PhD position: Designing and assessing incentives for resilient Dutch landscapes

Updated: 3 months ago
Deadline: ;

Are you keen to contribute to a resilient, climate-proof and sustainable future for Dutch landscapes? Would you like to study the financial and insurance incentives needed for farmers to adapt to climatic changes? Then you could be the ideal PhD candidate to join our team! Please apply at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

FTE: 0.8 - 1

Job description

The Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM) has a new full-time four-year position for a doctoral (PhD) researcher in the field of environmental economics. You will become part of a new 4-year interdisciplinary research programme (RESHAPE) funded by NWO that aims to develop change-pathways to increase the resilience of Dutch sand landscapes in face of ongoing climate change. Droughts, floods, biodiversity loss and deteriorating water quality put increasing pressure on water actors and lead to a loss of societal value. In a resilient landscape, the spatial networks of water, economy, society and governance are strongly intertwined and support one another. Within RESHAPE we study how to stimulate these spatial dependencies, which can catalyse a change towards a future-proof landscape, and aim to develop economic instruments that enable key actors to make resilient, climate-proof choices.

This PhD project will be supervised by Dr Mark Koetse, Dr Marije Schaafsma and Dr Pieter van Beukering. Within this project we use a mixed methods approach, and your main research tasks are:

  • applying meta-analysis and/or benefits transfer and social cost-benefit analysis for valuation and assessment of essential watershed ecosystem services;
  • conducting semi-structured interviews with key water actors on the potential effectiveness of economic instruments for regulating water demand;
  • developing and implementing innovative and experimental research into on the role that incentives and insurance schemes can play in farmer adaptation to climatic changes.
  • An important part of the project is co-design of research and co-creation of knowledge with a wide variety of consortium partners. An interdisciplinary background and good communication skills are therefore important assets. Since the consortium partners and the relevant research populations (farmers) come from the Netherlands, and the issues in this project are strongly embedded in the Dutch context, we are explicitly looking for a Dutch-speaking candidate.

    Your duties

    • publication of research results in international peer-reviewed journals and policy-oriented journals, culminating in a dissertation at the end of the project
    • teaching and supervising Bachelor and Master students (to be discussed)
    • contributing to project tasks, such as organising workshops and data collection

    Requirements and assets
    • an MSc in (environmental) economics or a related social science is a prerequisite
    • interest in mixed methods approaches, and quantitative skills, are big assets
    • having a multidisciplinary background is preferred
    • a demonstrable research interest in one or more of the following themes/methods: experimental and behavioural economics, economics of ecosystem services economics, agricultural economics, water economics, payments for ecosystem services
    • experience in teaching and MSc/BSc supervision and demonstrable communication skills are assets
    • good communication skills in English and one other European language. Proficiency in Dutch is a strong advantage because of research with and among Dutch farmers

    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 €2,541 (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
    • optional model for designing a personalized 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 31,000 students. We employ over 5,000 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
    Working at the Faculty of Science means working together with students, PhD candidates and scientists who are focused on their discipline, yet also have a broad view of the world. We are proud of the collegial working environment within the faculty, which is characterised by an ambitious and pragmatic attitude with commitment to the bigger picture. At the Faculty of Science, scientists and students work on fundamental and complex social issues for a sustainable and healthy future. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to malnutrition, from genetics to pharmaceuticals and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research cover the full breadth of the natural sciences. Scientific teaching and research is highly experimental, technical, computational and interdisciplinary in nature. This is why we collaborate extensively with leading research institutes and industry. The faculty has over 11,000 students studying across 40 educational programmes and employs over 1,600 staff spread over 10 scientific departments, making us the largest science faculty in the Netherlands.

    About the institute
    Established in 1971, IVM is a leading environmental research institute that is internationally recognised 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 Geography, Environmental Policy Analysis; and Water and Climate Risk. Since 2001 IVM has been part of the Faculty of Science at VU Amsterdam (legal name Stichting VU).

    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 35 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, circular economy, water, ecosystem services, and environmental and natural resource management. The philosophy of 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 climate economics, economics of sustainable energy, and economics of natural capital.


    Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter by

    15 September 2023

    . The job interviews are planned for October 2023, f possible please take this period into account when applying for the position.

    Submitting a diploma and a reference check are part of the application process.

    Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

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

    Name: Dr Mark Koetse
    Position: Associate Professor

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