PhD Agent-based Modelling of Hazard Climate Change Risks & Insurance Solutions

PhD Agent-based Modelling of Hazard Climate Change Risks & Insurance Solutions

Published Deadline Location
6 Jun 28 Jun Amsterdam

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Are you keen to contribute to increasing climate-resilience in Europe? Would you like to study the assessment of multi-hazard climate risks and how societies can lower these risks? Then you are the ideal PhD candidate to join our team! Please apply.

Job description

The Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM) has a new position for a PhD student in the field of agent-based modelling (ABM) of climate change risks. You will become part of a new interdisciplinary research programme (INSUREADAPT) funded by the European Research Council (ERC). This project aims to design insurance solutions that improve preparedness of households and businesses for multi-hazard climate change risks in the EU, such as floods and storms.

The PhD project will be supervised by Prof. Wouter Botzen, Prof. Jeroen Aerts and Dr Toon Haer. You will also collaborate with other researchers who will be recruited for this project. Your main tasks are to:
  1. create local and EU-scale ABMs of multi-hazard climate change risks that are integrated in a model of the supply and demand of natural disaster insurance markets.
  2. include adaptation decisions in the ABMs that limit climate risks by households, governments and insurers based on behavioural economic decision theories.
  3. draw lessons for public sector policy makers and insurance companies that aim to stimulate people to better prepare for natural hazards posed by climate change, such as building-scale measures that limit damage to properties.

An important part of the ERC project INSUREADAPT is the integration of the insights from two other PhDs projects about behavioural economic experiments and surveys on individual climate adaptation in the ABMs. An inter- or multidisciplinary background and good team player and communication skills are therefore important assets.

Your duties
  • you publish research results in international peer-reviewed journals
  • you teach for 0.1 FTE in Bachelor and/or Master’s educational programmes and supervise Bachelor and Master students
  • you contribute to project tasks, meetings and activities
  • you present your research fundings, for example at international conferences


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)


  • you have an MSc degree in Econometrics, Hydrology, Earth Sciences, Engineering, Environmental Sciences, Computational Sciences or Earth & Economic sciences
  • you possess programming skills and have experience with natural disaster risk models
  • you have excellent writing and verbal communication skills in English
  • you are interested in doing cutting-edge scientific research

Nice to have
  • affinity with environmental sustainability and/or climate change topics

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 (fully) 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 minimum € 2.770,00 (PhD scale 85.0) and maximum € 3.539,00 (PhD scale 85.3) gross per month, on a full-time basis. This is based on UFO profile PhD candidate.
  • a position for at least 1 FTE. Your employment contract will initially last 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 regulations. 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

Additionally, we also offer a PhD education programme including training for teaching assistants and courses that are part of the SENSE graduate school.


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

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).

Depending on the background of the candidate, the PhD position is situated in the department of Environmental Economics (EE) or Water and Climate Risk (WCR). The EE department leads the institute’s efforts in improving insights into the interaction between the environment and the economy. The department is one of the main groups of environmental economists in Europe. Important fields of application in climate change research include natural disaster insurance, cost-benefit analysis of climate change adaptation policies, and individual behaviour under climate risk.

WCR researchers study hydrological and climate processes, and how these processes lead to risks 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, data science, modelling 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.

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.

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 VU Amsterdam 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
  • 4116


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)

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