Project Associate — Critical Infrastructure Resilience and Emergency Preparedness

Application procedure
Related Files
    Personnel Service Agreement (PSA)
    Bonn, Germany
    UTC +2

    United Nations University

    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.

    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 position will be shared between the newly founded Urban Futures & Sustainability Transformation (FAST) Programme and the Vulnerability Assessment, Risk Management & Adaptive Planning (VARMAP) section.

    NOWATER project

    Healthcare facilities, especially hospitals, are an essential critical infrastructure for society. While the scenario of a power failure is firmly anchored in the emergency planning of hospitals, the maintenance of water supply and disposal has hardly been considered so far. Yet it is a prerequisite for the functioning of a hospital and thus for the safety of patients.

    As part of a larger network, the particular objective of UNU-EHS’ research is to improve contingency planning for failures or impairments of water supply and sanitation in health care facilities by comprehensively addressing organisational issues. This approach is based on the understanding that successful emergency preparedness can only be achieved through the interaction of technical and organisational processes, and that the “human factor” and social resilience are of elementary importance for strengthening the resilience of health infrastructure.

    For more information, please visit the project page.


    Under the authority of the Director of UNU-EHS and the supervision of the Head of FAST Programme and the Head of VARMAP section, the successful candidate shall be responsible for the following tasks:

    • support the project lead in the implementation of the NOWATER project on “Emergency preparedness planning for water supply and sanitation in health care facilities — organisational and technical solution strategies to increase resilience” — with a focus on organisational aspects related to emergency preparedness planning
    • co-develop the development of a methodology to analyse emergency preparedness planning for health care facilities
    • carry out vulnerability and risk assessments of critical infrastructures and their technical and social interdependencies, with a focus on water and health infrastructures
    • conduct surveys of scientific and grey literature; perform document and content analysis of legal frameworks
    • collect and analyse original empirical data from expert interviews, online surveys, stakeholder workshops and participatory observation, to inform the design and management critical health infrastructure contingencies
    • support writing project reports, draft outreach and communication material in English and German language
    • co-publish research results, together with other researchers at UNU-EHS and project partners in international peer-reviewed journals and book chapters, as well as in policy publications
    • contribute to feeding the findings of the project into national and international research and policy processes, including at conferences and events
    • support and take over responsibilities in the day-to-day project management, including the supervision of student assistants, reporting and donor interaction, and workshop organisation
    • take up other related duties as required

    Qualifications and experience requirements

    Required qualifications and experience include:

    • a completed master’s degree with high academic standing in geography, sociology, engineering, or other relevant fields with an emphasis on critical infrastructures or health
    • relevant professional experience related to critical infrastructures/emergency preparedness planning (ideally in water and/or health context) is desirable
    • strong methodological skillset for quantitative and qualitative empirical research, a focus on social and risk research methods (including vulnerability & risk assessments) is desirable
    • familiarity with concepts of critical infrastructure resilience, disaster risk, and vulnerability
    • excellent communication and writing skills (academic and non-academic) with fluency in spoken and written English and German
    • demonstrated ability to synthesise complex information, regulations and policies and to translate into impactful communications and publications/reports/presentations
    • initiative seeker; strong ability to carry out work independently; curious personality preferred
    • respected team player with strong interpersonal skills demonstrated by the ability to work in a multicultural environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity

    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.


    Remuneration will be commensurate with qualifications and experience.

    Duration of contract

    The successful candidate shall work under a Personnel Service Agreement (PSA) for a fixed period of twelve (12) months. Further continuation of the contract is desired. The combined duration of appointments under a PSA shall not exceed six (6) years.

    This is a locally recruited post and no relocation allowances apply. The successful candidate will be employed under a local contract and will not hold international civil servant status nor is he/she 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 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 curriculum vitae and a completed and signed UNU Personal History (P.11) form; please avoid using similar forms provided by other United Nations organisations
    • a sample of academic writing, e.g. published article, blog post, or chapter of master’s thesis
    • full contact information of three references
    • an indication of the reference number of the vacancy announcement (2021/UNU/EHS/PSA/PA/NOWATER/38)