Restoration Science Director; Conservation International

Job Title: 
Restoration Science Director
Job Location: 
Arlington, Virginia
Full-Time, Permanent

Avoiding dangerous climate change requires transformative actions across all sectors of our society and economy. Required actions include rapid energy transition, technological innovation, and unprecedented investment in natural climate solutions, all pursued urgently, globally, and in parallel. Restoration science is at the heart of natural climate solutions (NCS), and complements the other dimension of NCS (avoiding emissions from the loss and degradation of ecosystems). In this role, you will have wide latitude to design and lead a portfolio of restoration science initiatives. You will also be deeply engaged in translating that science to actions both on the ground and through the international and national policy communities. At Conservation International (CI), Natural Climate Solutions are our highest priority and we will look to you for big ideas for big solutions. Together, we will make an impact.

As our Director of Restoration Science, you will play a key and highly visible role leading the design and delivery of high-impact outputs and outcomes relating to the restoration science dimensions of NCS. This will include developing innovative research projects, publishing papers, and contributing to funding proposals that will help deliver on CI’s climate goals. This will also include direct involvement with efforts to implement NCS strategies on the ground, and to improve international frameworks and national policies. You will be given a high degree of independence to lead the strategic development of NCS restoration science across the institution. You will work closely with the Sr Director of Natural Climate Solutions, other scientists on the Natural Climate Solutions team, and a network of scientists and practitioners across CI divisions and core external partners, including some of the world’s leading climate-focused institutions and global thought leaders. This is an exceptional opportunity for a creative, determined individual to pursue a research agenda that will directly contribute to CI’s and partner organizations’ on-the-ground actions and policies to mitigate climate change through improved stewardship of nature.

NCS restoration actions increase carbon storage across natural and managed land cover types. Examples of particular interest to CI include reforestation and afforestation (in particular natural regeneration of forests), various forms of agroforestry and silvopasture. Examples also relevant to CI NCS efforts are improved grazing practices, restoration of coastal and inland wetlands, and climate smart agriculture. Such solutions offer >5 Gt CO2e/year in cost-effective mitigation potential globally that can be achieved without harmful impacts on food security, fiber security, or biodiversity. However, realizing the massive potential of NCS restoration actions will require breakthroughs to align many sectors of society toward meeting this collective challenge and opportunity, requiring co-design of solutions pathways and the science needed to inform them. You, with the Natural Climate Solutions team, will design, implement, and coordinate a transformative research agenda to inform key NCS targets and their pathways for implementation.

Internally, you will play a vital role contributing to the institutional Climate Strategy and working closely with the broader Climate Team, driving collaboration across divisions and advising and mentoring key staff. Externally, you will build and leverage strategic alliances with NGOs, multilateral organizations, and businesses. Your success will flow from your understanding of the core issues relating to climate change in general and climate mitigation in particular, your technical knowledge, your understanding of the global and national policy contexts, and local realities, into which NCS restoration science must integrate and evolve.

Your core areas of focus will include research to design, set targets for, and evaluate the impact of restoration actions such as those mentioned above. Critical research needs may include spatially identifying the most promising restoration opportunities, barriers, and trade-offs; evaluating the cost-benefit of various NCS pathways; and identifying the safeguards necessary to secure biodiversity, food, and fiber, while enabling NCS to meet its potential at national and global scales. Linking science products with actions will include activities such as developing technical guidance, tools and capacity on topics related to forest restoration, leading capacity building activities (workshops, webinars, etc), and supporting CI programs and partners on restoration related issues.

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