Mercy Corps

Senior Researcher (Climate Change - Policy and Advocacy)

Mercy Corps

Job Description

This position will be based in the Mercy Corps office in London, UK or Washington, DC.

About Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps is a leading global organization powered by the belief that a better world is possible. In disaster, in hardship, in more than 40 countries around the world, we partner to put bold solutions into action — helping people triumph over adversity and build stronger communities from within.

Now, and for the future.

Program / Department Summary

Mercy Corps works to influence the policy, priorities, practices, and debates that affect the people we serve in fragile contexts and complex humanitarian crises. Our most compelling influence is underpinned by substantive research on issues where we have expertise and a credible voice, combined with targeted and sustained engagement of policy makers, donors, peer organizations and other leaders. A key priority for Mercy Corps is to expand our research and influence on issues related to Climate Change. Within this, we have prioritized investing in greater evidence generation to inform advocacy and programming focused on climate adaptation in fragile and conflict-affected states, including addressing the climate-related drivers of conflict and climate induced migration and displacement. To date, Mercy Corps has developed a research and learning agenda, outlining research questions that align with broader agency-wide initiatives. We have also secured multiple externally funded grants focused on the theme of climate adaptation and resilience. To advance these initiatives, Mercy Corps requires support to Design and lead studies, advance thought leadership and promote research utilization from a seasoned researcher with experience related to climate change

General Position Summary

Mercy Corps is seeking a Senior Researcher with a proven record of designing and executing independent research on issues related to climate change and adaptation. The researcher must have familiarity with a range of research methods, strong writing skills, and a deep understanding of the links between research findings and policy debates. The researcher will serve as a public thought leader, advancing Mercy Corps’ evidence, Analysis and point of view on foreign assistance policy and practice related to climate change.

The role will involve developing and managing original research products, in consultation with members of the Research and Learning Team. They will lead research and drafting of several major long papers, shorter reports and quick-turn around thought pieces per year and will contribute to the development of policy documents, as needed. In addition to producing research and analysis, the position will play a key role in communicating and leveraging the products through presentations and other forums to influence internal and external debates and decisions. Finally, the researcher will contribute to new research proposals and partnerships, to help expand the scope and impact of our research and influence around climate change.

Essential Job Responsibilities

  • Collaborate with key actors across the agency to identify, prioritize, and regularly update an agency research, learning and influence agenda for peace and conflict.
  • Build agency alignment and cross-team Coordination around research priorities and plans, including through regular communications to senior leaders in HQ and the field
  • Identify and actualize research opportunities that respond to priority questions on climate change and which connect to Mercy Corps’ field programming
  • Contribute to the development and execution of priorities for the Research and Learning team
  • Produce 2-3 major external research and policy papers per year on Climate Change Adaptation, climate security, climate migration and other priority issues, based on significant field research and multi-method approaches.
  • Support the piloting of a climate security assessment toolkit in at least one country by integrating and analyzing relevant climate data sources that complement on the ground qualitative data to clearly identify practical approaches and programming options to address climate security risks; contribute to the subsequent revision and dissemination of the toolkit
  • Contribute to the development of practical climate scenario planning tools, methods and approaches that incorporate fit-for-purpose analysis of climate data that is easily consumed and applied by policy makers and donors to make informed investments that address longer-term climate-related stresses
  • Collaborate with Mercy Corps technical, research, policy, and field teams, as well as key academic and think tank partners, to develop and execute rigorous, response research designs.
  • Manage and coordinate the work of external researchers, co-authors, data analysts, research assistants, and consultants to execute studies on climate adaptation in fragile and conflict-affected states.
  • Act as leading external voice in contributing to and influencing policy and practice on climate change issues based on our research and learning, including through representing and presenting at conferences, advocacy meetings, and in other fora.
  • Promote awareness and uptake of research through publishing in accessible outlets, participating and presenting in high-profile forums, and leveraging connections with policy makers and thought leaders
  • Actively promote use of research and evidence to inform agency strategies and priorities (HQ and Country), including through internal communications and forums
  • Support Research and Learning, Policy and Advocacy, and Technical Support Unit leadership in developing policy documents and communications as needed, including assist with the drafting of policy and practice-related talking points and key messages.
  • Establish and maintain strategic relationships with key external actors including peer NGOs, think tanks, academic institutions, and government officials, and conduct collaborative research and influence with them.
  • Develop strong relationships with Mercy Corps internal stakeholders, particularly field teams, technical support teams, media and communications, and humanitarian analysis teams.
  • Identify and lead the development of grant proposals for research funding to further priority topics and questions.

