Director, Thriving and Resilient Cities, WRI Africa

Program Management Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

This position is based in Addis Ababa, but we will consider Nairobi for an exceptional candidate.

Job Summary

Reporting to both our Regional Director for Africa and the Cities Global Director in our matrixed organizational structure, you will be part of both the Africa management team and the Cities management team. You will lead the Thriving and Resilient Cities (TRC) pillar of WRI’s Africa’s programs (please see details below on this program). The TRC Pillar is one of three pillars of the Africa Strategy.

You will lead the strategic development and implementation of this work and oversee the implementation of the Urban Water Resilience flagship program. Working closely with other partners and stakeholders to support transformative urban change as defined by the World Resources Report, you will ensure it is in line with the 2025 WRI Africa Strategy, Change that affects multiple sectors and institutional practices, change that is continued across more than one political administration, and change that is sustained for more than ten years. 

All Africa-based staff working on these program(s) will report to you directly or indirectly. You will coordinate with other program directors, e.g. the Water Program as the work dictates. 

Job Objectives

The three major objectives for the first year include:

  1. Lead the development and implementation of the WRI Africa Thriving and Resilience Cities pillar
  2. Lead the initial flagship project, the Urban Water Resilience program
  3. Serve as the primarily WRI country representative in Ethiopia
Job Responsibilities
  • Represent the WRI Ethiopia Country Program, and WRI Africa Regional Office in Ethiopia in the absence of the VP, Regional Director, in high-level meetings with government ministries, donors and partners
  • Support the Regional Director in the development of MOUs and programmatic collaboration with the Ethiopia government, pan-African and regional organizations such as AU, UNECA, UN RSC to ensure WRI Africa’s analysis, data and tools can achieve impact at scale
  • Support the Regional Director in the design, implementation, monitoring and reporting of WRI works in Ethiopia.
  • Thriving and Resilient Pillar development and fundraising:
    • Engage with local and national authorities and strategic partners in the region to develop the Thriving Resilient Cities Initiative through the five prongs approach (as mentioned above)
    • Link new opportunities with resources at the national and international level and with the private sector
    • Develop a fundraising strategy for the Thriving and Resilient Cities Pillar
    • Conduct Fundraising activities with key donor countries, MDBs and IFIs and with the private sector for project and programs developed in focus cities and countries
    • Maintain relationships with funders and strategic partners Urban Water Resilience program implementation
  • Recruit and oversee a core staff team who will lead delivery of Urban Water Resilience goals in the short-term, aligned with development of the broader TRC pillar
  • Foster new partnership relationships
  • Facilitate high-level dialogue with a diverse group of city, national government, finance, and other stakeholders toward enhanced ambition and commitments to urban water resilience action
  • Develop a scaling strategy for the Urban Water Resilience program as a stepping-stone for the TRC pillar Thought leadership
  • Provide guidance on the research agenda of emerging TRC and UWR efforts
  • Speak at senior level conferences, workshops and other events to disseminate TRC pillar research findings and elevate urban resilience challenges and opportunities for the region; write commentary or other op-eds
Job Qualifications
  • Minimum of 15 years of relevant, full-time work experience with prior experience in the international NGO sector with 10 of those years of experience in program or project leadership. Recognized as an expert in the field
  • Master's degree 
  • Demonstrable previous experience leading original projects, programs and city planning activities
  • Demonstrated track record of accomplishments in advancing sustainable cities, climate resilience, and/or water-wise development
  • Experience working with city governments in Africa and knowledge of the water sector and urban development issues
  • Strong track record of relationships and project partnerships across Africa with key NGO and local research and urban development organizations
  • Exceptional written and verbal communication skills, including presentation experience
  • Willingness to work effectively under pressure and take on new challenges as required
  • Ability to think creatively and resolve complex, multi-disciplinary challenges
  • Experience engaging with actors and organizations across sectors (public, private, non-profit); strong political acumen and influencing skills working with senior government officials including mayors and agency heads
  • Strong interpersonal and relationship abilities, intercultural knowledge and appreciation, and experience building partnerships and managing contracts
  • Experience in capacity building, leadership development and facilitation
  • Detail-oriented, organized and independent thinker with strong process and project execution skills
  • Full fluency in English required and French desirable
  • Ability to travel 30% of time regionally and internationally
How to Apply:
Cover letter is required with CV/resume. Applicants must apply through the WRI Careers portal to be considered. 

Thriving and Resilient Cities

A top priority for WRI generally and the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities in the years ahead will be to to catalyze inclusive, climate resilient, low-carbon, green urban development in priority cities by engaging in an integrated body of work around stakeholder engagement, urbanization, and urban mobility.

WRI Africa will work to transform cities around the world through deep engagement with highly influential cities, targeted engagement, and technical assistance to a larger number of cities, and the rapid scaling of successful approaches through networks. We will increase our engagement in rapidly urbanizing Africa where cities can avoid costly mistakes made elsewhere.

Urban Water Resilience

One of the major project areas of the WRI Africa Thriving and Resilient Cities pillar is the Urban Water Resilience program. This program will focus on six African cities over the first three years (2020-2022). The Urban Water Resilience program has three main goals:

  • Research to illuminate urban water resilience challenges and pathways | Research under the Urban Water Resilience initiative is intended to enhance awareness and understanding of urban water challenges and pathways. Initial efforts will include a report that will illuminate these key issues through literature review, data analytics, and consultation with experts. The report is expected to launch in late 2020.
  • Partnerships with cities to enhance capacity and demonstrate pathways | WRI will partner with a cohort of six cities and their regional and national governments to provide support toward advancing city water resilience agendas. We will facilitate a structured multi-stakeholder planning process to identify priority actions. We will provide technical assistance, and facilitate knowledge exchange and capacity building with the cohort of city partners.
  • Collective action to improve enabling environments | WRI and partners will mobilize collective action through engagement with key actors influencing the enabling environment, such as regional governments, financial institutions, and research institutions. We will facilitate dialogue with city partners and solicit commitments toward improved enabling environments.

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 seven 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, watersustainable cities, and the ocean. 

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 $150 million. Founded in 1982, WRI has a global staff of 1,000+ people with work spanning 60 countries. We have offices inAfrica, Brazil, China, Europe, India, Indonesia, Mexicoand theUnited States as well as a growing presence in other countries and regions.   

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.  

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.