Research Associate/Research Assistant

United Nations University (UNU)

Tokyo, , JP

Organizational Unit: UNU Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS)

About the United Nations University

For the past four decades, the United Nations University (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.

United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS)

UNU-IAS is a UNU institute based at UNU Headquarters in Tokyo. The mission of UNU-IAS is to serve the international community through policy-relevant research and capacity development focused on sustainability, including its social, economic, and environmental dimensions. UNU-IAS builds on a strong tradition of UNU research and capacity development in Japan, undertaken in collaboration with a global network of professionals and scholars, particularly in Africa and Asia. For more information please visit

Ecosystem Services Assessment (ESA)

The Ecosystem Services Assessment (ESA) programme explores policy-relevant knowledge generation through applied research on ecosystem assessments and governance of natural capital and biodiversity. One focus of the project is ecosystem assessments undertaken by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). This includes accounting systems of natural capital and ecosystem services, synergies and tradeoff analysis across ecosystem services and scales, future scenarios analysis and planning, and policy and institutions designed to promote sustainable ecosystem governance, including effective implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and green growth.


Under the overall guidance of the Director of UNU Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS) and under the direct guidance and supervision of the Academic Programme Officer, the Research Associate/Research Assistant will carry out the following tasks:

  • Support UNU-IAS research and other activities through collecting, inputting, and analysing data of  the following projects

    1. Predicting and Assessing Natural Capital and Ecosystem Services through Integrated Social-Ecological Systems Approach (PANCES)

    2. Biodiversity and Ecosystem Scenarios Network (ScenNet)

    3. IPBES Assessments and Capacity Building

  • Conduct research and other activities on the topic of sustainability science

  • Support the organising of workshops, seminars, symposiums, and other events related to the aforementioned projects

  • Assist the UNU-IAS Postgraduate Programme in preparing postgraduate educational modules, and engage in teaching and capacity development work

  • Perform other duties as may be assigned

Required qualifications and experience

Required qualifications and experience include:

  • A Ph.D. degree or equivalent in the field of Landscape Ecology, Ecology, Environmental Science, Environmental Engineering, Rural and Agricultural Planning or a related field

  • Sound record of or potential for publication of the above-mentioned research areas with a focus on policy and practice

  • Demonstrated ability to coordinate and conduct policy-relevant research on ecosystem assessments and governance for sustainable development in an interdisciplinary approach

  • Skills to conduct field survey, including interviews with local people in Japan

  • Computer and web literacy required; strong IT skills would be an asset

  • Experience in management of research programmes is an asset

  • Teaching experience is desirable

  • Excellent writing and communication skills in Japanese and English; knowledge of other United Nations official languages is an asset

  • A good team player with strong interpersonal skills demonstrated by the ability to work in a multicultural, multi-ethnic environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity


Remuneration will be commensurate with qualification and experience. There are no other fringe benefits.

Duration of contract

This is full-time employment on a Personnel Service Agreement (PSA) with UNU-IAS. Initial appointment will be for one (1) year, with the possibility of renewal subject to satisfactory work performance. The combined duration of appointments shall not exceed six (6) years.

This is a locally recruited post; no relocation expenses or allowances apply. The successful candidate will be employed under a local contract and will not hold international civil servant status nor be a “staff member” as defined in the United Nations Staff Rules and Regulations. UNU does not sponsor a working visa for this position.

Starting date

1 April 2018