Emergent- Chief Operations and Strategy Officer

  • New York, NY, USA
  • Full-time

Company Description

Company: Emergent Forest Finance Accelerator

Location: Barcelona or New York City strongly preferred / other locations considered

The recent IPCC Special Report on global warming of 1.5°C starkly emphasizes the urgency of addressing all sources of greenhouse gas emissions, including by aggressively pursuing natural climate solutions (NCS). The protection and restoration of tropical forests is one of the most significant opportunities to mitigate climate change over the coming decades. Alongside political and regulatory efforts, the challenge is to create market mechanisms and mobilise finance at the necessary scale. After more than a decade of progress on the technical and policy framework for verifying forest carbon credits (known as REDD+ credits), there is now a historic opportunity to turn this vision into a reality.

With backing from the government of Norway, and partnerships and support from the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the Rockefeller Foundation and the David & Lucile Packard Foundation, the Emergent Forest Finance Accelerator (“Emergent”) has been created to respond to this opportunity. Emergent will “prime the pump” for a high-integrity, high-volume REDD+ market by acting as an aggregator and intermediary to help overcome barriers for both buyers and sellers. Emergent will provide reliable access to jurisdictional REDD+ carbon credits for public and private buyers in both the regulatory and voluntary carbon markets, guaranteeing demand for REDD+ credits from tropical countries and enabling them to invest in the capabilities needed to protect their forests. Emergent will initially be funded by donors and foundations, and become financially self-sustaining through transaction fees as the REDD+ market develops.

Emergent has been incorporated as a not-for-profit entity (a US-registered 501(c)(4)) and is building a team able to rise to the REDD+ challenge.  Emergent will be a catalyst, a platform and a trusted counterparty in a nascent and complex market environment.  As such, it will need to work across multiple entities and sectors to establish the ‘pipework’ necessary for REDD+ transactions to take place.  Organisations with which Emergent will need to build effective and efficient relationships, many of them governed by contracts, will include: 

  • Corporate and other buyers
  • Jurisdictional suppliers of credits
  • Bi- and multi-lateral funding agencies such as the Government of Norway’s NICFI agency and the World Bank’s Green Climate Fund (GCF). They are providing Emergent’s initial operating funding and the capital buffer required to provide guaranteed floor prices to jurisdictions and smooth demand/supply imbalances as the market develops
  • GCF ‘Accredited Entities’ (and potentially other verification organisations) who will check for both jurisdictions’ compliance with the ART/TREES REDD+ standard before credits can be released, and their appropriate use of credit-related revenue
  • International banks, who will hold capital stocks and transaction funds off Emergent’s balance sheet
  • National and international agencies, such as the Amazon Fund, who will in some circumstances receive revenues from credit sales on jurisdictions’ behalves
  • Carbon credit brokers, to whom Emergent may sell previously purchased and ‘warehoused’ credits
  • Law firms, who will help design and implement the multiple contracts required for transactions to flow

Each of these organisations will have specific roles in REDD+ transactions, with varying conditions and expectations to be met and managed. 

Job Description

Initially, the main focus of the COSO will be to (1) define and negotiate the implementation of multi-stakeholder legal and financial architecture(s) allowing transactions to occur in a timely, efficient, consistent and transparent manner; and (2) refine and implement a business model that will allow Emergent to become financially self-sustaining. Over time the role will both retain this oversight of Emergent’s strategy and business model, and evolve an operational focus with substantial team leadership responsibilities and accountability for Emergent’s financial sustainability.

Responsibilities of the Role

Initially:

• Build on existing work to define robust and flexible transaction architectures, with an initial focus on the small number of buyers and suppliers likely to be involved in Emergent’s first transactions

• Create and deepen trusting relationships with senior stakeholders in multiple organisations to enable Emergent to transact smoothly and build a reputation as a reliable and effective partner

• Work closely with Emergent’s Executive Director and Chief Markets Officer to establish responsibilities in areas of potential overlap, including development of contractual templates and negotiations

• With the Executive Director, lead on the definition and iteration of Emergent’s business model and plan, in order to create an organisation that is both financially sustainable and an effective market-maker in the unique context of REDD+ transactions.

• Identify and secure adequate funding to meet Emergent’s operating costs until it becomes financially sustainable through transaction fees. (Emergent has adequate near-term funding, but will need to raise more from new or existing backers to bridge the gap to financial sustainability as REDD+ markets expand.)

Over time:

• Oversee the end-to-end flow of carbon credits with which Emergent is connected, from origination and to sale/retirement

• Define and manage to operating and capital budgets.

• Implement control functions such as Legal, Compliance, Market and Credit Risk, Audit, Finance in order to ensure appropriate governance and corporate infrastructure

• Establish an HR framework and manage a growing team helping to build a culture of responsible finance, good governance and supervision, expense discipline and ethics

• Work with the ED on broad organisational development matters

• Strike the balance between rapid progress towards Emergent’s targets and an appropriate level of organisational risk

• Establish a profile as a thought leader in the emerging REDD+ sector

• Take primary responsibility for the development of Emergent as an organisation and a team

Qualifications

Requirements of the Role Holder

  • BA/BS and relevant graduate degree (e.g. MBA, MIA, MPA et al) or equivalent experience

    • Background in both banking and development finance, with emerging markets experience

    • Minimum 10 years’ work experience in relevant sectors

    • Experience managing bilateral and multilateral relationships

    • Experience preparing, negotiating and executing complex multi-party contracts

    • The confidence and ability to play a leading role in defining a new organisation’s business model and strategy in a nascent market

    • Experience of managing a transaction-based business model, and of oversight of back office functions such as finance, HR and IT would be a significant advantage

    • A track record of working and negotiating with senior international stakeholders in the public and private sectors

    • Familiarity with transactional/trading environments, ideally with exposure to carbon credits

    • Familiarity with the international climate policy framework, including UNFCCC, REDD+, Paris Agreement, etc

    • Passion for the mission of Emergent and the application of innovative financial structures to address global issues

    • Excellent interpersonal, presentation, and communication skills

    • A high level of personal credibility at all levels within Emergent and partner organisations

    • Advance analytical and numerical competency

    • Willing and able to engage at both strategic and detail level to develop innovative solutions to a wide range of challenges

    • Ability to deliver consistently high levels of accuracy, efficiency and follow-through

    • Ability to travel internationally at short notice

    • Ability to thrive in a small entrepreneurial team environment

Additional Information

Emergent provides equal employment opportunities to all employees and applicants for employment and prohibits discrimination and harassment of any type without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, national origin, disability status, genetics, protected veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state or local laws.

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