Associate Academic Officer – Transformative Urban Coalitions (P-2)

Application procedure
    Associate Academic Officer - Transformative Urban Coalitions (P-2)
    Bonn, Germany
    UTC +1

    United Nations University (UNU)

    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.

    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 Urban Futures and Sustainability Transformation (FAST) programme researches systemic transformation toward sustainability to inform and enhance policy. The programme seeks to understand complex realities by researching social, environmental and technological sub-systems, such as infrastructure provision, social security mechanisms and related good governance approaches, with a focus on their interlinkages and dependencies. In this way, the programme aims to advance system understanding and identify key leverage points for triggering change. The work is rooted in the understanding that sustainable futures require technological conversion coupled with social and environmental justice. This includes research into what lifestyles are desirable, affordable and just in a changing global environment, which in turn advances conceptual approaches to future well-being. The core focus is on urban areas, which already see the effects of global change and are among its key drivers at the same time. Based on its own primary and transformative research, FAST will provide science-based advice for inclusive urban policy action. This includes the development of narratives of attractive futures, linking social justice to risk reduction, climate adaptation and mitigation. A central element of the programme is the Transformative Urban Coalitions (TUC) project, where new models of coalition building and governance are established and tested through catalyst projects in five “Urban Labs” in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico.

    Thereby the FAST programme aims at developing and testing strategies that lead to socially just zero-carbon cities and regions. In doing so, the programme engages with scientific and policy partners to enable and scale change processes from the local to the global level. For detailed information, please visit:


    Under the authority of the Director of UNU-EHS and the direct supervision of the Head of the FAST programme, the successful candidate will be entrusted with the following tasks:

    1. Contribute to advancing the institute’s research around sustainability transformation:

    • Contribute to the development of a strategic approach to sustainability transformation, including by desk studies, empirical research and resulting publications;
    • Co-develop a framework and assess success factors for urban sustainability transformation;
    • Contribute to the development and implementation of “transformative impact” analysis of local interventions in TUC pilot cities and related urban labs;

    2. Contribute to the TUC project’s research, theory and policy development:

    • Support establishing and consolidating urban labs and related coalition;
    • Co-develop transformative research approaches based on qualitative and quantitative methods with consortium partner and urban lab members;
    • Conduct and/or supervise primary and secondary data collection and analysis including literature surveys and local data acquisition;
    • Co-develop shared guiding narratives for desirable urban futures in the pilot cities and support the uptake in Urban Lab interventions and related communication and strategies development;
    • Co-lead scaling by means of comparing findings across cities, deriving commonalities and feeding them into development of a toolbox for urban sustainability transformation.

    3. Lead research on mindsets and mindshifts within the TUC project:

    • Take a leading role in developing methodologies and tools for assessing mindsets of urban actors; feed results into developing approaches for raising awareness and triggering collective action towards more socially just zero carbon cities;
    • Develop baseline studies and collect progress data, including to measure change of mindsets and transformative social innovation in five urban labs, using mixed-method approaches;
    • Advance the methodology for application in other contexts.

    4. Contribute to knowledge management, dissemination and resource mobilization on FAST-specific topics:

    • Publish research results together with other researchers at UNU-EHS, with programme partners and beyond in international peer-reviewed journals, book chapters; and in policy-relevant formats;
    • Feed project outputs into high-impact communication campaigns;
    • Contribute to training and teaching activities, including in the UNU-EHS Joint Master;
    • Co-develop and conduct online and offline training modules;
    • Contribute to linking projects and outcomes to key global agendas;
    • Represent UNU-EHS on international conferences and events; such as COP and World Urban Forum.

    5. Contribute to programme and project management

    • Co-supervise junior researchers, student assistants and consultants;
    • Support junior researchers in drafting project outputs and publications;
    • Contribute to reporting and monitoring;
    • Contribute to reporting and proposal writing, and lead own proposals in coordination with the Programme head.

    6. Perform other duties as assigned by supervisor

    Key Performance Indicators

    • Production of quality knowledge, research and policy outputs
    • Timely and quality achievement of project indicators and submission of deliverables
    • Quality engagement with international and local project implementation partners
    • UNU is seen as a reliable and trustworthy partner by research partners, governments, donors, and civil society
    • Contribution to project, institute and UNU mission



    • 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

    Suggestion: Advanced university degree (Ph.D.) with high academic standing in Transformation/Transition Studies, Social Sciences, Policy, Geography, Environmental Science, Urban Studies, or other relevant fields;


    • A minimum of two (2) years progressively responsible professional experience, out of which at least one year post-doctoral, some of which preferably in an international setting;
    • Regional experience from Latin America is an asset;
    • In-depth knowledge of concepts and methods in transformation research and design, urban labs and participatory planning approaches is required;
    • Strong methodological skillset for qualitative empirical research is required, quantitative methods are an asset;
    • Experience with design of mixed-method research approaches is required, experience with the analysis of large datasets is an asset;
    • Demonstrated ability to synthesize complex information, regulations and policies and to translate into impactful communications and publications, reports and presentations is required;
    • Excellent communication and writing skills (academic and non-academic) is required;
    • Experience with the IKI (International Climate Initiative) research funding system, theory of change and reporting is an asset; experience with writing research project proposals is an asset;
    • Other Desirable Skills: Reflected team player with strong interpersonal skills, Initiative seeker; strong ability to carry out work independently; interest in interdisciplinary and international work

    Language Requirements

    • Fluency in English is required;
    • Proven working level knowledge of Spanish or Portuguese is required;
    • Knowledge of another UN official working language is an asset.


    UNU offers an attractive, tax exempt compensation package including an annual net salary and post adjustment, which reflects the cost of living in a particular duty station and exchange rates (subject to mandatory deductions for pension contributions and health insurance). Other benefits include: 30 days annual leave, dependency benefits, pension plan and health insurance scheme. Benefits for internationally recruited staff may include home leave, travel and removal expenses on appointment and separation, education grant for dependent children, assignment grant and rental subsidy. For more information please see:

    Duration of contract

    This is a full-time, fixed-term appointment. The initial appointment will be for one (1) year with the possibility of renewal on a fixed-term appointment basis, subject to satisfactory work performance.

    For academic positions, the combined duration of fixed-term appointments with UNU may not exceed six (6) years. The mandatory age of retirement for United Nations staff is 65 years.

    Expected starting 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;
    • provide a sample publication;
    • 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

    Staff members of the United Nations University are international civil servants subject to the Rector’s authority. They may be assigned to any of the activities or offices of the United Nations University. The Rector reserves the right to appoint a candidate at a level below that advertised.

    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. 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 at the same grade level and with similar job description, experience and educational requirements.

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