Head of Country Programme, Coalition for Urban Transitions

Program Management London, United Kingdom


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.

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About the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities and the Coalition for Urban Transitions

The decisions that national leaders, local officials, developers, and planners make today will determine how billions of people in urban centers will thrive over the next century. Already, half the global population resides in cities. That figure is set to increase to 70 percent by 2050.

Traditional models of city development can lock us into congestion, sprawl, and inefficient resource use. However, compact, connected, and efficient growth can help ensure more competitive cities and provide a better quality of life for citizens. WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities (WRI Cities) works to ensure cities drive economic opportunity while sustaining natural resources. We use technical expertise, cutting-edge research, and on-the-ground partnerships to design solutions that enable sustainable city growth.

The Coalition for Urban Transitions is a Special Initiative of the New Climate Economy (NCE) and is hosted by the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, and jointly managed with the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. The Coalition is made up of a wider partnership of 20+ leading urban focused institutions and their practice leaders from major think-tanks, research institutions, city networks, international organizations, major investors, infrastructure providers, and strategic advisory companies. It has recently formed a high level Urban Leadership Council of the world’s most prominent urban, SDG, and climate focused organisations to help drive forward its work.

The vision of the initiative is to unlock the power of cities to support enhanced national economic, social, and environmental prosperity, including addressing the risks of climate change. By 2019, the aim is for the Coalition for Urban Transitions to be the most concerted and coordinated attempt globally at assembling a partnership of the world’s best thinkers, institutions, and senior public-private leaders to drive action globally and in key countries related to sustainable urban transitions.

Position Overview 

This position can be based in the Coalition's London office at C40 or the Washington, DC office at WRI.

The Coalition’s country programme works with a number of rapidly urbanising countries to support national decision-makers in building sustainable national urban policies and infrastructure investment strategies. The focus is on deep engagement and policy reform in these countries to create ‘lighthouse’ examples which can be replicated and scaled up globally through the coalition.

We seek a candidate to head up and grow our Country Programme which spans work with national governments in China, Mexico, Tanzania, Ghana. It involves working with a number of reputable partners including the Brookings-Tsinghua Centre for Public Policy, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, WRI China and Mexico, the African Centre for Cities, Cities Alliance, Economic Policy Research Centre Tanzania, amongst many others.

The programme is also looking to expand into other geographies such as India and Brazil.

The position will form part of the initiatives programme Senior Management Team, and report directly the Programme Director and Executive Management Team. 

The role requires senior technical leadership and programme management experience, including skills in designing, overseeing, and supporting the implementation of large scale, multi-annual programmes of work involving multiple partners. It will involve an ability to work with partners to identify approaches to produce robust, unbiased analysis and research to support each country programme and shaping effective engagement strategies, including identifying routes to reach high-level decision-makers and supporting discussions.

The successful candidate for this position will have strong interpersonal skills, excellent strategic thinking capabilities, an ability to work in a diplomatic and collaborative manner with multiple stakeholders, and an enthusiasm for turning big ideas into action.. The candidate will also have excellent writing skills, initiative, attention to detail, and a proven track record in engaging senior technical leaders.  

Please note: The internal title for this position is Program Manager, Coalition for Urban Transitions.


Main areas of responsibility will include the following:

  • Overseeing and supporting on-going coordination and implementation of the Coalition’s overall country program in 4-6 rapidly urbanising economies, including China, Mexico, Tanzania, and Ghana. This will include:
    • Leading and agreeing the final design of major national urban policy programmes in China and Mexico in partnership with the Coalition’s in-country, lead partners
    • Supporting and managing the performance of the Coalition’s in-country partners, including spending adequate time with partners in each country to provide strategic advice and assistance which enhances their impact
    • Supporting the ongoing identification of methods and approaches needed to produce robust, unbiased analysis and research relevant to national decision-makers in each country
    • Quality assuring all country programme outputs and ensuring that they meet donor requirements
    • Supporting the development of a strong impact and engagement strategy for country programme, working with in-country partners. This will include leveraging the links to the Coalition’s global programme, and relevant Urban Leadership Council members. It will also include supporting country programme launch strategies
    • Providing oversight of the country level spending and budgets
    • Encouraging coordination between each of the country programmes to ensure relevant knowledge sharing
  • Ensuring the Coalitions’ global and country programmes are well coordinated and fully leverage one another, working closely with the Coalition’s Head of Global Programme
  • Representing the Coalition’s country work programme in the Coalition’s Senior Management Team to help shape appropriate decisions on Coalition strategy
  • Representing the Coalition’s country work programme – including presenting the results of the work – at major global and regional events and through bilateral meetings with relevant decision-makers
  • Identifying opportunities to expand the Coalition’s country programme to other rapidly urbanising countries, including developing fund raising proposals and leading on the maintenance of relevant relationships with foundations, governments, and individual donors
  • Supervising other junior staff, when required, in coordination with the wider Coalition Team
  • Providing support to other coalition work and activities as appropriate


  • Programme management experience, including a demonstrated ability to coordinate across teams and research partners in multiple countries
  • A post-graduate qualification in economics, environmental economics, public policy or another relevant discipline (in-depth knowledge of urban economics and urban finance/investment issues is an advantage)
  • At least 5-7 years’ experience demonstrating world-class and deep knowledge of the key issues and organisations related to sustainable urban development, national economic development, or similar field
  • Substantive experience of working in the global South, including working with government and high-level decision makers on urban policy and / or national economic development issues in South Asian and African countries
  • Strong quantitative, analytical research skills
  • Ability to travel when needed is a key requirement. Fluency in a language other than English would also be desirable (Mandarin, Spanish, or Swahili an advantage)
  • Experience of working with government and philanthropic donors
  • Exceptionally good communication and interpersonal skills, and comfortable working with high-level decision-makers
  • Prior supervision and mentorship of one or more junior staff;
  • Detail-oriented and organized thinker who can juggle multiple, competing priorities
  • Eligible to work in the UK or US

How to Apply

Applicants must apply through the WRI Careers portal to be considered. Applications must be received by Monday, 9 April, 2018.

The World Resources Institute (http://www.wri.org) 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.