Academic Officer (Head of VARMAP Section)

Applications procedure
Related Files
    Bonn, Germany
    UTC +2

    Organisational 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 has a history in developing and applying conceptual frameworks and scientific methods to assess the drivers, patterns, and dynamics (incl. future scenarios) of vulnerability and risk in the context of natural hazards, environmental and societal change, and sustainability transformations. The section explores opportunities for risk reduction and examines diverse adaptation options and potential pathways towards sustainability and resilient societies with a particular focus on urban areas and rural–urban linkages. In doing so, VARMAP seeks to deliver policy-relevant knowledge that can help implement the UN’s 2030 Development Agenda, the Sendai Framework, and other sustainability oriented international initiatives.

    VARMAP convenes an interdisciplinary team and works within 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 a strong history in empirical work in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The new head of the VARMAP should build on the achievements of this section and develop its profile further.

    For detailed information please visit 


    Under the authority of the Director of UNU-EHS, the successful candidate shall be responsible for the following tasks:

    • successfully manage the VARMAP programme with respect to its scientific profile, human resources, and budget, aiming at further strengthening the global visibility of the section`s research work
    • shape and develop further based on the strengths and advantages of the group and the specific profile of the candidate the next generation of VARMAP`s research questions and initiatives, particularly with a focus on drivers, patterns, and dynamics of vulnerabilities and risks in the context of global change and digitalisation, developing pathways towards sustainability and resilient societies – embedded into the overall strategy of UNU and UNU-EHS
    • ensure the academic excellence of the section and the integration of qualitative and quantitative methods
    • engage, based in excellent research, in international policy processes and agendas of relevance
    • fundraise with German as well as international donors for policy-relevant research topics that also open-up possibilities for PhD students
    • manage the financial resources of the section with integrity and ensuring accountability to UNU-EHS governance structures and donors
    • publish research results, together with other researchers at UNU-EHS and beyond, in international peer-reviewed journals and book chapters
    • maintain and further develop existing cooperation with UN agencies, global research networks, the University of Bonn, the Bonn Alliance for Sustainability Research, and other external partners
    • present VARMAP research in a variety of communication formats that are tailored towards a broader, non-academic audience, for example by giving media interviews, writing op-eds, and engaging in relevant discussions on social media in close cooperation with the UNU-EHS communication team; contribute to the Joint Master Programme “The Geography of Environmental Risks and Human Security” with the University of Bonn by developing and teaching modules on concepts and theories of vulnerability, risk, and resilience
    • (co-)supervise MSc and PhD students
    • represent UNU-EHS at major conferences
    • advise the Director of UNU-EHS in institute-wide strategic programming as well as day-to-day management

    Qualifications and experience requirements

    Required qualifications and experience include:

    • PhD in a relevant academic discipline, including, for instance, geography, political science, economics, sociology, cultural anthropology, or spatial planning
    • at least five years of professional experience in research and academia, some of which preferably in an international setting
    • strong track record in the leadership and management of international research projects, networks, and teams
    • excellent track record in securing third-party funding
    • familiarity with UN and/or other international institutions and mechanisms
    • strong publication profile in the research areas related to the VARMAP programme
    • work experience in developing countries and countries in transition
    • experience in working with ministries or public sector agencies, as well as international organisations
    • excellent communication and didactic skills
    • fluency in English; additional UN working languages or German are desirable
    • experience in postgraduate programmes teaching at international higher education institutions; experience with the development of lectures for online courses would be an asset
    • experience in (co-)supervising PhD and MSc students
    • experience in organising international seminars, workshops, and conferences
    • excellent team player with strong interpersonal skills and the ability to work in a multicultural, multi-ethnic environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity
    • excellent leadership and team spirit

    Applications from suitably qualified women candidates are particularly encouraged.


    We offer competitive net salary (tax-exempted) at P-3 level commensurate to level of experience and allowances including post adjustment. Post adjustment is subject to change.

    The post carries the standard set of United Nations benefits and entitlements for international positions in the UN Common System, including participation in the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund, the possibility of participation in a health insurance programme, education grant, removal expenses and home leave.

    For more information about United Nations salary and entitlement/benefits, please visit

    The UNU Rector reserves the right to appoint a suitable candidate at a lower level than advertised.

    Duration of contract

    This is a full-time, fixed-term appointment and an internationally recruited post. The initial appointment will be for a period of one (1) year with the possibility of renewal on a rolling fixed-term appointment basis, subject to satisfactory work performance. The combined duration of fixed-term appointments shall not exceed six (6) years. The mandatory age of retirement for United Nations staff is 65 years old.

    Staff members of the United Nations University are international civil servants subject to the authority of the Rector and may be assigned to any of the activities or offices of the United Nations University.

    Starting date

    As soon as possible.


  • Interested applicants should submit their applications by e-mail to (, and must include the following:

    • a cover letter setting out how your qualifications and experience match the requirements of the position
    • a completed and signed UNU Personal History (P.11) form; please avoid using similar forms provided by other United Nations organisations
    • full contact information of three referees

    The application must also indicate the reference number of the vacancy announcement (2019/UNU/EHS/FTA/AO/86816).

  • By Email: