Director Environment and Social Safeguards

Regional Heads, Safeguards

Posted 2 years ago

Director Environment and Social Safeguards


WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature. 

WWF believes that conservation benefits when people benefit from conservation and has had its most important successes from working with people, including local and indigenous communities, finding practical ways for people and nature to thrive together.

To further strengthen our deep commitment to this collaboration with local communities and to respecting human rights, WWF is setting up a central unit to spearhead, manage and support the implementation of a robust global Environmental and Social Safeguard Framework (ESSF) across our entire global network of WWF offices. 

The ESSF will represent an overarching policy on environmental and social risk management, providing for: 

  • Integrated environmental and social management to identify and manage the environmental and social impacts, risks, and opportunities of projects through the programme and project life cycle. 
  • Effective stakeholder engagement through disclosure of project-related information and consultation with local communities on matters that directly affect them. 

Major Functions

The Director Environment and Social Safeguards is responsible for setting the safeguard standards for the entire WWF network. S/he leads WWF’s development, implementation and update of WWF’s network policies and practices relevant to mainstreaming the ESSF into all WWF’s global operations. 

The Director Environment and Social Safeguards leads the due diligence work of the WWF network, related to social safeguards including the development of standards, procedures, guidance, and toolkits. They act as the global technical custodian of these standards for the WWF organization. The role also oversees the support for the implementation of policies related to environmental and social management and contributes to WWF’s efforts on knowledge management and capacity development. 

The Director Environment and Social Safeguards leads a team of three Regional Heads of Safeguards to be based in Africa, Asia and Latin America. 

Major Duties and Responsibilities

  • To lead the development, implementation, reporting, and updating of the WWF’s ESSF and practices related to environmental and social safeguards.
  • In collaboration with colleagues (e.g. Operations, Legal), to lead in the development of operational procedures, processes, guidance, toolkits, and references for mainstreaming the ESSF within WWF’s operations, policy work, and initiatives to ensure compliance with relevant policies and frameworks. 
  • To manage and oversee the day to day work of three regional safeguards specialists.
  • To provide overall quality assurance across WWF’s global portfolio of projects where safeguards are triggered (e.g. by developing the strategy for the ESSF, overseeing approvals for projects that are developed, and commissioning random audits on an annual basis).
  • As overall lead technical specialist, to advise project teams and WWF staff on strategy and a range of interventions and provide support for on-going and future work in the areas of, among others, indigenous rights, community empowerment, stakeholder engagement, gender-based violence, labour and community health and safety. 
  • To be responsible for overall risk mitigation and ensuring sustainability in WWF projects by managing the team of experts that help develop operational designs and mechanisms to assess environment and social impacts, constraints and risks related to WWF operations. 
  • To develop and deliver an annual training programme for WWF staff members globally in order to create an accreditation programme for staff.
  • Working with colleagues, to undertake due diligence, monitoring and reporting on WWF programmes, projects, and activities focusing on the compliance to the ESSF standards; 
  • To develop and implement monitoring, evaluation and reporting mechanisms on WWF’s overall efforts to incorporate the ESSF, including the review of progress made in implementing relevant policies.
  • To identify, collate, generate, and disseminate current knowledge, lessons, trends and development pertaining to ESSF into the conservation and development agenda at regional and global levels.
  • To lead the overall policy dialogue globally on the development of environmental and social safeguards and oversee regional and country policy dialogue on these issues by the regional social safeguard specialists.
  • To work with regional safeguard specialists and liaise with Landscape Leads and Country Directors in WWF during the development and implementation of projects.
  • To advise WWF’s senior management and staff on responses to safeguards related complaints. 


Required skills and competencies

  • Experience of working in multi-laterals or other bilateral development agencies that have similar systems.
  • Proven staff management experience.
  • Compelling leadership, inspiring others to drive results.
  • High degree of cultural sensitivity and ability to navigate complexity. 
  • Clear understanding of risk-based approaches to managing projects and Programmes.
  • Strong organizational skills, results-driven. 
  • Creativity, dynamism and diplomacy.
  • Sound judgement and decision-making skills.
  • Excellent interpersonal, communication and language skills, English essential and other languages desirable.
  • Works to the highest level of integrity and confidentiality.
  • Clearly demonstrates behaviours aligned to the culture of WWF: Strive for Impact, Listen Deeply, Collaborate Openly and Innovate Fearlessly. 
  • Adheres to WWF’s values, which are: Knowledgeable, Optimistic, Determined and Engaging.

Required Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in social sciences and management, law, environmental management, economics and policies, social development, sociology, social development, anthropology, indigenous peoples studies, or other relevant fields. 
  • Minimum of 10 years of relevant international experience in environmental safeguard systems. 
  • Demonstrates knowledge in the areas of indigenous peoples’ policy development and implementation; social safeguards; development of guidance, references and tools related to indigenous peoples and social safeguards; design and monitoring of climate change and development programs, projects and activities; and advocacy and capacity development. 

Working Relationships

INTERNAL – Interacts regularly with members of the Senior Management Team, Ombudsperson, Head of Compliance, Network Executive Team (NET) members and CEOs of WWF offices.

EXTERNAL – External partners and other international NGOs, civil society organizations 

This job description covers the main tasks and conveys the spirit of the tasks that are anticipated. Other tasks may be assigned as necessary according to organizational needs. 


Closing of applications: 15 September 2019 at 23h59 (CEST)
Screening interviews: Weeks commencing 23 and 30 September 2019
Final interviews: Week commencing 14 October 2019

Reports to: Executive Director Operations, WWF International
Supervises: Regional Heads, Safeguards
Location: Geneva
Salary: Competitive

Lead Consultant: Martine Billanou
Associate Principal Consultant – Europe


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