Senior Environmental Specialist

World Bank Group

Panama City, Panama

Experience: Atleast 8 years

Skill Required: Environment & NRM


The sustainable management of environment and natural resources is vital for economic growth and human wellbeing. When managed well, renewable natural resources, watersheds, productive landscapes, and seascapes can provide the foundation for sustained inclusive growth, food security and poverty reduction. For more information:

To advance this agenda, the Environment Natural Resources & Blue Economy Global Practice (ENB GP)  has five key business lines consisting of lending and non-lending services in (1) Forests, Watersheds and Sustainable Landscapes (Green business line); (2) Marine, Coastal, Aquatic Resources and Ocean Health (Blue Economy business line); (3) Pollution Management and Environmental Health (Pollution Management business line); (4) Environmental Economics, Policies and Institutions Business line; and (5) Environmental Risk Management Business line, defined as: the delivery of effective environmental risk management and sustainability by managing risk at the project level and creating opportunities to advance sustainable development. Environmental risk management includes: (a) provision of high-quality and timely services to investment projects across the Bank, including those under the previous safeguard policies, and (b) the effective implementation of the Environment and Social Framework (ESF) that has been in effect for all new investment projects since October 1, 2018.

The ESF responds to new and varied development demands and challenges that have arisen over time. It brings the World Bank’s environmental and social (E&S) protections into closer harmony with those of other development institutions, and makes important advances in areas such as transparency, non-discrimination, social inclusion, public participation, and accountability – including expanded roles for grievance redress mechanisms. The framework helps to ensure social inclusion, and explicitly references human rights in the overarching vision statement. The ESF is made up of the World Bank’s vision for sustainable development, the World Bank’s Environmental and Social Policy for Investment Project Financing, and ten Environmental and Social Standards (or ESS’s). These set out the mandatory requirements for the World Bank, in relation to the projects it supports through Investment Project Financing (IPF), and for Borrowers.

The activities of staff working on environmental safeguards/environmental risk management within the ENB GP include leading or contributing to analytical work and policy dialogue, as well as supporting lending operations and building client capacity across all sectors in areas related to environmental sustainability, environmental risk and impact assessment and management, pollution prevention, control and management, resource efficiency, occupational and community health and safety, biodiversity conservation, stakeholder engagement, among other issues. 

Unit Context

The Environment, Natural Resources and Blue Economy Global Practice has two Practice Management Units for LCR as of July 1, 2024. The unit including Central America and the Dominican Republic has about 25 staff, about half of whom work on environmental safeguards and environmental risk management with the remainder working primarily on lending and knowledge products. Staff are based in country offices and in Washington DC with frequent travel to the region.  The Central America and Dominican Republic Country Management Unit (CMU) is one of 6 CMUs in the LAC Region and has a pipeline and portfolio of over 75 projects, of which about half have a Moderate environmental and social risk rating, with Substantial risk projects comprising approximately a quarter and Low-risk and High-risk projects make up the remaining quarter.


This position will be based in Panama City, Panama. It will support the environmental risk management business line and is expected to include a leadership role in the overall coordination of ESF/safeguards support for the Central America and Dominican Republic Country Management Unit (CMU), as described in detail in the Duties and Accountabilities section below. The successful candidate is expected to be one of the two Coordinators for the environmental risk management business in the CMU, together with an existing co-Coordinator based in Washington, DC. The successful candidate will work under the direct supervision of the ENB Practice Manager responsible for the CMU, as well as the coordination of the Regional Standards Coordinator (RSC). The successful candidate may also be requested to provide occasional support to other unit activities, including environmental risk management in other countries of the region, ENB sector lending projects, country and sector strategy development, client dialogue and analytical work. The selected candidate will be part of a small team of ENB staff based in Panama and is expected to represent the Global Practice when needed.


The Senior Environment Specialist will have the following key responsibilities.

