Programme Lead, Forests | WWF
© WWF-Singapore

Position title: Programme Lead, Forests
Reports to: Conservation Director
Start Date: Immediately
Contract type: Permanent

About World Wide Fund for Nature, Singapore (WWF)

WWF-Singapore is a Singapore-registered charity, a network member of WWF International – one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organisations. WWF-Singapore protects critical natural resources for people in Singapore, supports a global network that spans over 100 countries, and supports in-situ conservation with partner offices in the region. To meet key conservation goals for food, forests, oceans, freshwater, wildlife, food and climate and energy, WWF-Singapore addresses issues important to Singapore and the region, including: deforestation, peatland degradation and fire; wildlife crime, markets and illegal wildlife trade; sustainable fisheries and resilient coral reefs; free-flowing rivers and sustainable infrastructure; and responsible environmental footprint. We achieve this through investing in field projects in key regional landscapes and seascapes, and by leading innovative market transformation initiatives, sustainable finance and nature based solutions, policy and advocacy, and education and outreach.


The forests of SEA have arguably the highest degree of species richness in the world. Accounting for just 3 per cent of the world’s surface, they are home to about 20% of the planet’s vertebrates and plant species and contain four of the world’s 25 biodiversity hotspots. Tropical forests provide vital ecosystem services, support thousands of rural livelihoods, and their preservation is vital in helping the world mitigate against the impacts of climate change and reduce vulnerability to zoonotic disease spillover and pandemics. However, it has been estimated that without appropriate intervening policies, at least a quarter of the region’s biodiversity may be lost by 2100 as a result of deforestation. Wildlife crime, poorly regulated wildlife markets and illegal wildlife trade, are taking a heavy toll on the biodiversity of these forests, affecting the ecosystem functions and the services provided to local communities and indigenous peoples. Deforestation, peatland degradation and fires are closely interlinked and with devastating consequence. In 2019, the trans-boundary haze situation that effects Singapore’s air quality was the worst since 2015, with the economic impact on Indonesia alone estimated at US$5.2 billion (S$7.3 billion).

In response, the private and public sector has launched numerous commitments and innovative initiatives to halt deforestation and peatland loss and to end wildlife crime, and to instead advance sustainable land use (protection, production, restoration and rehabilitation) and support for sustainable forest and peatland management and community-centric conservation. In spite of this, countries and companies have persistently failed to make good on these commitments.

WWF recognises that an integrated approach is required to curb wildlife crime, deforestation and peatland degradation. WWF-Singapore is committed to delivering holistic programmes of work focused on protecting priority forests and peatlands in SE Asia, by supporting WWF partner offices in the region to deliver landscape-level field programmes, and by working with in-house and regional specialists on markets-, finance-, policy and advocacy-, and education and outreach-based approaches.

Major Functions: 

The Programme Lead is responsible for the development and delivery of WWF’s strategy and programmes for Forests in SE Asia, focusing on deforestation and peatland degradation, and wildlife crime and markets. The post-holder will curate a large portfolio of forest-focused field projects in the region, working with sister offices and WWF-Singapore’s Fundraising team to identify and deliver projects aligned to the conservation strategy. He/She works with relevant WWF-Singapore department heads and partners in the region and Network – such as the Zero Poaching Lead, the Global Palm Oil Lead, the Climate Lead, and the Wildlife and Forests Practices – to co-design and deliver innovative conservation projects, drawing on WWF strengths in sustainable commodities, markets transformation, sustainable finance, policy and advocacy, and education and outreach. He/She will be a WWF Network thought leader on forest conservation, and will represent the WWF Network in select internal and external forums.

Major Duties and Responsibilities:  

Programme Management

  • Develop and oversee WWF-Singapore’s conservation programmes for tropical forests, focusing on: 1) deforestation, peatland degradation and fire, and 2) wildlife crime and markets including illegal wildlife trade. This will include a focus on priority landscapes and priority species, and build upon an existing portfolio of projects and commitments.

  • Manage a portfolio of projects selected and designed to deliver WWF-Singapore’s strategic goals. This will be a combination of field investments implemented by other WWF offices and partners, and stand-alone conservation projects implemented by WWF Singapore.

  • Work with colleagues to ensure conservation projects are well-designed and deliver meaningful impact.

  • Set budgets and manage expenditure and reporting, working with the guidance of the Conservation Director and the Fundraising and Finance teams.

  • Manage line reports and work with other WWF staff and (where relevant) consultants and partners to deliver projects with maximum impact.

  • Capture lessons learned, seek out innovation in measuring effectiveness and impact, leverage knowledge of external best practices and emerging trends.

