Research Associate - PSA3

United Nations University
  • Location
    Bonn, Germany
  • Sector
  • Experience
    Early Career
  • Posted
    Sep 15

Position description

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 17 Sustainable Development Goals' full breadth, 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

United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security


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

Vulnerability Assessment, Risk Management & Adaptive Planning (VARMAP) Section: The VARMAP section conducts policy-oriented research on vulnerabilities and risks to inform risk reduction and adaptation choices in the context of global change. Its vision is to provide actionable knowledge on systemic risks and pathways to sustainability. VARMAP develops and applies conceptual frameworks and scientific methods to assess socio-economic vulnerability and risk in the context of natural hazards, environmental change and societal transformation. The section explores opportunities to reduce risks and to evaluate competing adaptation options. In doing so, VARMAP examines ways to strengthen adaptive governance. VARMAP has a strong focus on urban areas and rural-urban linkages. Drawing on scenario techniques and dynamic assessment tools, it examines the trends in vulnerability and adaptive capacity as societies undergo wider cultural, economic, demographic and political transformation. VARMAP convenes an interdisciplinary team of researchers and has a wide network of scientific and practical partners. It draws on a mixed methods approach, integrating qualitative and quantitative tools for the analysis. The section combines a global focus with clusters of specific regional expertise, notably in Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia, West Africa and Europe

Climate Academy Project

The Academy aims to include people’s perspectives in climate change policy making to facilitate climate action. The project fosters the action-policy-science interface by generating knowledge and solution-oriented pathways and feeding these into policy processes (crucially, in partnership with UNFCCC) and communities of practice (such as UNDRR and ICLEI). The project convenes the Climate Academy, with thematic foci energy-transition and digitalization and climate change induced mobility, planned for years 2022 and 2023 respectively.

Transformative Climate Action using Participatory data driven decision making platforms (T-CAP) Project

The main motivation for this project is our belief that the battle against climate change will be won at the local level. While digital means are increasingly used to assist in managing cities, an untapped potential lies in using these means to facilitate participatory local level policy making and implementation to catalyze transformative climate actions. This holds special significance in the small and medium cities from the Global South that face resource and capacity constraints. This project will assist urban local bodies in Visakhapatnam, India in working effectively with all stakeholders (particularly the civil society) to gather and analyze data needed for transformative climate action. It aims to showcase a science based participatory planning framework for data driven decision making that can inspire cities across the globe.


Under the authority of the Vice-Rector/Director of UNU-EHS and the direct supervision of the Head of the VARMAP section, the successful candidate will be entrusted with the following tasks:

1. Within the context of the Climate Academy project:

Thematic and organizational planning of yearly academies:

  • Support the project manager in the implementation of the Climate Academy project, including with organizational planning, thematic white papers, policy briefs and outreach materials, and editing scientific outcome publications
  • Support the annual climate academy planning including the selection of participants and logistics
  • Support the preparation of policy interventions based on the outputs of the annual academies

Liaising with project partners and the community of practice

  • Actively support the project manager of the Climate Academy in nurturing the dialogue with policy makers and communities of practices, e.g. through the development of submissions into key UNFCCC processes
  • Support the drafting of annual reports of the Climate Academy and coordination with project partners
  • Take up other duties related to the Climate Academy as required

2. Within the context of the T-CAP project:

Contextualizing climate knowledge and leading framework development

  • Support the project lead in the preparation of the ‘participatory planning framework for data driven decision making’
  • Collaborate with the stakeholders to assist in creating a participatory planning framework
  • Identify global lighthouse cases and drawing lessons for the T-CAP project in collaboration with the project manager

Assist the capacity strengthening of urban local actors

  • Support the identification of the target groups along with the project lead
  • Support the capacity mapping and gap identification of key stakeholders and target groups
  • Map desired digital tools and capacities to facilitate participatory climate action planning and monitoring
  • Work with stakeholders to strengthen capacities under the guidance of the project lead

Support the project management and reporting of the T-CAP project

  • Support the coordination with project partners as well as the funding agency and ensure timely reporting
  • Support the preparation of annual project and financial reports and all other project related outputs
  • Support the verification of project reports from implementation partners
  • Preparation of scientific outputs from the project including publications in the leading peer reviewed journals
  • Take up other duties related to the T-CAP as required

3. Beyond the T-CAP and Climate Academy projects:

  • Support third party funding application related to the mission and vision of UNU-EHS
  • Support the liaison with other UN agencies and partner institutions, in particular on the UNU-EHS themes
  • Contribute to ongoing teaching and education activities at UNU-EHS
  • Perform other duties as assigned by the supervisor

Key performance indicators

  • Timely and quality development and implementation of outputs from the T-CAP and Climate Academy projects
  • Timely and quality delivery of policy as well as scientific outputs
  • Quality and level of engagement with project partners
  • UNU is seen as a reliable and trustworthy partner by research partners, governments, donors, and civil society



  • Inclusion — Take action to create an environment of dignity and respect for all, regardless of age, culture, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, gender expression, geography, grade, language, nationality, racial identity, religion, sex, sex characteristics, sexual orientation, social origin or any other aspect of identity
  • Integrity — Act ethically, demonstrating the standards of conduct of the United Nations and taking prompt action in case of witnessing unprofessional or unethical behaviour, or any other breach of UN standards
  • Humility — Demonstrate self-awareness and willingness to learn from others
  • Humanity — Act according to the purposes of the United Nations: peace, dignity and equality on a healthy planet


  • Connect and collaborate — Build positive relationships with others to advance the work of the United Nations and work coherently as One UN
  • Analyse and plan — Seek out and use data from a wide range of sources to understand problems, inform decision-making, propose evidence-based solutions and plan action
  • Deliver results with positive impact — Hold oneself and others accountable for delivering results and making a positive difference to the people and causes that the United Nations serves
  • Learn and develop — Pursue own learning and development and contribute to the learning and development of others
  • Adapt and innovate — Demonstrate flexibility, agility and the ability to think and act in novel ways


Education and certification:

  • Completed Master’s degree in urban planning, urban development, geography, or another relevant field


  • At least one year of experience in the field of risk and resilience with particular focus on urban planning and governance, some of which preferably in an international setting
  • Work experience in the domain of climate change vulnerability and risk with a focus of climate change adaptation in urban areas
  • Knowledge of digitalization and its application in urban planning, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation is required
  • Experience in drafting reports, policy briefs, communications, and presentations is an asset
  • Experience with stakeholder consultation, participatory planning process and local level capacity building is a strong asset
  • Sound communication skills including the ability to present the work across different scales and in front of different stakeholders is a strong asset
  • Experience in conference organization as well as partnership management is desired
  • Capability to publish peer reviewed papers is an asset
  • Other Desirable Skills: Initiative taking, strong conceptual abilities, drafting ability

Language Requirements:

  • Fluency in English is required
  • Working knowledge of Hindi is an asset
  • Knowledge of another UN official working language is an asset.

Application instructions

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