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  • Job Type
    Full-time Position
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  • Experience Required
  • Degree Required
    • Province
    • Date Posted
      July 15,2022
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    Postdoc ‘Water Governance and the UN 2023 Water Conference’

    In March 2023 a unique UN Conference on Water is organised uniting the world for water. Water is a fundamental part of all aspects of life. It is inextricably connected to social, cultural, economic and political values and cuts across sectors and communities. Water supports the achievement of many UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through its’ linkages with, amongst others, climate, energy, cities, the environment, food security, poverty, gender equality and health. The Netherlands and Tajikistan co-host and organise the UN 2023 Water Conference with a focus on water inclusivity, a cross-sectoral water perspective, and an orientation towards action. The conference aims to be a watershed moment towards a water secure world for all and by all. Henk Ovink, the Dutch Special Envoy for International Water Affairs and honorary lecturer at the Department of Spatial Planning and Environment, is leading the Netherlands team that co-organizes the UN 2023 Water Conference.

    To support the long-term perspective and to learn from the process leading up to the conference a participatory/‘reflection-in-action’ oriented research project has been set-up. We have an opening for:

    • a postdoctoral researcher for 1 year, starting September 1, 2022, for participatory and/or ‘reflection-in-action’ oriented research on the UN 2023 Water Conference.

    As a postdoctoral researcher you will be closely working with Henk Ovink, the Dutch Special Envoy for International Water Affairs and the climate adaptation research team at the Department of Spatial Planning and Environment (Dr. Margo van den Brink, Dr. ir. Annet Kempenaar, Prof. dr. Jos Arts):

    Your tasks will be to:

    • in close collaboration with Henk Ovink and together with the climate adaptation research team of the Department of Spatial Planning and Environment: set up and conduct research on the process and activities leading up to the UN 2023 Water Conference with its cross-sectoral, inclusive and action-oriented focus and long-term impact ambition
    • be a sounding board / advisor for the Netherlands team organising the UN 2023 Water Conference
    • observe and follow the UN 2023 Water Conference, its’ agreements and its’ immediate follow ups
    • conduct research activities including: literature analysis, policy analysis, stakeholder interviews, focus group discussions, participatory observations/’reflection-in-action’
    • lead and support in the development of peer-reviewed articles in international journals, both with colleagues within the Department of Spatial Planning and Environment and other project partners.


    The postdoctoral researcher:

    • has a PhD in the wider field of spatial planning, geography, environmental policy, public administration, or another related discipline
    • has proven affinity with the topics of water governance and climate adaptation
    • has publications in international peer-reviewed academic journals
    • has good qualitative research skills with expertise in conducting in-depth interviews, experience with action-oriented research is desirable
    • is a team-player with good communication skills and preferable has experience with international collaboration
    • is willing to participate and attend international activities that are part of the UN Conference (also the preparation), which includes traveling to various places across the globe
    • is fluent in English (reading, writing, speaking).


    The Department of Spatial Planning and Environment of the Faculty of Spatial Sciences at the University of Groningen (RUG) is looking for a postdoctoral researcher on water governance and the UN 2023 Water Conference.

    The Faculty of Spatial Sciences consists of approximately 100 members of staff, 100 PhD students and around 1000 undergraduate students. We focus on high quality teaching and research in the fields of social and economic geography, demography, and spatial planning. With a single collective research theme of 'towards Wellbeing, Innovation and Spatial Transformation' (tWIST), it is our mission to produce research which is world-leading, distinctive, and policy-relevant. With two bachelor and eight master programmes, we provide a wide range of courses within the fields of geography and spatial sciences.

    You will be based in the Department of Spatial Planning and Environment, which has around 30 members of staff and around 30 PhD candidates. The research agenda of the Department is centered on institutional design for purposeful interventions within the human environment. The Department offers a vibrant academic environment with an international staff and extensive experience in working within international research projects. The Department actively pursues socially relevant research, as is also expressed in its research targeting water governance and climate adaptation in relation to spatial planning to which the postdoctoral researcher is to contribute.

    Conditions of employment

    We offer you in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:

    • a salary depending on qualifications and work experience the University of Groningen offers a salary, with a minimum of € 2,960 to a maximum of € 4,670 (salary scale 10) gross per month for a full-time position
    • an 8% holiday allowance and an annual bonus of 8.3%.

    The appointment is temporary for a specified period of 1 year. The appointment will be for either 0.8 or 1.0 FTE. This can be discussed. We aim at a start date of 1 September 2022.


    You may apply for this position until 24 July 11:59pm / before 25 July 2022 Dutch local time (CET) by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website).

    Please merge all your application documents in one single PDF file under the Letter of Motivation attachment. The following documents should be included:

    1. a letter of motivation;
    2. a Curriculum Vitae (including date and place of birth, full list of publications and other research activities and output showing expertise in the relevant areas, the names of two academic referees);
    3. if the PhD defense will be after the application, please send information on the defense date or a confirmation from your PhD advisor (or professor) on the expected defense date;
    4. two sample writings.

    The interviews will take place on Thursday July 28, 2022, between 8.00 – 9.30hrs and between 13.00 – 14.30hrs CET.

    The University of Groningen strives to be a university in which students and staff are respected and feel at home, regardless of differences in background, experiences, perspectives, and identities. We believe that working on our core values of inclusion and equality are a joint responsibility and we are constructively working on creating a socially safe environment. Diversity among students and staff members enriches academic debate and contributes to the quality of our teaching and research. We therefore invite applicants from underrepresented groups in particular to apply. For more information, see also our diversity policy webpage:

    Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP):

    Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated


    For information you can contact:

    • Dr. ir. Annet Kempenaar, j.kempenaar

    Please do not use the e-mail address(es) above for applications.

    Additional information

    • For more information on the Faculty of Spatial Sciences
    • For more information on the 2023 UN Water Conference

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