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Posting Title:Lead Environmental Economist – World Bank
Job Location: China
Skill Required: Research And Analysis,
Preferred Experience: 2 Years
Closing Date for Applications: 18th Nov, 2020

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Do you want to build a career that is truly worthwhile? Working at the World Bank Group provides a unique opportunity for you to help our clients solve their greatest development challenges. The World Bank Group is one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries; a unique global partnership of five institutions dedicated to ending extreme poverty, increasing shared prosperity, and promoting sustainable development. With 189 member countries and more than 120 offices worldwide, we work with public and private sector partners, investing in groundbreaking projects and using data, research, and technology to develop solutions to the most urgent global challenges. For more information, visit

Sustainable environment and natural resources management (ENRM) is at the heart of the WBG’s poverty agenda. Biodiversity and natural resources constitute the social safety net of the poor, representing a food bank and often their only source of livelihood. Sustainable ENRM promotes a green, clean, and resilient world where natural resources – from forests to fisheries, freshwater, oceans, coastal zones, and ecosystems – are managed to support livelihoods and strong economies. Sustainable ENRM builds a world better prepared for shocks and global challenges, helping countries limit their exposure to resource scarcity, more-volatile weather patterns, and the long-term consequences of climate change.

The Environment, Natural Resources, and Blue Economy (ENB) Global Practice has been set-up to deliver on the opportunities, benefits, and outcomes offered by enhanced management of the environment and natural resources. The ENB GP has close to 300 operations under management, representing close to $7 billion, and a growing pipeline of new investments under active development. The practice consists of some 300 staff across the world plus numerous other staff in other Practices and Cross-Cutting SAs that are professionally associated with it. ENB GP also manages the environmental risk aspects of about 2000 projects in the World Bank’s global portfolio. About 150 staff work specifically on environmental risk management/safeguards.

Note: “safeguards” have been the global term for the World Bank’s environmental and social risk assessment and management support for the operations it finances. On October 1st, 2018 the World Bank switched from the safeguards policies to the new Environmental and Social Framework – ESF, and it’s 10 environmental and social standards (ESS) that govern ES compliance and sustainability in the Bank’s portfolio of investment project financing (IPF). Under the ESF “safeguards” are now defined as “Environmental and Social Risk Management”, ESRM. The safeguards policies still apply to projects that had conceptual designs approved before October 1st, 2018. In this job description, ES risk management and safeguards are used as synonyms, unless explicitly differentiated.

ENB GP has three broad and distinct functions: 

1. Provides clients with lending and non-lending services aimed to support the GP’s three core business lines, namely: (i) Forests, Watersheds and Sustainable Landscapes; (ii) Marine, Coastal and Aquatic Resources; and (iii) Pollution Management and Environmental Health. The GP’s activities also include a focus on Clean and Resilient Growth through its work on environmental economics and support to institutional development.

2. Supports effective environmental risk management and sustainability by managing risk at the project level and creating opportunities to advance sustainable development, in part through the implementation of the Bank’s environmental policies.

3. Works closely with other sectors, including by leveraging GEF grant financing, to mainstream environmental considerations into their policies, strategies, and operations.

NRM activities in East Asia and the Pacific accounts for a substantial part of the ENB Global Practice’s business:

• Delivery of about 10 operations per year, amounting to about $500 million annually.

• An active dialogue on regional issues, such as climate change, coastal and marine economies, improving governance of natural resources, watershed management, pollution management, and wealth accounting and valuation of ecosystem services.

• About 61 active projects in the ENB portfolio, amounting to around $1.8 billion, with around 250 active projects in the EAP regional portfolio.

• A key characteristic of the Bank program in the region is a high level of decentralization. In 2019, of the 1000 EAP staff, 75% were located in the country-level offices, and about 60% of operations were managed and led from the country level offices.

Almost all environmental risk management/safeguards staff are based in country-level offices outside of the Washington, D.C. headquarters. The underpinning of this decentralization rests on four main pillars:

• Better integration at the field level to provide greater synergies and integrated responses.
• A decentralized management structure supported by regional and global knowledge.
• Provision of faster responses and management decisions to our clients.
• The need to reposition ourselves in the region given the large urbanization and decentralization trend in almost all countries, the need to incorporate better environment dimensions of the fast growth rates and huge demand for infrastructure, and the need to better deal with governance issues and growing income disparities between urban centers and rural areas and lagging regions.

