Local recruitment: Research Associate (Interconnected Disaster Risk)

United Nations University (UNU)

Bonn, Germany 🇩🇪

POSITION: Personnel Service Agreement – PSA
LOCATION: Bonn, Germany
CLOSING DATE: 2021•10•03

United Nations University

The United Nations University (UNU) is an international community of scholars engaged in policy-oriented research, capacity development and dissemination of knowledge in furthering the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. The mission of UNU is to contribute, through research and capacity building, to efforts to resolve the pressing global problems that are the concern of the United Nations and its Member States.

For the past four decades, UNU has been a go-to think tank for impartial research on human survival, conflict prevention, sustainable development, and welfare. With more than 400 researchers in 12 countries, UNU’s work spans the 17 Sustainable Development Goals’ full breadth, generating policy-relevant knowledge to effect positive global change. UNU maintains more than 200 collaborations with UN agencies and leading universities and research institutions across the globe.

United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS)

UNU-EHS established in December 2003, is part of the UNU system, a worldwide network of Research and Training Institutes. Its mission is to advance human security through knowledge-based approaches to reducing vulnerability and environmental risks. For more information, please visit https://ehs.unu.edu.

Environmental Vulnerability & Ecosystem Services (EVES) Section

The EVES section at UNU-EHS conducts original, policy relevant research addressing the vulnerability and resilience of social-ecological systems. Specifically, EVES aims to understand how social ecological systems are affected by environmental hazards of diverse nature such as water and land degradation, floods, droughts, and other hazards. EVES not only considers the impacts of single hazards, but also investigates multiple hazard situations, identifying cumulating or cascading impacts and feedbacks between hazards of contrasting nature such as floods and droughts. The concept of ecosystem services is of central importance in most of the research conducted by EVES researchers. For detailed information please visit: https://ehs.unu.edu/about/departments/eves#overview

Interconnected Disaster Risk Report

The world has witnessed in 2020/2021 a number of record-setting mega-events, e.g., a global COVID-19 pandemic, a heat record in the Arctic, wildfires across the globe, a historic cyclone season, a massive locust infestation at the Horn of Africa, mass bleaching of corals in the Great Barrier Reef as well as major human-made disasters, such as the recent Beirut explosion. Most of these events have triggered massive media response and caught the attention of the public. However, despite their global relevance and large-scale impacts, these events were largely seen and treated in isolation. The Interconnected Disaster Risk Report sets out to analyse these events to better understand underlying root causes, drivers and the interconnectivity of these seemingly unrelated events. The first report will be published in September 2021. We are seeking to fill a new Research Associate position to co-lead the development of the report in the consecutive years.


Under the authority of the Director of UNU-EHS / Vice-Rector in Europe and the guidance of the Head of the EVES section, the successful candidate will be entrusted with the following tasks:

  • together with the Head of Section and Lead Authors of the report, coordinate the report development team, including taking lead responsibility for certain elements of the report (tbd)
  • monitor media for eligible case studies and maintain database of potential selections for the report, including contributing to the selection process
  • undertake a literature review for a subset of the 10 events each year and coordinate or support other event reviews
  • write technical background papers and analyse root causes, drivers, impacts, emerging risks per event. Identify possible solutions for selected events
  • co-write the main body of the report
  • ensure timely finalisation of the technical reports including technical review, liaison with the editor, permission for the use of pictures and figures in the reports and reference management
  • liaise with other teams and sections within UNU-EHS as focal point for the report as necessary
  • provide detailed briefings for the visualisation of concepts, such as complex infographics and tables and figures
  • support the development of communication materials related to the body of academic work by providing input, fact checking and liaising closely with the UNU-EHS communication section
  • perform any other tasks needed for the development of the report

Required qualifications and experience

We are looking for an early career candidate with a strong motivation to work on the interface between science and science communication for the public and media. The candidate should fulfill the following attributes:

  • a completed master’s degree with high academic standing in geography, environmental sciences, anthropology, behavioral science, sustainability science, or other relevant areas of study
  • familiarity with concepts and methods related to disaster risk assessment, risk reduction strategies, climate change adaptation and mitigation
  • field experience from developing economies is highly desired
  • strong methodological skillset for quantitative or qualitative empirical research in the field of disaster risk
  • proven excellent communication and writing skills for both academic and non-academic texts
  • demonstrated ability to synthesise complex information, and to translate into impactful communications and publications/reports/presentations
  • demonstrated experience in working as a member of a science and communication project team, high awareness of the various needs of different target audiences
  • initiative seeker; strong ability to carry out work independently; curious personality preferred
  • proven experience in coordination and delivering products by adhering to strict deadlines is required
  • reflected team player with strong interpersonal skills demonstrated by the ability to work in a multicultural environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity
  • excellent spoken and written English

Duration of contract

This is a full-time employment on a one (1) year Personnel Service Agreement (PSA) contract with the possibility of renewal subject to requirements and satisfactory work performance, with the combined duration of appointments not exceeding six (6) years. The mandatory age of retirement for PSA is 65 years.

This is a locally recruited post and no relocation allowances apply.

Expected start date

As soon as possible.


Evaluation of qualified candidates may include an assessment exercise which may be followed by interview(s), background checks and references.

Special notice

UNU does not sponsor a working visa for this position.

PSA holders do no hold international civil servant status nor are they considered a “staff member” as defined in the UN Staff Rules and Regulations.

PSA holders may be assigned to any of the activities or offices of the United Nations University.

UNU is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages all candidates, irrespective of gender, nationality, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including persons living with disabilities to apply and become part of the organization. Applications from developing countries, and from women are strongly encouraged. Eligible internal applicants are encouraged to apply.

UNU has a zero-tolerance policy on conduct that is incompatible with the aims and objectives of the United Nations and UNU, including sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment, abuse of authority and discrimination.

Information about UNU rosters

UNU reserves the right to select one or more candidates from this vacancy announcement. We may also retain applications and consider candidates applying to this post for other similar positions with UNU at the same grade level and with similar job description, experience and educational requirements.





IHE Delft Institute for Water Education - MSc in Water and Sustainable Development