Senior Researcher (Water Policy and Economics)

United Nations University (UNU)
Hamilton, ON, Canada
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
International Organization
Experience Level: 
Mid-Level (5-7 Years)
Degree Required: 


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UNU Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH)

The UNU Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH) is a member of the UNU family of organisations. Its vision is a world free of water problems where sustainable human development and environmental health and security are assured for all. Its mission is to help resolve pressing water challenges that are of concern to the United Nations, its Member States, and their peoples. UNU-INWEH pursues its mission through critical analysis and synthesis of existing bodies of scientific discovery; targeted research that identifies emerging policy issues; application of on-the-ground, scalable, science-based solutions to water issues; and global outreach. UNU-INWEH is the only entirely water-focused institute within the UNU system, and the only entirely water-related UN entity in Canada. UNU-INWEH is supported by the Government of Canada and hosted by McMaster University.

UNU-INWEH works on several broadly defined, interconnected thematic areas (projects): Water-related Sustainable Development Goals; Unconventional Water Resources, Water Security and Nexus, Managing Water-related Health Risks; and Managing Water Resources Variability and Risks for Increased Resilience ( Climate change, gender dimensions, and capacity building are the cross-cutting themes.


We are looking for an outstanding individual committed to policy-relevant research and international capacity development, and with extensive international networks to help advance UNU-INWEH’s impact and visibility. More specifically, the incumbent will:

  • lead the project Water-related Sustainable Development Goals. This is a mature initiative that focuses on the provision of tools, processes, and overall information support to UN Member States to accelerate progress towards achieving SDG 6 (the “Water Goal”) and ensure that water is visible and is accounted for throughout the whole continuum of the Sustainable Development Agenda. The project to date developed the SDG Policy Support System (PSS) and tested it in five trial countries. The approach is closely linked to UN-Water’s global monitoring initiatives. The Senior Researcher will build on the achievements of the project and will shape its future direction
  • provide expertise in water policy analysis and water economics to other UNU-INWEH projects
  • lead the fundraising efforts for the above project specifically, and contribute to overall fundraising efforts of the institute including the development of cross-thematic proposals at UNU-INWEH with other project leaders
  • serve as the Co-Director of the Water Without Borders (WWB) programme at UNU-INWEH. WWB is a collaborative graduate certificate programme between UNU-INWEH and McMaster University that addresses global water issues across geopolitical and disciplinary borders. The programme involves regular evening classes with a cohort of around 10 students, and an annual one-week trip to a country experiencing water problems.
  • attract and supervise interns involved in SDG projects and other projects of UNU-INWEH
  • communicate research findings at local, regional, and international scientific and policy workshops and fora; co-ordinate and co-organise such events as required
  • publish research results in peer-reviewed journals, UNU-INWEH reports, policy briefs, op-eds, and blogs
  • perform other tasks as assigned by the Director/Assistant Director of UNU-INWEH.

The incumbent will report to UNU-INWEH Assistant Director.

Qualifications and requirements

  • a PhD in the field of water policy, water/environmental economics, or closely related discipline
  • at least five (5) years post-PhD work experience in water resources research in the context of developing water policy, water economics, or financing
  • project management experience; financial and administrative work in an international environment
  • ability to identify important emerging trends in the water sector and to carry out analytical research utilising the variety of data and information sources to distil policy-relevant messages
  • demonstrated peer-reviewed publication record on the above and related topics; ability to publish other products, e.g., provocative op-eds and blog posts
  • strong public outreach record and ability to present research outputs to a variety of national and international audiences; excellent networking skills
  • ability to develop research proposals for international projects; good understanding of various donor priorities and operation
  • knowledge of UN system and previous explicit engagement with UN-Water are added advantages
  • ability to understand and work across disciplines, beyond the core set of skills
  • ability to teach/explain complex cross-disciplinary issues; university lecturing experience and/or knowledge of the academic environment is an added advantage
  • work experience in developing countries
  • ability to prioritise work and multitask; focus on delivery; self-motivation
  • knowledge of Results Based Management and Theory of Change, and ability to focus on policy impact
  • Strong interpersonal skills and ability to work in a multicultural environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity
  • fluency in oral and written English; knowledge of any other UN official languages is advantage

Remuneration and other conditions of service

Remuneration will be commensurate with the qualifications and experience of the successful candidate. The salary is exempt from Canadian income taxes. UNU has its own medical insurance for employees contracted under a Personnel Service Agreement (PSA).

This is full-time employment on a two (2) year Personnel Service Agreement (PSA) contract, with the possibility for renewal subject to fund availability and satisfactory work performance. The combined duration of this appointments shall not exceed six (6) years, as per the UNU Personnel Policy.

The successful candidate will not hold international civil servant status nor be a “staff member” as defined in the United Nations Staff Rules and Regulations.

Starting date: Mid-January 2019 or as soon as possible thereafter