Research Associate

Application procedure
    Research Associate
    Bonn, Germany
    UTC +1

    About UN University (UNU)

    The United Nations University (UNU) is an international community of scholars engaged in policy-oriented research, capacity development and dissemination of knowledge, furthering the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. UNU’s mission 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, United Nations University (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, 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.

    About United Nations University 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

    The Environment and Migration: Interactions and Choices Section (EMIC) undertakes pioneering research to strengthen the evidence base on the multiple linkages between human mobility and environmental change. EMIC research informs policy and action of UN organizations, governments and civil society. Specific themes within the migration-environment nexus include environmentally induced migration and displacement, trapped populations, migration into risk-prone environments, and environmental impacts of migration. Cross-cutting research themes include decision-making, health, well-being, livelihoods, adaptation, risk, ecosystem services, food security, development, urbanization, gender, conflict, social cohesion and culture. An important feature of the EMIC Section is its people-centered approach, showing the human face of climate change and migration. EMIC researchers have also played an important role in advancing the science on the emerging topic of ‘loss and damage’ from climate change.


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

    1. Conduct quantitative, qualitative and policy-relevant research in the fields of Migration and Environment

    • Support the Section Head and team members to develop objectives, research questions, approaches and regional foci to address voluntary migration, displacement, planned relocation and immobility, decision-making, adaptation and loss and damage.
    • Engage and track UNFCCC processes such as the COP and Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage.
    • Support activities undertaken with other UNU-EHS Sections to exploit synergies in the EMIC section’s work.

    2. Contribute to the successful implementation of two large EU-funded research projects – LOCOMOTION and RethinkAction

    • Work on a variety of project related tasks including research design, desk reviews, fieldwork, data analysis, attending project meetings, writing deliverable reports and dissemination.
    • Undertake quantitative analysis of societal impacts of climate change to include impacts on migration, health and wellbeing.
    • Conduct participatory research with stakeholders affected by climate change to understand their perspectives and needs related to land adaptation and mitigation solutions (LAMS) including fieldwork in Spain.

    3. Support capacity building with focus on the below

    • Contribute to teaching on the Joint Masters on Environmental Risk with the University of Bonn.
    • Contribute to Joint Masters theses supervision.
    • Work with partners in developing countries in a bilateral manner to build knowledge and expertise.

    4. Support communication, media and outreach activities

    • Contribute to publishing peer-reviewed journal articles, chapters in edited volumes and policy reports and briefs alone, with the Section and project consortium members.
    • Attend or support presentations at academic and policy conferences, workshop and meetings to include UNFCCC processes and the Platform on Disaster Displacement (PDD).
    • Engage with social media to better explain the societal impacts of climate change and the links between migration and the environment to promote the research of the Section.

    5. Contribute towards securing funding for the Section

    • Support Section members so to build relationships with potential partners to create consortia to seek funding.
    • Support the Head of Section and senior team members to develop grant proposals for research projects (individual and in consortia).
    • Support the EMIC team on consultancies and commissioned reports, if and when the work is of strategic use to the Section.

    6. Perform other duties as assigned by supervisor

    Key performance indicators

    • Intellectual contribution to the mission of the EMIC Section which is seen as a leader in its field.
    • Successful and timely contribution to ongoing projects.
    • Timely and quality delivery on teaching commitments, particularly those of the Joint Masters with the University of Bonn.
    • Publications in journals and policy reports. Mentions of contributions in the media.
    • Successful acquisition of long-term projects and short-term consultancies.



    • 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 Geography, Climate Change, Migration, Disasters or another relevant field. Candidates with a PhD may also be considered.


    • Relevant experience (1year desirable) in working on climate change or environmental mobility.
    • Knowledge of quantitative (including modelling) and qualitative research methods.
    • Experience in writing and presenting for academic and policy audiences.
    • Experience in working on research projects
    • Excellent team player with strong interpersonal skills and ability to work independently in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity.

    Language Requirements

    • Fluency in English is required.
    • Knowledge of Spanish will be an advantage
    • Knowledge of another UN official working language is an asset.


    The successful candidate will be employed under a national PSA contract. UNU offers an attractive compensation package including an annual net salary, commensurate with the experience and qualifications of the candidate. Benefits include 30 days annual leave and a health insurance scheme.

    UNU is not liable for any taxes that may be levied on the remuneration you receive under this contract. Payment of any such taxes remains the sole responsibility of PSA holders.

    Duration of contract

    This is a full-time employment on a twelve (12) months Personnel Service Agreement (PSA) contract with possibility for renewal subject to requirements and satisfactory work performance, with the combined duration of appointments not exceeding six (6) years. The mandatory age of retirement for PSA holders is 65 years.

    This post is open to applicants from all countries and UNU will aid the successful applicant in securing a work visa for Germany, as necessary. It is, however, a locally recruited post and no relocation allowances apply. The duty station will be Bonn, Germany.  While Bonn is the official duty station, the possibility exists to request a flexible working arrangement.

    Expected start date: As soon as possible

  • How to Apply:

    To apply to UNU, you will not need an account. Instead, we ask that you:

    • Fill out the UNU P11 form (please avoid using similar forms provided by other United Nations organisations);
    • provide a motivation statement (in the P11 form);
    • provide a cover letter setting out how the qualifications and experience match the requirements of the position;
    • answer a few questions that are tailored to the position; and
    • apply via the apply link.

    You may wish to refer to the UN Values and Behaviours Framework for more information.

    Application Deadline: 6 June 2022



    Evaluation of qualified candidates may include an assessment exercise which may be followed by a competency-based interview, background checks and references.

    Special notice

    National PSA only: UNU does not sponsor a working visa for this position.

    PSA holders do no hold international civil servant status nor are they considered a “staff member” as defined in the UN Staff Rules and Regulations.

    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 organization. Applications from developing countries, and from women are strongly encouraged. Eligible internal applicants are also encouraged to apply.

    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.

    Information about UNU rosters

    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.

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  • If you have any questions regarding the recruitment, please contact below.