Job Description

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 for Integrated Management of Material Fluxes and of Resources (UNU-FLORES)

The mission of UNU-FLORES is to contribute, through research, capacity development, and dissemination of knowledge, to the resolution of pressing challenges in the area of sustainable use and integrated management of environmental resources (water, soil and waste), particularly in developing and transitional countries. It aims to serve within the UN as the think-tank on resources management and be internationally recognised as a major hub and intellectual focal point promoting integrated management strategies addressing, in particular, the needs of developing and emerging countries. The Institute is located in Dresden, Federal Republic of Germany. For more information, please visit

PhD Research objectives

Research often focuses on the economic and environmental dimensions of sustainability, while the social dimension remains less explored. In this project, the focus will be on the social dimension of sustainability in agricultural and related societies. Agricultural practices, governance, and their contribution to food and economic security often affect biodiversity, soil quality, and other associated environmental resources. The social impact of different agricultural practices, such as the effects on poverty reduction, equality, overall human well-being, and the resilience of social structures, needs to be studied. An in-depth analysis of relevant indicators and social sustainability assessment will be conducted to foster agricultural practices that promote more social sustainability and achieving the SDGs. The transfer of the results to other societies as well as industries and societies will be an additional aspect of the research.


The PhD Researcher will:
  • perform research related to the impact of agricultural practices on the social dimension of sustainability, considering complex interactions with time, space, economic, and environmental dimensions of sustainability

  • develop a robust methodology to identify, measure, and interpret indicators of social sustainability in agricultural systems by considering existing developments and frameworks, and conducting tests of construct validity

  • develop approaches for the possible transfer of these approaches to further sectors

  • analyse the effects of agricultural practices on social sustainability in defined case studies

  • perform field visits, data collection, and analyses to evaluate social sustainability

  • write and publish papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals

  • organise activities such as workshops that are related to the research project

  • support the development of a standardised approach in the topic of social impacts

Required qualifications and competencies

Required qualifications and competencies include:
  • a master’s degree in social sciences, political sciences, sustainability, resources management, or other closely related fields of sustainability sciences or integrated management of environmental resources

  • strong quantitative background in statistics and data analysis

  • background in agricultural practices and systems or willingness to acquire the necessary knowledge

  • strong interest and ability to work in an interdisciplinary environment

  • working experience in developing countries and their agricultural sectors is highly desirable

  • experience related to the nexus of water, soil, and waste or environmental resource management would be an asset

Demonstrated proficiency in English is required. Recognised proof of language proficiency includes:
  1. IELTS—required level is 7.0

  2. TOEFL—required level for the paper-based test is 600 points, and the internet-based test is 100 points

  3. Evidence to prove that English was the language of instruction for at least one of previously completed degree programmes, in the form of a letter issued by the relevant university officials

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.


UNU-FLORES pays a monthly stipend of EUR 1450 for up to three years. Funding is provided by BASF. This stipend is expected to cover relocation, living, travel, and all education expenses. The candidate will become a part of the Joint PhD Programme in Integrated Management of Water, Soil, and Waste. Please note that while the PhD programme is tuition-free, semester fees of approximately 250-300 euros 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.

Duration of contract

This position is offered as a full-time position and on a one (1) year Personnel Service Agreement (PSA) with UNU-FLORES, with the possibility of renewal subject to availability of the fund from BASF and the completion of specific milestones. The duration of the contract shall not exceed three years. The successful candidate will be employed under a personnel service agreement based in Dresden, Germany and will not hold international civil servant status nor be a “staff member” as defined in the United Nations Staff Rules and Regulations.

Starting date

As soon as possible. Interested applicants should submit their applications by email to Applications must include the following:
  1. Completed and signed Joint PhD Programme application form

  2. Completed and signed P.11 form; please avoid using similar forms provided by other United Nations organisations

  3. Letter of motivation

  4. Curriculum Vitae

  5. Copies of ALL university transcripts

  6. Copy of TOEFL/IELTS or evidence proving that English was the language of instruction for at least one of the previously completed degree programmes, in the form of a letter issued by the relevant university authority

  7. Abstract of MSc thesis (or equivalent)

  8. Two reference letters

  9. Please insert the following reference number in the subject (2020/UNU/FLORES/PSA/PHDR/SDS/49)

Please note only shortlisted candidates will be contacted As part of the recruitment, process candidates may be asked to complete written tests and demonstrate language skills.

Vacancy Announcement: UNU-FLORES PhD Researcher (209.0 KB PDF)

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