Senior Researcher — Water, Climate, and Gender

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    Personnel Service Agreement (PSA)
    Hamilton, Canada
    UTC -4

    United Nations University

    For the past four decades, UNU has been a go-to think tank for impartial research on the pressing global problems of human survival, conflict prevention, development, and welfare. With more than 400 researchers in 13 countries, UNU’s work spans the full breadth of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, generating policy-relevant knowledge to effect positive global change. UNU maintains more than 200 collaborations with UN agencies and leading universities and research institutions across the globe.

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

    The UNU Institute for Water, Environment and Health ( 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 people. 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 four broadly defined, interconnected thematic areas:

    i) accelerating the implementation of water-related SDGs

    ii) activating a technology revolution for water security in the Global South

    iii) advancing gender equality for effective water management

    iv) managing water- and climate-related risks for improved water security

    The institute focuses primarily on global water issues and their implications for developing countries. More information can be found here: UNU-INWEH-Strategic-Plan


    We are looking for a dynamic individual committed to policy-relevant research in the broad area of water and its socio-economic trade-offs. The incumbent will report to the UNU-INWEH Director. The incumbent will:

    • lead the UNU-INWEH cross-cutting effort to mainstream gender-related aspects into all current projects and initiatives under the interconnected thematic areas
    • propose and implement innovative policy-relevant research under the thematic research area, “advancing gender equality for effective water management” with a focus on water, climate, and gender linkages
    • contribute her/his key areas of technical expertise to current projects as required
    • contribute to fundraising efforts of the institute, including the development of cross-thematic proposals
    • attract and supervise interns; contribute to other capacity building initiatives at the Institute, including the development of new targeted on-line courses offered through online Water Learning Center (to be reopened in early 2021 after revamp); and contribution to Water Without Borders graduate program ( – a collaborative effort of UNU-INWEH and McMaster University
    • communicate research outputs at various scientific and policy events; co-ordinate and co-organise such events as required
    • publish research results in peer-reviewed journals, UNU-INWEH reports, and other outlets
    • perform other tasks as assigned by the director

    Qualifications and requirements

    Qualifications and requirements of the position include:

    • a PhD in the field of gender aspects of water management, sociology, and humanities; water policy; water institutions and governance; international development; water resources planning and management; water and climate change, water, and health; water and disasters; or a closely related discipline
    • at least eight (8) years of post-PhD work experience in water- and gender-related interactive research; candidates without a PhD in a relevant discipline, or without the minimum years of post-PhD experience, will not be considered
    • on top of the key specialisation, knowledge of one or more of the following areas is a strong advantage: groundwater management, freshwater ecosystem services, financing water projects, advanced GIS skills, and knowledge of remote sensing
    • work experience in developing countries; knowledge of developing country water issues and research and policy communities; work experience in Africa is an advantage
    • ability to carry out analytical research utilising the variety of data and information sources to distill policy-relevant messages
    • ability to perform gender-differentiated data analysis; knowledge of gender-related tools and their applications in water management context; good numerical skills
    • knowledge of Results Based Management, Theory of Change, and ability to focus on policy impact
    • demonstrated peer-reviewed publication record
    • good presentation and networking skills
    • ability to prioritise work and multitask, focus on delivery, and self-motivation
    • ability to work in a multicultural environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity
    • knowledge of UN system and previous engagement with UN-Water are added advantages
    • good understanding of various donor priorities and operations; experience in developing research proposals and project management
    • fluency in oral and written English; knowledge of any other UN official languages is an advantage

    UNU is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce and encourages all candidates, irrespective of gender, nationality, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including persons living with disabilities to apply and become part of the organisation.

    UNU has a zero-tolerance policy on conduct that is incompatible with the aims and objectives of the United Nations and UNU, including sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment, abuse of authority and discrimination.


    Remuneration will be commensurate with qualifications and experience of the successful candidate. The salary is exempt from Canadian income taxes. This position carries an annual leave entitlement of 2.5 working days per month (a total of 30 days of paid annual leave), and private health insurance coverage.

    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.

    Duration of contract

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

    Starting date

    January 2021 or as soon as possible.

  • 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 (P11) form; do not use similar forms provided by other United Nations organisations and do not submit your curriculum vitae
    • an indication of the reference number of the vacancy announcement (2020/UNU/INWEH/PSA/SR/WCG/64)

    Only short-listed candidates will be notified. The selection process may include tests/assessments. An interview will be conducted via video conference. Applications that do not include all the requested information will not be considered.

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