Associate Academic Officer – Vulnerability & Impact-based Early Warning / Project Manager – (PSA5/6 )

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 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 Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS):

UNU-EHS, established in December 2003, is part of the UNU system, 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

Vulnerability Assessment, Risk Management & Adaptive Planning (VARMAP) division:

The VARMAP division conducts policy-oriented research on systemic risks and pathways to sustainability in the context of climate change. Its vision is to provide actionable knowledge for climate-resilient futures. VARMAP has a strong track record in developing and applying conceptual frameworks to understand the complex nature of risks. VARMAP explores opportunities for risk reduction and examines diverse adaptation options and pathways towards sustainability and resilient societies. Supporting informed decision-making by digital means and ensuring an inclusive and just digitalization are of growing importance in VARMAP’s work. VARMAP helps to implement the UN’s 2030 Development Agenda, the Sendai Framework, the Paris Agreement and other sustainability-oriented international initiatives. VARMAP convenes an interdisciplinary team and works with a wide network of partners from science and practice. The division draws on mixed methods approaches, integrating qualitative and quantitative tools. It unites a global orientation with empirical work in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas.

The EWS-IGAD project:

Contributing to the “Early Warnings for All” (EW4All) initiative of the United Nations, the EWS-IGAD (“Towards actionable impact-based early warning in Africa: integrating exposure and vulnerability into early warning systems – a pilot study in the IGAD region”) project seeks to expand existing hazard-based early warning systems (EWS) towards actionable impact-based EWS that also consider exposure and vulnerability. Thereby, the focus will be on floods and droughts and the risks associated with these hazards, (including multiple assets, sectors or systems) with the aim to co-develop an approach and methodology that can be extended to other climate-related extremes and natural hazards. The project will focus on the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) region in Eastern Africa and include a regional component covering the entire IGAD region and two country pilots (i.e. Ethiopia, Kenya). The project aims to provide recommendations for upscaling and transferring the approach and methodology to other countries and regions on the African continent and to make impact-based EW messages actionable. Training activities shall strengthen capacities of relevant stakeholders to design, implement, and scale up impact-based EWS.


Under the authority of the Vice-Rector/Director of UNU-EHS and the direct co-supervision of the Head of the VARMAP division and the Academic Officer/PI of the project, the successful candidate will support activities related to project management, and will be entrusted with the following tasks:

1. Integrating exposure and vulnerability into early warning systems

  • Taking a leading role in the co-development of an innovative approach and methodology for impact-based early warning in the IGAD region (incl. types of exposed elements and their vulnerabilities, triggers, thresholds) in close collaboration with project partners and relevant stakeholders
  • Identify lessons learned from existing impact-based EWS in a selected number of countries outside the IGAD region through desk study and key informant interviews with relevant agencies
  • Support the co-creation of conceptual risk models for impact-based early warning building on and following the impact chain methodology in the two pilots (Kenya, Ethiopia). These conceptual models will focus on the most relevant impacts of floods and droughts in the pilots and their underlying risk drivers.
  • Take a leading role in the development of vulnerability information and data for different elements (e.g. population, economic sectors, infrastructure) in the IGAD region and county pilots
  • Conduct research on how to make impact-based warning information actionable for relevant stakeholders

2. (Co-)author research outputs and lead outreach activities

  • Take a leading role in the preparation of scientific outputs from the project including a policy brief and publications in peer-reviewed journals
  • Present results at relevant events and scientific and policy-relevant conferences;

3. Project management and reporting

  • Coordinate with project partners and relevant stakeholders and ensure timely reporting to the donor
  • Take a leading role in the preparation of annual project and financial reports and all other project related outputs
  • Lead the verification of project reports from project partners

4. Contribute to capacity building in the project and teaching activities at UNU-EHS

  • Support project partners in the identification of capacity strengthening needs of relevant actors in the country pilots and the implementation of capacity strengthening activities in the project (e.g. webinars, training sessions)
  • As required, contribute to ongoing teaching and education activities at UNU-EHS, incl. supervision of MSc theses

5. Beyond the EWS-IGAD project

  • Identify and lead third party funding application in VARMAP division in related to the mission and vision of UNU-EHS
  • Liaison with other UN agencies and partner institutions on matters pertaining to the mission and vision of UNU-EHS, in particular early warning and actionable knowledge
  • Perform other duties as assigned by supervisor

The TORs above are primarily for Associate Academic Officer (PSA6). In case the position was offered as Project

Manager (PSA5), the TORs might be slightly revised.

Key Performance Indicators

  • Quality development of innovative research approaches
  • Timely and quality development and delivery of outputs from the IGAD-EWS project
  • Quality and level of engagement with project and implementation partners
  • Creation and dissemination of scientifically informed policy outputs pertaining to impact-based early warning
  • UNU is seen as a reliable and trustworthy partner by research partners, 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
  • Analyze 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 certification

  • Completed PhD or MSc (or equivalent) in environmental, natural or social sciences, geography, climate impact studies, or another related field. PhD is required for Associate Academic Officer (PSA6 level).



  • At least one year of post-doctoral work experience for Associate Academic Officer (PSA6) or at least four years of progressively responsible professional experience after the completion of the MSc degree for Project Manager (PSA5) in the field of vulnerability and risk assessment, early warning and/or climate services;
  • Strong research and publication profile in vulnerability and risk concepts and methods for their assessment;
  • Experience in drafting reports, policy briefs, and delivering presentations;


  • Experience with participatory research is a strong asset;
  • Work experience and existing professional networks in countries of the IGAD region are a strong asset;
  • Experience in the field of actionable knowledge is an asset;
  • Sound communication skills including the ability to present the work in front of different stakeholders is a strong asset;
  • Experience with project management preferably in an international and multi-cultural environment and writing proposals for third-party funding is desired;
  • Previous experience in teaching at the BSc/MSc-level, including the supervision of BSc or MSc-theses;
  • Other Desirable Skills: Initiative taking, strong conceptual and methodological abilities, drafting ability

Language Requirements

  • Fluency in English both oral and written, is required;
  • Knowledge of another UN official working language is an asset.
  • Knowledge of any local language in the two pilot countries (Kenya, Ethiopia) is an asset


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

This is a full-time employment on a twelve (12) months Personnel Service Agreement (PSA) contract with possibility for renewal subject to requirements and satisfactory work performance, with the combined duration of appointments not exceeding 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.

Expected start 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;
  • answer a few questions that are tailored to the position; and
  • apply via the apply link.

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

Application Deadline: 12 September 2023


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.

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As soon as possible

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