Academic Officer – Head of Transformative Urban Coalitions Programme

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    Academic Officer - Head of Transformative Urban Coalitions Programme
    Bonn, Germany
    UTC +2

    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 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 more information, please visit

    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

    Transformative Urban Coalitions Programme:

    Limiting climate change requires rapid and radical transformation of development pathways, especially in cities, which are responsible for 70% of global CO2 emissions. Together with international consortium partner the Transformative Urban Coalition Programme will develop, test, and disseminate a scalable approach for achieving key shifts in urban development to put cities on a path to zero-carbon emissions by 2050. Over the course of the coming years the programme will test an approach to transformative governance by means of transformative research in five pilot cities in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, combined with implementation of transformative initiatives including the development of new actor constellations. Governance blueprints and lessons from pilot cities will be disseminated through the global networks of UNU and programme partners and new transformation partnerships initiated to make sustainable urbanisation a feasible global priority. One goal is to shape public debate both locally and globally, by means of media engagement, educational activities and interaction with art and film.

    The programme will be newly established within UNU-EHS and is foreseen to be financed for six years.


    Under the authority of the Director of UNU-EHS the successful candidate shall be responsible for the following tasks:

    • Successfully set up and manage the Transformative Urban Coalitions Programme at UNU-EHS with respect to its scientific and policy profile, human resources and budget; embedded into the overall strategy of the institute and UNU;
    • Recruit and manage a diverse team within UNU-EHS; including providing scientific guidance and mentoring;
    • Coordinate the Transformative Urban Coalitions Programme and its activities with programme partners and steering board;
    • Co-lead, with project partners, the development of a strategy for testing and scaling successful outcomes from pilot cities.
    • Publish research results, together with other researchers at UNU-EHS, with programme partner and beyond, in international peer-reviewed journals and book chapters;
    • Target with the scientific findings of the programme key policy processes, including through representing UNU at high-level conferences and events
    • Communicate research results to non-scientific audiences, including in the form of media interviews, Op-Eds, presentation and information materials for diverse target audiences
    • Contribute to the educational activities of UNU-EHS, including supervising MSc and PhD students;
    • Further Fundraise with German as well as international donors for policy relevant topics in line with the programme that also open-up research possibilities for PhD students;
    • Perform any other duties for the institute.

    Qualifications and Experience Requirements:

    • PhD in a relevant academic discipline, including, for instance, urban or spatial planning, geography, political science, economics, sociology, or cultural anthropology;
    • At least five years of professional experience in research and academia, some of which preferably in an international setting; experience in Latin America is desirable;
    • Proven experience with upscaling research results into global agendas and UN frameworks;
    • Professional experience in program design and implementation, management, or other forms of application of science to on-then-ground impact;
    • Proven familiarity with working on urban topics in transdisciplinary contexts, preferably including climate adaptation and mitigation, urban governance and transformation;
    • Strong track record in the leadership and management of research projects and teams;
    • Familiarity with UN and/or other international institutions and mechanisms;
    • Strong publication profile in the areas related to the Transformative Urban Coalitions programme;
    • Strong track record in securing third party funding and managing multinational third-party funded projects;
    • Experience with translating transdisciplinary approaches towards sustainability into web-based learning highly desirable;
    • Excellent communication skills and experience in publishing research results in different media outlets;
    • Fluency in English; and at least one of the following languages: Spanish, Portuguese, German;
    • Experience in supervising PhD and MSc students;
    • Experience in organizing seminars, workshops, and conferences;
    • Excellent team player with strong interpersonal skills and the ability to work in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity;
    • Experience with German research funding system, project administration and reporting is an asset.

    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.

    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


    We offer competitive net salary (tax-exempted) at P-3 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 System, 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 about United Nations salary and entitlement/benefits, please visit;

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

    Duration of Contract:

    This is a full time fixed-term appointment and an internationally 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 combined duration of fixed-term appointments shall not exceed six (6) years. 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

  • Application Procedure:

    Interested applicants should submit their applications by e-mail to (, and must include the following:

    • A cover letter setting out how the qualifications and experience match the requirements of the position;
    • A completed and signed UNU Personal History (P.11) form downloadable from UNU website. Please avoid using similar forms provided by other United Nations organizations
    • Full contact information of three referees; and the application must also indicate the reference number of the vacancy announcement (2020/UNU/EHS/FTA/AO/00151581)
  • VA _FTA_EHS_Academic Officer (Head of TUC Programme-P3)

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