Research Associate

Applications procedure
Related Files
    Personnel Service Agreement
    Bonn, Germany
    UTC 0

    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

    Environmental Vulnerability & Ecosystem Services (EVES) section

    The EVES section at UNU-EHS conducts original, policy-relevant research addressing the vulnerability and resilience of social-ecological systems. Specifically, EVES aims to understand how social ecological systems are affected by environmental hazards of diverse nature, such as water and land degradation, floods, droughts, and other hazards. EVES not only considers the impacts of single hazards, but also investigates multiple hazard situations, identifying cumulative or cascading impacts and feedbacks between hazards of contrasting nature such as floods and droughts. The concept of ecosystem services is of central importance in most of the research conducted by EVES researchers.

    For detailed information please visit:

    GlobeDrought project

    EVES is looking for an experienced Research Associate to support the BMBF-funded GlobeDrought project (2017–2020). GlobeDrought aims at developing, testing, and implementing a drought information system to characterise drought events and their impact on water resources, crop productivity, food trade, food security, and the demand for international food aid. Within this scope, the UNU Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) will analyse vulnerabilities and risks with regard to meteorological, hydrological, and agronomic droughts at global and regional levels (incl. South Africa).


    Under the authority of the Director of UNU-EHS/Vice-Rector in Europe and the overall supervision of the Head of the Environmental Vulnerability and Ecosystem Services (EVES) section, the successful candidate will be entrusted with the following tasks:

    • identify and investigate drivers of vulnerability and risk with regard to meteorological, hydrological, and agronomic droughts at global and regional levels through a combination of expert interviews, focus group discussions, and systematic literature reviews (scientific publications, reports, etc.)
    • conduct data mining with global and national providers of socio-economic and environmental data
    • perform data cleaning, quality checks, processing, and systemisation of secondary statistical data (e.g., census data), and conduct data analysis using descriptive and bi- and multi-variate statistical methods
    • assess drought vulnerability and risk at global and regional levels using indicator-based approaches, and develop vulnerability and risk profiles for selected countries/regions
    • lead development of a drought impact/loss database for the regional case study areas
    • perform validation of the regional drought risk assessments based on loss and damage information using multi-variate statistical analysis (e.g., regression analysis)
    • draft project deliverables and reports
    • contribute to reporting and dissemination activities (incl. scientific publications and presentations at conferences)
    • support the supervision of student assistants and interns working within the project
    • perform other related duties as required

    Qualifications and experience requirements

    Required qualifications and experience include:

    • master’s degree in Geography, Geosciences, Geographical Information Systems, Statistics, Spatial Planning, Environmental Sciences, Environmental Management, or other relevant discipline
    • minimum of one (1) year of relevant working experience
    • experience in vulnerability and risk assessment
    • advanced knowledge of spatial analysis and Geographic Information Systems (ArcGIS, QGIS, etc.)
    • advanced statistical skills and experience with statistical software packages (SPSS, STATA, etc.)
    • track-record in scientific writing is an asset
    • strong ability to carry out work independently
    • excellent communication skills with fluency in oral and written English is required
    • project management experience will be an asset
    • good team player with ability to work in international and intercultural environment; experience in international organisations would be an advantage
    • excellent time management skills
    • takes initiatives and has flexible attitude to work, as appropriate
    • German language skills are an additional asset


    Remuneration will be commensurate with qualifications and experience.

    Duration of contract

    This is part-time (30 hours/week) employment on a 12 (twelve) month Personnel Service Agreement (PSA) contract, with possibility for renewal subject to satisfactory work performance and availability of funds. The combined duration of appointments shall not exceed six (6) years.

    This is a locally recruited post; no relocation 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 UN Staff Rules and Regulations.

    Applications from suitably qualified women candidates are particularly encouraged.

    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 downloadable from United Nations University website at; please avoid using similar forms provided by other United Nations organisations
    • an indication of the reference number of the vacancy announcement (2017/UNU/EHS/PSA/RA/83)
    • a soft copy of your most important academic paper written in English language


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