PhD Position in Biodiversity Conservation in Times of Climate Change

VU University of Amsterdam Institute for Environmental Studies

Are you willing to contribute to the implementation of the global biodiversity targets using an interdisciplinary perspective? Please apply at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.


FTE: 1.0

Job description

The year 2020 could be critical for the future of nature and people. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) will establish new global targets, and the coming decade is going to be crucial if the worldwide decline of nature and its contributions to people (NCP or Ecosystem Services) around the world is to be stemmed. Meeting high-level biodiversity targets needs to be aligned with climate action: there are strong synergies between climate and biodiversity targets, but also tradeoffs and combined risks. The challenge of preserving nature and its NCP in the 21th century has been approached from many different framings,  encompassing the governance, economic and ecological aspects. An integrated, spatial, perspective is needed towards addressing the policy, planning and implementation of action towards safeguarding biodiversity. Where are what implementation actions most efficient?

The PhD student will perform an interdisciplinary study how biodiversity targets can be aligned to climate targets: where are synergies found and where do potential conflicts occur? How and where can resources (financial, political and natural (land/water)) be used most efficiently to optimize outcomes for climate, biodiversity and the well-being of people through NCP? What trade-offs exist between effective biodiversity and climate actions? What unintended side-effects exists and how can these be mitigated?

Your duties

The PhD student will bring together knowledge and data across disciplines in an integrated, (spatial) approach to identify on a global level: 1) where potential for synergies in reaching biodiversity, NCP and climate objectives is found; 2) where potential (policy) conflict between individual goals may occur; 3) what would be most resource efficient targeting of climate and biodiversity action. Next to a global assessment there is a possibility for a regional in-depth case-study. Research will have a highly integrative character with a strong component on data analysis and modelling, building on existing assessments and scenario studies while using and developing novel integrative approaches focused on the interactions and competition for resources.


  • Msc degree in Environmental Science, Environmental Studies, Geography, Global Environmental Politics or Ecology, with sufficient interdisciplinary experience
  • Affinity with biodiversity, ecosystem service modelling or spatial analysis
  • Interest to work across different disciplines
  • Ability to perform quantitative as well as qualitative analysis
  • Good writing skills

What are we offering?

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2,395 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €3,061 (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 1 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 in total 4 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, a wide range of sports facilities which staff may use at a modest charge

About 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 endeavour – 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 26,000 students. We employ over 4,600 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

The Faculty of Science inspires researchers and students to find sustainable solutions for complex societal issues. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to medicines and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research programmes cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. We share knowledge and experience with leading research institutes and industries, both here in the Netherlands and abroad.

Working at the Faculty of Science means working with students, PhD candidates and researchers, all with a clear focus on their field and a broad view of the world. We employ more than 1,250 staff members, and we are home to around 6,000 students.

About the institute

Established in 1971, The Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM) is a leading environmental research institute that is internationally recognized 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, spatial and economic context. IVM’s research community works within four departments: Environmental Economics; Environmental Policy Analysis; Environmental Geography; and Water and Climate Risk.


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter until  August 24, 2020.

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: Prof. Dr. Peter H. Verburg

No agencies