Research Assistant, Urban Development, Washington

Job Summary

The research assistant is part of the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities Urban Development team. You will serve as a fully dedicated member of the Resource Team supporting the Global Platform for Sustainable Cities. This position is a one-year, limited term opportunity with full benefits and the possibility of renewal.

Sustainable and inclusive urban development is more than just a vision. Adoption of key measures, such as integrated urban planning, can and does translate vision into reality. The Global Platform for Sustainable Cities (GPSC) brings together all GPSC participating cities and a wide range of entities that are working on urban sustainability issues to create a shared platform for global knowledge and an evidence-based, integrated approach to realize it. The assumption is that well-managed, compact, resilient, inclusive, low-emission, and resource-efficient cities can become drivers of sustainable development, contributing to both local livability and global public goods.

The Resource Team (RT), a consortium formed by WRI, ICLEI and C40, provides high-level technical assistance to projects funded under the GPSC platform; and supports GPSC implementation. The RT supports cities in their efforts to undertake a strategic approach to sustainability and integrated planning, and with specific sectoral technical issues related to city project implementation.

As a key member of the team, you will provide support on the production of knowledge products for the project, including case studies about integrated planning, and technical notes on various topics related to project's identified areas of interest and peer exchanges. The research assistant will also help with other tasks related to the project, such as organizing peer-exchanges between participating cities, or other kinds of learning events, such as the City Academy and webinar series, depending on need.

Job Responsibilities

Research (60%)

  • Conduct background research on a variety of topics and case studies surrounding the concept of integrated planning, building a body of knowledge, and helping to position WRI as an expert in this space
  • Supports WRI research staff to produce WRI knowledge products and other reports
  • Assist in developing written material for website, brochures, newsletters, handouts, PowerPoints, talking points, and background documents
  • Contribute to blogs and framing documents for the project

Communications and outreach (20%)

  • Develop outreach materials for participating cities and supporting online communication.
  • Provide support in event organization, liaising with project partners and cities as requested.

Project management (20%)

  • Support day-to-day operations of the GPSC including organizing meetings, and tracking progress on various fronts
  • Liaise and coordinate with various internal departments and teams to facilitate grant execution and reporting

Job Qualifications


  • Bachelor's degree required; master's degree preferred in urban studies, geography, political science, urban/regional planning, environmental science, or related discipline
  • One+ years of relevant work experience; internships may be counted towards this requirement
  • Demonstrated knowledge of and interest in key issues in urban development, planning, and urban sustainability
  • Strong written and verbal communications skills
  • Demonstrated ability to work both independently as well as part of a team, including actively contributing to team discussions
  • Extremely well-organized and efficient
  • Excellent computer skills in Microsoft Office and internet research.
  • Ability to think creatively
  • Flexible, responsible, self-motivated
  • Strong interpersonal skills and ability to work with teams of individuals and colleagues
  • Experience of using qualitative and quantitative research methods

Program Overview

The decisions that national leaders, local officials, developers, and planners make today will determine how billions of people in urban centers will thrive over the next century. Already, half the global population resides in cities. That figure is set to increase to 70 percent by 2050.

Traditional models of city development can lock us into congestion, sprawl, and inefficient resource use. However, compact, connected, and efficient growth can help ensure more competitive cities, and provide a better quality of life for citizens. WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities (WRI Cities) works to ensure cities drive economic opportunity while sustaining natural resources. We use technical expertise, cutting-edge research, and on-the-ground partnerships to design solutions that enable sustainable city growth.

Our analysis and tools allow cities to effectively manage their natural resources and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Working across our network, we develop and support the implementation of research-based solutions in sustainable mobility, urban development, as well as urban efficiency & climate that reduce pollution, improve health, and create safe, accessible public spaces for all people to thrive.

WRI Cities builds on WRI's global and local experience in urban planning and mobility, and uses proven solutions and action-oriented tools to increase building and energy efficiency, manage water risk, encourage effective governance and make the fast-growing urban environment more resilient to new challenges. Aiming to influence 200 cities with unique research and tools, WRI Cities focuses on a deep cross-sector approach in selected megacities on two continents, and targeted assistance to additional 50 urban areas, bringing economic, environmental and social benefits to people in cities around the globe.

Urban Development

In the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, the Urban Development team provides technical and policy support to help cities develop integrated planning approaches for land use, infrastructure systems, and economic geography that helps cities advance their social and economic objectives in the most resource-efficient way. We work with local and national governments, the private sector, and communities to help them jointly contribute to compact urban forms, resource-efficient infrastructure constellations, and equitable access to services - the spatial underpinnings for livable cities.

WRI Overview

World Resources Institute (WRI) is an independent, nonprofit global research organization that turns big ideas into action at the nexus of environment, economic opportunity and human well-being. We are working to address six critical challenges that the world must overcome this decade in order to secure a sustainable future for people and the planet: climate change, energy, food, forests, water and sustainable cities.

We are passionate. We value our diversity of interests, skills and backgrounds. We have a flexible work environment. And we share a common goal to catalyze change that will improve the lives of people. Our shared ideals are at the core of our approach. They include: integrity, innovation, urgency, independence and respect.

The foundation of our work is delivering high-quality research, data, maps and analysis to solve the world's greatest environment and international development challenges, and improve people's lives. We work with leaders in government, business and civil society to drive ambitious action and create change on the ground. Equally important, we bring together partners to develop breakthrough ideas and scale-up solutions for far-reaching, enduring impact.

We have been growing rapidly: our staff has doubled in size over the past 5 years and our operating budget is now $100 million. Founded in 1982, WRI has a global staff of nearly 700 people with work spanning 50 countries. We have offices in Africa, Brazil, China, Europe, India, Indonesia, Mexico and the United States.

WRI is committed to advancing gender and social equity for human well-being in our mission and applies this principle to our organizational and programmatic practices.

How to Apply

Applicants must apply through the WRI Careers portal to be considered.

The World Resources Institute ( is an environmental and development research and policy organization that creates solutions to protect the Earth and improve people's lives. As an Equal Opportunity Employer, it is WRI's policy to recruit, hire, and provide opportunities for advancement in all job classifications without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, citizenship, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, parental status, protected veteran status, or disability. WRI's global agenda requires a staff that is diverse - with respect to race, gender, cultural, and international background. Diverse perspectives and experience enhance the way WRI selects and approaches issues, as well as the creativity and applicability of WRI's policy research and analysis. WRI, therefore, encourages applications from U.S. minorities, persons from other countries (especially developing nations), and from women of all backgrounds.

Source: UN Jobs

This article is culled from daily press coverage from around the world. It is posted on the Urban Gateway by way of keeping all users informed about matters of interest. The opinion expressed in this article is that of the author and in no way reflects the opinion of UN-Habitat. 

Deadline/closing date: 
Sunday, September 30, 2018