Director, UNU-IAS

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    Tokyo, Japan
    UTC 0

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

    United Nations University mission

    The United Nations University (UNU) brings together an international community of scholars engaged in research, postgraduate training, and dissemination of knowledge in furtherance of the purposes and principles of the United Nations, its Peoples and Member States. UNU serves as a think tank for the United Nations system — it is a platform for new and creative ideas, as well as academic and policy dialogue. To carry out its mission, UNU acts as a bridge between the international academic community and the United Nations system. In addition to the UNU Headquarters located in Tokyo, UNU has established fifteen institutes and programmes worldwide.

    UNU-IAS mission

    UNU-IAS is a leading research and teaching institute dedicated to advancing efforts towards a more sustainable future. The Institute serves the international community and contributes to UN debates by offering policy-oriented research and capacity development that addresses the socio-economic and environmental dimensions of sustainability. Its activities span transformations toward sustainable societies, natural capital and biodiversity, and global change and resilience. Through its postgraduate education programmes UNU-IAS develops future international leaders with the interdisciplinary understanding and skills needed to advance creative solutions to problems of sustainability. UNU-IAS is based in Tokyo, Japan.

    Responsibilities of the Director

    The Director is the chief academic and administrative officer of UNU-IAS and has overall responsibility for the direction, organisation, administration, and programmes of the Institute under the direction of the Rector of UNU. The Director oversees the fundraising, development, and strengthening of research programmes, and ensures that research outputs are of the highest quality and that policy recommendations are channelled effectively to the UN system, policymakers, and other stakeholders.

    More specifically, the Director shall:

    • provide leadership and guidance for the conduct of UNU-IAS activities
    • identify and supervise innovative research in the areas of transformations toward sustainable societies, natural capital and biodiversity, and global change and resilience
    • oversee the Institute’s postgraduate degree programmes, ensure their quality and added value
    • maintain excellent donor relationships, and increase and diversify funding
    • oversee the recruitment of personnel, research associates, fellows, and trainees of the Institute, and ensure academic excellence in all the Institute’s activities
    • promote gender equality and gender mainstreaming throughout the Institute’s research programmes
    • report to the Rector and Institute Board in accordance with the rules of procedure on the activities of the Institute and the execution of its programme of work

    Required qualifications

    The Director should have academic qualifications that lend to UNU-IAS prestige in the international scholarly community and guarantee scientific excellence; guarantee scientific excellence; and provide leadership and guidance for the conduct of the institute’s activities.

    Candidates must have:

    • a doctoral qualification in biology, ecology, geography, engineering, natural resources management, public policy, social sciences, or a relevant discipline
    • a strong research background and publications in sustainable development
    • experience in supervising researchers and supporting them to achieve scientific excellence and impact
    • strong international fundraising skills and past success in securing support from multiple funders
    • a distinguished record of effective administration and research programme leadership, with evidence of research excellence, and cost-effectiveness
    • experience in sound financial and human resources management
    • the ability to interact with colleagues of diverse cultural backgrounds and ages, and with political representatives and communities in both industrialised and developing countries
    • proven commitment to human development and the UN’s 2030 Agenda supporting sustainable development
    • proven sensitivity to gender issues
    • fluency in English (essential); fluency in other UN languages is desirable

    Applications from suitably qualified women candidates are particularly encouraged.


    Approximate net annual salary of USD 151,407  including post adjustment, which is subject to change. The post carries the standard set of UN entitlements/benefits, including participation in the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund, the possibility of participation in a health insurance programme, education grant for eligible children, removal expenses and home leave.

    For more specific information please visit

    The Rector reserves the right to appoint suitable candidates at a lower category.

    Selection process

    Shortlisted candidates will be required to complete a written assignment as part of the interview process. The Director of the Institute shall be appointed by the Rector after consultation with the Advisory Board and the Chair of the UNU Council.

    Duration of contract

    The period of initial contract is for a four-year term with the possibility of renewal, subject to requirements and satisfactory work performance. The conditions of service of the Director shall be determined by the Rector in accordance with University practices. The mandatory retirement age in the United Nations is 65.

    Starting date

    It is expected that the appointee will take up the position by 2019.

  • Interested applicants are encouraged to apply by email and should submit:

    • a cover letter setting out: (1) the motivations for applying for the post and (2) how the candidate’s qualifications and experience match the requirements of the position
    • full curriculum vitae (with publications list)
    • a United Nations University Personal History Form (P.11)

    Shortlisted candidates will be required to complete a written assignment as part of the interview process.


  • UNU-IAS Director Selection Committee

    By Post:

    c/o Office of the Rector
    United Nations University Headquarters
    53-70, Jingumae 5-chome, Shibuya-ku
    Tokyo 150-8925

    By Email: