PhD position on global drought risk and governance of biodiverse ecosystems

Research / Academic

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


  • 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

Salary Benefits:

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
Work Hours:

30.4 - 38 hours per week


De Boelelaan 1105