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Resource Nexus for Sustainability Transformations - NEXtra Doctoral Scholarship Programme (Technology Topics)

United Nations University


Posted 2 weeks ago

Embark on a transformative journey with the United Nations University's Doctoral Research programme and contribute to global sustainability efforts.


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Dresden, DE

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Expires at anytime

The United Nations University (UNU) is at the forefront of research and capacity building, addressing global issues within the framework of the United Nations Charter. For over 40 years, UNU has served as a critical think tank, focusing on topics such as human survival, conflict prevention, and sustainable development, with a vast network of researchers and collaborations around the world.

The UNU Institute for Integrated Management of Material Fluxes and of Resources (UNU-FLORES) in Dresden, Germany, plays a pivotal role in developing strategies for sustainable environmental resource management, contributing to the Resource Nexus and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

  • Conduct in-depth research in one of the five cutting-edge topics related to sustainability and resource management.
  • Collaborate with international experts and contribute to United Nations' efforts through strategic workshops and events.
  • Disseminate knowledge through scientific publications and engage in advocacy to influence sustainability transformations.
  • Support educational development by contributing to the supervision of Master's students and organizing capacity-building workshops.
  • A Master's degree with a top-grade equivalent to the German system, not more than six years old at the start of the programme.
  • At least two years of related professional experience post-undergraduate degree.
  • Strong analytical abilities, research methodology knowledge, and a keen interest in sustainability or development cooperation.
  • Excellent writing, presentation, and interpersonal skills with the ability to work effectively in a diverse environment.
  • Proficiency in English and possibly other languages relevant to the research context.

To apply, submit a combined PDF file containing all required documents as per the EPOS checklist before the deadline of June 21, 2024. Shortlisted candidates will undergo an evaluation process that may include an assessment exercise and interview.

About 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.

About United Nations University Institute 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. 

Opportunities for Doctoral Research

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-month German language course) in the NEXtra programme. 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. Applicants should design their research so that it contributes to actionable sustainability transformations and SDG achievement. In addition to the academic recruitment criteria, applications will be assessed on responsiveness to regional/sub-regional contexts and evidence-based needs.

The NEXtra 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 1. Enhancing Water Security with Nature-based Solutions for Resilient and Water Smart Cities
Topic 2. Nexus Digital Solutions for Waste Logistics in Vietnam – Utilize IoT, AI, ML AR and e-commerce to achieve a Circular Economy
Topic 3. Environmental footprint of the electronics industry in the Global South: Applying the Resource Nexus as an analytical and management tool
Topic 4. Novel Biocompatible Systems for Health and Food Monitoring

Topic 5. Sustainable construction in the Global South: how can the Resource Nexus help in advancing technology and policy?


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;
  • 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;
  • 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;
  • 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;
  • 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
  • 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, a 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 1,300 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 must be paid directly to TU Dresden for enrollment. The DAAD will also provide health insurance and in-person introductory German classes (in February and March 2025). 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.

Start date

1 April 2025

How to Apply

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

  • Apply via the apply link;
  • Answer a few questions that are tailored to the position, and
  • Please note that you do not need to submit a P11 Form, instead, submit only one combined PDF file including the documents listed in the EPOS checklist and the ones detailed below.
  • Completed and signed EPOS Checklist, along with the documents mentioned in it: epos_checklist.pdf (; *Link to the DAAD application form; Link to the Europass CV Template;
  • 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.
  • Abstract of your Master thesis (max 1 page);
  • Reference letter from your academic supervisor including a letterhead and signature;
  • Copy of higher secondary school certificate (with an official translation if not in English);
  • Proofs of internships (if any).

Candidates who do not provide all required documents as per the specifications detailed in the EPOS checklist 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

Updated: 21st June 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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