United Nations University

Researcher - Digital Technology & SDGs (PSA contract)

Join United Nations University as they are looking for a Researcher - Digital Technology & SDGs (PSA contract)

** Application Deadline extended**

About UN University (UNU)

The United Nations University (UNU) is an international community of scholars engaged in policy-oriented research, capacity development and dissemination of knowledge, furthering the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. UNU’s mission 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, United Nations University (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, 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 UNU Institute in Macau (UNU Macau)

UNU Institute in Macau (UNU Macau) is one of 13 research and training Institutes that comprise the think tanks in the UNU system. UNU Macau is a research institute at the intersections of digital technology and sustainable development. The Institute conducts policy-relevant research and generates solutions, addressing pressing challenges expressed in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through high-impact innovations and the latest technologies. Through its research, the UNU Institute in Macau encourages data-driven and evidence-based actions and policies to contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

One of the Institute’s missions is to nurture the next generation of interdisciplinary computing, information and social scientists, and engineers to be leaders in the field of ICT for development. To this end, the institute seeks to build a team of experts to help deliver the institute’s mission and work plan. The Institute’s research tends to be more applied, and strives for policy impact in the UN system, at international, regional and national levels.

The UNU Institute in Macau is situated in the Macau Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China, and it is the only UN entity in the city. Macau is one of the most dynamic regions in Asia, where technological innovations have become an integral part in driving social and economic change. Macau is part of the Greater Bay Area (GBA), that hosts many private sector companies and technological giants that are just a short distance away. Its proximity to China, Hong Kong SAR and other Asian countries such as Japan, Korea, Thailand and Vietnam, provides an exciting opportunity for researchers and experts to maximize the impact of their work.


Theresearch team consists of a dynamic and highly professional group ofmulti-disciplinary researchers from across the world. The research team workscollaboratively to draft grant proposals and conduct research projects. TheInstitute has recently developed its Strategic Plan (2021-2025), wheresystems thinking, and participatory approaches are the two major pillars ofthe research portfolio (see https://go.unu.edu/DZBVR for details).

Researchersare expected to perform the following responsibilities under the guidance anddirect supervision of the Head of Research and the Director of the Institute:

1. Implement the Institute’s StrategicPlan by achieving the following results:

  • Develop research activities while aligning them with the research priorities set out inthe Institute’s Strategic Plan (2021-2025); and
  • Jointly develop researchactivities with the wider team in the Institute, striving for policy impactin the UN system, at international, regional and national levels.

2. Resource mobilization and grant management
by achieving the following results:

  • Contributeto research grant proposal writing in collaboration with other researchers,and collectively meet fundraising targets set out in the Institute strategicplan and benchmarks and indicators;
  • Carryout grant research activities under the supervision of a Senior Researcher(Team Lead);
  • Ensure grant requirements arefulfilled, and reports are submitted on time;
  • Comply with donor agreements when using thegrants; and
  • Support the supervisor and Institute financeoffice on grant administration.

3. Exercisethe highest professional and ethical standards when conducting research, andensure high quality research outputs by achieving the following results:

  • Receive Ethics Review Board (ERB)’s approvalbefore conducting research;
  • Draftand submit periodic reports ontheir research activities;
  • Preparingdescriptions of programme activities for various audiences;
  • Create diverse written products related tothe research projects or areas of expertise, such as academic papers inhigh-ranking peer-reviewed journals, blogs, op-eds, policy briefs, and UNreports; and
  • Support the Communications team of theinstitute in providing outputs for social media and platforms.

4. As part of a research team, deliver high qualitypolicy-relevant research by achieving the following results:

  • Serveas a research project lead, when needed, to plan, develop, monitor andevaluate research activities;
  • Supervisethe project team and draft periodic reports; prepare descriptions ofprogramme activities for various audiences and venues, as required; and
  • Mentor junior team members and studentresearchers/interns if applicable.

5. Communicateresearch outcomes at academic conferences, and especially high-impactinternational venues (e.g. UN conferences) by achieving the followingresults:

  • Explore and suggest academicconferences and events to present academic results; attend if approved;
  • Contribute to the Institute’spublication/social media platforms to release academic achievements, such asto supply blog posts, journals, tweets, etc.

6. Conduct capacity-buildingactivities;participate in Institute events by achieving the following results:

  • Execute teaching responsibilities on behalfof UNU Macau when needed particularlyfor the learners and youth from the global south, and UN system colleagues;and
  • Actively participate in and take initiativesto organize Institute events and conferences.

7.  Perform other tasks as assigned by the Head of Research or Director.

Key performance indicators

  • Timely and quality implementation of the Institute’s strategy, research programmes, projects and workplans
  • Timely and quality delivery on operational goals
  • Timely and quality research publications
  • Timely and quality delivery of inputs to curated fundraising opportunities
  • Quality and level of engagement with partners, related networks and working groups
  • UNU Macau is seen as a reliable and trustworthy partner by research partners, governments, donors, and civil society
  • Performance of research team personnel; produces quality knowledge products



  • 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 certifications:

Doctoral Degree (PhD) in computer science, AI and ethics, information studies, human-computer interaction, communication studies, data science, development studies, international affairs, computational social science or related field is required. Research areas have to be related to digital technologies and their impact on the Sustainable Development goals.

Areas of expertise includes but are not limited to:

  • AI governance/ethics of AI
  • Computational social science;
  • Cyber security;
  • Digital health;
  • Applications and Impact of AI on Sustainable Development Goals;
  • Foresight applied to digital technologies and their social implications;
  • Modelling for policy making;
  • Closing Digital Gap for marginalized populations;
  • Collective intelligence.

Experience and other requirements:


  • At least five (5) years of research experience after completing the doctoral dissertation; Exceptions can be made for candidates with outstanding publication record, research fundraising results and/or broad UN exposure.
  • A track record of high-ranked academic publications;
  • 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;
  • Professionalism, flexibility and ability to work under realistic deadlines, creative thinking and out-of-the-box thinking, results driven, foreseeing risks and allowing for contingencies when planning;
  • Passion for the mission of the United Nations and enthusiasm to contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Selected candidates are required to reside full-time in Macau. It is not a remote position.


  • Entry to mid-career academic professionals;
  • Experience working with diverse stakeholders including public, private, non-profit and intergovernmental organizations;
  • Experience working with United Nations system.


The successful candidate will be employed under an international PSA contract. UNU offers an attractive compensation package including locally tax-exempted salary (net annual salary from USD$36,347) commensurate with the experience and qualifications of the candidate. Benefits include 30 days annual leave and a health insurance scheme.

UNU will cover the cost of travel of the international appointees (non-Macanese residents) to the duty station, as well as their return to their home upon final 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.

The international appointees can apply for rent-free housing (excluding utilities) at the Institute’s staff apartments in Macau. Housing benefits are subject to availability and it could not be commutative if not taken.

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

The duration of the initial contract is 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 holders is 65 years.

Expected start date:  

2023 - as soon as possible

How to Apply:

To apply to UNU, you will not need an account. Instead, we ask that you:

  • Apply via the apply link;
  • provide a curriculum vitae (including publications and grant-funding); please upload it in the screening questions section.
  • 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); and
  • answer a few questions that are tailored to the position.

You may wish to refer to the UN Values and Behaviours Framework for more information.

Application Deadline:  

21 March 2023 (11:59pm, Macau time zone GMT +8)

** Application page no more operational beyond application deadline.


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 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.

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.