Chief Executive Officer

Washington DC, United States
Apoorva Tyagi
Role managed by
Apoorva Tyagi Researcher

About the Global Environment Facility (GEF)  

The GEF, headquartered in Washington DC, is a multilateral financial mechanism created on the eve of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit to provide grant and concessional funds to recipient countries for projects and activities that address a range of pressing environmental issues, including biodiversity, climate change, land degradation, chemicals and waste, and marine and freshwater resources. With 183 member countries, GEF has provided close to $20 billion in grants and mobilised an additional $107 billion in co-financing for more than 4,700 projects in 170 countries. Through its Small Grants Programme, the GEF has provided support to nearly 24,000 civil society and community initiatives in 128 countries.

The GEF Secretariat is supported administratively by the World Bank and operates in a functionally independent and effective manner. The GEF Secretariat itself is for administrative purposes a Vice President Unit within the World Bank, has an annual administrative budget of about $25 million, and a staff complement of professional and Administrative Client Support staff of approximately 65.

For more information, please see www.thegef.org

CEO and Chairperson (the ‘CEO’) Role Profile

The GEF has exclusively partnered with SRI Executive to support them with the appointment of an exceptional leader for the position of the CEO to replace the outgoing incumbent.

The CEO not only represents the GEF and its Council with a variety of partners and stakeholders globally as it relates to sustainable development and the environment, but also leads the interaction with different Secretariats of several international environmental conventions. The CEO is accountable to the GEF Council for the performance of the Secretariat. In addition to having a strong work ethic and unquestionable integrity, the right candidate will have the presence to establish immediate credibility with a complex group of stakeholders. Bringing substantive experience in multi-stakeholder leadership, the ideal candidate will have demonstrated competency and passion for environmental and social issues in their prior career and view the global environment as a critical issue for sustainable development. Candidates should have experience managing significant financial resources, as well as in financial planning and project control, investment monitoring, and being accountable for financial results and performance, all with an aim of driving operational efficiency.  Fundraising experience and exposure to the work of the global environmental conventions is a plus.

Duties and Responsibilities

Principal responsibilities of the CEO will include:

  • Strategy Development: The CEO will build upon the GEF’s accomplishments to date, further strengthening GEF relevance and profile and cooperate with the World Bank acting as Trustee for the GEF in the negotiations for the eighth replenishment of the GEF. This is especially important given the following trends: the emerging role of new funds which creates the need to define the GEF’s position in the global environmental funding architecture in line with guidance from the environmental Conventions the GEF serves as a financial mechanism; dealing with the causes of environmental degradation in an integrated way;  and how to handle the demand for increased country ownership of GEF programming.  GEF Strategy 2020
  • Operational Management: The CEO will lead the development, adoption, and monitoring of the operational policies and programs for GEF-financed activities that respond, inter alia, to the objectives and priorities of the global environmental conventions and agreements.  The CEO will provide leadership for the content of GEF’s work; effectively lead the day-to-day operations with support from the GEF Secretariat management and staff; effectively manage and develop staff in order to maximise performance and promote an inclusive and healthy working environment. The CEO will also serve as the head of the Adaptation Fund Secretariat.                     
  • The CEO will oversee annual budgeting, programmatic planning, programmatic performance and assessing of GEF’s efficacy; regularly report to the GEF Council on the progress of GEF’s work program, including its pipeline; and report to the GEF Assembly on progress toward meeting GEF’s overall strategic goals based on the GEF-7 Programming Directions for the next cycle of GEF investments.  The CEO will also address country ownership of and accountability for initiatives and streamlined GEF processes. The CEO is responsible for coordinating with the World Bank to apply all relevant World Bank policies and procedures related to the Secretariat.
  • Relationship Development: The CEO will develop and sustain high-level relationships with developed and developing country governments, and other key stakeholders that provide the GEF with knowledge and co-financing to ensure the effectiveness and impact of GEF’s work.  Specifically, the CEO will build a compelling narrative to engage existing and potential new donors in the eighth replenishment of the GEF Trust Fund as well as in the continuous support for its other funds (i.e. the Least Developed Countries Fund and the Special Climate Change Fund); oversee the administration of the other fund for which the GEF serves as Secretariat (i.e. the Adaptation Fund); work to catalyse private investment; raise funds to support further growth; ensure the long-run financial viability of GEF; and manage dialogue with civil society. The CEO will be responsive to the Council and build an effective relationship with it.