Regional Context 

The East Asia and Pacific (EAP) Region presents a dramatic illustration of the global dynamics, opportunities and risks of the 21st century. After making the fastest progress in growth and poverty reduction of any region around the world in the last fifteen years, some countries in the region – such as Mongolia – are poised to become middle-income, and some are preparing to join the small group of high-income countries. Such a rapid transformation is leading to the largest shift in the rural-to-urban population in human history, generating rising inequality within and across countries, leaving individuals and regions behind in the dash for prosperity. Meanwhile, the uncertainty in the advanced economies clouds the prospects for countries across the region that are being forced to adjust to changed growth and development prospects while addressing evolving impacts on macroeconomic stability, employment, and poverty.

EAP comprises more than 20 countries, including China, several Middle-Income Countries, Lower Income Countries, and fragile states (EAP has the second-highest number of fragile states amongst all the Bank regions – 6 of 7 are in the Pacific). The Region is characterized by generally rapid growth, both sophisticated and low capacity borrowers, and some highly dynamic sectors. At the same time, EAP countries are faced with weak governance environments. The Bank’s program in EAP is multi-faceted and has grown rapidly in recent years: annual new lending in FY15 exceeded $6.0 billion; the existing portfolio consists of about 250 operations with a value of about $12 billion, and the TF program is significant (with a portfolio of about $1.2 billion). EAP consists of over 1000 staff with 25% in Washington and 75% based in the country offices in the six Country Management Units.

Unit and Country Context 

China is one of the World Bank’s biggest borrowers.  The World Bank’s existing portfolio in China is about 80 projects with a current value of $12 billion.  Most lending is focused on the provincial and local levels, where the Chinese Government works with the Bank to test new ideas and demonstrate approaches that can be scaled up elsewhere. The portfolio performs well with most projects completed in a satisfactory status. Given the strong linkages between China’s development and the global public goods agenda, ENB plays a key role in the leadership of cutting-edge ASA and the development of new pipeline projects.

While China is experiencing rapid economic development, it is also facing serious environmental challenges including pollution associated with rapid industrialization and urbanization, the degradation of the urban and rural environment, and the implications of climate change. China’s 13th 5-year plan recognizes the importance of balanced growth, resource efficiency, and improved environmental management.  In response, addressing resource scarcity and environmental challenges is one of the key pillars of the Bank’s Country Partnership Framework (CPF) with the Government of China. The 14th 5-year plan is expected to emphasize these directions further.

The World Bank has a strong work program on the environment in China from policy dialogue to strategic analytical products and lending operations in urban and rural environments. In addition to the own-managed program, the environment team is also engaged in working across sectors to integrate environmental considerations into analytical products and projects, including for example a flagship ASA on “Ecological Civilization”, which is co-led by the Macro, Trade, and Investment (MTI) and ENB GPs. The Government of China, with the involvement of the World Bank, is also involved in the implementation of several global and regional environmental conventions and agreements financed through special financing instruments such as the Montreal Protocol Fund, Global Environment Facility, and carbon finance. China’s expanding global leadership on issues of public goods, such as their hosting of the upcoming Biodiversity COP which will take place in Kunming, China in 2021, provides another opportunity for Bank engagement on the ENB agenda.

In addition to ENB’s own managed portfolio, ENB provides support to the broader World Bank portfolio in China and in East Asia to ensure environmental risk management and safeguards policy compliance.  The Bank’s portfolio in China has substantial lending operations in various sectors such as transport, hydropower, education, health, trade, and natural resources management that require support for environmental risk management and safeguards policy compliance. Most staff in ENB are expected to provide at least part-time safeguards support in their area of technical expertise.  About one-third of the ENB staff in East Asia work exclusively on environmental risk management.

The Practice Manager (PM) of the ENB Global Practice for China, Indonesia, and the Pacific (SEAE1) is based in Singapore.  The PM is supported by senior staff who provide day to day technical leadership in their areas of specialization and are responsible for providing technical and quality support for outputs across the region, leading the region-wide communities of practice, connecting staff to international knowledge, leading cutting-edge sector policy and lending work in the region, and mentoring staff mapped to that particular sector on the latest developments in that practice.   The regional management attaches particular importance to creating a supportive work environment based on the values of teamwork, transparency, trust and client services, accompanied by professional excellence.

