Economist, Ecosystems

With world attention on both the environment and the economy, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is where policymakers and business leaders turn for win-win solutions. By focusing on strong science, uncommon partnerships and market-based approaches, we tackle urgent threats with practical solutions. We are one of the world’s largest environmental organizations, with more than two million members and a staff of approximately 700 scientists, economists, policy experts, and other professionals around the world. We operate in 22 geographies with unique projects running across four programs. You will be part of a vibrant workplace that welcomes diverse perspectives, talents and contributions, where innovation and results are a way of life.


EDF envisions a world in which people from all backgrounds and experiences feel connected to the environmental challenges we face and are engaged in creating durable, equitable solutions. We seek talented candidates who share the Core Values that allow us to experiment courageously in our work while staying true to who we’ve been as an organization for 50 years. Are you a results oriented individual who is passionate about creating environmental solutions that make a lasting difference in the world? Do you respect diverse perspectives, talents and contributions? Do you value innovation and enjoy designing and using a wide range of problem-solving tools? Do you embrace environmental goals with a sense of optimism while taking into account real-world dynamics? If you have integrity and a strong desire to uphold a commitment to science, rigorous analysis, intellectual honesty and ethical action, then EDF is the place for you.

Overall Function


The Economist will conduct and direct economic analysis to help shape the Ecosystem’s program policy positions, support its advocacy and provide strategic input and content to guide planning and execution of Ecosystem program efforts. While focusing on the Ecosystems program work, the Economist will report to the Office of the Chief Economist (OCE) and participate in broader economic work at EDF. The Ecosystems work is centered on three main programs all of which share the theme of increasing resilience - Water, Working Lands and Coastal Protection. Initially, the Economist will focus on economic elements related to the practice and policy of Water and Working Lands programs. Analysis products will include original publishable research, “in-house” analyses to guide staff and partners, as well as white papers aimed at policy makers, journalists, and the public at large.


The Economist will be based in San Francisco or Sacramento, California. S/he will report to a Senior Economist or the Chief Economist, and will work with other economists, natural scientists, Ecosystems staff, and policy specialists throughout EDF. S/he may also have managerial responsibilities for more junior staff, consultants, and project budgets.


Key Responsibilities

  • Working with the Chief Economist, other staff and collaborators to identify long-term research needed to inform and support the organization’s advocacy;
  • Working with junior staff on analyses of issues related to environmental policy;
  • Supervising and mentoring junior EDF staff;
  • Overseeing research projects conducted by other organizations for EDF (e.g., universities and outside contractors);
  • Conducting original economic research on topics broadly relevant to the work of EDF;
  • Interpreting, translating, and summarizing relevant economic information for EDF and partner staff and broader audiences, perhaps including public communications, congressional testimony, Op-Eds, articles, and blog posts;
  • Working with EDF’s development team, including communicating with donors and foundations and writing proposals to secure funding;
  • Participating in the development of public positions taken by Environmental Defense Fund;
  • Establishing, developing, and supporting connections between EDF and the academic and research community, public and other organizations in the field;
  • Representing EDF at public meetings including policy makers, academic conferences and workshops, gatherings of advocacy organizations, and the general public and presenting as applicable.
  • Other duties as assigned.


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

Preferred Qualifications

  • At least two years of experience in policy and/or research, though more senior applicants are also strongly encouraged to apply
  • Ability to manage staff and projects involving multiple people

Application Materials

  • Please attach a cover letter as part of your application.

Environmental Defense Fund is an equal opportunity employer where an applicant's qualifications are considered without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or any other basis prohibited by law.