Required Competencies

Key competencies include:

Results-Oriented Change Leadership

The successful candidate must have strong leadership and management qualities so as to gain the confidence and trust of individuals internal and external to the GEF and its stakeholders. A mature and pragmatic doer, they must be able to both lead and empower cross-functional teams representing multiple stakeholders.  The CEO will be someone who has demonstrated effective management skills with a track record of successfully tackling challenging projects in environments that are complex due to their broad geographical and cultural reach.  

Multi-Cultural and Strategic Breadth

The ideal candidate must have a global perspective with respect to the GEF’s global focus. The selected candidate will leverage a passion for environmental issues in a development context to advance the agenda of the GEF.  Reflecting the complexity of these processes, the ideal candidate will have displayed patience, resilience and flexibility in dealing with other people, cultures, legal systems and regulatory environments, preferably in a spectrum of international settings.  As an ambassador for the GEF partnership and a guardian of its reputation, the ideal candidate will be comfortable defining and defending the key strategic priorities for the GEF’s agenda. 

Influencing and Interpersonal Skills  

The ideal candidate must possess strong communication capabilities, a self-reflective attitude and have a broad team orientation. They must have the ability to influence and work effectively with cross-functional executives across a large and complex organization, credibly influencing internal and external stakeholders through the application of diplomacy to bridge conflictive interests within the GEF partnership as well as deep subject matter knowledge. Leveraging excellent interpersonal skills, they will be a persuasive oral and written communicator driven to collaborate effectively with Council Members and Operational and Political Focal Points.  In this role, they will motivate other stakeholders to buy into and embrace environmental strategies aligned with the brand and positioning of the GEF.

In addition, the ideal candidate must have a career characterised by steady increases in responsibility and must be highly credible and able to inspire confidence. They will be a self-motivated, enthusiastic individual who demonstrates a high degree of personal integrity, honesty and respect for others as shown through strong personal values as well as consistency between words and actions.


The successful candidate will demonstrate:

1. Leadership

  • Proven success as a senior leader in high-impact non-profit, governmental, multilateral, academic, or private sector organisation. 
  • Excellent leadership and interpersonal skills; ability to work effectively with, and lead, professionals at all levels of the organisation by empowering them to take risks and act courageously.
  • Demonstrate integrity and create a safe workplace for all.
  • Work collaboratively, accept responsibility, be inclusive and motivate colleagues.
  • Superior communication skills including advanced public speaking and media capabilities.

2. Strategy and Vision

  • Track record of formulating innovative strategies from concept through funding and execution.
  • Excellent communicator who listens but at the same time can be firm, persistent and can inspire. A strong facilitator and negotiator.
  • International reputation and network in the field of economic development, including credibility and experience working in developing and emerging countries with a preference for experience working in environmental policy. 

3. Organisational and Cultural Sophistication

  • Experience forging relationships with high-level government officials in the developed and developing world and forming diverse coalitions among government agencies, multilateral institutions, private sector entities, and civil society organisation. 
  • Proven track record relating to Boards of Directors and managing stakeholder relationships on potentially contentious issues.
  • Demonstrated success working in a global setting with teams and operations across multiple locations and time zones.

4. Understanding of Finance

  • Strong understanding of financial management, including experience in managing budget, financial planning and project control, and investment monitoring; being accountable of the financial results and performance and driving operational efficiency
  • Understanding and experience of the mechanisms, instruments, and new approaches in the operations of large funds or trust funds.

5. Understanding Environmental Issues

  • Strong understanding of international development that address environmental issues and understanding of the international environmental conventions.

In addition to the above and reflective of the international multi-stakeholder environment of the GEF partnership, the candidate must be fluent in written and spoken English and ideally bring a spectrum of cultural and linguistic experience.

Terms of Appointment

Remuneration will be comparable to the level of a Vice President of the World Bank and an Assistant Secretary-General in the United Nations common system. The Council will appoint the CEO with a performance-based contract. The CEO’s performance will be evaluated regularly with a performance framework to be approved by the Selection and Review Committee. The term of the position will be four years, with the possibility of reappointment once.

In the pursuit of excellence, GEF continually search for qualified individuals with diverse backgrounds from around the globe.  The World Bank is an equal opportunity and inclusive employer with a dedicated and committed workforce, and does not discriminate based on race, religion, colour, national origin, gender, gender identity, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, marital status, veteran status, or disability status.

If you wish to be considered for this position, please forward a copy of your CV in Microsoft Word format, along with any relevant documentation to Ms. Apoorva Tyagi, at [email protected] on or before 24th February 2020.

Application form