Duties and Accountabilities 

The EAP region is seeking to hire a Lead Environmental Economist with strong analytical skills and operational experience in the areas of Environment and Natural Resources, the Blue Economy, sustainability, and climate change. The Lead Economist will be based in Beijing, China, and report to the SEAE1 Practice Manager.

Your key responsibilities will be to:

• Lead strategic dialogue and business development in China, working across all ENB business lines.

• Serve as the ENB Sector Focal Point for the China and Mongolia program, responsible for overseeing the ENB pipeline and portfolio, and ensuring the quality of analytical, policy, and operational work.

• Lead/contribute to China/Mongolia and GP-wide flagship studies, reports, and engagements, coordinating and collaborating with the Lead Economists for the CMU and across SD.

• Lead the dialogue with the Chinese government on issues related to global environmental conventions including preparations for COP15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity, to be held in Kunming in 2021.

• Interact with the relevant research communities inside and outside of the World Bank and network with academics and practitioners in China and Mongolia as well as other thought-leaders in East Asia and the Pacific.

• Lead/support the development of innovative engagements through DPOs, PforRs, IPFs, Reimbursable Advisory Services, and other instruments and ensuring strong integration of the ENB program with other GPs.

• Working with the cadre of Environmental Economists in SEAE1: lead ENB contributions to SCD/CPF for all SEAE1 countries to ensure the development of country-specific and innovative work programs through new projects and analytical work; and lead the development of a strong analytical and TA work program reflecting regional and country-specific analytical demands and strategic opportunities for Bank engagement, including communicating with donors and raising Trust Funds.

• Play a major role in strategic dialogue in countries of the Region and business development in the areas identified above by providing intellectual leadership and undertaking cutting-edge research and building capacity of country institutions.

• Provide technical guidance/advice to operational teams to improve the economic rationale and/or economic analyses of projects.

• Enhance and oversee an effective quality assurance process for the SEAE1 ASA program.

• Seek opportunities for and ensure collaboration with other GPs in the region including through joint studies and technical assistance activities.

• Liaise and coordinate closely with the EAP and SD Chief Economist offices.

• Mentor and support China-based ENB staff as well as the cadre of Environmental Economists in the SEAE1 unit.

• Provide support and advice to the SEAE1 Practice Manager, including serving as deputy, and perform other duties and functions as assigned by management.

• Be a member of the China and Mongolia Country Management Teams.


Selection Criteria

In addition to meeting Bank-wide Grade GH level positions (see below), it is expected that the successful candidate will meet the following selection criteria.

The following are required:

• Advanced degree (Ph.D. or Master’s) in economics with application to the above-mentioned areas, with at least 12 years of professional experience in the outlined areas.
• Track record of policy-relevant analytical work demonstrated by, for example, publications in peer-reviewed journals that have been applied, directly or indirectly, to policymaking.
• Acknowledged technical and thought leadership (inside and outside the Bank) in one or two areas relevant to ENB’s portfolio.
• Operational experience in at least two World Bank regions.
• Demonstrated network of research collaborations inside and outside the Bank.
• Strong client orientation, ability to work effectively, and collaboratively with multiple disciplines and operational staff.
• Proven track record of on-time delivery of complex and high-profile tasks.
• Demonstrated skills in team leadership and teamwork, including coaching, mentoring, and motivating staff; contributing to the work of others, putting the team first, and resolving conflicts.
• Demonstrated a combination of analytical rigor and practical and solution-oriented approaches.
• Excellent oral and written communication skills in English, including a proven record of successfully delivering presentations and speeches at international fora.
• Willingness to travel extensively in China and Mongolia and possibly to other countries is necessary, including remote rural areas.

The following would be an advantage but not required:

• Experience working in East Asia and the Pacific, and China, in particular, understanding of the institutional and political context, and exposure to the national environmental policy challenges.

For information about WBG Core Competencies, please visit

We do our best to provide you the most accurate info, but closing dates may be wrong on our site. Please check on the recruiting organization's page for the exact info. Candidates are responsible for complying with deadlines and are encouraged to submit applications well ahead.

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