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Research Associate - Organic agriculture transition (PSA-3)

United Nations University


Posted over 30 days ago...


Join the UNU-EHS team to pioneer sustainable agricultural practices in Vietnam and shape the future of global environmental security


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No salary declared 😔

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Platz der Vereinten Nationen 1

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In-person- Berlin Germany

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Expires at anytime

The United Nations University (UNU) stands at the forefront of research, capacity development, and knowledge dissemination within the framework of the United Nations. For over 40 years, UNU has been instrumental in addressing global issues and fostering sustainable development through its network of scholars and collaborations with UN agencies and leading institutions.

UNU's Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) is dedicated to reducing vulnerability and environmental risks to advance human security. The EVES Section within UNU-EHS is seeking a passionate individual for the 'OrganoRice' project, which focuses on transitioning to organic farming in Vietnam's Mekong Delta. This role involves conducting research, stakeholder engagement, and developing evaluation methods for organic farming practices that contribute to disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.

  • Participate in fieldwork and stakeholder engagement in the Mekong Delta
  • Analyze data and contribute to scientific articles and policy documents
  • Develop and manage evaluation processes for organic farming transition benefits
  • Support overall project management and present findings at conferences
  • Master’s degree in a relevant field required
  • Experience in climate change adaptation and familiarity with ecosystem services
  • Strong skills in qualitative research and stakeholder engagement
  • Excellent communication and writing ability
  • Proficiency in English; Vietnamese is an advantage

The UNU offers a competitive salary package, annual leave, and health insurance. The initial contract is for one year with the possibility of renewal. Applications are open globally, with assistance provided for German work visa procurement. No relocation allowances are applicable.

Interested candidates should apply with a completed UNU P11 Form, motivation statement, cover letter, sample publication, and answers to position-specific questions here by 7 April 2024.

United Nations University (UNU)

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.

United Nations University - Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS):

UNU-EHS, established in December 2003, is one of 14 research and training Institutes that comprise the think tanks in the UNU system and 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

Environmental Vulnerability & Ecosystem Services (EVES) Section

The EVES division conducts policy-oriented research on the role of ecosystems and their contributions to people for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA). Its mission is to integrate the well-being of nature and people to develop science-based solutions that better address multiple global challenges. The EVES team has a strong track record in illustrating how ecosystems are impacted by climate-related hazards and explores the connection between ecosystem losses and damages and their ability to contribute to DRR and CCA. The research of EVES generates scientific evidence that advances our understanding of diverse and multiple values of ecosystems relevant not only for disaster risk and climate change adaptation approaches, but also for progressing biodiversity and sustainable development goals. They also support implementation of ecosystem-based approaches by conceptualizing and developing methods for more integrated design and evaluation in different contexts such as south and south-east Asia, West Africa and Europe.

BMBF Client II – International Partnerships for Sustainable Innovations: OrganoRice

This position is with the ongoing project “OrganoRice”, a BMBF-funded project supporting the conversion to organic farming methods, specifically in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam, through close cooperation between German and Vietnamese partners. In addition to the purely agricultural framework, the project emphasizes a holistic approach accounting for socio-cultural and ecological factors in order to promote resilience. Approaches, policies, opportunities and challenges are to be assessed together with local stakeholders to derive an approach to transition that best addresses the sustainability issues of local communities and aids climate change adaptation. This project aligns with the EVES research streams of understanding the role of ecosystems (in this case agroecosystems) in disaster risk reduction (DRR) and promoting climate change adaptation (CCA), and developing methods for evaluating CCA measures. The experimental transition from conventional to organic rice farming in three provinces of the Mekong Delta in partnership with local farmers, businesses and researchers will form a knowledge platform for expanding the use of organic approaches to build resilient, sustainable delta futures. In conjunction with other working groups, UNU will focus on understanding and evaluating the non-economic benefits of organic transition, particularly those from ecosystem services related to DRR and CCA. Using a combination of stakeholder engagement and data synthesis, UNU will further develop holistic methodologies for evaluating the effectiveness of adaptation measures in the context of other frameworks for assessing sustainability actions, including NCPs (IPBES), the Global Biodiversity Framework (CBD), SDGs and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.


