Urban Economist


Established in 1944, the WBG is one of the world’s largest sources of funding and knowledge for development solutions. In fiscal year 2014, the WBG committed $65.6 billion in loans, grants, equity investments and guarantees to its members and private businesses, of which $22.2 billion was concessional finance to its poorest members. It is governed by 188 member countries and delivers services out of 120 offices with nearly 15,000 staff located globally.

The WBG consists of five specialized institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the International Development Association (IDA), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), and the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). IBRD and IDA are commonly known as the World Bank, which is organized into six client-facing Regional Vice-Presidencies, several corporate functions, and fourteen Global Practices (GPs) as well as five Cross-Cutting Solution Areas (CCSAs) to bring best-in-class knowledge and solutions to regional and country clients.


The 14 GPs are: Agriculture; Education; Energy and Extractives; Environment and Natural Resources; Finance, Competitiveness and Innovation; Governance; Health, Nutrition and Population; Macroeconomics, Trade and Investment; Poverty; Social Protection and Labor; Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience; Transport and ICT; and Water. The 5 CCSAs are: Climate Change; Fragility, Conflict and Violence; Gender; Jobs; and Public-Private Partnerships. The Global Practices and CCSA’s work together with regional management, IFC and MIGA to deliver the best of the World Bank Group to our clients, so that together we can achieve the twin goals of (1) ending extreme poverty by 2030, and (2) promote shared prosperity for the bottom 40% of the population in every developing country.


Urbanization is occurring at an unprecedented pace. Cities generate 80% of global GDP and are key to job creation and the pursuit of shared prosperity. Yet one billion city residents live in slums today, and by 2030 one billion new migrants will arrive in cities. This concentration of people and assets will exacerbate risk exposure to adverse natural events and climate change, which affects the poor disproportionately. The absence of secure land tenure underpins deprivation and is a major source of conflict in the urban and rural space. One and a half billion people live in countries affected by repeated cycles of violence. In the absence of services, participative planning and responsive institutions, these trends will result in increased poverty, social exclusion, vulnerability and violence. Finally, avoiding a 4-degree warmer world requires drastically reducing the carbon footprint of cities. 

The SURR GP brings together a wide range of important and interrelated development considerations, including: (i) developing green, inclusive and resilient cities; (ii) addressing the social inclusion of the poor, vulnerable and excluded groups through accountable institutions, and ensuring compliance with social safeguards; (iii) enhancing urban and rural development through supporting and managing the urban-rural transition, assisting local development through developing land tenure, management and information systems, and giving communities more say in the use of development resources; and (iv) assisting in disaster risk management through issues of risk assessment, risk reduction, disaster preparedness, risk financing, and resilient reconstruction. Another key responsibility of the SURR GP is to provide professional expertise and operational support to other GPs to implement the WBG social safeguard standards to deliver sustainable development results that ensure that any adverse impacts of WBG interventions are limited and mitigated. The SURR GP consists of practice management units representing social, urban, and disaster risk management concerns across all six geographic regions of the WBG, and three global units on land, partnerships, and global programs (GSUGL).


The GPSURR Global Programs Unit consists of a multi-disciplinary teams working to design and deliver innovative and high-quality development solutions to support clients in achieving goals including, among others: understanding better the opportunities of urbanization; enhancing the potential for inclusive growth, poverty reduction, shared prosperity, and livability of communities, cities, and territories; strengthening financial and service delivery capabilities of urban and sub-national governments, including through harnessing the potential of new technologies; improving the preparedness and resilience of cities and regions with respect to economic downturns and natural disasters; and helping urban and regional governments identify and implement the best approaches to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change.

The Global Programs Unit supports knowledge generation and exchange across the global practice through research, global advocacy, and knowledge sharing and is closely aligned with 9 Global Solutions Groups (GSGs) housed within the GP.  The 9 GSGs are mapped to the under four thematic sectors of the GP:  Social Development, Land Administration and Geospatial, Urban Development and Disaster Risk Management.  Focusing on the need to ‘put people first’ in development processes, Social Development looks to empower people through the creation of more inclusive, cohesive, accountable and resilient institutions and societies to help address vulnerability, exclusion and isolation, unaccountable institutions, exposure to violence, and powerlessness. The key thematic lines of work for the Social Development GSGs are: (a) social inclusion, (b) fragility, conflict and violence; (c) community-driven development; (d) social accountability, and (e) social sustainability and safeguards, including issues related to Involuntary Resettlement and Indigenous Peoples.  The Land and Geospatial GSG focuses on generating operational knowledge, research, data and partnerships on land and geospatial issues ranging from land tenure, land administration and management, land-use planning, technological innovation in addressing land issues and building a spatial lens into land and urban analysis. Under Urban Development, the work of the Sustainable City Infrastructure and Services GSG focuses on strengthening leadership and innovation on the cities and climate change mitigation agenda, and enhancing the quality of the GPSURR’s operational portfolio. The Municipal Governance GSG is exploring financing to scale in collaboration with the Resilience and Disaster Risk Management GSG, which is leading a multi-sectoral urban resilience program. The Territorial and Spatial Development GSG leads a Bank-wide effort to develop spatial analytics, methodologies and resources with the view to providing WBG clients with comprehensive solutions for poverty reduction and economic development within and across regions. 

