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Conservation Finance Specialist , Wildlife Conservation Society


WCS’s mission is to save wildlife and wild places and that constitutes a long-term commitment that requires a major human and financial investment in priority sites around the world.  By developing diverse financial options, the WCS Conservation Finance team aims to achieve long-term financial sustainability for the management of these sites, while simultaneously creating new investment and revenue-generating opportunities for communities who depend on natural resources to satisfy their economic needs.   
WCS programs seek the financial diversification needed for successful conservation outcomes by developing market approaches and creating economic incentives directly linked to those conservation outcomes. We assist people and governments in choosing development approaches and investments that benefit wildlife and wild places and ensure long-term sustainability and stability. We invest in business plans, feasibility studies, long-term funding mechanisms, new markets, and other innovative approaches to ensure generation of much-needed revenue for sustainable conservation programs.   
By developing market-based approaches, WCS creates an essential link between its conservation activities and the local and regional economies where it works, gaining greater support for conservation by local communities and government leaders. Identification and development of these mechanisms take time, but these efforts are essential to the success of WCS’ mission to save wildlife and wild places around the world.   Part of this effort involves finding ways to integrate payment of ecosystem services into broader conservation strategies affecting WCS landscapes and building these long-term payment systems into country-level conservation initiatives both in the terrestrial and marine environments. 
There is a growing demand for conservation finance services around the globe and WCS is seeking a professional to support implementation of projects.   These duties will include the following: 
  • Development of conservation finance strategies and plans   Countries around the world face a serious shortfall when it comes to protected area finance.  Government budgets are insufficient to meet the costs of conservation, and protected area managers and conservationists need to explore potential sources of revenue that can contribute to reducing the shortfall.   WCS carries out national and local conservation financing assessments from which strategies are developed that identify specific actions and programs for increased revenue flows to conservation.   In this position the program officer will have responsibility to support country programs, and sometimes to lead, in the development of protected area and landscape finance strategies and recommend actions plans for implementation of the most feasible strategies.  One strategy will be developed for Madagascar marine conservation areas while the potential exists to develop a similar strategy for Belize.  Development of these strategic approaches and putting in place implementation plans that connect sources of funds with protected area managers, small businesses and farmers and local communities will form an important area of work.   
  • Payments for ecosystem services:  WCS is involved with projects that aim to   create markets for ecosystem services as part of a virtuous circle where public and private sector buyers (demand side) offer financial and non-financial payments to individuals, groups, government managers, etc. (sellers/supply side) in exchange for a negotiated supply of ecosystem goods and services.  These payments provide the suppliers with incentives to conserve and deliver the desired levels of goods and services.   Part of the position will involve helping to develop mechanisms for linking these good and services, especially projects involved in creating prices and markets for water resources.    The work will involve working with WCS country programs to design and implement deals that result in ecosystem service payments that deliver services and helping to create the monitoring necessary to ensure their consistent delivery.  A main focus of the work in this field will be in Malawi, in the Shire watershed as part of efforts to generate resources for a newly formed conservation trust.   Opportunities exist currently in other African countries and will be developed and the potential to expand to support work in other geographic regions where WCS works.
  • Protected area business planning.  WCS works with protected area authorities to support the management of protected areas.   Generally, even when management plans exist there is limited financial planning to accompany these management plans.    Creation of business plans that look at both revenue-generating options as well as cost savings from more efficient management will be carried out for two newly established marine parks in Madagascar.   The business planning work will go hand-in-hand with the work on conservation finance strategies.
  • Development of new conservation finance program opportunities.   The program officer will explore new project opportunities in the area of conservation finance, including preparing grants and developing relationships with donors.  Working with the Markets team and with WCS country programs, the program specialist will generate project ideas and develop country-level, regional-level or global grant proposals to generate resources for the program.  New opportunities for innovative financing for conservation will also be explored through WCS’s collaborative work through the Conservation Finance Alliance. 
Position Requirements: 
WCS is seeking a professional with a degree in business, finance, economics or a related field and with at least 5 Years implementing projects in developing countries.    The successful candidate will have experience in developing payment for ecosystem services projects or other means of delivering sustainable flows of finance to achieve conservation objectives.  Experience in business planning, including planning for multiple benefits is necessary.  Fluency in spoken and written English is a requirement and the ability to communicate in either French and/or Spanish is highly desirable.    The position will require extended travel, mostly to Africa but could include other destinations where WCS operates. 
The position will report to and work within the conservation markets team of WCS’s Conservation Science and Solutions program.  Ideally, the position will be in WCS’s global headquarters in New York City, but other key international hubs for WCS will be considered. 
Please apply online at www.wcs.org/about-us/careers and send a cover letter and CV with the subject line “Conservation Finance Specialist [your name]” to conservationsupport@wcs.org
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