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NEXtra Doctoral Researchers 2024

United Nations University


Posted over 30 days ago...


Join United Nations University as they are looking for a NEXtra Doctoral Researchers 2024


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Dresden, DE

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Expires at anytime

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 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.

Doctoral Research

NEXtra, or "Resource Nexus for Sustainability Transformations" offers opportunities to conduct doctoral studies under joint supervision by experts from TU Dresden, UNU-FLORES and IOER. Under the EPOS- Development- Oriented Postgraduate Courses funding programme, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) will support doctoral candidates (scholarships for 42 months, plus entitlement for a two-months German language course; for details of the scholarship, please refer to  EPOS page of DAAD). From 2023 until 2030, we expect an annual intake of 7 to 8 scholarship-funded candidates.

The successful candidates will have the opportunity to conduct research work to advance the Resource Nexus and support the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals. Selected students will be jointly supervised by experts from Technische Universitaet Dresden, UNU-FLORES and the Leibniz Institute for Ecological Urban and Regional Development (IOER), and enrolled in one of the Joint Doctoral Programmes of TU Dresden with UNU-FLORES, and/or the Dresden Leibniz Graduate school of IOER. Additionally, students will collaborate with and support the work of the United Nations Development System (UNDS) in their geographic area(s) of research focus, and engage with one or more entities of the UNDS via the Resident Coordinator System, which includes the United Nations Development Coordination Office (UN-DCO), its regional teams and the resident coordinator offices at the national level. As a facet of the NEXtra project, the selected students must design their research to consider its impact on communities and strive to translate their findings into policy advice and real-world application and solutions, which may be taken up by the UNDS in its efforts to support SDG achievement.In addition to the academic recruitment criteria, applications will be assessed on responsiveness to regional/sub-regional contexts and evidence-based needs. TheNEXtra Doctoral Research offers the opportunity to study under one of the following topics. You may apply to a maximum of 2 subject-related topics. Separate proposals will need to be submitted in the same application.

Topic-related qualifications and descriptions can be found in the following document: NEXtra Topics 2024

Topic 1: Sustainability Transformations in Post-Mining Regions: Applying the Resource Nexus to Coal Phaseout

Topic 2: The Role of Vocational Education and Training for Promoting Sustainability in Industry

Topic 3: Pathways for Resilient Agri-food Systems in Latin America – Design of the Resource Nexus

Topic 4: Economic Potential and Spatial Economic Effects of the Green Hydrogen Industry in North Africa

Topic 5: Using Beneficial or Endophytic Microbes to Increase Crop Plant Performance under Combined Abiotic Stress Factors

Topic 6: Transdisciplinary Knowledge Integration for Systemic Sustainability Transformations in Regional Water Management

Topic 7: Clean Water for Better Health: Predicting emerging antibiotic resistance in wastewater E. coli with machine learning 

Topic 8: Nexus Dilemmas on Urban-regional Deep Decarbonisation Pathways: Analytical perspectives and future place-based strategies  

Topic 9: The Role of Stakeholders in Corporate Biodiversity Management in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region

Topic 10: What to do – Translation of Water Monitoring Data for Decision-makers to Establish Sustainable Measures 

Topic 11: Mapping Citizens’ Perception for Sustainability Transition Research

Topic 12: Water Stewardship in Industry: Challenges and Opportunities in Industrializing Countries of the Global South 

Topic 13: Social Inclusion and Gender Balance in Travel Behavior – A Comparative Study in India and Germany 

Topic 14: Energy Transition and Regional Resource Nexus: The Societal Dimension and Governance Requirements

Topic 15: Novel Electronics with Low Environmental Impact

Topic 16: Increasing Food Security by Predictive Irrigation Management based on Seasonal Forecasts in West Africa 

Topic 17: Financial Instruments to Enable Public and Private Sector Investment in Infrastructure for Sustainable Development

Selected candidates will collaborate with fellow doctoral students and senior scientists within and beyond NEXtra. Beyond conducting research, they will publish their results in scientific articles and discuss and disseminate their findings at scientific and implementation-oriented conferences and workshops. They will contribute to the work of the United Nations, particularly concerning the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals through UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Frameworks.


1. Perform research work related to one of the topics listed above

  • Develop and implement a suitable and robust research methodology to advance the scientific knowledge within the specific topic; and
  • Contribute to the advancement of the Resource Nexus approach and strategies for sustainability transformations in the context of the specific topic.

