Researcher / Senior Researcher: Water and Health

United Nations University - Institute for Water Environment and Health (UNU‐INWEH)

Hamilton, ON, Canada 🇨🇦

Job description

About UN University (UNU)

The United Nations University (UNU) is an international community of scholars engaged in policy-oriented research, capacity development and dissemination of knowledge, furthering the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. UNU’s mission 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, United Nations University (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, 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.

About Institute (UNU-INWEH)

The UNU Institute for Water, Environment and Health ( is a member of the UNU family of organizations. Its vision is a world free of water problems where sustainable human development and environmental health and security are assured for all. Its mission is to help resolve pressing water challenges that are of concern to the United Nations, its Member States, and their people. UNU-INWEH pursues its mission through critical analysis and synthesis of existing bodies of scientific discovery; targeted research that identifies emerging policy issues; application of on-the-ground scalable science-based solutions to water issues; and global outreach. UNU-INWEH is the only entirely-water focused Institute within the UNU System, and the only entirely water-related UN entity in Canada. UNU-INWEH is supported by the Government of Canada and hosted by McMaster University.

UNU-INWEH works on four broadly defined, interconnected thematic areas: i) accelerating the implementation of water-related SDGs; ii) activating a technology revolution for water security in the Global South; iii) advancing gender equality for effective water management; and iv) managing water- and climate- related risks for improved water security (UNU-INWEH-Strategic-Plan). The institute focuses primarily on global water issues and their implications for developing countries.


Under the overall supervision of the Director the Incumbent will:

  • Contribute to activities under the key thematic direction of the UNU-INWEH Strategic Plan: “Managing water- and climate-related risks for improved water security”- with a specific focus on human health-related risks and solutions to mitigate climate-related risks and improve public health outcomes. Help shape, strengthen and diversify the research under this direction in subsequent years, particularly in such high-priority areas as: i) innovate new concepts and methods to alleviate waterborne and water-related diseases through improved environmental management of freshwater bodies (e.g., rivers, aquifers, wetlands, and reservoirs) and basic water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure provision, ii) accelerate the alleviation of public health impacts due to poor water quality and natural/anthropogenic contaminants (e.g., arsenic, antimicrobial resistant (AMR) organisms); iii) develop new “water-centric” models and tools to inform evidence-driven WASH/health interventions and reduce risks of future epidemics and pandemics linked to poor water quality and management.
  • Provide technical expertise to help design UNU-INWEH’s replicable public health-focused tools (e.g., databases, decision support systems, health risk mitigation protocols, etc.) that can be used by national and international stakeholders to address and target water-related public health risks. This may include, inter alia, tools such as WASH-related disease vulnerability assessment, global / regional quantitative water security assessments, and others currently under development at UNU-INWEH. The incumbent is expected to identify further niches for and lead tools’ development.
  • Contribute to, and eventually, lead the fundraising for the above activities, and contribute to overall fundraising efforts of the institute, including the development of cross-thematic and interdisciplinary proposals at UNU-INWEH with other project leaders.
  • Assist with capacity building focusing on the development of the future world leaders through, inter alia: i) the expansion of UNU-INWEH’s online Water Learning Center (WLC) by developing and launching new courses in the “water and health” thematic area; ii) contributing to curriculum development and teaching in the collaborative McMaster-UNU-INWEH graduate programme “Water Without Borders”; iii) attract and supervise interns as required.
  • Communicate research outputs at various scientific and policy events; co-ordinate and co-organize such events as required.
  • Publish research results in peer-reviewed journals, UNU-INWEH reports, and other outlets.
  • Perform other tasks as assigned by the Director.

Key performance indicators

  • Timely and quality delivery of planned research publication outputs.
  • Timely and quality delivery of service for water and health tool development.
  • Quality engagement with researchers, consultants, and partners.



  • Inclusion — 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 — 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 — act according to the purposes of the United Nations: peace, dignity and equality on a healthy planet


  • Connect and collaborate — build positive relationships with others to advance the work of the United Nations and work coherently as One UN
  • Analyse and plan — 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 — 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 — pursue own learning and development and contribute to the learning and development of others
  • Adapt and innovate — demonstrate flexibility, agility and the ability to think and act in novel ways


  • Ph.D. in the field of Public health, Epidemiology, Biostatistics, or related field, with a strong and explicit water angle, and solid quantitative and interdisciplinary background.  Or a Ph.D. in Water Science (water / water quality management), freshwater ecology, environmental management and environmental engineering, with a demonstrated and clear connection to human health determinants and impacts.
  • Three (3) years post-Ph.D. of progressively responsible work experience in the above fields for Researcher level, and six (6) years – for Senior Researcher level. Candidates without a Ph.D. in a relevant discipline, or without minimum years of post-Ph.D. experience, will not be considered.
  • Knowledge in one or more of the following areas is highly desirable: i) climate science; ii) data science; iii) app development of virtual reality decision-making tools; iv) health economics; v) behaviour science; vi) wastewater epidemiology and environmental surveillance.
  • Ability to conduct statistical analysis of complex datasets, and to perform gender-disaggregated data analysis following gender-related assessment tools like the Harvard Analytical Framework (especially when applied to a water management context) are desired.
  • Some work experience in developing countries or in an international environment or for an UN organization is preferable.
  • Project management experience: financial and administrative work in an international environment are added advantages (for Senior Researcher level).
  • A high-quality peer-reviewed publication record on the above and related topics.
  • Good presentation and networking skills.
  • Good understanding of various donor priorities and operation, recent experience in developing research proposals and ideally a successful track record in acquiring funding is desirable.
  • Ability to prioritize work and multi-task: focus on delivery and self-motivation.
  • A good team player with strong interpersonal skills demonstrated by the ability to work in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity.
  • Fluency in oral and written English is required. 
  • Knowledge of other official UN languages is an asset.


The successful candidate will be employed under an international PSA contract. UNU offers an attractive compensation package including an annual net salary, commensurate with the experience and qualifications of the candidate. Benefits include 30 days annual leave and a health insurance scheme.

UNU may cover the cost of travel of the individual to the duty station, as well as their return to their home upon completion of their services. Travel costs are covered only in the event that the function will be undertaken physically in the duty station and excludes working from home arrangements.

UNU is not liable for any taxes that may be levied on the remuneration you receive under this contract. Payment of any such taxes remains the sole responsibility of PSA holders.

Duration of contract

The duration of the initial contract is 1 year. This is Personnel Service Agreement (PSA) contract with UNU, with the possibility for renewal subject to requirements and satisfactory work performance. The combined duration on a PSA contract with UNU may not exceed six (6) years. The mandatory age of retirement for PSA holders is 65 years.

Expected start date: January 2023 or as soon as possible thereafter.

How to Apply:

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

  • Upload a completed and signed UNU P11 form; do not use similar forms provided by other United Nations organizations and do not submit your curriculum vitae;
  • Insert a separate cover letter under the heading “Cover letter”setting out how your qualifications and experience match the requirements of the position; 
  • Answer a few questions that are tailored to the position;
  • Apply via the apply link;

Only upload documents as requested. Applications submitted with additional documents may be disqualified.

Applications that do not include all the requested information will not be considered.

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

Application Deadline: 17 October 2022 


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 no 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.

Scam warning

UNU does not charge any application, processing, training, interviewing, testing or other fee in connection with the application or recruitment process. Should you receive a solicitation for the payment of a fee, please disregard it. Furthermore, please note that emblems, logos, names and addresses are easily copied and reproduced. Therefore, you are advised to apply particular care when submitting personal information on the web.





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