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PhD Researcher

Dresden (Germany) | Namibia

  • Organization: UNU - United Nations University
  • Location: Dresden (Germany) | Namibia
  • Grade: PSA - Personnel Service Agreement - Contractors Agreement - Consultancy
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Environment
    • Economics
  • Closing Date: 2021-01-31

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About UN University

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) 

UNU-FLORES develops strategies to resolve pressing issues in the sustainable use and integrated management of environmental resources such as water, soil, waste, energy, and other geo-resources that are of concern to the United Nations and its Member States – particularly in developing and emerging economies. Based in Dresden, Germany, the Institute engages in research, capacity development, postgraduate teaching, advanced training, and knowledge dissemination to advance the Resource Nexus.

Objectives of the PhD Research  

Biodiversity loss is one of the most acute crises threatening human wellbeing. Many vital economic activities depend on biodiversity and the associated ecosystem services. For example, biodiversity forms a crucial basis of the economy and livelihoods in Namibia, where 70% of the population depend on biodiversity and natural resources. Thus, it is essential to enhance the sustainable use of biodiversity. In close collaboration UNU-FLORES, Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) will support research and capacity building in the field of Biodiversity Economics in Namibia.  

The successful PhD candidate will be given the opportunity to conduct research work on the topic of Biodiversity Economy, under the guidance of the PhD supervisors at both UNU-FLORES and Technische Universitaet Dresden.  The primary aim of the PhD project is to conduct and support the research needed to underpin the approach and mainstreaming of biodiversity economy in Namibia and support selected communities to maximise livelihood opportunities from biodiversity sustainably. Through this collaboration, UNU-FLORES aims at integrating biodiversity assessments (impact and dependencies) into business strategies. In selected case studies in Namibia, the natural capital protocol (NCP), an internationally recognised framework, will be applied for sustainability assessment. Upon completion of the PhD, it is expected that the successful candidate will take the knowledge back to their home country and disseminate the research results in a way that is beneficial for developing country’s capacity and personal career.


  • Conduct research work related to the “Biodiversity Economy in Selected Landscapes in Namibia” project;

  • Identify and implement the natural capital protocol in selected companies to identify and develop corporate best practices and recommendations

  • Conduct field research in Namibia including collecting and analysing data;

  • Publish peer-reviewed research articles and/or book chapters related to the research;

  • Draft policy briefs and other dissemination materials;

  • Support with mentoring students that work within the project;

  • Collaborate and maintain relationships with essential stakeholders to integrate biodiversity economics into Namibia’s community, commercial, and national biodiversity conservation programmes;

  • Contribute to organising workshops, events and other capacity development activities relevant to the project and UNU-FLORES;

  • Support with the assessment of ecosystem services in Namibia;

  • Contributing to our teaching activities, especially e-learning, curriculum development, and capacity development; 

  • Perform other duties as assigned by the supervisor and the director.

Required Qualifications and Experience

  • A Master’s degree or equivalent qualification in the field of Business or Economics;

  • Proven skills in statistical analysis;

  • Must have working knowledge and experience in sustainability assessment, the natural capital protocol, business and biodiversity initiatives, biodiversity, ecosystem services, or resource economics; understanding of the resource nexus would be desirable;

  • Demonstrated proficiency in English. Recognised proof of language proficiency is:

o   IELTS: required level is 7.0

o   TOEFL: level needed for the paper-based test is 600 points, and the internet-based test is 100 points

o   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

  •  Proficiency in both oral and written communication in one of the major languages of Namibia is mandatory;

  • Previous experience of fieldwork and/or project management is highly desirable;

  • Working experience in Namibia would be highly advantageous;

  • Strong planning, organisation and time management skills, with the ability to communicate clearly, and efficiently;

  • Must be flexible with the ability to establish priorities and work within prescribed timelines;

  • Excellent team player with strong interpersonal skills as demonstrated by the ability to work in a multicultural, multi-ethnic 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. 

Duration and remuneration

UNU-FLORES will provide a monthly salary of EUR 2,231.25 for the PhD position, and for a maximum of 3 years. Funding is provided by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). This salary is expected to cover relocation, living and education expenses. Please note that while the PhD programme is tuition-free, semester fees of approximately EUR 250-300 will need to be paid directly to TU Dresden for enrollment. For additional information on the programme and the admission procedure, please visit our website

Contract specification

This position is being offered as a part-time (75%) position and on a one (1) year Personnel Service Agreement (PSA) with UNU-FLORES, with the possibility of renewal subject to satisfactory work performance, and the completion of specific milestones. The combined duration of the contract shall not exceed three (3) 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.

This position carries an annual leave entitlement of 1.875 working days per month (a total of 22.5 days of paid annual leave), and a private health insurance coverage.

Starting Date

As soon as possible

Application Procedure

Interested applicants should submit their application and all required documents listed below online through Impactpool:

  1. Completed and signed Joint PhD Programme application form;
  2. Letter of motivation;
  3. Curriculum Vitae;
  4. A short research proposal (max two pages) describing how you would approach the research topic;
  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;

Please note only shortlisted candidates will be contacted. Shortlisted candidates will be required to prepare a 10-minute presentation as part of the interview process.


We do our best to provide you the most accurate info, but closing dates may be wrong on our site. Please check on the recruiting organization's page for the exact info. Candidates are responsible for complying with deadlines and are encouraged to submit applications well ahead.
Before applying, please make sure that you have read the requirements for the position and that you qualify.
Applications from non-qualifying applicants will most likely be discarded by the recruiting manager.

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