Research Associate in Sustainable Land Management

United Nations University (UNU)

Bonn, Germany 🇩🇪

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 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

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

Environmental Vulnerability & Ecosystem Services (EVES) Section

The position is hosted by the EVES section at UNU-EHS, which 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, and how the management of ecosystems can be considered as strategies for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. The concept of ecosystem services is of central importance in most of the EVES research.

Collaboration with UNCCD on Sustainable Land Management for DRR and CCA

This position is directly linked to the ongoing collaboration of the EVES section with the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). The currently ongoing project in collaboration with UNCCD focuses on the research, analysis and documentation of the coherence and alignment among approaches contributing to the sustainable management of land and water resources (Align4LDN project). To achieve this, the project started with analyzing a first set of approaches (conservation agriculture, agroecology, regenerative agriculture, agroforestry, permaculture, biodynamic agriculture and drought-smart agriculture), and aims to conclude the scoping phase with a revised and consolidated set of approaches, which will be the starting point for the in-depth analysis during the main phase of this research project. This project very much builds on the conceptual understanding from the analysis of the coherence and alignment among ecosystem-based approaches, such as ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction (Eco-DRR), ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change (EbA), sustainable land management (SLM) and nature-based solutions (NbS) (see Align-SLM report and project). 

For more information, please visit


Under the authority of the Director of UNU-EHS and the direct supervision of the Head of the EVES section, the successful  candidate will be entrusted with the following tasks:

1. Perform a systematic literature review to analyze the coherence and alignment among selected approaches contributing to the sustainable management of land and water resources.

  • Design a structured and snowball literature search to understand the contribution of selected approaches to sustainable management of land and water resources;
  • Design a structured approach for analyzing relevant databases for evaluating the application of selected approaches in implemented projects.
  • Collection of data and comprehensive content analysis of the scientific and grey literature and selected databases using a defined set of criteria;
  • Documentation and consolidation of results for selected approaches from literature analyses;

2. Conduct participatory research and stakeholder engagement.

  • Design the approach to engage with relevant stakeholders in expert interviews, focus group discussions and/or a workshop to complement the questions of the literature review (point 1);
  • Conduct expert interviews, focus group discussions and/or a workshop;
  • Analyze and document the results from the stakeholder engagement;

3.  Manage and document data, analysis and results.

  • Collect and analyze qualitative data;
  • Conceptualize coherence and alignment among selected approaches and triangulate with input from participatory research;
  • Take care of a comprehensive and structured data management and results documentation;
  • Support and (co-)author a main report and contribute to policy documents, factsheets and scientific articles;

4. Support overall project management:

  • Support the PI in tasks related to project management (attending meetings, report writing, documentation, etc.);
  • Support the presentation of project results at scientific and policy-relevant conferences;
  • Contribute to organizing project-related outreach events, including workshops and conference sessions;
  • Supervise student assistants;

5. Perform other duties as assigned by supervisor

  • Contribute to reporting and proposal writing;

Key performance indicators

  • Timely and quality collection and analysis of relevant primary and secondary data
  • Timely and quality achievement of project indicators and submission of deliverables
  • High quality engagement with project team and implementation partners
  • Contribution to project, institute and UNU mission.



  • 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

  • Completed Master’s degree with high academic standing in Geography, Sustainability Science, Agricultural Science, Environmental Sciences, or other relevant disciplines;


  • Relevant work experience in the field of sustainable land management (1 year desirable)
  • Familiarity with concepts of land degradation neutrality, disaster risk, vulnerability and ecosystem-based approaches for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation is essential;
  • Familiarity with interdisciplinary research and strong methodological skillset for quantitative and qualitative empirical research is essential;
  • Experience in workshop organization and stakeholder dialogue;
  • Excellent communication and writing skills (academic and non-academic);
  • Experience in working with remote sensing and other spatial data is an asset;
  • Other Desirable Skills: Team player with strong interpersonal skills, initiative seeker, strong conceptual and drafting ability, interest in interdisciplinary and international work, strong methodological skills;

Language Requirements

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


The successful candidate will be employed under a national 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 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

This is a full-time employment on a twelve (12) months Personnel Service Agreement (PSA) contract with possibility for 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 holders is 65 years.

This post is open to applicants from all countries and UNU will aid the successful applicant in securing a work visa for Germany, as necessary. It is, however, a locally recruited post and no relocation allowances apply. The duty station will be Bonn, Germany.

Expected start date: As soon as possible

How to Apply:

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

  • 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);
  • provide a cover letter setting out how the qualifications and experience match the requirements of the position; 
  • answer a few questions that are tailored to the position; and
  • apply via the apply link.

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

Application Deadline: 20 March 2023


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.

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IHE Delft MSc in Water and Sustainable Development