Postdoctoral Fellowships

Applications for the JSPS-UNU Postdoctoral Fellowship Programme 2024 are now closed. 

UNU offers Postdoctoral Fellowships to provide young scholars and policymakers, especially from the developing world, with a multidisciplinary context within which to pursue advanced research and training that are of professional interest to the successful applicant and of direct relevance to the research agenda of their selected thematic programme. Since the start of the Fellowship Programme at UNU-IAS in 1996, more than 250 young researchers – 70% of whom are from the developing world – have benefited from collaboration with UNU and Japanese scholars.

Jointly organized by the UNU and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), the JSPS–UNU Postdoctoral Fellowship Programme is designed to provide promising, highly qualified young researchers with the opportunity to conduct advanced research in sustainability under host researchers at domestic universities and research institutions across Japan in cooperation with UNU-IAS.

This fellowship is aimed at candidates who have completed their doctorates in the past six years (with the period of maternity/paternity leave subtracted) and have professional and/or research experience. UNU-IAS Tokyo acts as the nominating authority for the JSPS–UNU Postdoctoral Fellowship Programme. Nominated fellows will be considered members of their host institutions and are required to carry out their research under the supervision of their host researcher. It is possible for fellows to conduct research at UNU-IAS if mutually agreed upon by the host university.



Applicants must hold a doctoral degree at the time of application (received on or after 2 April 2018 with the period of maternity/paternity leave subtracted, counting 4 weeks as a month) or be scheduled to receive a doctoral degree before the fellowship begins. Applicants must be citizens of countries that have diplomatic relations with Japan (Palestinian and Taiwanese researchers are eligible to apply).

Japanese nationals (including dual citizenship holders) and permanent residents of Japan are not eligible to apply. Those who have previously been awarded a Standard or Pathway Fellowship under the JSPS Postdoctoral Fellowship for Research in Japan are also not eligible. [Top]

Terms of the Award

  • Airfare: a round-trip air ticket (based on JSPS regulations)
  • Maintenance allowance: JPY 362,000 per month
  • Miscellaneous: a settling-in allowance of JPY 200,000 and overseas travel insurance

The award amounts are subject to change by JSPS.

Note: If a fellow is already living in Japan or obtains resident status before the fellowship is scheduled to begin, the air ticket to Japan and settling-in allowance will not be provided.

A research grant (Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research) is available to cover cooperative research-related expenses. Application for these grants is made by the host researcher through the host institution. [Top]


Interested and eligible candidates are invited to fill out the Application Form by 31 March 2024 (23:59 JST). The form must be filled out in English.

Please note that the host researcher must be confirmed before applying for the fellowship. Applicants are responsible for finding and negotiating an agreement with a host researcher at a Japanese institution as the UNU-IAS Fellowship Committee cannot support the process. Furthermore, UNU-IAS researchers are not eligible to become host researchers.

The UNU-IAS Fellowship Committee will begin reviewing applications immediately after the application deadline and will notify all applicants of the selection results once they are confirmed. Successful candidates must submit an official application to JSPS through UNU-IAS. It might take up to three months for JSPS to process its award decisions after receiving the applications. Only the shortlisted candidates will be called for an online interview. The Fellowship Committee will then reconfirm the intention of their chosen host researcher to supervise the candidate. [Top]

Nomination of Candidates

UNU will act as the nominating authority for the programme and the initial application should be submitted to UNU-IAS. UNU-IAS nominates candidates to JSPS based on the following criteria:

  • The research objectives of the applicant and the quality of the research proposal
  • The applicant’s academic merit and potential for successful research while in Japan [Top]

Duration of the Fellowship

Fellowships are awarded for a period of 24 months in full-month units starting from the date of initiation. Fellows must start their fellowship in Japan by 30 November 2024 and reside in Japan continuously over the duration of the fellowship. [Top]

Research Areas

Under this programme, fellows are expected to conduct research in one of the thematic areas listed below under the supervision of the host researcher. The proposed research must be policy-relevant and incorporate gender issues within the research agenda. [Top]


Governance for and Sustainable Development (GSD)

This programme aims to lead research on governance for sustainability and climate change by exploring relevant synergies and trade-offs among the global environment and sustainable development goals (SDGs) that will contribute to the inclusive transformation of socio-economic systems. Broadly, this thematic area focuses on synergies between climate change and SDGs, climate-biodiversity coherent governance, and the localization and institutionalization of SDGs. Topics covered under the programme may include decarbonization strategies and integrated assessment modelling, carbon market mechanisms, climate mitigation, SDG governance, stakeholder engagement and national climate adaptation planning.

