Postdoc: Land system science tools for assessing pathways toward achieving global biodiversity targets

Postdoc: Land system science tools for assessing pathways toward achieving global biodiversity targets

Published Deadline Location
5 Jan 15 Jan Amsterdam

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Do you have experience in quantitative sustainability assessment and would you like to work with a global team of land system scientists? Please apply at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Job description

This project will synthesize the extent to which land system science based assessment methods are able to impact on decision making towards implementing sustainability goals. We will use the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework as a case.
Achieving biodiversity targets might create unanticipated negative consequences for human livelihoods, other sustainability dimensions or (indirectly) biodiversity through demands and influences on land use in places distinct and distant from those where the CBD goals and targets are implemented.
The postdoc will work with a small core team of land system scientists (Peter Verburg, Erle Ellis and Yves Zinngrebe) while engaging the larger land system science community.
The succesful candidate is expected to use (some of) the following methodological approaches: 1) Document analysis of relevant CBD decisions and National targets (with focus on the EU and France); 2) Review of previous studies on unanticipated spillovers of selected Aichi Targets and Biofuel directives, and how land system science based assessments were made to analyze these, and what the policy impact of these studies was; 3) Selection of a set of tools based on the previous steps that are expected to allow assessment of the GBF implementation with high policy relevance (including value chain analysis (e.g. TRASE), land use modelling (global economic modelling and spatial land use modelling) and environmental and social impact analysis); 3) Employment of the selected set of tools on the analysis of land system consequences of the CBD/GBF; 4) Participation in expert processes and engagement in events relevant for CBD to analyze the potential of the tools and assessments of having policy impact. A more detailed description of the envisioned project is at:
The position is financed as a synthesis effort of the Wyss Academy for Nature. The project will be guided by a group of land system scientists at different institutes worldwide and the postdoc will have the opportunity to make working visits to those labs. The appointment is hosted at VU Amsterdam and the candidate is expected to spend the majority of time in Amsterdam.

Your duties
  • conduct research and publish peer-reviewed papers
  • provide model-based assessments of alternative ways of implementing progress towards newly agreed biodiversity targets
  • engage with the land system science community and relevant science-policy interaces
  • provide an outlook for the land system science community on knowledge gaps in assessment methods for analyzing sustainability targets and impacting on decision making


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)


  • PhD degree in geography, environmental sciences or conservation planning
  • proven experience in quantitative (spatial) sustainability assessment in relation to land use
  • good communication and publication skills

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 2 years.

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. On full-time basis the remuneration amounts to a minimum gross monthly salary of €2,960 (scale 10) and a maximum €4,670 (scale 10), depending on your education and experience. The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 0.8 FTE.

The initial employment contract will affect a period of 2 years.
Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:
  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment,
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus,
  • solid pension scheme (ABP),
  • contribution to commuting expenses


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavor - from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 30,000 students. We employ over 5,500 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam's Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

The Faculty of Science
The Faculty of Science inspires researchers and students to find sustainable solutions for complex societal issues. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to medicines and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research programmes cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. We share knowledge and experience with leading research institutes and industries, both here in the Netherlands and abroad.

Working at the Faculty of Science means working with students, PhD candidates and researchers, all with a clear focus on their field and a broad view of the world. We employ more than 1,250 staff members, and we are home to more than 11,000 students.

About the institute
The Institute for Environmental studies (IVM) is a leading environmental research institute that is internationally recognized for its high quality research output in a range of environmental disciplines, as well as for its interdisciplinary work. The mission of the institute is to contribute to sustainable development and care for the environment through scientific research and teaching. IVM aims to do excellent problem-oriented research that is useful to a wide range of stakeholders in the Netherlands and internationally. A unique strength of our research is to understand sustainability problems in their social and economic context. IVM research community works within four departments: Environmental Economics; Environmental Policy Analysis; Environmental Geography; and Water and Climate Risk. IVM is part of the Faculty of Science at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam ( This position is based within the Environmental Geography department. The Environmental Geography department conducts interdisciplinary research on the spatial aspects of environmental and social challenges and the solutions sustainable land use can provide to these.


  • Postdoc
  • 30.4—38 hours per week
  • €2960—€4670 per month
  • Doctorate
  • 13286


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)

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De Boelelaan 1105, 1081HV, Amsterdam

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