2. Collaborate within NEXtra and with the UN system

  • Actively participate in workshops and other events organized within NEXtra.
  • Actively engage in information exchange, discussions and strategic collaboration with UN entities related to your topic and region, via the Resident Coordinator System as the entry- point; and
  • Collaborate with other students in NEXtra to exchange knowledge and identify and achieve synergies.

3. Contribute to knowledge dissemination

  • Develop strategies for advocacy and the transfer of knowledge to other regions that face similar challenges;
  • Research, write and publish papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals;
  • Present research findings at scientific implementation-related conferences and similar events; and
  • Communicate research findings beyond academia, e.g., by outreach to local communities or by publishing at least one transfer-oriented product such as a policy brief.

4. Support capacity development and educational development

  • Contribute to the education/supervision of Master students at the NEXtra partner institutions and/or in the target region/country of the research; and
  • Contribute to capacity development activities, such as organizing workshops

5. Perform other duties as assigned by the supervision team

Key Performance Indicators

  • Timely and quality development and implementation of the project plan;
  • Timely submission and successful completion of the final Doctoral Thesis;
  • Presentation of papers/ posters/briefing notes at conferences, seminars, workshops or similar events;
  • Contribute to the positive reputation of the NEXtra consortium as reliable and trustworthy partners among the research community, governments, donors, and civil society;



  • 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


  • Topic-related qualifications are listed in the Topic Description Document: NEXtra Topics 2024
  • Excellent academic profile including a Master’s degree with an equivalent grade of 2.5 or better according to the German system;
  • The Master’s degree must be completed at the beginning of starting the scholarship, but should not be older than six (6) years at the beginning of the doctoral research;
  • At least two years of related work experience after the first academic degree (typically, Bachelor’s degree);
  • At the time of the application deadline, applicants may not have been in Germany for longer than fifteen (15) months;
  • Sound scientific background knowledge and methodological competencies that specifically relate to the selected topic;
  • First experiences in conducting preferably trans-/interdisciplinary research (e.g., research-oriented master thesis, research, or consultancy-related employment);
  • Strong interest and previous academic/ work experience related to at least one of the following three fields: (1) sustainability/ sustainable development; (2) development cooperation and/or (3) the Resource Nexus;
  • Capacity to structure complex tasks; strong analytical abilities;
  • Excellent writing skills and presentation skills;
  • Strong planning, organisation and time management skills, with the ability to communicate clearly and efficiently in different contexts (e.g., academia, UN system);
  • Must be flexible with the ability to establish priorities and work within prescribed timeframes;
  • An excellent team player with strong interpersonal skills, demonstrated by the ability to work in a multicultural, multi-ethnic environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity;
  • Demonstrated proficiency in English is required;
  • Proficiency in the official language of your envisioned target country or region (in addition to English) would be highly advantageous;
  • Knowledge of German and/or another UN official working language is an asset.

Duration and remuneration

The DAAD-EPOS pays a monthly stipend of EUR 1,200 for the duration of the Doctoral Research (up to a maximum of 42 months). The stipend is expected to cover all living and education expenses. While the Doctoral programme is tuition-free, semester fees of approximately EUR 250-300 will need to be paid directly to TU Dresden for enrollment. The DAAD can also provide health insurance and introductory German classes. An additional allowance for travel or research will be part of the scholarship offered by DAAD. Details will be shared with nominated candidates.

The successful candidate will be enrolled as a student based in Dresden, Germany.

Starting Date: April 2024

How to Apply:

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

  • Apply via the apply line;
  • answer a few questions that are tailored to the position; and
  • Submit the following documents as one combined PDF file (upload location: "P11 Form file upload" on the Application page):
    1. Completed and signed EPOS Checklist: epos_checklist.pdf ( (including all documents listed)
    2. In addition to all the documents detailed in the EPOS checklist, please provide the following:
    3. Research proposal (max 13,000 characters including spaces, plus references) with the following sections: a) Background and motivation; b) State of the art and current scientific discussion; c) Research approach and methodology; d) Work plan; e) References.
    4. Abstract of your Master thesis (max 1 page)
    5. Reference letter from your academic supervisor, on official letterhead and signature.
    6. Copy of high school/ secondary school certificate
    7. Proof of internships (if any)

Candidates who do not provide all required documents will not be considered. Please note that only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

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

Application Deadline: 18 June 2023


Evaluation of qualified candidates will include a competency-based interview, background checks and references. 

Special Notice
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.


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