Academic Officer (Systemic Risk)

United Nations University (UNU)

Bonn, Germany 🇩🇪

POSITION: Fixed Term Appointment (P-3)
LOCATION: Bonn, Germany
CLOSING DATE: 2021•10•13

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.

The United Nations University Vice-Rectorate in Europe (UNU-ViE)

UNU-ViE concentrates on relationships between advancing science and technology for human security. In addition to its scientific core mandate, it administers the central units providing service to five UNU entities in Bonn. The central administration units include Finance, Human Resources, Information Communication Technology, Communication Services, Procurement and General Administration. These units also assist with the administration of new UNU initiatives in Europe and Africa. For more information on the organisation, please visit the following websites

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

Vulnerability Assessment, Risk Management & Adaptive Planning (VARMAP) Section

The VARMAP section conducts policy-oriented research on vulnerabilities and risks to inform risk reduction and adaptation choices in the context of global change. Its vision is to provide actionable knowledge on systemic risks and pathways to sustainability. VARMAP develops and applies conceptual frameworks and scientific methods to assess socio-economic vulnerability and risk in the context of natural hazards, environmental change and societal transformation.

The section explores opportunities to reduce risks and to evaluate competing adaptation options. In doing so, VARMAP examines ways to strengthen adaptive governance. VARMAP has a strong focus on urban areas and rural-urban linkages. Drawing on scenario techniques and dynamic assessment tools, it examines the trends in vulnerability and adaptive capacity as societies undergo wider cultural, economic, demographic and political transformation.

VARMAP convenes an interdisciplinary team of researchers and has a wide network of scientific and practical partners. It draws on a mixed methods approach, integrating qualitative and quantitative tools for the analysis. The section combines a global focus with clusters of specific regional expertise, notably in Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia, West Africa and Europe.
For detailed information please visit:

FloodAdaptVN Project

Central Viet Nam is characterised by rapid urbanisation, particularly in small and medium-sized coastal cities. At the same time, the region is facing an increase in precipitation and heavy rainfall events, which, combined with land use changes, result in more frequent and intense flooding. In this context, the overall aim of the FloodAdaptVN project is to analyse and ultimately reduce present-day and future flood risk in highly flood prone urban regions of Central Vietnam using the city of Hué and its hinterland as a case study.

More specifically, the project aims at (i) better understanding and root causes, spatial patterns and dynamics of present-day and future flood risk, (ii) investigating both, entry points for and barriers to the implementation of risk reduction, risk transfer, and adaptation solutions (with a focus on ecosystem-based solutions), and (iii) developing a decision support tool for prioritising among different risk reduction and adaptation measures based on their impact reduction, social acceptance, long-term sustainability and cost-efficiency. FloodAdaptVN is a four year project funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) as part of the funding initiative “Sustainable development of urban regions”. UNU-EHS contributes to the project with three of its sections (i.e. VARMAP, EVES and MCII) and leads the assessment of flood risks and the work package on risk reduction, risk transfer and adaptation solutions.

Additionally, UNU-EHS contributes to the development of future risk scenarios, planned capacity building, knowledge transfer, and dissemination activities in the project, as well as to the mainstreaming of project outcomes into planning and policy processes in the region.


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

  • lead the UNU-EHS contribution, in close cooperation with the EVES and MCII Section
  • lead the assessment of flood risks and the work package on risk reduction, risk transfer, and adaptation solutions
  • contribute substantially to the development of future risk scenarios, planned capacity building, knowledge transfer, and dissemination activities in the project
  • warrant mainstreaming of project outcomes into planning and policy processes in the region

Beyond FloodAdaptVN

  • advise the Director of UNU-EHS and the management team in institute-wide strategic programming, particularly in the field of vulnerability and systemic risk
  • shape and further develop the next generation of UNU-EHS and VARMAP`s research questions and initiatives, particularly with a focus on different understandings of risk and vulnerability in the context of global change, embedded into the overall strategy of UNU and UNU-EHS
  • support the Head of Section with respect to the section’s scientific profile on risk understandings, aiming at further strengthening the global visibility of the section’s research work
  • engage, based on excellent research, in international policy processes and agendas of relevance
  • fundraise with German and international donors for policy relevant research topics that also open up possibilities for PhD students
  • publish research results, together with other researchers at UNU-EHS and beyond, in international peer-reviewed journals and other outlets (e.g. book chapters)
  • maintain and further develop existing cooperation with UN agencies (notably UNDRR), global research networks, the University of Bonn, the Bonn Alliance for Sustainability Research and other external partners
  • present VARMAP research to a variety of audiences in close cooperation with the UNU-EHS communication team
  • coordinate and teach courses in the Joint Master Programme “The Geography of Environmental Risks and Human Security” with the University of Bonn
  • (co-)supervise staff, interns, and MSc and PhD students
  • represent UNU-EHS at major conferences, particularly on vulnerability and systemic risk
  • prepare research reports, policy briefs, factsheets, and presentations
  • (co-)author scientific articles and disseminate findings at relevant conferences and events

Required qualifications and experience

We are looking for a mid-career expert with a strong global network in risk analysis and management. The candidate should fulfill the following attributes:

  • a completed PhD degree with high academic standing in Geography, Environmental Sciences, Natural Resources Management, or other relevant disciplines; preferably with previous experiences in flood contexts
  • at least five years of professional experience in research and academia on concepts and methods related to vulnerability and risk assessment, risk reduction and adaptation
  • work experience in developing economies, in particular Vietnam, is highly desired
  • strong track record in the leadership and management of international research projects, networks, and teams
  • excellent track record in securing third party funding
  • extensive experience with UN and/or other international institutions and mechanisms
  • strong publication profile in the research areas related to the VARMAP section
  • experience in working with ministries or public sector agencies, as well as international organisations
  • excellent communication and didactic skills, with experience in Postgraduate programmes teaching at international higher education institutions
  • experience in (co-)supervising Staff, PhD and MSc students
  • excellent communication and writing skills with fluency in spoken and written English and German
  • demonstrated ability to synthesise complex information, regulations and policies and to translate into impactful communications and publications / reports / presentations
  • initiative seeker; proven ability to work independently; curious personality preferred
  • team player with strong interpersonal skills, demonstrated by the ability to work in a multi-cultural environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity


UNU offers an attractive, tax exempt compensation package at the P-3 level, including an annual net salary and post adjustment, which reflects the cost of living in a particular duty station and exchange rates (subject to mandatory deductions for pension contributions and health insurance). Other benefits include: 30 days annual leave, dependency benefits, pension plan and health insurance scheme. Benefits for internationally recruited staff may include home leave, travel and removal expenses on appointment and separation, education grant for dependent children, assignment grant and rental subsidy. For more information please see:

Duration of contract

This is a full-time, fixed-term appointment and an international recruited post. The initial appointment will be for a period of one (1) year with the possibility of renewal on a rolling fixed-term appointment basis, subject to satisfactory work performance.

For academic positions, the combined duration of fixed-term appointments with UNU may not exceed six (6) years. The mandatory age of retirement for United Nations staff is 65 years old.

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

Staff members of the United Nations University are international civil servants subject to the Rector’s authority. They may be assigned to any of the activities or offices of the United Nations University. The Rector reserves the right to appoint a candidate at a level below that advertised.

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