Integrated European
Long-Term Ecosystem, critical zone and
socio-ecological Research

Job announcement: Natural Sponges Coordinator at Wetlands International Europe

13 April 2023

Established in September 2013, Wetlands International Europe is the single network organisation in Europe bringing together 10 NGOs whose shared mission is to inspire and mobilise society to safeguard and restore wetlands for people and nature. Our ambition for the period 2020-2030 is to upscale action to safeguard and restore wetlands, collaborating with multiple partners and mobilising a wide range of actors to transform whole landscapes and sectors. Our access to cutting-edge science, combined with our understanding of EU policies, the on-ground experience from our members, partners and their networks, in addition to our global network, makes us a credible and effective advocate for improving European policies and practices.

We operate with a growing Secretariat of 16 people, being our key priority to raise the voice of our members in Europe, share knowledge, improve policies and build capacities among stakeholders. For more information, please consult  


Deploying Natural Sponges in Europe

With their natural sponge function, wetlands such as peatlands and upstream floodplains support abundant nature and can provide natural adaptation to multiple climate change impacts, making people and property safer. In high precipitation events, natural sponges retain water, slowing down the release and providing reduced peak flows. Under drought conditions, natural sponges act as reservoirs that maintain base flows. The case for rapidly restoring, deploying and upscaling these multi-benefit measures has never been more urgent given the need to adapt to a rapidly changing climate and increasing floods and droughts in Europe, and to meet the ambitions of the European Green Deal to simultaneously address our biodiversity, climate and freshwater crises.

For more than a decade, we have been identifying and researching areas with high natural sponge potential around Europe, including the upstream valleys of the German Middle Mountains in the Rhine River Basin, which were the epicentre of catastrophic flooding in 2021. The goal of our Natural Sponges programme is to rapidly deploy and scale up restoration to the landscape level across Europe. This programme is implemented in collaboration with our members and global network, and it has a twin-track approach whereby advocacy actions and the delivery of restoration practices on the ground go hand-in-hand. Our results have been promising: relatively small natural sponges can provide a disproportionately large, regulatory effect. We believe restoring natural sponges could have a positive impact on natural water retention over 125,000 km2 in Germany, France, Belgium and Luxembourg.

More information is available here.

The overall purpose of the role

In order to take the transformative step of deploying and upscaling sponges, we are seeking a Natural Sponges Coordinator to scope and establish a pilot site to demonstrate the effectiveness of natural sponges on the ground in the Upper Rhine River Basin of Germany, engage with stakeholders, build partnerships and influence decision making and investments in policies and strategies related to agriculture, climate change adaptation (floods and droughts) and mitigation (carbon storage), nature restoration and river basin management.

This is an exciting opportunity to establish, manage and grow our natural sponges work in Germany and beyond. This dynamic position combines on-the-ground science-based restoration with stakeholder engagement and the ambition to build a network of partners and secure the support at the local, regional, and national levels that catalyses deployment, funding and upscaling.

Responsibilities and tasks

  • Scope and establish a pilot site in the Upper Rhine Basin of Southwest Germany.
  • Develop a plan to restore sponge functions in a drained landscape through blocking of drainage and rewetting of soils that showcases natural sponge restoration.
  • Bring together scientific and technological know-how with on-the-ground experience to inform best practice.
  • Oversee implementation of field measures and systemic collection of data and analysis and monitoring.
  • Influence strategies, plans and funding streams with results.
  • Convene and engage with diverse stakeholders and sectors at all levels to build support and overcome barriers to implementation.
  • Builds coalitions, strategic relationships, and networks that facilitate collaboration.

Identify opportunities for resources, project development and upscaling.

Represent the organisation in relevant fora and events.


Working relations

INSIDE Wetlands International Europe: Under the supervision of the Freshwater Manager and European Programme Manager and collaborating with staff working on peatlands, disaster risk reduction and biodiversity.

OUTSIDE Wetlands International Europe: Members, consultants and partner organisations, German government agencies and stakeholders from local to national level, internal and external contributors and partners, including academia, experts and private sector partners, companies.


  • A highly motivated self-starter who is passionate about putting wetlands at the heart of the European Green Deal and eager to champion natural sponges as indispensable parts of resilient landscapes for society, climate and nature.
  • Solid technical and project management skills, combined with entrepreneurial thinking for and knowledge of safeguarding and restoring wetlands.
  • Experience working on wetlands and freshwater issues in Germany, working with civil society, government, research institutions and the private sector.
  • Proven skills and experience in the management of environmental projects and partnerships to deliver impact and change on the ground while creating the conditions to catalyse change at a larger scale.
  • A good understanding of EU and German environmental policies, including freshwater, climate, agriculture and nature.
  • Experience managing diverse relationships and knowing how to support, coach and manoeuvre in these often-complex working environments.
  • A strong communicator with experience working internationally across different cultural environments.

Essential education and experience

  • At least 5 to 10 years technical knowledge on restoration.
  • At least three years of relevant experience in project management.
  • Experience working on EU-funded projects will be an advantage.  
  • Experience working with non-governmental organizations will be an advantage.
  • Experience in grant coordination and reporting.

Core competencies

  • Excellent command of written and spoken English and German. Working knowledge of French will be an asset.
  • Strong communication and presentation skills and a high level of initiative.
  • Excellent organizational and project management skills with attention to detail and accuracy.
  • Possess a driver’s license and vehicle and the ability to travel and work independently and within a team.
  • Very good MS Office and other IT user skills.

Other Aspects

This job description covers the main tasks and conveys the spirit of the sort of tasks that are anticipated proactively from staff. Other tasks may be assigned as necessary according to organizational needs.

The Association applies the same terms and conditions of employment as Wetlands International’s Global.

Job Offer

  • Full-time job, (maximum of 32 to 36 hours per week).
  • Competitive salary, dependent on experience.
  • Contract duration: One year with a possibility of extension.
  • Location: Germany or Belgium
  • Start date: As soon as possible

Applications should include a cover letter summarising the applicant’s suitability for the position and a detailed CV. Applications should be sent by email to marking your application with “Natural Sponges Coordinator” in the subject line.

Application Deadline: N/A