally

Research and Analysis (15%):

  • Co-develop and test financial approaches to scale up investment in natural infrastructure and NBS
  • Produce and support WRI branded policy-relevant research and analytical outputs (e.g., reports, tools, blogs, articles, etc.)

Fundraising and Operations (15%):

  • Support the Director and other senior leadership on fundraising and proposal development
  • Build and maintain relationships with funding partners and donors
  • Manage core components of project operations, such as budgeting, project staffing, and developing agreements and contracts
  • Lead performance monitoring, evaluation, learning, and reporting for multiple projects

Outreach and Communication (10%):

  • Increase the visibility and influence of the program with key stakeholders including local and national governments, utilities, land managers, financial institutions, companies, donors, and conservation partners
  • Represent WRI at events and with external audiences
  • Design and lead WRI roundtables, workshops, or other convenings with key stakeholders
  • Support and implement project communications strategies
  • Develop communications and marketing materials such as brochures, informational sheets, PowerPoint presentations, and more

What will you need:

  • Education: Master’s degree in business, Economics, Forestry, Environmental Management, or a related field
  • Experience: At least 10 years of work experience relevant to nature-based solutions, forestry, sustainable finance, or climate resilience. A Master's degree can count towards equivalent work experience.
  • Proven expertise in nature-based solutions, and track record of delivering on projects and/or influencing utilities, cities, investors, or financial institutions
  • Strong skills and experience with financial or economic analysis
  • Demonstrated ability to simultaneously support multiple projects engagements, research projects, and author high-quality publications and write-ups on relevant topics
  • Demonstrated ability to build and manage high-impact partnerships to advance environmental and social outcomes
  • Demonstrated success in fundraising on relevant topics a plus
  • Excellent English language skills, Spanish language skills a plus
  • Strong oral communications skills and experience presenting at relevant events
  • Demonstrated ability to work independently and as part of a team
  • Strong appreciation for delivering on time
  • Strong interpersonal skills and the ability to work with teams of individuals and colleagues at all levels inside and outside the organization
  • Ability to present complex information in a clear and concise manner
  • Ability to work calmly and enthusiastically in a dynamic environment
  • Ability to think creatively
  • Highly responsible, and self-motivated
  • Extremely well-organized and efficient
  • Requirements: Existing work authorization in the US is required at the time of application.

Potential Salary:

The salary range for this position is 116,000 USD - 139,000 USD if filled by a candidate located and legally able to work in the US. 
Salary is commensurate with experience and other compensable factors.

How to Apply:  

Please submit a resume with cover letter by April 14. You mustapply through the WRI Careers portal to be considered. 

What we offer: 

  • A competitive salary
  • Access to the WRI global network with the opportunity to exchange with and learn from passionate colleagues working at the cutting edge of their fields across Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America and the US.
  • The chance to have an impact and to develop your career within a mission driven organisation with access to varied learning and training opportunities.
  • A workplace that strives to put diversity and inclusion at the heart of our work.
  • The opportunity to join and get involved in different working groups and affinity groups to shape the future of WRI.
  • Commitment to hybrid working model with flexible working hours.
  • Generous leave days that increase with tenure.

About Us:

Founded in 1982, 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 seven critical challenges that the world must overcome this decade to secure a sustainable future for people and the planet: climate change, energy, food, forests, water, sustainable cities, and the ocean. WRI has a global staff of over 1,800 people with work spanning 60 countries. We have offices in Africa, Brazil, China, Europe, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Colombia and the United States, aswell as a growing presence in other countries and regions.    

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. 

Our mission and values: 

WRI’s mission is to move human society to live in ways that protect Earth’s environment and its capacity to provide for the needs and aspirations of current and future generations. 

Our values are shared ideals that bind us together: Integrity, Innovation, Urgency, Independence, Respect.

Our culture:

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.We are committed to providing equal opportunities in employment, we embrace all diversity and encourage women, the LGBTQ+ community, persons with disabilities, Afro-descendants, and Indigenous people to apply. Recognizing our strong commitment to gender equality, WRI has also been awarded EDGE certification. 

Our Human Resources team carefully reviews all applications.