Four PhD positions: Integrated analysis of sustainable development goals (1.0 FTE)

Onderwijs en onderzoek
Uren per week: 
36 tot 40
Faculteit of dienst: 
Faculteit Geowetenschappen
Uiterlijk reageren op: 


In 2015, the world agreed upon 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to eradicate poverty, improve well-being and maintain the stability of the Earth's biophysical life support systems. Achieving these goals will require a fundamental transformation of today’s society. At the moment, however, it is not easy to visualize this transformation. The PICASSO project – funded by the EU European Research Council – will use the IMAGE integrated assessment model to develop and explore scenarios for meeting the full set of SDGs. These scenarios will explore different routes to achieve the SDGs and possible synergies and trade-offs.

For the research team that will perform the ambitious PICASSO project, Utrecht University is searching for four PhDs Researchers. While the team will focus on the full set of SDGs, each PhD will be working on a cluster of different topics relevant in the context of meeting the set of SDGs which would be either: 1) sustainable agriculture development and protection of biodiversity, 2) human health in relation to sustainable development, 3) economic stability and investment needs, 4) sustainable consumption patterns and resource use. The team will collaborate with the IMAGE integrated assessment modeling team at PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and Utrecht University. IMAGE is one of the world’s leading models in exploring climate policy and sustainable development strategies. The model describes the interaction between the human and earth system, including land and energy use and the possible environmental impacts.


We are looking for motivated Researchers who are willing to participate in the PICASSO research project for a period of four years. We expect you - as a new PICASSO-team member - to have a Master's study in environmental and sustainable development studies, or more specifically in the fields mentioned above, but with an interest in how to link these to sustainable development.
In your research, you will focus on a specific cluster of topics with the overall SDG agenda. This cluster will be one of the following five options:
1) agriculture and land use;
2) human health;
3) economic development;
4) sustainable consumption patterns and resource use 

You are required to have a background in quantitative analysis, and modelling in particular (experience with working in Python is helpful). Researchers will have to be fluent in English and be excellent team players.


We offer a temporary position (1.0 FTE) for a period of four years. The gross salary ranges between €2,395 in the first year and €3,061 in year 4 (scale P according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities) per month for a full-time employment. Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.3% per year. In addition, Utrecht University offers excellent secondary conditions, including an attractive retirement scheme, (partly paid) parental leave and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model). More information about working at Utrecht University can be found here.

Over de organisatie

A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.

Utrecht University's Faculty of Geosciences studies the Earth: from the Earth's core to its surface, including man's spatial and material utilisation of the Earth - always with a focus on sustainability and innovation. With 3,400 students (BSc and MSc) and 720 staff, the faculty is a strong and challenging organisation. The Faculty of Geosciences is organised in four Departments: Earth Sciences, Human Geography & Spatial Planning, Physical Geography, and Sustainable Development.

The Copernicus Institute for Sustainable Development aims to have a positive impact on the transition to a sustainable society through the development of excellent and relevant knowledge, to influence political and private decisions by communicating this knowledge. Given the integrated nature of sustainable development issues, knowledge development often benefits from a multidisciplinary focus. Our research contributes to improved knowledge related to all Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as set by the United Nations in 2015.

Aanvullende informatie

For more information about this position, please contact:
Prof Detlef P. van Vuuren (Professor), via or +31 6 11 95 64 84.


To apply, please send your curriculum vitae, including a letter of motivation via the ‘apply’ button below. Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives.

Please note: Due to the current situation regarding the Corona virus (COVID-19) the process of selection and interviews may be subject to change.

Uiterlijk reageren op 31 juli 2020.