Research Associate – Urban Transformation Strategies (PSA-3) - Tenders Global

Research Associate – Urban Transformation Strategies (PSA-3)

  • Contract
  • Germany
  • Posted 3 months ago

United Nations University

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

The Urban Futures and Sustainability Transformation (FAST) Division researches systemic transformation toward sustainability to inform and enhance policy. The programme seeks to understand complex realities by researching social, environmental and technological sub-systems, such as infrastructure provision, social security mechanisms and related good governance approaches, with a focus on their interlinkages and dependencies. In this way, the programme aims to advance system understanding and identify key leverage points for triggering change. The work is rooted in the understanding that sustainable futures require technological conversion coupled with social and environmental justice. This includes research into what lifestyles are desirable, affordable and just in a changing global environment, which in turn advances conceptual approaches to future well-being. The focus is on urban areas, which already see the effects of global change and are among its key drivers at the same time. Based on its own primary and transformative research, FAST will provide science-based advice for inclusive urban policy action. This includes the development of narratives of attractive futures, linking social justice to risk reduction, climate adaptation and mitigation. A central element of the programme is the Transformative Urban Coalitions (TUC) project, where new models of coalition building, and governance are established and tested through catalyst projects in five “Urban Labs” in Latin America. Over the course of the coming years the project will test an approach to transformative governance by means of transformative research in five pilot cities in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, combined with implementation of transformative initiatives including the development of new actor constellations. The goal is to develop, test, and disseminate a scalable approach for achieving key shifts in urban development to put cities on a path to zero-carbon emissions by 2050.

For detailed information, please visit:


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

1. Contribute to transformation research, theory and policy development

  • Explore innovative research methods to analyze transformation needs and enablers; incorporating discourse and visual methods within a mixed-method approach;
  • Contribute to the development of conceptual framework for urban sustainability transformation in alignment with UNU-EHS and FAST strategic objectives;
  • Co-steer the application of developed frameworks to the TUC project, in collaboration with the project teams;
  • Contribute to theory and policy development by linking urban transformation research to other conceptual and empirical approaches, including climate change adaptation and mitigation, risk reduction and resilience building discourses;

2. Co-steer the development of urban transformation strategies

  • Contribute to the development, evaluation and adjustment of a toolbox, that is user-friendly, accessible, and adaptable to various urban contexts within the TUC project;
  • Support the implementation and scaling of five Urban Labs in Latin America, by providing support and information to country teams where needed;
  • Conduct fieldwork (individual and in teams) as needed, to support project research and implementation components, with a focus on TUC project;
  • Engage with diverse stakeholders across sectors, projects and regions, including community groups, NGOs, policymakers, and experts, to identify gaps, needs and requirements on practical transformation solutions, with a focus on socially just, zero-carbon cities;

3. Co-author project outputs and contribute to outreach activities:

  • Support and co-author scientific and policy publications;
  • Assist in the presentation of project results at scientific and policy-relevant conferences;
  • Develop capacity building materials to different audience types;
  • Contribute to scaling projects results, particularly methodologies and tools, to regional and global scales;
  • Contribute to organizing project-related events, including workshops and conference sessions;

4. Contribute to proposal writing

  • Collaborate with senior staff to identify funding opportunities;
  • Engage in strategic networking by liaising with actors working on topics related to urban transformation;

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
  • 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 Master’s degree in Geography, Sociology, Environmental Studies, Climate Science, Urban or Spatial Planning, or other relevant fields with an emphasis on climate change and transformation, preferably with experiences in urban contexts



  • Relevant experience (1 year desirable) from professional work or studies, with some exposure to international setting ; regional experience particularly in Latin America is considered a strong asset;
  • Familiarity with concepts and frameworks in transformation/transition research, climate adaptation and mitigation and/or resilience is essential;
  • Possess a strong methodological skillset for empirical research; with a preference for experience in application-oriented projects;
  • Familiarity with practical solutions and methods for sustainable urban development is essential;
  • Excellent communication and writing skills (academic and non-academic);
  • 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.

Language Requirements

  • Fluency in English is required;
  • Proven working level knowledge of Spanish or Portuguese is required;
  • Knowledge of another UN official working language 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

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: 3December 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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