Associate Academic Officer

Job Experience

Job Location

Expiration Date

27 Aug 2017

Organisational Unit: UNU Vice-Rectorate in Europe (UNU-ViE)

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 Vice-Rectorate in Europe (UNU-ViE)

UNU-ViE concentrates on relationships between advancing science and technology for human security. In addition to its scientific core mandate, it administers the central units providing service to five UNU entities in Bonn ( The central administration units include Finance, Human Resources, Information Communication Technology, Communication Services, and Procurement and General Administration. These units also assist with the administration of new UNU initiatives in Europe and Africa. For more information on the organisation, please visit

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

Vulnerability Assessment, Risk Management and Adaptive Planning (VARMAP)

The institute’s VARMAP section 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. The section has a strong focus on urban areas and rural-urban linkages and is particularly interested in the trends in vulnerability and adaptive capacity as societies undergo wider cultural, economic, demographic, and political transformation. VARMAP convenes an interdisciplinary team 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.

Environmental Vulnerability and Ecosystem Services  (EVES)

The institute's EVES section conducts original, policy-relevant research addressing the vulnerability and resilience of social-ecological systems, where the concept of ecosystem services is of central importance. Specifically, EVES aims to understand how social-ecological systems are affected by diverse environmental hazards such as water and land degradation, floods, and droughts, as well as how ecosystems can support disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. Besides original research, the section advocates for ecosystem-based solutions, for example, through engagement in the Partnership for Environment and Disaster Risk Reduction (PEDRR). EVES scientists have led the Risk Assessment work package of the West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL) project.


Under the authority of the Director of UNU-EHS/Vice-Rector in Europe and the overall supervision of the Head of the Vulnerability Assessment, Risk Management & Adaptive Planning (VARMAP) section that leads the project and of the Environmental Vulnerability and Ecosystem Services (EVES) section for the ecosystem-based approaches included in the project, the successful candidate will be entrusted with the following tasks:

  • support the Heads of Section in the implementation of the TELEPATH project on Tipping Points of Food Security in Coupled Social-Ecological Systems of West Africa under Climatic Hazards
  • conduct a structured review on the existing scientific literature on tipping points and food security in West Africa, including a focus on ecological tipping points that could lead to food insecurity
  • collect and analyse secondary and primary data on food security in West Africa
  • develop and conduct an online survey for assessing the scientific needs and knowledge gaps in relation to food insecurity and tipping points in West Africa
  • take a leading role in organising all the consultations, workshops and field trips in Germany and West Africa
  • take a leading role in developing the full proposal for the funding application of TELEPATH’s second phase
  • take a leading role in supporting the coordinator of TELEPATH in the management of the project and communication with its partners, including the preparation of reports, outreach material, and policy documents
  • support the supervision of MSc students doing research in the field of food security
  • support the Heads of Section to develop and draft applications for other research grants
  • teach conceptual and methodological courses within the Joint MSc programme in Geography of Environmental Risk and Humans Security
  • take up other related duties in the VARMAP section as required

Required qualifications and experience

Required qualifications and experience include:

  • PhD degree in Geography, Development Sociology, Environmental Studies; Spatial Planning or other relevant discipline
  • a strong track-record in academic work on environmental change, risk assessment, or food security in the context of West Africa
  • proven track-record of scientific publishing in internationally recognised and peer-reviewed journals
  • a minimum two (2) years of relevant working experience
  • knowledge of Geographic Information Systems is an additional asset
  • proven experience in the development of research grant proposals and the management of multidisciplinary and international research projects
  • work experience in an international organisation is an additional asset
  • excellent communication skills with fluency in oral and written English is required; good German language skills is an asset
  • strong ability to carry out work independently
  • good team player with ability to work in international and intercultural environment
  • excellent time management skills

Applications from suitably qualified women candidates are particularly encouraged.


We offer a competitive net salary (tax-exempted) at P2 level commensurate to level of experience and allowances including post adjustment. Post adjustment is subject to change.

The post carries the standard set of United Nations benefits and entitlements for international positions in the UN Common Systems, including participation in the United Nations Joint Staff Pension fund, the possibility of participation in a health insurance programme, education grant, removal expenses and home leave.

For more information please visit

The UNU Rector reserves the right to appoint suitable candidate at a lower level than advertised.

Duration of contract

This is a full-time, fixed-term appointment and an international recruited post. The initial appointment will be for a period of one (1) year with the possibility of renewal on a rolling fixed-term appointment basis, subject to satisfactory work performance. The mandatory age of retirement for United Nations staff is 65 years old.

Staff members of the United Nations University are international civil servants subject to the authority of the Rector and may be assigned to any of the activities or offices of the United Nations University.

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 curriculum vitae and a completed and signed UNU Personal History (P.11) form; please avoid using similar forms provided by other United Nations organisations
  • an indication of the reference number of the vacancy announcement (2017/UNU/EHS/FTA/AAO/64 )
  • a soft copy of your three most important scientific publications
  • full contact information of three references

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