El-Ashry is senior fellow with the UN Foundation. He has previously held a number of positions: CEO and chairman of the Global Environment Facility (GEF); chief environmental adviser to the president and director of the Environment Department at the World Bank; senior vice president of the World Resources Institute (WRI); and director of Environmental Quality with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). He has held teaching and research positions at Cairo University, Wilkes University, and Illinois State Geological Survey. He has received numerous international awards and honours including UNEP's Champions of the Earth and The Haub Prize for Environmental Diplomacy. He is a fellow of the Geological Society of America and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the African Academy of Sciences.