Sustainable Land Science Director
Job Search Location(s) United States - Location Negotiable, Arlington, VA, United States
ID 1439
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Sustainable Land Science Director

Our Arlington-based staff continues to work remotely and visit the office on a limited basis. When our office officially opens, in-office work schedules/locations will be determined in accordance with CI policies and in keeping with the role’s responsibilities. Hiring managers will provide guidance on hybrid or blended work schedules for the role in question when a candidate is contacted for an interview.

Conservation International (CI) has been protecting nature for the benefit of all for over 30 years. Through science, policy, and partnerships, CI is helping build a healthier, more prosperous, and more productive planet.  


Land degradation – the reduction or loss of the productive potential of land – is a major global challenge, exacerbating the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss, increasing food insecurity and water scarcity, and often inducing regional disputes and spurring environmental migration. Meeting global commitments for achieving Land Degradation Neutrality by 2030 will require avoiding and reducing degradation where possible, and restoring land that has previously been degraded, necessitating major capital investments by the global community. State-of-the-art monitoring and planning tools are urgently needed to maximize the impact of these investments.

The Betty and Gordon Moore Center for Science (MCS), the science division of Conservation International, has an established record of innovative work developing methods and tools that support researchers, policymakers, and international organizations to monitor land degradation and to develop approaches to improve land health and – crucially – to realize the potential of land as a natural climate solution. These tools include Trends Earth (http://trends.earth), a global platform that supports monitoring land degradation and provides decision-makers with the data needed to design interventions to optimize land use and improve land health.

The Director, Land Systems Sustainability will lead CI’s research agenda in this area, including on monitoring and addressing land degradation, and on optimizing (across landscape, national, and global scales) the deployment of approaches (such as forest restoration and soil regeneration) that are needed to rebuild healthy lands while increasing carbon storage and sequestration, supporting vulnerable communities, and maintaining biodiversity. A key goal of this work is to address barriers to scaling of innovative solutions and to unlock much-needed funds to support them from new sources such as investors and the corporate sector.

The candidate selected for this position, in addition to guiding a team building on CI’s leading work in this area, will work with staff from across the institution, and with external collaborators including experts from other NGOs, academia, intergovernmental organizations, and relevant environmental conventions (UNCCD, CBD, UNFCC). 

This position provides a unique opportunity for a skilled scientist to lead a highly visible program of research combining the application of cutting-edge research and technology with direct engagements with stakeholders from a broad range of backgrounds.


  • Lead CI’s research agenda on land degradation monitoring, and on planning and optimization of approaches to improve land health while increasing carbon storage and sequestration, supporting vulnerable communities, and sustaining biodiversity.
  • Serve as the primary technical expert at CI for discussions around approaches for assessing degradation of working lands, and for restoring soil health.
  • Serve as primary contact for new and ongoing research efforts around land degradation mapping and monitoring, and optimization of measures to address degradation with external research and academic institutions, and actively cultivate new relationships where needed.
  • Support strategic partnerships between CI and major international players (NGOs, governments, and multilateral such as the GEF and UNCCD), and identify and address gaps where further engagement is needed.
  • Lead and mentor a team focused on delivery of CI’s objectives around land system sustainability.
  • Lead fund-raising efforts to support MCS work around land system sustainability.


  • This position is based in Conservation lnternational's office in Crystal City, Arlington, VA., work may be performed in a remote location.

  • Work is performed in a typical office environment.

  • Flexibility to travel as needed.



  • MS in geography, agricultural sciences, environmental science, or related field.
  • Minimum 7 years of experience in complex scientific research, including management of large multi-institutional projects.
  • At least 3 years of experience supervising the work of others, and the ability to motivate others even in the absence of direct authority.
  • Proven track record of developing, directing, and managing complex scientific research projects, including mobilizing and investing resources strategically.
  • Established publication record in high-impact scientific literature on topics related to land degradation, restoration, and/or land-use planning.
  • Demonstrated commitment to valuing diversity and equity and contributing to an inclusive working and learning environment.


  • Ph.D. in geography, agricultural sciences, environmental science, or related field.
  • Background in agronomy or land system science.
  • Established track record working directly with governments and other stakeholders from a diverse range of backgrounds, and with relevant international policy platforms and conventions (IPBES, UNCCD, CBD, UNFCCC, etc.).
  • Experience in land use planning across a range of contexts, and familiarity with land degradation neutrality.
  • Demonstrated fundraising experience.

To apply for this position please submit a resume and cover letter.

See all Conservation International Career Opportunities HERE

Conservation International is an Equal Opportunity Employer Minorities/Women/Vets/Disabled

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