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Senior Researcher / Researcher: Water Security and Health

Hamilton (Canada)

  • Organization: UNU - United Nations University
  • Location: Hamilton (Canada)
  • Grade: PSA - Personnel Service Agreement - Contractors Agreement - Consultancy
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Water Resource Management
  • Closing Date: 2021-08-21

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About United Nations University

The United Nations University (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. For more information, please visit

United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH)

The UNU Institute for Water, Environment and Health ( is a member of the UNU family of organizations. Its vision is a world free of water problems where sustainable human development and environmental health and security are assured for all. Its mission is to help resolve pressing water challenges that are of concern to the United Nations, its Member States, and their people. UNU-INWEH pursues its mission through critical analysis and synthesis of existing bodies of scientific discovery; targeted research that identifies emerging policy issues; application of on-the-ground scalable science-based solutions to water issues; and global outreach. UNU-INWEH is the only entirely-water focused Institute within the UNU System, and the only entirely water-related UN entity in Canada. UNU-INWEH is supported by the Government of Canada and hosted by McMaster University.
UNU-INWEH works on four broadly defined, interconnected thematic areas: i) accelerating the implementation of water-related SDGs; ii) activating a technology revolution for water security in the Global South; iii) advancing gender equality for effective water management; and iv) managing water- and climate- related risks for improved water security (UNU-INWEH-Strategic-Plan). The institute focuses primarily on global water issues and their implications for developing countries


Under the overall supervision of the Director, the incumbent will:
  • Contribute to research on water-related health risks under the key thematic direction of UNU-INWEH’s Strategic Plan: “Managing water- and climate- related risks for improved water security”. Contribute to another key UNU-INWEH thematic direction “Advancing gender equality for effective water management.”
  • Contribute expertise to ongoing projects in other two thematic directions of the Strategic Plan as required.
  • Contribute to fundraising efforts of the institute including the development of cross-thematic proposals.
  • Contribute to capacity building initiatives including development of new courses offered through the online Water Learning Center (, and Water Without Borders graduate programme ( – collaborative effort of UNU-INWEH and McMaster University. Attract and supervise interns.
  • Communicate research outputs at various scientific and policy events; co-ordinate and co-organise such events as required.
  • Publish research results in peer-reviewed journals, UNU-INWEH reports, and other outlets.
  • If needed, provide regular support to UNU-INWEH IT services and advise UNU-INWEH staff on IT matters.
  • Perform other tasks as assigned by the Director.           

Qualifications and Requirements

  • A Ph.D. in the field of water and health, water policy, international development, water resources planning and management, or a closely related discipline.
  • Three (3) years post-Ph.D. of progressively responsible work experience in water related research in the above fields for Researcher level, and six (6) years post-Ph.D. progressively responsible work experience in water related research in the above fields – for Senior Researcher level. Candidates without Ph.D. in a relevant discipline, or without specified years of post-Ph.D. experience, will not be considered.
  • On top of the key specialisation - knowledge of one or more of the following areas is an advantage:  financing water projects, water economics, transboundary water management, environmental management.
  • Work experience in developing countries including managing research projects in academia, research, or related institutions and international organisations would be desirable.
  • Proven record of addressing some non-technical aspects of water such as policies and institutions, economics, community-based work, and gender analysis is an asset.
  • Ability to to identify important emerging trends in the water sector and carry out analytical research utilising a variety of data and information sources to distill policy-relevant messages.
  • Knowledge of Results Based Management, Theory of Change, and ability to focus on policy impact.
  • A high-quality peer-reviewed publication record on the above and related topics.
  • Good presentation and networking skills.
  • Good understanding of various donor priorities and operation, recent experience in developing research proposals and ideally a successful track record in acquiring funding.
  • Project management experience: financial and administrative work in an international environment are added advantages (for Senior Researcher level).
  • Knowledge of the UN system and previous engagement with UN-Water are added advantages.
  • Ability to prioritize work and multi-task: focus on delivery and self-motivation.
  • A good team player with strong interpersonal skills demonstrated by the ability to work in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity.
  • Fluent in oral and written English is a must; knowledge of Spanish and/or Portuguese is an asset.


The successful candidate will be employed under an international PSA contract. UNU offers an attractive (tax-exempt in Canada) compensation package commensurate with the experience and qualifications of the candidate.
UNU may cover the cost of travel of the individual to the duty station, as well as their return to their home upon completion of their services. Travel costs are covered only in the event that the function will be undertaken physically in the duty station and excludes working from home arrangements.
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. The duration of the initial contract is one (1) year. This is Personnel Service Agreement (PSA) contract with UNU, with the possibility for renewal subject to requirements and satisfactory work performance. The combined duration on a PSA contract with UNU may not exceed six (6) years. The mandatory age of retirement for PSA is 65 years.

Expected start date

January 2022 or as soon as possible thereafter.

Application Procedure

Interested applicants should submit all required documents online using the link through Impactpool. Applications must include the following:
  • A separate cover letter setting out how the applicant’s qualifications and experience match the requirements of the position;
  • A completed and signed UNU Personal History (P.11) form downloadable from the UNU website.; Do not use similar forms provided by other United Nations organizations and do not submit your curriculum vitae;
  • An indication of the reference number of the vacancy announcement (2021/UNU/INWEH/PSA/WSH/73)
  • Only upload documents as requested.  Applications submitted with additional documents e.g. reference letters can be disqualified
Only short-listed candidates will be notified. Applications that do not include all the requested information will not be considered.


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

Special notice

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 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.

Scam warning

UNU does not charge any application, processing, training, interviewing, testing or other fee in connection with the application or recruitment process. Should you receive a solicitation for the payment of a fee, please disregard it. Furthermore, please note that emblems, logos, names and addresses are easily copied and reproduced. Therefore, you are advised to apply particular care when submitting personal information on the web.
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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