  • Ensure that all activities are in compliance with the project’s documents, WWF’s guidance, policies and procedures, contractual obligations, as well as donor’s requirements. This includes the review and approval of Technical Progress Reports and budgets for all conservation projects within the programme portfolios, and all other monitoring, reporting and management duties, including risk management as it relates to the Environmental and Social Safeguards Framework (ESSF).

Thought Leadership

  • Provide thought-leadership on SE Asia tropical forest conservation, ensuring that WWF-Singapore’s strategy for tropical forests is informed by science and a robust theory of change, drawing on technical knowledge and both internal and external expertise and innovation.

  • Act as a regional focal point for the Network on fires and deforestation.

  • Provide guidance, technical backstopping and policy support to the Network, where appropriate.

  • Represent WWF at relevant conferences, seminars, meetings and in other forest conservation forums. 

  • Represent, and/or provide inputs to and oversight for, WWF Network representation on key technical working groups; including the High Conservation Value (HCV) Network, the High Carbon Stock Approach (HCSA), and the Accountability Framework (AFi) SE Asia regional secretariat. Consult with colleagues as appropriate to inform WWF’s contribution.

  • Facilitate knowledge sharing and, where relevant, collaborate with relevant specialists across the WWF Network, namely from the Forests, Food, Wildlife, Markets, Governance and Finance Practices, and with the global commodity programme leads (palm oil, rubber, pulp and paper, mining).

  • Undertake external outreach on forest conservation with key stakeholders, including meeting with strategic partners, giving public and private presentations, and leading and/or contributing to workshops.

Strategic Partnerships and Projects

  • Identify, develop and/or maintain partnerships with governments, companies, partner organisations and other stakeholders to increase ambition and accelerate the adoption and implementation of forest commitments.

  • Develop strong familiarity with WWF’s work in Singapore and SE Asia as it relates to forest programme outcomes.

  • Build and maintain good relations with WWF staff in the region, and wider Network, relevant to delivering the forest programmes.

  • Facilitate South-South discussions and cooperation for cross learning, cooperation and joint engagement e.g. with multinational corporations and between governments.

  • Review and provide technical guidance to all project documents, proposals, reports and evaluations submitted to key stakeholders including donors.

  • Ensure that WWF-Singapore’s projects – where relevant to forests – are informed by good science and practicality, in both design and execution, from conservation to education and outreach, sustainable finance, markets transformation, policy and advocacy, communications and fundraising. Work closely with other departments to ensure this.

  • Work with the Fundraising department to ensure that funding opportunities are identified and secured, and that project reports and new proposals for funding are carefully vetted.

  • Work with the Communications department to ensure good communications – internal and external – for relevant conservation projects, and that outreach material is carefully vetted.

  • Commission, lead and/or contribute to research projects as/when required to meet conservation goals.

Qualifications and Experience

  • PhD or Masters in conservation, environmental studies, natural resource management, other natural/social sciences or related fields.

  • At least 10 years of professional experience in forest conservation; with a minimum of 3 years in a leadership and management position in a multinational context.

  • Proven experience in a technical advisory position relevant to the job description, with demonstrated success in thinking strategically to support programme development and delivery.

  • Experience and a proven track record of collaborating and building strategic stakeholder relationships.

Skills and Expertise

  • Proven ability to lead and encourage team empowerment and autonomy while keeping oversight and accountability for the team.

  • Ability to work collaboratively in a multinational organisation across regions and contexts, with cross-cutting practices and multi-disciplinary teams.

  • A proven record of sound judgment and decision-making skills to define and defend priorities.

  • Excellent organisational skills, with experience in strategic planning, managing complex projects and diverse project partners.

  • Ability to translate complex and technical material into information that can be used effectively by colleagues from other practices and decision-makers in the public or private sector.

  • Strong analytical skills and logical thinking; ability to visualise data and information to generate meaningful insights that can be translated to maximise conservation impact.

  • An understanding of the importance of working alongside indigenous peoples and local communities to deliver the best conservation outcomes.

  • Knowledge of policies and approaches aimed at safeguarding the rights and well-being of indigenous peoples and local communities.

  • Excellent presentation and communication skills in written and spoken English.

  • Current or past membership and/or participation on multi-stakeholder platforms or roundtables to reduce deforestation and/or wildlife crime and/or illegal wildlife trade.

  • Ability to work independently and proactively in a fast-changing environment with a proven track record in adaptive management.

  • Adheres to WWF’s values, which are; Courage, Integrity, Respect and Collaboration.


This job description covers the main tasks. Other tasks may be assigned as necessary according to organisational needs.

Interested candidates should email a CV and a cover letter with the title

“Programme Lead, Forests” to


Deadline for applications: 15 March 2021