Research Associate on Risk and Vulnerability Assessment

United Nations University (UNU)

Bonn, Germany 🇩🇪

Organizational Unit: UNU Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS)

United Nations University objectives

The United Nations University (UNU) is an international community of scholars engaged in research, postgraduate teaching and capacity development, and dissemination of knowledge in furtherance of 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.

UNU 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

Vulnerability Assessment, Risk Management and Adaptive Planning (VARMAP)

The institute’s VARMAP section develops and applies conceptual frameworks and scientific methods to assess socio-economic vulnerability and risk in the context of natural hazards, environmental change, and societal transformation. The section explores opportunities to reduce risks and to evaluate competing adaptation options. The section has a strong focus on urban areas and rural–urban linkages, and is particularly interested in the trends in vulnerability and adaptive capacity as societies undergo wider cultural, economic, demographic, and political transformation. VARMAP convenes an interdisciplinary team and has a wide network of scientific and practical partners. It draws on a mixed methods approach, integrating qualitative and quantitative tools for the analysis. The section combines a global focus with clusters of specific regional expertise, notably in Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia, West Africa, and Europe.


Under the authority of the Director of UNU-EHS and the supervision of the Head of the Vulnerability Assessment, Risk Management & Adaptive Planning (VARMAP) section, the successful candidate will be entrusted with the following tasks:

  • support the Head of Section and the respective Associate Academic Officer in the implementation of the ZURES project, which deals with “Future-oriented Vulnerability and Risk Analysis as a Tool to Support the Resilience of Cities and Urban Infrastructure”
  • support the Head of Section and the respective Associate Academic Officer in the implementation of the KIRMIN project, which deals with “Critical Infrastructure Resilience and Minimum Supply Concepts”
  • within both projects, contribute to the analysis of original empirical data from household surveys and expert interviews, support the analysis of documents and legal frameworks for the design and management of critical infrastructure contingencies, support the drafting of project reports, support the drafting of outreach and communication material in English and German language, perform the collection of secondary statistical data, and perform structured literature reviews
  • take a supporting role in the drafting of research grant proposals within topics of interest to VARMAP
  • support the Head of Section in the organization and implementation of workshops and other events
  • take up other related duties in the VARMAP section as required

Required qualifications and experience

Required qualifications and experience include:

  • a track record in academic work on disaster risk, environmental change, and vulnerability assessment
  • MSc degree in Geography, Sociology, Spatial Planning, or other relevant discipline
  • strong skills in academic writing
  • proven track record in the design and application of social science research methods, covering qualitative and quantitative methods
  • a minimum one (1) year of relevant working experience
  • experience in supporting the management of multidisciplinary and international research projects
  • experience in supporting the management of projects funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is an additional asset
  • work experience in an international organisation is an additional asset
  • excellent communication skills with fluency in oral and written English
  • German language skills are an additional asset
  • strong ability to carry out work independently
  • good team player with ability to work in an international and intercultural environment
  • excellent time management skills

Applications from suitably qualified women candidates are particularly encouraged.

Contract and remuneration

This is full-time employment on a twelve (12) months Personnel Service Agreement (PSA) contract, with possibility for renewal subject to satisfactory work performance and availability of funds. The combined duration of appointments shall not exceed six (6) years. Remuneration will be within the range of the PSA pay scheme applied by UNU in Bonn, at PSA 3 level, commensurate with qualifications and experience.

This is a locally recruited post and no relocation allowances apply. The successful candidate will be employed under a local contract and will not hold international civil servant status nor is he/she a “staff member” as defined in the United Nations Staff Rules and Regulations.

The United Nations University is a non-smoking environment.

Starting date

As soon as possible