The Urban Economist being recruited will be based in the GP SURR Global Unit in Washington DC, and the selected candidate will work with and receive guidance from the Territorial and Spatial Development Global Lead. The selected candidate will also work with other staff members that constitute the core team of the Territorial and Spatial Development GSG and a broad network of specialists across the Bank.  

The World Bank Group is committed to achieving diversity in terms of gender, nationality, culture and educational background. Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply. All applications will be treated in the strictest confidence.

Note: If the selected candidate is a current Bank Group staff member with a Regular or Open-Ended appointment, s/he will retain his/her Regular or Open-Ended appointment. All others will be offered a 3 year term appointment.


• Support and/or carry out analytical studies and research initiatives, particularly on issues related to lagging regions, local economic development, development corridors, and spatial and territorial development strategies.   
• Participate in developing and implementing work program of the Spatial and Territorial Development Global Solution Group (GSG). 
• Assist in the preparation of project documents, terms of reference, grant proposals, learning materials/content and coordination of learning events etc. as required. 
• Provide cross-support to a variety of operational tasks including lending, ASA, RAS, technical assistance and policy advisory work and take on the lead of specific activities as requested.
• Participate in missions in area of specialization; provide technical inputs to teams and counterparts on appropriate scope, technology, costs, etc. 
• Lead/Participate as requested in broader urban development global engagement activities (e.g. outreach, partnership, resource mobilization efforts, GSURR flagship and/or international high-level events etc).


• Advanced university degree(s) (PhD or Masters) in a field relevant to urban development, infrastructure and service delivery, such as economics, urban planning, political science, public policy, engineering or a related field.
• At least 5 years of directly relevant experience. Urban project and/or analytical experience in the urban sector in developing countries is required. 
• Good command of key technical and policy issues in urban economics and economic geography; ability to develop, analyze and articulate technical issues to policymakers and internal clients in the WBG. on urban and territorial development. 
• Ability to connect analysis to policy advice and operational decisions on territorial development issues.  
• Ability to coordinate and prioritize multiple tasks; ability to engage effectively internal and external clients in the provision of knowledge and learning, technical assistance and advisory services.
• Proficiency in one or more programs for statistical analysis (Stata, R, Matlab, …); Command of GIS techniques (ArcMap, QGIS) and ability to use spatial datasets. Coding skills in other programming languages (e.g. Python) are desirable but not required. 
• Ability to work independently on complex issues.
•Strong oral and written skills in English and the demonstrated ability to produce high quality analytical reports. Written and spoken fluency in other languages highly desirable. 

• Integrative Skills - Understands relevant cross-practice areas how they are interrelated; able to undertake cross-practice work in lending and non-lending operations.
• Knowledge and Experience in Development Arena - Translates technical and cross-country knowledge into practical applications and contributions to country and practice strategies; interacts with clients at the policy level.
• Policy Dialogue Skills - Anticipates needs and requests in the field and conducts independent policy discussions with representatives of the government and non-government partners.
• Urban Policy, Strategy, and Institutions - Solid understanding of urban policies, strategies, institutions, and regulations.
• Analytics, Policy, Strategic and Technical Analysis on global, country/regional and sector issues – Experienced in using key relevant sector/theme analytical tools and able to translate theoretical concepts into practical approaches for Bank ASA work.
• Lead and Innovate - Develops innovative solutions with others.
• Deliver Results for Clients - Achieves results and identifies mission-driven solutions for the client.
• Collaborate Within Teams and Across Boundaries - Initiates collaboration across boundaries and broadly across WBG, and brings differing ideas into the forefront.
• Create, Apply and Share Knowledge - Creates, applies and shares knowledge from across and outside WBG to strengthen internal and/or external client solutions.
• Make Smart Decisions - Recommends and takes decisive action.
• Business Judgment and Analytical Decision Making – Gathers inputs, assesses risk, considers impact and articulates benefits of decisions for internal and external stakeholders over the long term.

Source: World Bank

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: 
Monday, December 11, 2017