PhD: Climate Adaptation and Climate Justice for vulnerable coastal households

PhD: Climate Adaptation and Climate Justice for vulnerable coastal households

Published Deadline Location
29 Feb 7 Apr Amsterdam

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Are you passionate about Climate Justice? Do you want to go on fieldwork to Africa and Asia to investigate how climate adaptation to coastal hazards reduces or increases equality? Apply now for a PhD project at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)!

Job description

Those who contribute the least to climate change are the first to suffer from its impacts. This is especially true for vulnerable and marginalised groups in coastal areas, who live in hazardous locations prone to flooding, salt intrusion or coastal erosion. Meanwhile, adaptation measures are often aimed at areas with high economic value, neglecting the most vulnerable and further increasing inequality. With your PhD thesis, you will improve our empirical understanding of the drivers, conditions, and dependencies of household (in)equality in coastal climate risk, in relation to government adaptation decisions.

The PhD project contributes to a larger project on pathways towards equitable coastal climate adaptation. As part of your PhD, you will develop, implement and statistically analyse household surveys to investigate (1) whether and how households are included in the governmental adaptation decision processes, (2) how different households adapt to coastal climate risk themselves, and (3) how government or household adaptation measures influence the distribution of risk for households with different socio-economic characteristics. You will implement the household surveys on climate justice and coastal climate risk during fieldwork in Africa and Asia.

To bring science to society, you will also use the survey results to develop and implement a serious game on the effects of adaptation on equality. With the serious game, you create an excellent tool to aid adaptation decision-makers in understanding how the complex interacting decisions lead to increases or decreases in equality to coastal climate impacts. You will test the serious game during workshops in Africa and Asia.

In the PhD project, you will have the opportunity to collaborate with other PhDs and societal partners that work on issues of Climate Justice , climate adaptation, and climate risks. You will be based at the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), where you are part of a vibrant PhD community of about 40 PhD Candidates.

Your duties
  • you will advance our scientific and societal understanding of equitable coastal adaptation for vulnerable households
  • you will set up and maintain professional contact with societal partners in the case-study areas
  • you will disseminate your research findings through academic publications, conference presentations, and engagement with relevant stakeholders
  • you will have to contribute to teaching activities at IVM


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)


  • you love to do empirical research and are dedicated to generate knowledge on climate justice, coastal risks, adaptation measures, and adaptive behaviour
  • you completed a master’s degree in social sciences, for instance human geography, sociology, economics, econometrics, development studies, anthropology or otherwise related to the position
  • you have the aptitude and quality to plan and execute survey fieldwork in diverse cultural regions
  • you possess good planning skills, you take initiative, and you are a capable communicator
  • you have experience with applying statistical techniques to analyse (survey) data
  • you like to engage with adaptation decision-makers and are able to translate complex dynamics to understandable results

As a university, we strive for equal opportunities for all, recognising that diversity takes many forms. We believe that diversity in all its complexity is invaluable for the quality of our teaching, research and service. We are always looking for talent with diverse backgrounds and experiences. This also means that we are committed to creating an inclusive community so that we can use diversity as an asset.

We realise that each individual brings a unique set of skills, expertise and mindset. Therefore we are happy to invite anyone who recognises themselves in the profile to apply, even if you do not meet all the requirements.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 1 year.

An interesting position in a socially engaged organisation. At VU Amsterdam, you contribute to education, research and service for a better world. And that is valuable. So in return for your efforts, we offer you:
  • a salary of € 2.770,00 (85.0) and maximum € 3.539,00 (85.3) gross per month in the fourth year, for a full-time employment
  • an employment contract of initially 1 year. If there is sufficient perspective, this will be extended to a total of 4 years. Your dissertation at the end of the fourth year forms the end of your employment contract.

We also offer you attractive fringe benefits and arrangements. Some examples:
  • A full-time 38-hour working week comes with a holiday leave entitlement of 232 hours per year. If you choose to work 40 hours, you have 96 extra holiday leave hours on an annual basis. For part-timers, this is calculated pro rata.
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • solid pension scheme (ABP)
  • contribution to commuting expenses
  • optional model for designing a personalized benefits package


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Faculty of Science
Researchers and students at VU Amsterdam’s Faculty of Science tackle fundamental and complex scientific problems to help pave the way for a sustainable and healthy future. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to malnutrition, and from molecules to the moon: we cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. Our teaching and research have a strong experimentally technical, computational and interdisciplinary nature.

We work on new solutions guided by value-driven, interdisciplinary methodologies. We are committed to research, valorisation and training socially engaged citizens of the world who will make valuable contributions to a sustainable, healthy future.

Are you interested in joining the Faculty of Science? You will join undergraduate students, PhD candidates and researchers at the biggest sciences faculty in the Netherlands. You will combine a professional focus with a broad view of the world. We are proud of our collegial working climate, characterised by committed staff, a pragmatic attitude and engagement in the larger whole. The faculty is home to over 11,000 students enrolled in 40 study programmes. It employs over 1,600 professionals spread across 10 academic departments.

About the institute
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 department of Water and Climate Risk studies hydrological and climate processes, and how these processes lead to risks and opportunities for society, the economy, and the environment. A defining characteristic of the department is a multi-disciplinary approach that combines expertise from natural sciences with knowledge from the fields of economics, e-Science and geography. This approach has led to a unique research portfolio of water and climate risk projects, and the department is a global leading institute in flood and drought risk assessment, and risk management research.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam stands for values-driven education and research. We are open-minded experts with the ability to think freely. - a broader mind. Maintaining an entrepreneurial perspective and concentrating on diversity, significance and humanity, we work on sustainable solutions with social impact. By joining forces, across the boundaries of disciplines, we work towards a better world for people and planet. Together we create a safe and respectful working and study climate, and an inspiring environment for education and research. Learn more about our codes of conduct

We are located on one physical campus, in the heart of Amsterdam's Zuidas business district, with excellent location and accessibility. Over 5,500 staff work at the VU and over 30,000 students attend academic education.

Diversity is the driving force of VU Amsterdam. VU wants to be accessible and receptive to diversity in disciplines, cultures, ideas, nationalities, beliefs, preferences and worldviews. We believe that trust, respect, interest and differences lead to new insights and innovation, to sharpness and clarity, to excellence and a broader understanding.

We stand for an inclusive community and believe that diversity and internationalisation contribute to the quality of education, research and our services.

Therefore, we are always searching for people whose backgrounds and experience contribute to the diversity of the VU community.


  • PhD
  • Economics
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 3809


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)

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