PhD: Multifunctional Use of Agricultural Landscapes Under Climate Change Conditions

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

Dresden, Germany 🇩🇪

About United Nations University

For the past four decades, UNU has been a go-to think tank for impartial research on the pressing global problems of human survival, conflict prevention, development, and welfare. With more than 400 researchers in 13 countries, UNU’s work spans the full breadth of 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.
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United Nations University for Integrated Management of Material Fluxes and of Resources (UNU-FLORES)

The mission of UNU-FLORES is to contribute, through research, capacity development and dissemination of knowledge, to the resolution of pressing challenges in the area of sustainable use and integrated management of environmental resources (water, soil and waste), particularly in developing and transitional countries. It aims to serve within the UN as the think-tank on resources management and be internationally recognized as major hub and intellectual focal point promoting integrated management strategies addressing, in particular, the needs of developing and emerging countries. The Institute is located in Dresden, Federal Republic of Germany. For more information please visit

Objectives of the PhD research

Securing agricultural production is of great importance due to an ever-increasing demand for food. Simultaneously, degradation of land quality and climate change may jeopardise food production and water availability. This calls for multifunctional and productive agricultural systems that not only produce food and fiber but also various non-commodity outputs and ecosystem services, i.e., preventing soil and water resources from overuse, degradation, and pollution, as well as preserving biodiversity in a landscape context. These challenges are recognized by Africa’s Leaders, therefore, The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) are calling for a boost in agricultural productivity through improved use of agricultural soils embedded in complex landscapes, as well as a better management of land and water resources under climate change.

The main objective of this research project is to develop strategies for a multifunctional rural landscape, with sustainable land management by considering the characteristics of pilot areas of Tanzania in terms of ecological (e.g., soils, relief, crop types, and climate) and socioeconomic (e.g., incomes) conditions, which is not only key to economic growth (SDG 8), protection of water resources (SDG 6), and land ecosystems (SDG 15), but also fundamental to reducing poverty (SDG 1) and hunger (SDG 2).

The successful PhD candidate will be given the opportunity to conduct research work on the topic of multifunctional agriculture under the guidance of the PhD supervisors at both UNU-FLORES and TU Dresden. Upon completion of the PhD it is expected that the successful candidate will take the knowledge back to their home country and disseminate the research results in Tanzania in a way that is beneficial for developing the country’s capacity and their personal career.

Required qualifications and competencies

Required qualifications and competencies include:

  • a master’s degree in one of the following disciplines: environmental sciences, natural resources management, ecology, forestry, agricultural sciences, hydrology, geography, watershed management, rural planning, or related fields
  • proven knowledge of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and hydrological modeling
  • proven statistical analysis skills and field work experience
  • fluency in English in both oral and written communications, a basic knowledge of German would be an asset
  • fluency in one of the major languages of Tanzania in both oral and written communications
  • knowledge about the environmental, cultural, and socioeconomic conditions and challenges that the agricultural production and multifunction use of rural landscapes in Tanzania faces
  • proven experience in inter/transdisciplinary research including interactions with relevant authorities and stakeholders
  • high motivation, commitment, and ability to carry out tasks independently, organized, and detail-oriented
  • be willing to spend a minimum of 6 months in Tanzania to conduct field research
  • be willing to build close connections to local structures and networks in Tanzania
  • a team player with strong interpersonal skills; enjoy working in a multicultural, multi-ethnic environment

Desirable competencies

Desirable competencies include:

  • knowledge of remote sensing and Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT)
  • knowledge of programming, such as Python or R
  • experience in a Tanzanian-German research cooperation

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.

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.

Duration and remuneration

The Saxon State Ministry of the Environment and Agriculture (SMUL) will provide a monthly stipend of up to 1300 euro for the PhD position, for a maximum of 3 years. This stipend is expected to cover relocation, living, travel, and all education expenses. Please note that while the PhD programme is tuition free, semester fees of approximately 250-300 euro will need to be paid directly to TU Dresden.

Contract specifications

This position is being offered as a full-time position on a one (1) year Personnel Service Agreement (PSA) with UNU-FLORES, with the possibility of renewal subject to availability of funds from the SMUL and the completion of specific milestones. The duration of the contract shall not exceed 3 years.

The successful candidate will be employed under a personnel service agreement based in Dresden, Germany and will not hold international civil servant status nor be a “staff member” as defined in the United Nations Staff Rules and Regulations.

Starting date

As soon as possible.