The specialization in climate action for the Paris Agreement will enhance capacity for implementing the agreement with associated goals for sustainable development through coursework on the knowledge necessary to implement the agreement at the national and international levels, as well as joint practicum training in collaboration with global partners. Through research and capacity development, this programme allows ample opportunities to explore transformative and synergistic solutions for just transition, good governance, capacity development and new partnerships at the global, national and local levels.

Required qualifications:

  • PhD in Public Administration, Business Administration, Environmental Studies or equivalent field of study
  • Demonstrated research skills and a sound record of publications in relevant thematic areas
  • Ability to communicate and promote knowledge and research to shape policy and framework development among stakeholders
  • Fluency in English is essential and a working knowledge of other languages is desirable [Top]

Biodiversity & Society (BDS)

This programme aims to integrate diverse knowledge on human-nature interrelationship and advance our understanding of the intricate links between biodiversity and human well-being to develop a sustainable society in harmony with nature. The programme focuses on landscapes and seascapes of production through landscape approaches, in which all stakeholders negotiate their needs and interests to find place-based sustainable solutions in interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary manner. While considering biodiversity as an underpinning of ecosystem health and human well-being, the scope of research ranges from biocultural diversity, sustainable food systems, circular economy, and green infrastructure to social-ecological resilience and transformative governance. Research is intended to feed into international policy processes related to biodiversity and sustainability, including the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Required qualifications:

  • PhD degree (no ABDs) in a field related to applied social or environmental sciences, including but not limited to environmental policy, development studies, ecosystem management, environmental economics and landscape planning
  • Demonstrated research skills and a sound record of publication in similar areas
  • Ability to design and implement research involving fieldwork
  • Fluency in English is essential and a working knowledge of other languages is desirable [Top]

Water & Resource Management (WRM)

This programme aims to lead research to transform water management systems by promoting decarbonized, circular economies, and enhancing resilience through decentralized natural resource management. It advances smart, innovative and community-based sustainable water management by strengthening research collaboration between local researchers, practitioners and stakeholders. It enables the exploration of alternative water resources and solutions. Simultaneously, this programme promotes the evidence-based management of water resources by local authorities and stakeholders. By its unique design and location at UNU-IAS, the programme makes an important contribution to water-related activities at other UN agencies with excellent learning and researching opportunities.

Required qualifications:

  • A PhD degree (no ABDs) in a related field, including, but not limited to water environmental science or engineering, economics, economic policy, quantitative economics, or related field
  • Ability to design, implement, and summarize desk work and field research
  • Excellent command of English, both oral and written
  • Strong organizational skills and a team-player ethos [Top]

Innovation & Education (IVE)

The Innovation and Education (IVE) programme aims to promote research and practices on innovative and inclusive education and lifelong learning for sustainable development at all ages. It reinforces evidence-based policy advice to translate global goals into local actions in close alignment with the Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) for 2030 Roadmap. The programme is currently carrying out several research and capacity development projects of addressing urgent needs and challenges in sustainable development, including community-based climate actions, innovative and inclusive learning technology for sustainable development, cultural heritage preservation through education, research-based net-zero implementation capacity building for professionals, and climate change displaced persons and their right to education. The programme also serves as the secretariat for two prominent ESD networks, namely, Regional Centres of Expertise on ESD (RCEs) and ProSPER. Net and collaborates with the networks to facilitate multi-stakeholder partnerships in ESD.

Required qualifications:

  • PhD degree (no ABDs) in a related field, including, but not limited to, education, educational technology, computer science, and/or environmental policy, as well as experience in working with the social sciences and environmental sciences
  • Demonstrated research and communication skills in similar areas
  • Preferred research focus on education for biodiversity, climate change, and/or sustainable consumption and production, innovative pedagogies, inclusive learning technologies and/or institutional and organizational challenges to incorporate ESD into higher education activities
  • Ability to design, implement, and synthesize research involving both desk work and fieldwork
  • Fluency in English writing and speaking is required; a working knowledge of other languages is desirable for Japanese and/or other UN official languages [Top]


Please send questions to [Top]