Accountability to Participants and Stakeholders

Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts toward accountability, specifically to our program participants, community partners, other stakeholders, and to international standards guiding international relief and development work. We are committed to actively engaging communities as equal partners in the design, monitoring and evaluation of our field projects.

Supervisory Responsibility

  • None on a regular basis


Reports Directly To: Director of Research and Learning for Climate Change and Migration Works Directly With: Director of Research and Learning for Resilience, other Research and Learning Team members, Policy and Advocacy team, Regional and Country Teams, Technical Support Unit, Media and Communications Team, Crisis Analytics team

Knowledge and Experience

The ideal candidate will possess many, though perhaps not all, of the following qualifications and characteristics:
  • Master’s degree international development, environmental science, or other relevant field (PhD preferred)
  • 5 plus years relevant experience conducting independent research, analysis and publishing on climate related topics with a focus on low income conflict-affected or fragile countries.
  • Regional expertise on Africa, Middle East or Asia and exposure to humanitarian and development fieldwork, the international humanitarian system, and/or relevant policy bodies and processes.
  • Experience with quantitative and qualitative research methodologies and experience applying them in a development or humanitarian context. (experience with the use of GIS in research is preferred)
  • Extremely strong writing skills, including past experience publishing.
  • Demonstrated ability to communicate to multiple audiences, including policy makers, practitioners and academics.
  • Strong analytical skills and the ability to effectively gather and summarize large amounts of information from various sources.
  • Demonstrated sensitivity, skill and experience in working diplomatically and effectively within diverse cultural settings and in public relations and correspondence with a wide variety of public constituents.
  • Strong networks, relationships, and profile with major external actors, including policy and academic audiences

Success Factors

Ability to design and implement original research that answers questions of relevance to development and humanitarian practitioners and policymakers. Ability to build and maintain strong relationships with colleagues, peer groups, and officials; and motivation to seek out and establish new relationships. Ability to quickly and effectively summarize complex information into clear, concise writing. A clear understanding of Mercy Corps’ mission and collaborative style of operation. Ability to work simultaneously on multiple tasks in a fast-paced environment and meet deadlines under those conditions. Strong grasp of links between research findings, policy outcomes, and field-level program impact. Ability to work as part of a team and coordinate with both HQ and country team personnel. Computer literate with strong organizational skills. Ability to operate with a significant degree of autonomy within agreed upon parameters. Flexibility and ability to adapt to changing conditions and requirements

Living Conditions / Environmental Conditions

This position will be based in the Mercy Corps office in London, UK or Washington, DC. The role will involve travel to Mercy Corps field sites to support research efforts up to 35% of the year. Mercy Corps team members represent the agency both during and outside work hours when deployed in a field posting or on a visit/TDY to a field posting. Team members are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner and respect local laws, customs and MC's policies, procedures, and values at all times and in all in-country venues.

Ongoing Learning

In support of our belief that learning organizations are more effective, efficient and relevant to the communities we serve, we empower all team members to dedicate 5% of their time to learning activities that further their personal and/or professional growth and development

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Achieving our mission begins with how we build our team and work together. Through our commitment to enriching our organization with people of different origins, beliefs, backgrounds, and ways of thinking, we are better able to leverage the collective power of our teams and solve the world’s most complex challenges. We strive for a culture of trust and respect, where everyone contributes their perspectives and authentic selves, reaches their potential as individuals and teams, and collaborates to do the best work of their lives. We recognize that diversity and inclusion is a journey, and we are committed to learning, listening and evolving to become more diverse, equitable and inclusive than we are today.

Equal Employment Opportunity

Mercy Corps is an equal opportunity employer that does not tolerate discrimination on any basis. We actively seek out diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and skills so that we can be collectively stronger and have sustained global impact. We are committed to providing an environment of respect and psychological safety where equal employment opportunities are available to all. We do not engage in or tolerate discrimination on the basis of race, color, gender identity, gender expression, religion, age, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, disability (including HIV/AIDS status), marital status, military veteran status or any other protected group in the locations where we work.

Safeguarding & Ethics

Mercy Corps is committed to ensuring that all individuals we come into contact with through our work, whether team members, community members, program participants or others, are treated with respect and dignity. We are committed to the core principles regarding prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse laid out by the UN Secretary General and IASC. We will not tolerate Child Abuse, sexual exploitation, abuse, or harassment by or of our team members. As part of our commitment to a safe and inclusive work environment, team members are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner, respect local laws and customs, and to adhere to Mercy Corps Code of Conduct Policies and values at all times. Team members are required to complete mandatory Code of Conduct elearning courses upon hire and on an annual basis.

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