Doctoral Researcher: (DAAD Scholarship) 3 Projects

United Nations University Institute for Integrated Management of Material Fluxes and of Resources (UNU-FLORES)

Dresden, Germany 🇩🇪

Job description

About 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. For more information, please visit http://unu.edu.

United Nations University for Integrated Management of Material Fluxes and of Resources (UNU-FLORES)

UNU-FLORES develops strategies to resolve pressing issues in the sustainable use and integrated management of environmental resources such as water, soil, waste, energy, and other geo-resources that are of concern to the United Nations and its Member States – particularly in developing and emerging economies. Based in Dresden, Germany, the Institute engages in research, capacity development, postgraduate teaching, advanced training, and knowledge dissemination to advance the Resource Nexus. https://flores.unu.edu/

Doctoral Research

UNU-FLORES is delighted to announce a Doctoral Researcher opportunity as part of the DAAD Graduate School Scholarship Programme. The successful candidate will have the opportunity to conduct research work under one of three topic areas under the guidance of supervisors at both UNU-FLORES and Technische Universitaet Dresden. Students will also collaborate with fellow doctoral students and senior scientists in research, event organisation and participation, publications where possible, and contribute to the Implementation Plan of UNU-FLORES and the mission of the United Nations. As a facet of the project, the students must consider the impact of their research on communities, and the potential for their research to be transferred upon completion of the doctorate.

Project 1: Transition to a circular economy for food through water and biodiversity under climate change scenarios

This project aims to assess the complexity and challenges facing food systems in rural agricultural areas affected by climate change. This project looks at identifying a landscape of circular economic options in the food system by focusing on a value chain where a circular economy has a significant potential for sustainable impact (social, economic, and environmental), thus improving peri-urban food production and consumption.

This research project aims to develop and test a decision support framework for evaluating the sustainability of water reuse and biodiversity as a measure to reduce food provisioning risk.

The framework will consider the interrelation of current risk and sustainability assessment concepts, methodologies, and indicators. A conceptual framework will integrate risk and sustainability assessment knowledge of water reuse and biodiversity loss in a participatory decision-making context and adapted site-specific conditions related to climate change scenarios.

The research topic will also examine the economic opportunities and broader benefits that would be derived from adopting circular economic principles on water and biodiversity for food systems and agricultural production. The work should demonstrate the benefits of food as part of a broader bio-cycle economy.

The study will have a quantitative analysis of the economic benefits of following this approach. The project will take a systemic view of the food system that circular economy principles and transition could govern into sustainable ones. Exploratory work of opportunities and the enabling conditions for change should be addressed.

Key questions:

  • What are opportunities along the food systems to shift towards a more circular economy approach in water and biodiversity management (e.g. sustainable agriculture, valorisation of by-products and waste, closing nutrient loops, water reuse) and its benefits (security risk reduction, food system security and reduced GHG emissions, water management optimisation, biodiversity water scarcity mitigation)?
  • What role could sustainability play in future food systems & water scarcity under climate change risk scenarios?
  • How can a circular food economy through risk and sustainability assessment of water reuse and biodiversity contribute to improving diet and nutrition-related health?

Project 1 Responsibilities: 

1. Perform research work related to the project: Transition towards a circular economy approach for food systems through water and biodiversity under climate change

  • Research, write, and publish papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals;
  • Develop a robust methodology to assess the sustainability of a circular economy approach for water management and biodiversity resilience in the context of food systems; and
  • Support the development of a Resource Nexus approach for assessing and managing coal phaseout.

2. Provide support in knowledge dissemination

  • Develop strategies for the dissemination and transfer of knowledge to other regions that face similar challenges;
  • Publishing results in the appropriate media and presenting findings at conferences and seminars; and
  • Report research progress to the supervising team and in the project management system of UNU-FLORES.

3. Assist with capacity development

  • Organise activities such as workshops related to the research project; and
  • Contribute to the Institute’s capacity development activities.

4. Provide support for educational development

  • Work closely alongside the supervising ream with the eventual goal of co-supervising master theses in the research field; and
  • Contribute to the Institute’s educational programme and events.

