PhD position on global drought risk and governance of biodiverse ecosystems

PhD position on global drought risk and governance of biodiverse ecosystems

Published Deadline Location
23 Aug 30 Sep Amsterdam

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Are you interested in drought risk and governance of biodiverse ecosystems such as wetlands, forests, rangelands? Do you want to contribute to methodological developments in this field and advance knowledge on multiscale governance of ecological drough...

Job description

Climate-induced extreme events like droughts are known to contribute to biodiversity loss, which further threatens ecosystems and the livelihoods of indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) in the Global South. Moreover, the biodiversity loss hampers ecosystems’ mitigation potential with respect to climate change and their adaptation potential with respect to drought disaster risk.

By adopting a multi-level governance perspective and interdisciplinary approach, this research seeks to analyse the feedbacks between ecological drought risks, climate change and biodiversity loss. The project aims to examine key global policies for protecting ecosystems from droughts, construct a vulnerability index for biodiverse ecosystems, identify hotspots of drought risk, and explore the impact of drought events on the usability of traditional ecological knowledge among IPLCs. Ultimately, the research aims to inform the development of more robust policies and holistic management strategies that can effectively promote drought disaster risk reduction, biodiversity conservation, and climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Your duties
  • conduct a literature review and multilevel governance analysis of ecological drought risk and its interaction with climate change agendas
  • develop and perform an ecosystem vulnerability and risk assessment method
  • investigate the impact of increasing drought risks on the usability of traditional ecological knowledge
  • contribute to the dissemination of research findings through academic publications, conference presentations, and engagement with relevant stakeholders


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)


  • a Master's degree in interdisciplinary environmental science, environmental governance or sociology, water management, ecology, (human / physical) geography, or a related field – or a master’s degree in a different field but equivalent experience in this field through work or other activities
  • background and interest in climate change, biodiversity, ecosystem governance, (drought) risk assessment, and different ecological knowledges
  • experience in qualitative data collection and analysis methods in diverse cultural contexts
  • experience in quantitative data analysis, statistical modelling, and machine learning approaches
  • ability to work collaboratively in interdisciplinary and diverse teams
  • fluency in English is required, knowledge of an indigenous language is a plus
  • note: we encourage you to apply even if you do not feel that you have all of the requirements listed above

Conditions of employment

A challenging position in a socially involved organisation. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2,541 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €3,539 (PhD) per month during the fourth year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 0.8 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a duration of 3 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
  • the possibility to work partly from home


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 31,000 students. We employ over 5,000 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
Working at the Faculty of Science means working together with students, PhD candidates and scientists who are focused on their discipline, yet also have a broad view of the world. We are proud of the collegial working environment within the faculty, which is characterised by an ambitious and pragmatic attitude with commitment to the bigger picture. At the Faculty of Science, scientists and students work on fundamental and complex social issues for a sustainable and healthy future. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to malnutrition, from genetics to pharmaceuticals and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research cover the full breadth of the natural sciences. Scientific teaching and research is highly experimental, technical, computational and interdisciplinary in nature. This is why we collaborate extensively with leading research institutes and industry. The faculty has over 11,000 students studying across 40 educational programmes and employs over 1,600 staff spread over 10 scientific departments, making us the largest science faculty in the Netherlands.

About the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM)
Established in 1971, IVM is a leading environmental research institute that is internationally recognised 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’s research community works within four departments: Environmental Economics; Environmental Geography, Environmental Policy Analysis; and Water and Climate Risk. Since 2001 IVM has been part of the Faculty of Science at VU Amsterdam (legal name Stichting VU).

The position will be shared between the departments of Water and Climate Risk and Environmental Policy Analysis.

In the department of Water and Climate Risk, explicit attention is given to the interaction between the hydrological and climate systems, and how these interactions lead to risk to society, the economy, and the environment. The focus is on water and climate extremes such as floods and droughts, to estimate impacts from these extremes on various economic sectors, and to examine which strategies can be developed to reduce impacts and risk. Model simulations, data processing, data assimilation and the integration of economic instruments, such as insurance, are key scientific strengths of the department.

The department of Environmental Policy Analysis at IVM is a team of more than 25 researchers that was evaluated in the most recent international research quality review as ‘world leading’ and as being ‘one of the highest profile academic research groups involved with sustainability governance from around the world’. We address questions related to institutional effectiveness and change, governance innovation and complexity as well as learning and adaptation. Empirically, we have a strong focus on water, climate change and biodiversity.


  • PhD
  • 30.4—38 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 16001


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)

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De Boelelaan 1105, 1081HV, Amsterdam

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