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Mississippi River Delta and Natural Infrastructure Economist (2-year Post-doctoral Position)

Reference   (Please mention Stopdodo/Environment Jobs in your application)
Sectors Water, Hydrology & Marine Ecology
Type Fixed Term and Permanent Roles
Status Full Time
Level Senior Level
Company Name Environmental Defense Fund
Contact Name
Telephone 1-800-684-3322
Website Further Details / Applications
Environmental Defense Fund logo
Directory Entry : Founded in 1967 as the Environmental Defense Fund, we tackle the most serious environmental problem...a scrappy group of scientists and a lawyer on Long Island, New York, fighting to save osprey from the toxic pesticide DDT. Using scientific evidence, our founders got DDT banned nationwide. Today, we’re one of the world's leading environmental organizations. In the U.S., Fortune magazine called our board one of the country's most influential nonprofit boards. You can see the jobs of the EDF on their website.
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The need for climate adaptation in coastal environments in the US (and around the world) and the development of resilient and protective systems in those same areas are increasing and in some cases already keenly felt. Much of this adaptation will require infrastructure, ranging from traditional flood barriers to natural infrastructure (dunes, floodways, wetlands, receiving basins, barrier islands, multiple use retention areas, etc.). This work is typically capital intensive and often expensive, and responsibility for design, construction, operations, maintenance and financing often split among various public authorities. Within the US, a fundamental need for efficient and available financing systems for this critical infrastructure work exists, as current US financing systems (federal and state appropriations, state funding and matches, long standing taxes and user-fee based systems) are not providing necessary resources or efficiency in delivering those resources. (This need is global, though our focus for this work is currently domestic.)

The Economist we are seeking would examine existing infrastructure finance systems, and work to develop new concepts, ideas and approaches for financing of coastal adaptation and resilience needs. We anticipate a primary focus on financing of natural infrastructure (i.e., natural defenses and ecological engineering) that lessen the potential impacts of sea level rise and storm damage on coastal communities. The approaches would include, but would not be limited to public finance (taxes, fees, community bonds, etc.), private (market and philanthropic), and ecosystems services. This analysis and these approaches are intended to help shape the organization’s policy positions and support its advocacy, and to help broaden the thinking and policy applications for financing these kinds of projects nationally. The Economist’s analysis will ideally include thought leading original publishable research with the potential to drive the development of this field, “in-house” analyses for use by other staff within the organization, as well as white papers aimed at policy makers, journalists, and the public at large.

The initial primary focus of the work within EDF will be on financing options around ongoing restoration and protection needs within the Mississippi River Delta (filling a significant gap in our work in the Delta) and then assessing ideas for broader applicability or utility to other coastal locations in the United States. The Mississippi River Delta is the site of the largest adaptation effort underway in the country today. More broadly within EDF, we would expect this area of work to be applicable to other Ecosystems Program activities, and could potentially support an ongoing collaboration between the Oceans and Ecosystems programs and the Office of the Chief Economist on coastal resiliency in the Northeastern United States.

The Economist can be based in Washington, DC; New York City, NY; Boston, MA; with a preference for Washington, DC. S/he will work closely with and under the guidance of EDF’s Chief Economist Frank Convery and work with other economists, natural scientists, and policy specialists throughout EDF. S/he will officially report to the Deputy Director, Water Programs. S/he may also have managerial responsibilities for more junior staff.

Key Responsibilities

  • Working with the Chief Economist, other Economic and Mississippi River Delta Restoration staff and collaborators to identify long-term research relevant to increasing financing options to inform and support the organization’s advocacy, and the national discussion;
  • Conducting original economic research to assess existing financing sources and systems, develop new ideas and evaluate these financing options, including their potential for improvement, revenue growth, and sustainability;
  • Research policy changes to implement new approach(es);
  • Working with staff on analyses of issues related to environmental policy;
  • Overseeing research projects conducted by other organizations for EDF (e.g., universities and outside contractors);


  • Summarizing research for a broad audience, as well as public communications including Congressional testimony, Op-Eds, articles, and blog posts;
  • Working with EDF’s development team, including communicating with donors and foundations and writing;
  • Contributing to proposals for securing funding;
  • Participating in the development of public positions taken by EDF;
  • Representing EDF at public meetings including policy makers, academic conferences and workshops, gatherings of advocacy organizations, and the general public.
  • Develop one or more papers suitable for publishing in peer-reviewed journals that focus on existing and new options for sustainable financing of coastal adaptation and resilience.


  • Ph.D. in Economics, Public Finance, or related discipline (e.g., Environmental, Agricultural and Resource Economics) with a background in public policy..
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills;
  • Proven ability to conduct cutting-edge research;
  • Ability to convey economic concepts to non-economists;
  • Ability to deploy a diversity of analytical approaches, theoretical and/or econometric studies to back-of-the-envelope analyses;
  • Self-direction and independence of mind;
  • Interest in relating economic research to real-world policy and in bridging the worlds of advocacy and academia;
  • Familiarity with the empirical and theoretical literature on environmental economics, in particular the design of regulatory policy (e.g., instrument choice).

Preferred Qualifications

  • Two or more years of experience in policy and/or research;
  • Managerial skills

Due to the volume of employment applications and queries received, EDF is unable to respond to each application individually. Applicants will be contacted directly if selected as a candidate.

Environmental Defense Fund is an Equal Opportunity Employer

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