5. Perform other duties as assigned by the Supervisor and or the Director

Project 2:  NEXtra CoCoRe – Managing the Just and Sustainable Transformation of Colombian Coal Regions in consideration of a Resource Nexus and SDG perspective

The Objectives of this Doctoral Research Project are:
1. Assess environmental implications of coal phaseout in Colombia, including

  • Legacies of mining and coal-based power generation/industry (water, soil and air pollution; substance accumulation in the biosphere and toxicological effects on environmental organisms and humans; pollutant fluxes across different environmental compartments);
  • short-, medium and long-term environmental management needs after coal mine closures, e.g. rehabilitation of mining land, long-term implications for regional water management;

2. Perform analysis of socio-economic and governance implications of coal phaseout in Colombia, including

  • Current policies/policy developments and governance structures related to coal phaseout and energy transition;
  • Expected and observed socio-economic challenges in coal regions during and after coal phaseout (including social and gender justice issues, risks of stranded assets), and counter-strategies (national and international experiences, including questions of transferability);
  • Financing needs and opportunities to drive the coal and energy transition;

3. Create a science-based design and advocacy for energy transition and regional development strategies adapted to the requirements of specific coal regions;

  • Renewable energy potentials and policies, environmental implications in the target regions;
  • Regional development opportunities and strategies beyond the coal and energy sector.

Project 2 Responsibilities: 

1. Perform research work related to the project NEXtra CoCoRe

  • Research, write, and publish papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals;
  • Develop a robust methodology to assess the sustainability of transformation processes in coal regions; and
  • Support the development of a Resource Nexus approach for assessing and managing coal phaseout.

2. Provide support in knowledge dissemination

  • Develop strategies for the dissemination and transfer of knowledge to other regions that face similar challenges;
  • Publishing results in the appropriate media and presenting findings at conferences and seminars; and
  • Report research progress to the supervising team and in the project management system of UNU-FLORES.

3. Assist with capacity development

  • Organise activities such as workshops related to the research project; and
  • Contribute to the Institute’s capacity development activities.

4. Provide support for educational development

  • Work closely alongside the supervising ream with the eventual goal of co-supervising master theses in the research field; and
  • Contribute to the Institute’s educational programme and events.

5. Perform other duties as assigned by the Supervisor or the Director

Project 3: Climate Change and Water Availability in Data Scarce Arid Regions – Advancing the Nexus of Water-Soil-Atmosphere by a Combination of Remote Sensing and Modelling

The project will focus on the water – soil – atmosphere nexus in rain-fed and irrigation farming in arid regions. Water availability in arid regions is scarce and episodic. In agriculture, traditional sustainable systems must rely on rainwater harvesting to mitigate dry periods or risk using precious groundwater. The focus of water management systems concentrate is to safeguard or improve groundwater recharge, while traditional cropping systems – though versatile and drought-resilient (both supported by high biodiversity) – are often not very productive. Although “modern agriculture” often results in immediate benefits, they also risk permanent aquifer damage and loss of the original subsistence at a family level, leading to migration and loss of biodiversity.

As Climate Change (CC) projections have failed to provide accurate data pertaining to rainfall in arid regions, CC poses additional challenges, with ‘zero rainfall’ statistically showing to be the most probable outcome. A lack of existing ground data intensifies this situation. The most accelerated form of mitigation is improved data access and enhanced current CC projections with additional data (such as remote sensing).

The main objectives of the research will include the investigation of spatial patterns of rainfall and (groundwater-based) irrigation in arid regions using remote sensing. In addition, the successful candidate will design models and improve CC projections in the arid areas. Finally, a DSS system will be designed to implement (a) the irrigation scheduling of farmers, and (b) guidelines for CC adaptation.

Project 3 Responsibilities:

1. Perform research work related to the project Climate Change and Water Availability in Data Scarce Arid Regions

  • Research, write, and publish papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals;
  • Develop a robust methodology to assess water availability in dry regions by a combination of remote sensing and modelling; and
  • Support the development of a  Resource Nexus approach on the interfaces between water, soil, atmosphere, and vegetation.

2. Provide support in knowledge dissemination

  • Develop strategies for the dissemination and transfer of knowledge to other regions that face similar challenges;
  • Publishing results in the appropriate media and presenting findings at conferences and seminars; and
  • Report research progress to the supervising team and in the project management system of UNU-FLORES.

3. Assist with capacity development

  • Organise activities such as workshops related to the research project; and
  • Contribute to the Institute’s capacity development activities.