Under the authority of the Director of UNU-EHS and the direct supervision of the Head of the EVES division, the successful candidate will be entrusted with the following tasks:

1.Conduct participatory research and stakeholder engagement in the Mekong Delta study area.

  • Build on previous work and pilot studies in the project to date to design the approach for engaging with relevant local stakeholders in interviews and focus group discussions on non-economic benefits / ecosystem services related to organic rice transition
  • Plan and conduct field work in collaboration with German and Vietnamese partners in the working group;
  • Build and maintain network with local stakeholders and contacts to enhance cooperation in completing project tasks
  • Analyze and document the results from the stakeholder engagement and synthesise relevant results from other project partners;

2. Manage and document data, analysis and results.

  • Collect and analyze qualitative data;
  • Conceptualize coherence and alignment among selected approaches and triangulate with input from participatory research;
  • Take care of a comprehensive and structured data management and results documentation;
  • Support and (co-)author a main report and contribute to policy documents, factsheets and scientific articles;

3. Develop approaches for evaluating adaptation benefits of organic transition.

  • Collect and review approaches for evaluating adaptation effectiveness, particularly relating to non-economic benefits and nature’s contribution to people;
  • Design a structured process for integrating data collected, including by other working groups in the project, into an overarching evaluation of the benefits of organic rice transition in the Mekong Delta;

4. Support overall project management:

  • Support the PI in tasks related to project management (attending meetings, report writing, documentation, etc.);
  • Present project results at scientific and policy-relevant conferences;
  • Organize project-related outreach events, including workshops and conference sessions;
  • Supervise student assistants;

5. Perform other duties as assigned by supervisor

Key Performance Indicators

  • Timely and quality collection and analysis of relevant primary and secondary data
  • Timely and quality achievement of project indicators and submission of deliverables
  • High quality engagement with project team and implementation partners
  • Contribution to project, institute and UNU mission.



  • 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

1) Education and certification

Completed Master’s degree with high academic standing in Geography, Sustainability Science, Agricultural Science, Environmental Sciences, Social Science or other relevant disciplines;

2) Required skills and experience

  • Relevant work experience in the field of climate change adaptation is required (1 year desirable)
  • Familiarity with concepts of ecosystem services, disaster risk, vulnerability and ecosystem-based approaches for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation is required;
  • Familiarity with interdisciplinary research and strong methodological skillset, particularly for qualitative empirical research, is required;
  • Experience in stakeholder engagement and workshop organization is required;
  • Excellent communication and writing skills (academic and non-academic) is required;
  • Experience in working with remote sensing and other spatial data is desirable;
  • Experience with overseas field work is desirable;
  • Other Desirable Skills: Team player with strong interpersonal skills, initiative seeker, strong conceptual and drafting ability, interest in interdisciplinary and international work, strong methodological skills;

3) Language Requirements:

  • Fluency in English is required;
  • Knowledge of another UN official working language is desirable;
  • Fluency in Vietnamese is desirable;


The successful candidate will be employed under a national PSA
contract. UNU offers an attractive compensation package including an
annual net salary, commensurate with the experience and qualifications
of the candidate. Benefits include 30 days annual leave and a health
insurance scheme.

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.

This post is open to applicants from all countries and UNU will aid the successful applicant in securing a work visa for Germany, as necessary.
It is, however, a locally recruited post and no relocation allowances apply. The duty station will be Bonn, Germany.

Starting date: As soon as possible

How to Apply

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

  • 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);
  • provide a cover letter setting out how the qualifications and experience match the requirements of the position;
  • provide a sample publication;
  • answer a few questions that are tailored to the position; and

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

  • apply via the apply link.

Application Deadline: 7 April 2024


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

Special Notice

Staff members of the United Nations University are international civil servants subject to the Rector's authority. They may be assigned to any of the activities or offices of the United Nations University. The Rector reserves the right to appoint a candidate at a level below that advertised.

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. 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.

If you have supervisory function you need to have awareness on gender related issues.

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.


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