The United Nations University (UNU) is an international community of scholars engaged in policy-oriented research, capacity development, and dissemination of knowledge in furthering 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.
For the past four decades, UNU has been a go-to think tank for impartial research on human survival, conflict prevention, sustainable development, and welfare. With more than 400 researchers in 12 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. For more information, please visit: http://unu.edu/.
UNU-FLORES develops strategies to resolve pressing issues in the sustainable use and integrated management of environmental resources such as water, soil, waste, energy, and other geo-resources that are of concern to the United Nations and its Member States — particularly in developing and emerging economies. Based in Dresden, Germany, the institute engages in research, capacity development, postgraduate teaching, advanced training, and knowledge dissemination to advance the Resource Nexus in the UN-System. For more information, please visit: http://unu.edu/. https://flores.unu.edu/
UNU-FLORES is delighted to announce a Doctoral Researcher opportunity as part of the DAAD Graduate School Scholarship Programme. The successful candidate will have the opportunity to conduct research work under one of three topic areas with the guidance of supervisors at both UNU-FLORES and Technische Universitaet Dresden. Students will also collaborate with fellow doctoral students and senior scientists in research, event organisation and participation, publications (where possible), and contribute to the Implementation Plan of UNU-FLORES and the mission of the United Nations. As a facet of the project, the students must consider the impact of their research on communities, and the potential for their research to be transferred upon completion of the doctorate.
The main objectives of this doctoral research are to conduct a meta-study on the known environmental and public health impacts of electronic waste disposal in countries of the Global South. The successful candidate’s research will have a particular focus on end-of-life (EOL) lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) but also building on general experiences with waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). The student will analyse regulatory deficits within this project and the gap between waste volumes and capacities for safe recycling and disposal while considering multiple environmental compartments and exposure pathways (e.g. water, soil, and air pollution; and bioaccumulation of toxic substances in the food chain). As part of the project, the student will select at least two international trade flows of used (electric) vehicles spanning the Global North to the Global South (e.g. USA to Mexico, Germany to Nigeria, Japan to Mongolia), and develop scenarios for future export volumes while considering the following: the age of the vehicles and remaining lifespan, the expected electronic waste generation in destination countries — particularly from EOL LIBs, the relevance of national export and import regulations, as well as international agreements, and environmental and public health threats. Finally, the thesis shall formulate policy recommendations for international trade regarding used electric vehicles, recycling, and disposal strategies for countries in the Global South, and the extended producer responsibility (EPR) of electric vehicle and battery manufacturers.
Project 1 Responsibilities
Project 1 Required Qualifications and Experience
Declining freshwater availability (blue vs green water) and the increased risk of climate change with the associated hydrological extremes (droughts and floods) are key challenges that many developing and emerging countries face. These challenges have sparked incentive-based policy for the purpose of linking water producers to water consumers, for example, through payments for watershed services (PWS). However, little is known about the best design methods for PWS schemes to effectively address multiple resource issues with cross-cutting measures, according to local cultural, social, political, and environmental conditions.
The main objective of the doctoral project is to define a scientifically rational, technologically advanced, economically feasible, and socially acceptable PWS scheme. The watershed to be studied is located in the dryland Loess Plateau region of NW China. The watershed has an under-developed economy and suffers from severe soil erosion and increasing water shortage. Moreover, water use conflicts are growing in severity due to increased water demand by various users — both upstream and downstream. The watershed streamflow (an indicator of water availability) has decreased due to climate change and the consequence of undifferentiated forest/vegetation restoration measures that aimed to control soil erosion and alleviate poverty. A refined PWS (also called eco-compensation) scheme is to be designed and applied in this study area. To achieve this goal, the research work will (i) assess the impact of different land uses and vegetation cover (i.e., forest cover and structure), and their spatial patterns on the ecosystem services (including water and soil-related ones) at the watershed level from a supply perspective, (ii) quantify the demand of watershed ecosystem services from a protective and consumer perspective, and (iii) predict the possible environmental and economic benefits of revised PWS scheme scenarios through extensive investigation of stakeholders’ interests.
The research outputs will contribute to advancing the Resource Nexus in land (i.e. forest, soil, and water conservation) management as an integral component of watershed management, climate change adaptation, and overcoming Resource Nexus application barriers at a watershed scale. Results may be compared to other dryland regions (e.g. in East Africa, South America).
