Project Assistant — Water and Human Development Programme

Applications procedure
Related Files
    Personnel Services Agreement
    Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

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

    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 Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH)

    The UNU Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH) is a unit of the United Nations University based in Canada. It was created in 1996 with its core funding provided by the Government of Canada, and is hosted at the McMaster University, Hamilton. Its vision: 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, through knowledge-based synthesis of existing bodies of scientific discovery; through cutting-edge targeted research that identifies emerging policy issues; through application of on-the-ground scalable solutions based on credible research; and, through relevant and targeted public outreach.

    UNU-INWEH’s programme structure represents a proactive, selective and longer term strategy to programme development. Three core functions are:

    • (a) knowledge-based synthesis — derived from applied research and existing bodies of scientific discovery and achieved through research networks ad engagement with communities of practice
    • (b) research-policy bridging — identifying holistic solutions to water-related challenges and emerging policy issues at national to international scales
    • (c) application and implementation — applying on-the-ground, scalable solutions to enhance the capacity of institutions and individuals in developing countries to better understand and manage their own challenges and respond strategically at the appropriate scale 

    These core functions are applied to two programme areas, each representing a critical aspect of the global water challenge:

    • Water and Ecosystems
    • Water and Human Development

    The programme on Water and Human Development leads the development of a global community of best practice that identifies, synthesizes, evaluates, generalizes and disseminates practical methods and innovative approaches to accelerate solutions to global and regional challenges at the interface of water and human development. This programme tackles three inter-connected and closely linked challenges: ensuring water-health security, safeguarding and sustaining water availability, and securing food supply for all.

    We are looking for an outstanding individual with strong commitment to international service and the potential to bring a significant contribution to the worldwide expansion of UN University’s operations. For more information on UNU-INWEH, please visit


    Under the direct supervision of the Senior Research Fellow, and working closely with colleagues across UNU-INWEH, the Project Assistant will provide timely programme support for Water and Human Development projects and take responsibility for delivering specific programme elements including, but not limited to, the following:

    • Facilitate financial management of projects, including tracking and managing budgets.
    • Develop and implement programme activities within the established research platform and liaise with partners.
    • Coordinate and organize logistical arrangements for project meetings, serving as the primary rapporteur at project meetings and preparing minutes, reports and other documents.
    • Assist in developing contracts with partners and contractors, and taking lead in managing these contracts to ensure timely and effective completion of tasks and disbursement of funds.
    • Make logistical arrangements for international research projects, including flight arrangements, visa requirements, accommodation, and preparation for workshops and meetings.
    • Contribute to review and edit drafts of grant proposals, policy briefs, presentations and any other materials, as required.
    • Facilitate partner communications and information exchange within projects.
    • Take a lead role in organizing and presenting the Another Drop/Watershed public lecture series at UNU-INWEH.
    • Support the Water Without Borders collaborative graduate programme, including organizing the annual student field trip, arranging networking events, and liaising with students.
    • Assist in supervising work study students involved in Water and Human Development projects.
    • Maintain the UNU-INWEH webpage sites for the Water and Human Development, Water Without Borders and Sanitation Drive programs.
    • Provide administrative support, as required, across all projects and programmes of UNU-INWEH.

    Required qualifications and experience

    • Minimum bachelor’s degree in Geography, Environmental Sciences, Engineering, Public Health or other closely related field. Preference will be given to those with relevant master’s degree.
    • At least four (4) years of relevant working experience in research and project administration. Preference will be given to those with experience in financial and/or project management in an international environment.
    • Demonstrated ability to perform effectively in team-based research, incorporating both social and natural science disciplines, is highly desirable.
    • Experience with databases, word processing and spreadsheet programmes is essential.
    • Excellent, demonstrable organizational and research skills.
    • Fluent in oral and written English; knowledge of any other UN official languages is advantageous.
    • Demonstrated skills in website maintenance and development.
    • Prior work experience in developing countries is highly valued.
    • Experience in using social media as a tool for furthering program goals is an asset.
    • Result-oriented, self-motivated and “hands-on” with the ability to prioritize work and multitask.
    • Proven 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. The position carries a salary in the range of CAD35,000 to CAD40,000 per annum, commensurate with experience. The salary is exempt from Canadian income taxes.

    Duration of contract

    This is full-time employment on a one (1) year Personnel Service Agreement (PSA) contract with UNU-INWEH with possibility for contract renewal subject to satisfactory work performance and availability of funds. The combined duration of this appointment is not to exceed six (6) years, as per the UNU Personnel Policy.

    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. Suitably qualified women applicants and individuals from developing countries are particularly encouraged to apply.

    Starting date

    Nov./Dec. 2014

  • Interested applicants should submit their applications by e-mail in the form of an Adobe Acrobat PDF file to . Applications must include the following:

    • a separate cover letter setting out how the applicant’s qualifications and experience match the requirements of the position;
    • a completed and signed UNU Personal History (P.11) form. Do not use similar forms provided by other United Nations organizations and do not submit your curriculum vitae;
    • full contact information of three (3) referees;
    • an indication of the reference number (2014/UNU/INWEH/PSA/PA/WHD/60) of the vacancy announcement.

    Incomplete applications that do not include all of the requested information will not be considered.


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