Academic Programme Advisor

United Nations University (UNU)

Tokyo, Japan 🇯🇵

Job description

United Nations University (UNU)

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.

About Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS)

The United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS) is one of 14 research and training Institutes that comprise that think tanks in the UNU system and is based at the university’s headquarters in Tokyo, dedicated to advancing global efforts towards a more sustainable future. UNU-IAS serves the international community through policy relevant research and capacity development focused on sustainability, integrating its social, economic, and environmental dimensions. The activities of the institute are in four thematic areas: i) governance for sustainable development, ii) biodiversity & society, iii) water & resource management, and iv) innovation & education. The work of UNU-IAS is directed towards priority issues for the UN system and Member States, contributing to high-level policymaking and debates to address problems of global concern. For more information, please visit


Under the supervision of the UNU-IAS Director, the Academic Programme Advisor will manage a set of academic programmes and projects and develop relevant activities in the institute’s four thematic areas, serving as Academic Director. Specific responsibilities will include:

1. Manage the UNU-IAS postgraduate degrees and training programmes, focusing on achievement of the following results:

  • Provide academic oversight and leadership of the UNU-IAS postgraduate degree programmes, including the double degree programme, joint certificate programme, and credit transfer system with other leading universities;
  • Design and coordinate courses, delivering lectures and supervising students;
  • Collaborate with other UNU institutes’ postgraduate degree programmes, including on joint fundraising; and
  • Develop and maintain novel online and hybrid lecture modalities.

2. Lead academic and research activities focusing on achievement of the following results: 

  • Develop, plan, and manage academic and research activities as well as publication and dissemination efforts in the programme area(s) by mobilising professional academic networks;
  • Produce original, policy-oriented research and develop policy recommendations on issues relevant to the wider UN community, as well as providing oversight on the quality and implementation of such research and policy recommendations; and
  • Monitor and evaluate activities including joint research projects, submitting periodic reports and preparing descriptions of programme activities as required.

3. Run fundraising activities for the institute focusing on achievement of the following results:

  • Develop and maintain collaborative links with the UN system and international organisations, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Japan Foundation for the United Nations University (jfUNU), and private sector institutions, representing UNU-IAS in related conferences and meetings;
  • Secure external funding for academic and research activities in the programme areas; and
  • Formulate project proposals and assess external proposals and refine them for implementation by UNU-IAS or for submission for external funding.

4. Advance outreach activities, focusing on achievement of the following results:

  • Enhance networks between UNU-IAS and universities in Japan and the Asia-Pacific region through the SDG–University Platform (SDG–UP);
  • Disseminate research outputs through policy papers, participation in conferences, and media commentary; and
  • Plan and organise scientific meetings and workshops.

5. As a manager, participate in the regular academic and management meeting of UNU.

  • Represent as an overall academic management of educational and capacity development programmes at strategic management office meetings at UNU-IAS;
  • Lead and participate in the regular faculty meeting at UNU-IAS; and
  • Represent UNU-IAS at UNU-wide academic committee meetings.

6. Perform other duties as assigned by supervisor.

Key Performance Indicators

  • Timely and quality development and implementation of the UNU-IAS postgraduate degree programmes, training programmes and collaborative academic activities
  • Solid and sustainable fundraising achievement, including scholarships for graduate students and tuition income of certificate courses
  • Enhanced network with universities in Japan and overseas as well as the business community and civil society, contributing to the visibility of UNU-IAS
  • Timely and quality submission of performance evaluation of personnel
  • Timely development and implementation of relevant rules and regulations for the academic programme



  • 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


Education and certification:

  • Advanced university degree (Ph.D.) in international development, sustainability, or a field related to sustainability science


  • At least ten (10) years of relevant, progressively responsible experience in university-level teaching, research, and programme development, or within international organisations or research/training institutions.
  • Detailed knowledge of the UN system and of its functions and activities;
  • Demonstrated ability and experience in the development, planning, implementation and evaluation of research and training programmes;
  • Demonstrated experience in financial and human resources management;
  • Experience of leading and managing educational programmes in higher educational institutions;
  • A strong international research background, with proven academic achievements in relevant fields and an excellent publication record;
  • Significant, demonstrable experience in managing complex programmes and projects, resource mobilisation, and partnerships;
  • Knowledge of, and familiarity with, funding sources and a proven ability to raise external funds;
  • Excellent communications and writing skills, with fluency in both oral and written English;
  • Excellent team player with strong interpersonal skills and ability to work in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity.

Language Requirements:

  • Fluency in English is required
  • Knowledge of another UN official working language is an asset.


UNU offers an attractive, tax exempt compensation package including an annual net salary (subject to mandatory deductions for pension contributions and health insurance), 30 days annual leave, dependency benefits, pension plan and health insurance scheme. For more information please see:

Duration of contract

This is a full-time, fixed-term appointment. The initial appointment will be for one (1) year with the possibility of renewal on a 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.

Starting date

May 2023

How to Apply: 

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

  • Apply via the apply link; 
  • fill out the UNU P11 form (please avoid using similar forms provided by other United Nations organisations); 
  • provide a motivation statement (in the P11 form); and 
  • answer a few questions that are tailored to the position. You may wish to refer to the UN Values and Behaviours Framework for more information. 

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

Application Deadline: 31 January 2023 (UCT)


Evaluation of qualified candidates may include an assessment exercise which may be followed by a competency-based interview, 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 organisation. 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 at the same grade level and with similar job description, experience and educational requirements.

Scam warning

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IHE Delft MSc in Water and Sustainable Development