4. Provide support for educational development

  • Work closely alongside the supervising ream with the eventual goal of co-supervising master theses in the research field; and
  • Contribute to the Institute’s educational programme and events.

5. Perform other duties as assigned by the Supervisor or the Director

Competencies

Values:

  • Inclusion â€” take action to create an environment of dignity and respect for all, regardless of age, culture, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, gender expression, geography, grade, language, nationality, racial identity, religion, sex, sex characteristics, sexual orientation, social origin or any other aspect of identity
  • Integrity â€” act ethically, demonstrating the standards of conduct of the United Nations and taking prompt action in case of witnessing unprofessional or unethical behaviour, or any other breach of UN standards
  • Humility — demonstrate self-awareness and willingness to learn from others
  • Humanity â€” act according to the purposes of the United Nations: peace, dignity and equality on a healthy planet

Behaviours:

  • Connect and collaborate â€” build positive relationships with others to advance the work of the United Nations and work coherently as One UN
  • Analyse and plan â€” seek out and use data from a wide range of sources to understand problems, inform decision-making, propose evidence-based solutions and plan action
  • Deliver results with positive impact â€” hold oneself and others accountable for delivering results and making a positive difference to the people and causes that the United Nations serves
  • Learn and develop â€” pursue own learning and development and contribute to the learning and development of others
  • Adapt and innovate â€” demonstrate flexibility, agility and the ability to think and act in novel ways

Qualifications

Project 1 Required Qualifications and Experience 

  • An excellent academic profile including a Master’s degree at least grade 2.5 or equivalent according to the German system in Environmental Science, Environmental Engineering, Public or Environmental Management, Environmental Assessment, Economy or related disciplines;
  • At least two years of experience in environmental assessment/management, at least partially in the context of water or agriculture, sustainability, some of which preferably in an international setting;
  • The Master’s degree must be completed at the time of starting the fellowship;
  • The last master’s degree may not have been completed more than six years ago at the time of nomination;
  • At the time of nomination, applicants may not have been in Germany for longer than fifteen months;
  • Knowledge of environmental and socio-economic issues in agriculture and water management;
  • Experience with policy analysis is required;
  • Ability to conduct inter-and transdisciplinary research;
  • Experience in communication with multiple stakeholders;
  • Experience in drafting reports, communications, and presentations is required;
  • Strong conceptual abilities; knowledge of geographical information systems and/or statistical methods and climate change scenarios would be desirable;
  • Excellent writing and presentation skills;
  • Experience in inter and transdisciplinary research, including interactions with relevant authorities and stakeholders;
  • Strong planning, organisation, and time management skills, with the ability to communicate clearly and efficiently;
  • Must be flexible with the ability to establish priorities and work within prescribed timeframes;
  • An excellent team player with strong interpersonal skills, as demonstrated by the ability to work in a multicultural, multi-ethnic environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity;
  • Demonstrated proficiency in English is required; Knowledge of another UN official working language, particularly Spanish or French is advantageous.

Project 2 Required Qualifications and Experience 

  • An excellent academic profile including a Master’s degree at least grade 2.5 or equivalent according to the German system in Environmental Sciences, Geography, Coal or Environmental Geology, Public or Environmental Management, Environmental Assessment, or related disciplines
  • At least two years of progressively responsible experience in environmental assessment/management, at least partially in the context of the coal phaseout and/or an international setting;
  • The Master’s degree must be completed at the time of starting the fellowship;
  • The last master’s degree may not have been completed more than six years ago at the time of nomination;
  • At the time of nomination, applicants may not have been in Germany for longer than fifteen months;
  • Knowledge of environmental and social issues in coal regions in Latin America (preferably Colombia);
  • Ability to conduct inter-and transdisciplinary research;
  • Experience in communication with multiple stakeholders related to the coal transition;
  • Experience in drafting reports, communications, and presentations is required;
  •  Strong conceptual abilities; knowledge of geographical information systems and/or statistical methods would be desirable;
  • Excellent writing and presentation skills;
  • Experience in inter and transdisciplinary research, including interactions with relevant authorities and stakeholders;
  • Strong planning, organisation, and time management skills, with the ability to communicate clearly and efficiently;
  • Must be flexible with the ability to establish priorities and work within prescribed timeframes;
  • An excellent team player with strong interpersonal skills, as demonstrated by the ability to work in a multicultural, multi-ethnic environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity;
  • Demonstrated proficiency in English is required; Proficiency in Spanish is required;
  • Knowledge of German and/or another UN official working language is an asset.

