Chief Economist

Leadership Washington, District of Columbia

Program Overview

WRI’s Economics Center uses an economics lens to analyze problems and solutions at the intersection of environment and human well-being.

Our economists conduct in-depth economic assessments of the value of terrestrial and marine ecosystem services, renewable energy investments, the impact of climate vulnerability for communities and their livelihoods and more. They develop tools and guidance to help decision-makers understand the economic and social trade-offs of investing in and protecting natural resources.

Our Economists also help develop WRI’s strategy on key issue areas, and support on the integration of economic analysis across the institute. We measure our success in terms of the quality of our research and its ability to drive change in the world in ways that support our mission.

Job Summary

In this position, you will provide thought leadership in environmental economics, help establish the agenda for WRI’s economic work across its global challenge areas, participate in program management and development, and contribute to our communication efforts.

As a world class economist, you will ideally have deep expertise on natural resources and development issues and experience working on international projects with multi-disciplinary teams. You will manage diverse research teams and ensure that the knowledge products they oversee are evidence-based, compelling, and contribute to achieving WRI’s goals.

Job Responsibilities

Research & Knowledge: (70% of time required)

  • Intellectual leadership - identify knowledge gaps or innovative approaches where new WRI research can galvanize changes in society consistent with our mission, in collaboration with research staff from other programs/centers/international offices.
  • Identify the data and methods needed to produce robust, unbiased research that addresses knowledge gaps and informs our strategies.
  • Author or co-author knowledge products (e.g., reports, briefs, data-products).
  • Provide support to program staff on how to produce high-quality analytical work.
  • Review knowledge products written by other WRI researchers.
  • Contribute to WRI strategy development and collaborate on projects that include economic analysis. 

Program Management and Development (30% of time required)

  • Set project strategies and outcomes for major research projects.
  • Manage 2-4 senior economists in the team and guide their work.
  • Identify potential gaps in personnel or expertise and contribute to filling them through hiring or procurement of research services.
  • Contribute to strategy development, partnership development, and fundraising proposals (presentations, narratives, budgets) for the Economics Center.
  • Leverage new and maintains existing relationships with foundations, governments and individual donors
  • Monitor and help evaluate program performance.
  • Additionally, in keeping with WRI’s commitment to human well-being and gender equity across our programs, the Chief Economist will also be required to identify relevant issues and ensure adequate and effective attention to these in project and partner development, budgeting, and management.

Job Qualifications

  • Advanced degree (PhD or Masters) in Economics
  • Minimum 15 years of full-time work experience in relevant field, with at least ten years of leadership experience.
  • Track record of producing and overseeing high-quality leading-edge research related to development or environmental economics
  • Strong quantitative, analytical research skills.
  • Experience with external communications
  • Prior supervision and mentoring of expert staff
  • Exceptionally good communication and interpersonal skills
  • Detail-oriented and organized thinker who can juggle multiple, competing priorities
  • Ability to travel when needed
  • Expertise in development and natural resource economics is preferred.

How to Apply

Applicants must apply through the WRI Careers portal to be considered.

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, water, sustainable 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 $100 million. Founded in 1982, WRI has a global staff of 800+ people with work spanning 60 countries. We have offices in AfricaBrazilChinaEuropeIndiaIndonesiaMexico and the United 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. WRI, therefore, encourages applications from U.S. minorities, persons from other countries (especially developing nations), and from women of all backgrounds.