PhD: Economic valuation of nature-based solutions for climate change

Updated: about 2 months ago
Deadline: ;

Are you


interested in economic research on investments in nature-based solutions for climate change risks? Please apply at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU).

FTE: 0.8 - 1

Job description

Recent years have seen increasing enthusiasm for nature-based solutions to combat climate change risks. Nature-based solutions are win-win measures that aim to protect, sustainably manage, or restore natural ecosystems. They aim to benefit both human well-being and biodiversity. Examples are creating space for rivers, natural dunes that protect the shoreline, green roofs, and urban parks. This can help regulate greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, reduce climate hazard risks, improve air quality, protect soil and biodiversity, and enhance climate resilience. This approach suggests that nature itself can be very effective at reducing climate risks such as flooding or drought. They may be more cost-effective than engineered, built or fossil-based solutions, and have many ecological, social and economic benefits. Insurance companies face lower extreme weather risks, citizens enjoy recreation in nature, and government agencies benefit too. But current investments in nature-based solutions are insufficient, in large part because it can be difficult to quantify these benefits. Plus, the actors who incur the costs of creating and maintaining nature may not actually reap those benefits. This makes implementing these solutions challenging.

This position is part of an EU-funded project called NATURANCE: Nature for insurance, and insurance for nature. The main objective of this project is to examine technical, financial and operational feasibility and performance of solutions that are built upon and combine disaster risk financing & investments with nature-based solutions. We stimulate dialogues, knowledge sharing and mutual learning across different areas of policy and practice. Our ambition is to produce a comprehensive and collaborative assessment of nature-based insurance and investment solutions. We look from both a societal and a business perspective. But ultimately, we aim to encourage adoption of jointly elaborated principles, performance metrics and recommended approaches to analysis and design. This would comply with the EU framework for sustainable finance.

The NATURANCE consortium consists of 9 partner organisations. The department of Environmental Economics of the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM) at VU is one of them. We host a PhD position focused on the economic valuation of benefits of nature-based solutions. Your PhD research focuses on quantifying the potential of nature-based solutions in reducing climate risk. As an example, you look at avoided flood risk estimated by flood damage modelling. You also conduct choice experiments in household surveys to assess individual preferences and valuations of specific nature-based solutions. You work closely with stakeholders from the financial sector, such as insurance companies, to learn how to increase investments in nature-based solutions. Your research helps protect society against the negative impacts from climate change.

Your duties

  • you assess the climate risk reduction from nature-based solutions in a specific case study
  • you assess the broader economic benefits of nature-based solution using values reported in literature
  • you conduct a choice experiment survey among households to learn their preferences and values for nature
  • you draw lessons with financial sector stakeholders to stimulate investments in nature-based solutions

  • a Master’s degree in Economics, Econometrics, Hydrology, Environmental Studies or a related field.
  • strong quantitative skills in data-assessment and programming and
  • statistical methods
  • strong collaboration and communication skills to work in an interdisciplinary team of researchers

What are we offering?

A challenging position in a socially involved organisation. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2.443 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €3,111 (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 one year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a duration of three 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
  • optional model for designing a personalised benefits package

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 endeavor – 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 30,000 students. We employ over 5,500 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 and department
Established in 1971, 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 and economic context. IVM’s research community works within four departments: Environmental Economics; Environmental Policy Analysis; Environmental Geography; and Water and Climate Risk. Since 2001 IVM is part of the Faculty of Science at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam ( ).

The department of Environmental Economics (EE) 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, consisting of around 30 scientific staff and PhD researchers. The department strategy is to consolidate and further strengthen its position as a major player in the European field of environmental economics. Important fields of application include climate change, energy, water, ecosystem services, and environmental and natural resource management. The philosophy of the EE Department is to closely integrate its research projects with its teaching programme and to initiate and conduct research jointly with stakeholders and collaborating institutes. In the coming years, the EE Department will further explore new research fields related to the economics of climate change and risk management, the economics of ecosystem services, and renewable energy economics.


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload a letter in which you describe your abilities and motivation, accompanied by your

curriculum vitae, and the names and contact details of two references (we will only contact these for candidates selected for an interview) by

14 June


Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

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

Name: Max Tesselaar
Position: Postdoctoral researcher

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