Project 3 Required Qualifications and Experience

  • An excellent academic profile including a Master’s degree at least grade 2.5 or equivalent according to the German system in Environmental Science,  Physical Geography, Climatology, Hydro Sciences, Soil Science, Remote Sensing, Agricultural Sciences or related disciplines;
  • At least two years of progressively responsible experience in dryland agro-climatology or a similar field;
  • The Master’s degree must be completed at the time of starting the fellowship;
  • The last master’s degree may not have been completed more than six years ago at the time of nomination;
  • At the time of nomination, applicants may not have been in Germany for longer than fifteen months;
  • Knowledge of specific challenges for agriculture, climatology and hydrology in drylands;
  • Demonstrated knowledge of remote sensing and geographic information systems;
  • The ability to analyse meta-data and application of R or Python for analyses or visualisation is desirable;
  • Ability to conduct inter-and transdisciplinary research;
  • Experience in communication with multiple stakeholders;
  • Experience in drafting reports, communications, and presentations is required;
  • Strong conceptual abilities;  ability to plan and conduct fieldwork;
  • Excellent writing and presentation skills;
  • Experience in inter and transdisciplinary research, including interactions with relevant authorities and stakeholders;
  • Strong planning, organisation, and time management skills, with the ability to communicate clearly and efficiently;
  • Must be flexible with the ability to establish priorities and work within prescribed timeframes;
  • An excellent team player with strong interpersonal skills, as demonstrated by the ability to work in a multicultural, multi-ethnic environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity;
  • Demonstrated proficiency in English is required; Knowledge of another UN official working language is an asset.

Duration and remuneration

The DAAD-GSSP pays a monthly stipend of EUR 1200 for the duration of the Doctoral Research (up to a maximum of four years). The stipend is expected to cover all living and education expenses. While the Doctoral programme is tuition-free, semester fees of approximately EUR 250-300 will need to be paid directly to TU Dresden for enrollment. For additional information on the programme and the admission procedure, please visit our website. The DAAD can also provide health insurance and introductory German classes. An additional allowance for travel or research will be part of the scholarship offered by the DAAD. Details will be shared with nominated candidates.

This position is being offered as a full-time position and on a one (1) year Student Agreement with UNU-FLORES. The possibility of renewal is subject to satisfactory work performance and completion of specific milestones. The combined duration of the agreement shall not exceed four (4) years.

The successful candidate will be enrolled as a student based in Dresden, Germany.

Starting Date: as soon as possible

How to Apply:

To apply to UNU, you will not need an account. Instead, we ask that you:

  • Apply via the apply line
  • provide a motivation statement (in the P11 form);
  • answer a few questions that are tailored to the position; and
  • Please submit the following documents as one PDF file (please note you must upload your file on the apply page where it requests the P11 Form)
  1. fill out the UNU P11 form (please avoid using similar forms provided by other United Nations organisations);
  2. A completed and signed Doctoral Programme application form
  3. A letter of motivation confirming which project you are applying for;
  4. A Curriculum Vitae;
  5. A list of publications;
  6. A summary of the doctoral project (max. 1 page);
  7. A work schedule and timetable for the doctoral project, including details of any upcoming phases abroad/field research;
  8. Copies of ALL university degrees and transcripts;
  9. Proof of internships completed;
  10. Evidence of language skills (see application form);
  11. Abstract of MSc thesis (or equivalent);
  12. Two recommendation forms (from two of your university professors).

Candidates who do not provide all required documents will not be considered. Please note that only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

You may wish to refer to the UN Values and Behaviours Framework for more information.

Application Deadline: 10 July 2022
Assessment

Evaluation of qualified candidates may include an assessment exercise which may be followed by a competency-based interview, background checks and references.

Special notice
PSA holders do not hold international civil servant status nor are they considered a “staff member” as defined in the UN Staff Rules and Regulations.
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 also 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.

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POSITION TYPE

ORGANIZATION TYPE

EXPERIENCE-LEVEL

DEGREE REQUIRED