Senior Director, Climate Smart Forestry Investments

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Senior Director, Climate Smart Forestry Investments

Conservation International protects nature for the benefit of humanity. Through science, policy, fieldwork, and finance, we spotlight and secure the most important places in nature for the climate, biodiversity, and for people. With offices in 30 countries and projects in more than 100 countries, Conservation International partners with governments, companies, civil society, Indigenous peoples, and local communities to help people and nature thrive together.

POSITION SUMMARY - The position will be based in one of CI's US Offices: Arlington-VA & Seattle-WA, with the possibility to be based in CI's other Global Offices: Brazil (remote), Bogota-Colombia, Lima-Peru, Mexico-Mexico City

Amid growing consensus that the protection, restoration, and improved management of ecosystems can provide at least 30% of the climate mitigation needed to limit warming to 1.5°C, Conservation International (CI) has set ambitious targets to realize the potential of these Natural Climate Solutions (NCS). Improved forest management of working natural and plantation forests represents a significant pathway to limit warming below 1.5°C as an NCS action pathway.

In collaboration with the Center for Natural Climate Solutions and Field Programs, CI's Conservation Finance Division seeks to actively define, build, and invest in climate-smart forestry (CSF) projects to achieve meaningful climate impact and financial returns.

The Senior Director of CSF Investments will develop and lead CI's investment strategy and coordinate with existing and new partners to identify, design, and diligence third-party CSF projects globally for compliance against CI's climate, biodiversity, social, financial, and governance safeguards.

To be successful, the Senior Director needs extensive knowledge and experience in forestry - both plantation and natural forest management - climate change, and natural resource management, as well as demonstrated expertise in the development of conservation finance and forest investment underwriting, structuring, and negotiations. The Senior Director must work productively with external private sector, government, and civil society partners. They must be able to articulate an actionable plan for developing an investable pipeline of new, high-quality CSF projects (both from environmental, social, and financial perspectives) at scale and comfortable sharing and driving that vision with Conservation International staff, leadership, and board, in high-level forums, with potential funding partners, and with the implementing programs and partners to drive ongoing buy-in, resourcing, and execution. The role will require a breadth of skills across various topics, including business management, project management, finance, timberland investment, science, policy, markets, and technology.

The Senior Director reports directly to the Senior Vice President of the Conservation Finance Division, working closely with colleagues in the Center for Natural Climate Solutions, Project Delivery and Monitoring Division and with field programs across CI geographies as well as other relevant Conservation International partners.

RESPONSIBILITIES

Lead a cross-divisional team to execute CSF investments with third-party fund managers

CI, with private (and non-profit) partners, has recently developed and closed on a new series of “flagship” funds focused on CSF aimed at making funding commitments to high-quality forestry/timberland asset managers developing innovative CSF strategies around the globe. CI’s role is both as a minority investor and a service provider, helping identify diligence managers and projects with the potential to apply new CSF strategies in important ecosystems worldwide.

The Senior Director of Climate-Smart Forestry Investments leads CI’s execution of these funds. Specific responsibilities include:

  • Deliver high-quality due diligence results and related investment memos in coordination with partners.
  • Provide investment recommendations to the SVP in CI’s role as an investor.
  • Coordinate and project manage a cross-divisional team with expertise in ESG, carbon, finance, and other relevant expertise to achieve desired outcomes.
  • Define functional processes, protocols, and formats to ensure robust due diligence and underwriting that results in an accurate understanding of the risks and opportunities presented by diverse investment opportunities.
  • Develop a cadre of qualified third-party professionals with the appropriate, field-tested experience to conduct accurate due diligence on innovative forest management systems in challenging contexts worldwide.

Fundraising and External Engagement

The Senior Director for CSF investments will directly engage and contribute to CI's CSF fundraising efforts to support the full implementation of CI's CSF strategy, communicate with strategic private sector partners, and link NCS projects with external partners. These tasks include:

  • Support the development of major public (GEF, GCF) fundraising proposals and advise on public funding programs with substantial NCS project components.
  • Provide strategic thought leadership, including engagement at international forums, engagement with government, and be an external spokesperson for CI.
  • Develop and maintain high-level relationships with key external partners, including NGOs, local communities, and private developers; identify and engage a network of forestry companies, technical partners, and local and international NGOs; facilitate monitoring and verification, high-quality technical standards and appropriate community engagement and other safeguards that contribute to a robust CSF investment framework.

Other duties as assigned by supervisor.

WORKING CONDITIONS

  • Work is performed in a typical office environment, with the potential for hybrid work.
  • Travel to remote field locations, often in developing countries (~30% of the time).
  • Flexibility in work schedule required to accommodate time-zone differences between the Arlington, VA office, and international field offices located in Europe, Asia-Pacific, Africa, and Latin America.

QUALIFICATIONS

Required

  • Bachelor's degree in a relevant field (e.g., forestry, environmental science, or business) and 10 or more years of professional experience.
  • 5 or more years of supervisory experience.
  • Strong understanding of forestry and other nature-based climate solutions.
  • Expertise and understanding of proper management of greenfield and brownfield plantation forestry investments.
  • Strong experience on forest investment-related issues, including experience working in and with TIMOs, and forestry operators, with a track record of successfully deploying capital based on high-quality due diligence assessment and accurate underwriting of CSF investments in multiple countries.
  • Evidence of a focus on collaboration and a strong network of individuals and institutions in forestry and climate, including experience convening and coordinating a broad range of individuals.
  • Experience with social and environmental safeguards and their application in the forestry sector.
  • Ability to effectively work in a team across the full diversity of CI’s global organization.
  • Demonstrated track record of working effectively with multicultural, multidisciplinary teams to produce concrete results, including a strong capacity to navigate diversity, equity, and inclusion challenges and opportunities.
  • Ability to build and maintain strong and positive relationships across the organization.
  • Ability to manage and organize multiple projects with competing priorities and different timelines.
  • Excellent oral and written skills in English.

Preferred

  • Graduate degree.
  • Demonstrated financial investment experience, particularly in the forestry sector.
  • Demonstrated experience working with a range of stakeholders (e.g., private, non-profits) to implement high-quality sustainable forest management programs and investments.
  • Experience with sustainability and environmental programs and certification standards that address carbon, energy, water, biodiversity, social and sustainable forest management, e.g., Forest Stewardship Certification (FSC), Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), Gold Standard, Climate Community and Biodiversity (CCB).
  • Demonstrated successful fundraising experience.
  • Knowledge of international climate mitigation policies and programs, e.g. Paris Agreement, the Kyoto Protocol, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
  • Ability to communicate in Spanish and/or Portuguese.

To apply for this position please submit a resume and cover letter.

See all Conservation International Career Opportunities HERE

Conservation International is an equal opportunity, affirmative action, and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility-committed employer. We are proud to have a diverse, global workforce where employment decisions are based on qualifications, experience, position requirements, business needs, market conditions, merit, and other legitimate nondiscriminatory factors.

As a science-based organization, CI follows CDC recommendations for COVID-19 and other vaccines. Accordingly, for the health and safety of our employees, their families, and our community, subject to applicable local law, all Conservation International staff are expected to be vaccinated against COVID-19. However, vaccination is no longer a mandate or condition of employment and employees are not required to provide proof of vaccination. This means we will not require an individual to be vaccinated to enter a CI office, attend CI events or travel on CI-related trips. This applies for our community partners as well. This vaccine expectation applies to all team members working remotely, in a hybrid work arrangement, and on-site. Job applicants are NOT required to state their COVID-19 vaccine status in their application.