  • In collaboration with the other Coordinator for LC2, coordinate, mentor and supervise a team of Environment Specialists and consultants delivering the environmental risk management business line for the CMU (or a set of specific countries in the CMU). Work with Environmental Specialists at all grades to ensure E&S support is sensitive and responsive to dynamic country contexts impacted by vulnerability to natural disasters, limited capacity and election cycles. Work with the Social Sustainability and Inclusion (SSI) CMU coordinator to ensure adequate and timely Environmental and social (E&S) joint support to projects.
  • As the assigned Environmental Specialist for specific investment projects, ensure that environmental issues are addressed throughout the project cycle, by undertaking careful environmental analysis, due diligence and supervision related to Bank safeguard policy and/or ESF requirements and associated good practices during project preparation and implementation.Work with the assigned Social Specialist to ensure timely and accurate disclosure and stakeholder engagement for all required environmental and social assessment and management instruments, and appropriate design and implementation of project grievance mechanisms.
  • Support a variety of projects across lending sectors to ensure effective compliance with the ESF, safeguard policies (where applicable), WBG Environment, Health and Safety Guidelines, as well as relevant good international industry practice (GIIP).
  • Provide advice to client and counterpart organizations, project teams and WBG management, in coordination with the assigned Social Specialist, with regards to the preparation of Environmental and Social Impact Assessments (ESIAs), including regional, strategic and cumulative assessments; environmental and social management frameworks and plans, including plans for monitoring, reporting and evaluation; stakeholder engagement plans; labor management procedures; and other specific plans and procedures as required by applicable Bank policies (for example, on issues such as community health and safety, dam or infrastructure safety, pest management, pollution prevention and control, biodiversity conservation and management, ecosystem services, occupational health and safety, emergency planning and management, cultural heritage, etc.).
  • Provide detailed guidance and capacity support to borrowers in the preparation of relevant project cycle documentation, including by assisting borrowers in drafting Terms of Reference (TORs) for the preparation of environmental safeguards and ESF assessments, planning and management instruments; guiding them in completing the assessment and planning process; and supervising their implementation, including review of monitoring reports and follow-up.
  • Ensure the quality of client project documentation before submission to relevant accountable decision makers, including Environmental and Social Practice Managers and, where applicable, the Regional Standards Adviser (RSA).
  • Advise and support clients in ensuring necessary E&S management plans and measures are appropriately reflected in works bidding and contract documents where applicable, and in developing and implementing appropriate supervision and monitoring arrangements for the necessary E&S plans and measures.
  • Conduct project supervision of environmental, health and safety aspects of projects on behalf of the Bank, including site visits, review of monitoring reports, discussions with clients and stakeholders, and building of effective working relationships with borrowers/project implementation agencies to ensure proper understanding and implementation of the policies.Guide borrowers/implementing agencies to apply relevant E&S management plans and procedures effectively.
  • Provide timely input, as applicable, to Bank project documents related to environmental aspects, including but not limited to Environmental and Social Review Summaries, Environmental and Social Commitment Plans, and EHS sections of project documents such as Project Concept Notes, Project Information Documents, Project Appraisal Documents, Aide Memoires, and Implementation Status Reports.
  • Complete documentation requirements in the Bank’s E&S risk management databases including the Tracking Environmental and Social Performance (TESPSG) system (for projects falling under safeguards) and the ESMS system (for projects falling under the ESF).
  • Go beyond policy compliance to look for opportunities to support clients in their goal to reduce poverty and increase prosperity in a sustainable manner for the benefit of the environment and their citizens.Work closely with project task teams and especially the Social Specialist(s) assigned to each operation to develop and implement projects that are environmentally and socially sustainable, and to assess, use and enhance Borrower frameworks, including capacity, to manage the environmental and social risks and impacts of projects.
  • Demonstrate leadership in proactively identifying needs for strengthening of borrower capacity and systems on environmental, health and safety management aspects, and initiating efforts aimed at strengthening that capacity.Plan, develop and implement training and other capacity building activities to various stakeholders, including Environmental Specialists of World Bank funded Project Implementation Units (PIUs) and other implementation partners, consultants preparing ESIAs, and contractors/supervising consultants on WBG operations.
  • Actively provide guidance and mentorship to other environmental specialists and consultants in handling complex technical, institutional and program implementation issues regarding environment, occupational health and safety, biodiversity, resource efficiency and pollution prevention and management.
  • Support the dialogue with assigned CMU Management to ensure engagement on environmental issues in strategic discussions and country documents. Support the Practice Manager and work with other members of the team in reviewing project instruments, portfolio and budget management, and preparing communications and briefs to be conveyed to CMU internal management, as relevant.
  • Engage in policy dialogue with clients on environmental risk and environmental sustainability issues, ranging from upstream inputs into Systematic Country Diagnostics and Country Partnership Frameworks, to country-level E&S related strategic analyses and engagements, to specific operations, to advise counterparts on policy issues and/or risks and opportunities in relation to Bank-supported operations.

Selection Criteria

  • Advanced degree (PhD or Masters) in environmental/civil engineering, ecology, biology, environmental sciences, environmental policy, or other relevant discipline is required.
  • A minimum of 8 years of full-time relevant professional experience in the environmental, health and safety (EHS) sector with demonstrated ability in environmental safeguards and/or EHS risk management.  Experience should include in designing, implementing or supervising implementation of EHS risk management instruments/plans/systems, such as for government agencies, international financial institutions or other development partners, project developers, construction or engineering companies, or consultancy firms. 
  • Oral and written fluency in English and Spanish.
  • Knowledge of and prior experience with the application of the World Bank’s environmental and social policies, e.g. World Bank Safeguard Policies and/or ESF), and/or with the IFC Performance Standards or comparable international lender E&S standards.
  • Proven leadership, team management and mentorship capacity.
  • Strong operational and analytical skills, including strong client orientation, diplomacy skills, ability to juggle multiple tasks and work under tight deadlines, and demonstrated ability to translate analytical work into policy advice and practical recommendations.
  • Ability to present complex issues related to environmental sustainability to Task Teams and other Bank audiences, as well as to build an understanding with implementing agency counterparts on the value-addition of Bank E&S standards, and to translate analytical work into policy advice and practical recommendations.
  • Ability to engage effectively with diverse groups including government counterparts, contractors, project beneficiaries, and civil society.
  • A drive for results while working with limited supervision and under tight timelines.
  • Excellent interpersonal and problem-solving skills and demonstrated ability to collaborate effectively in multi-disciplinary teams.
  • Understanding of the integrated nature of environmental and social risk management areas, and at least a general understanding of social risk management issues and themes.
  • Willingness to travel extensively in the region is vital, including to remote rural areas.