Project 2 Responsibilities
Project 2 Required Qualifications and Experience
The project will focus on the water–soil–atmosphere nexus in rain-fed and irrigation farming in arid regions. Water availability in arid regions is scarce and episodic in character. In agriculture, traditional sustainable systems must rely on the harvesting of rainwater to mitigate dry periods, or risk using precious groundwater. The focus of water management systems concentrate is to safeguard or improve groundwater recharge, while traditional cropping systems — though versatile and drought-resilient (both supported by high biodiversity) — are often not very productive. Although “modern agriculture” often results in immediate benefits, they also risk permanent aquifer damage and loss of the original subsistence at a family level, leading to migration and loss in biodiversity.
As Climate Change (CC) projections have so far failed to provide accurate data for pertaining to rainfall in arid regions, CC poses additional challenges, with ‘zero rainfall’ statistically showing to be the most probable outcome. A lack of existing ground data intensifies this situation, with the most accelerated form of mitigation being the improvement of data access, and enhancing of current CC projections with additional data (such as remote sensing).
The main objectives of the research will include the investigation of spatial patterns of rainfall and (groundwater-based) irrigation in arid regions using remote sensing. In addition, the successful candidate will design models and improve CC projections in arid regions. Finally, a DSS system will be designed to implement (a) the irrigation scheduling of farmers, and (b) guidelines for CC adaptation.
Project 3 Responsibilities
Project 3 Required Qualifications and Experience
The DAAD-GSSP pays a monthly stipend of EUR 1200 for the duration of the doctoral research (up to a maximum of four years). The stipend is expected to cover all living and education expenses. While the doctoral programme is tuition-free, semester fees of approximately EUR 250-300 will need to be paid directly to TU Dresden for enrollment. For additional information on the programme and the admission procedure, please visit the UNU-FLORES website. The DAAD can also provide health insurance and introductory German classes. An additional allowance for travel or research will be part of the scholarship offered by the DAAD. Details will be shared with nominated candidates.
This position is being offered as a full-time position and on a one (1) year Student Agreement with UNU-FLORES. The possibility of renewal is subject to satisfactory work performance and completion of specific milestones. The combined duration of the agreement shall not exceed four (4) years.
The successful candidate will be enrolled as a student based in Dresden, Germany.
Please note that due to the ongoing situation with COVID-19 and the travel restrictions imposed by national authorities, the selected candidate may be required to start the appointment remotely until further notice.
The candidate do not hold international civil servant status nor are they considered a “staff member” as defined in the United Nations Staff Rules and Regulations and may not represent UNU in any official capacity.
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. Applications from developing countries, and from women are strongly encouraged.
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.
UNU reserves the right to select one or more candidates from this vacancy announcement. We may also retain applications and consider candidates applying to this post for other similar positions with UNU at the same grade level and with similar job description, experience and educational requirements.
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Interested applicants should submit their application for one of the three topic areas via Impactpool along with the following required documents:
1. A completed and signed doctoral programme application form;
2. A letter of motivation confirming which project you are applying for;
3. A curriculum vitae;
4. A list of publications;
5. A summary of the doctoral project (max. 1 page);
6. A work schedule and timetable for the doctoral project, including details of any upcoming phases abroad/field research;
7. Copies of ALL university degrees and transcripts;
8. Proof of internships completed;
9. Evidence of language skills (see application form);
10. Abstract of MSc thesis (or equivalent);
11. Two recommendation forms (from two of your university professors).
This is a two-round selection process whereby students first apply for the position via UNU-FLORES. Any candidate who does not submit all required documents will be rejected. Please note that only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.
Shortlisted candidates will be contacted for an interview. Tentative interview dates are 05-16 July 2021. As part of this interview, candidates will be asked to prepare and present a research proposal. Following the interviews, UNU-FLORES will nominate candidates for the scholarship to DAAD.
Nominated candidates will be requested to submit their complete application documents electronically via the DAAD portal within four (4) weeks of nomination. UNU-FLORES will promptly issue the confirmation to nominated candidates along with a link to the DAAD application portal and a guide for international students.