PhD Candidate in International Economics, With a Focus on Climate and Environmental Economics

Updated: 3 months ago
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 15 Jan 2023

L'Institut de hautes études internationales et du développement recrute un/une:

PhD Candidate in International Economics, With a Focus on Climate and Environmental Economics

PERIOD OF CONTRACT: Starts on 1 September 2023, for 4 years, conditional on positive evaluation after the first year.

ACTIVITY RATE: 100%/ 40 hours per week


Profile for the PhD Position

The PhD candidate will write a dissertation project within the framework of the 4-year SNSF project ‘Critical minerals for the clean energy transition’, under the full supervision of Dr. Joëlle Noailly (Geneva Graduate Institute and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) and in collaboration with Prof. dr. Steven Poelhekke and Dr. Gerard van der Meijden (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam).

The PhD candidate will be integrated within the PhD programme of the Department of International Economics and hosted within the Centre for International Environmental Studies (CIES) at the Geneva Graduate Institute. The PhD programme in International Economics offers a rigorous and stimulating course of study where you will develop research skills allowing you to contribute to expanding knowledge with a policy orientation. Our faculty has expert knowledge over a wide range of issues in international economics, including international trade, macroeconomic policy, and international environmental economics, among other topics. Professors have active connections with economic policy institutions and bring you exposure to the latest debates in policy. The Centre for International Environmental Studies is the Geneva Graduate Institute’s interdisciplinary research centre on global environmental issues bringing together about 30 researchers and faculty members from various disciplines. The Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is a leading institution with a strong research tradition in the field of climate and environmental economics.

Requirements for the PhD Position

Master’s Degree in economics

Highly organised and capable of working independently;

Excellent written and oral communication in English (both oral and written);

Excellent interpersonal skills and ability to work with others;

Past electives in climate and environmental economics, innovation economics or international trade would be an asset;

Strong analytical skills and solid quantitative background; past experience in handling large datasets would be an asset;

During the first year of the program, the PhD candidate will be expected to complete (parts of) the Swiss Program for Beginning Doctoral Students in Economics offered by the Studienzentrum Gerzensee. Additional more specialised PhD training will be available either at the Geneva Graduate Institute, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam or the Tinbergen Institute.

The PhD Candidate will be expected to engage into regular seminars and activities within both the Department of International Economics and the CIES.

What we offer

Individual mentoring and supervision of the PhD project;

Full financial support, including travel money for conferences and summer schools;

Excellent working conditions within the CIES located at the Maison de la Paix, individual desk and computing equipment;

Access to additional funding opportunities, such as mobility grant to spend time at an institution abroad and gender equality grant for female candidates, see here for more information;

Collaboration and teamwork with an international team of researchers;

Interactions with policymakers at international organisations and with private actors

Project description:

Addressing climate change calls for a massive and very rapid transition from fossil-fuel to clean energy. Yet, a major obstacle to the energy transition often overlooked by economists is the critical reliance of future clean energy systems on a few essential minerals, such as lithium, nickel, cobalt or rare earths elements, vital to the production of batteries, wind turbines, solar cells, and electric motors. Many policy organisations, such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank or the International Energy Agency have recently raised concerns about the economic implications of disruptions in the supply of critical minerals. The overall objective of the research project is to provide a better understanding of how economic markets for minerals and clean energy are interrelated via international and domestic climate policies, global supply chains, technological change and trade and foreign direct investments linkages.

The first line of inquiry aims to explore the economic and policy implications of geopolitical challenges for the availability of critical minerals. Production, reserves and processing of minerals are concentrated in a small number of countries. China for instance accounts for more than 90 percent of global production of rare earths. Russia produces 10% of global nickel and the ongoing Ukraine’s war already caused nickel prices ̶ a key input to battery production ̶ to spike to unprecedented levels threatening to slow down the production of electric vehicles. Producer countries have thus the ability to behave strategically along the global supply chain and to exercise market power in both upstream mineral markets and downstream clean energy industries.

The second line of inquiry will investigate policy solutions to mitigate environmental challenges posed by the mining and extraction of critical minerals. Additional exploration and mining activities in advanced and developing economies could contribute to raise and diversify the supply of critical minerals. Yet, mounting concerns about the local environmental footprint of mining activities may restrict exploration and raise environmental and cleanup costs for the mining industry, creating thereby vulnerabilities in the supply of critical minerals. This part will investigate the role of technological change (using patent data) and FDI in particular.

The research team is composed of Joëlle Noailly, Steven Poelhekke, Gerard van der Meijden, two Postdoctoral Researchers and two PhD students, as well as additional academic and policy partners (University of Geneva, Colorado School of Mines, World Bank, World Intellectual Property Organization – among others).

Application procedure

Applications for this position should be submitted via the regular applications procedure for the PhD in International Economics programme, which can be found here: . In addition to the documents requested for application to the PhD in International Economics programme, please include also:

A cover letter of maximum 2 pages outlining your motivation and interest in the topic of the thesis related to the SNF project on ‘Critical Minerals and the Clean Energy Transition’ to which this PhD research will contribute.

Interviews (either online or in-person) for the position will take place in February.

Informal inquiries and applications, using subject line PhD: Critical Minerals and the Clean Energy Transition are to be sent to: .

Nous souscrivons au principe de l’égalité d’accès à l’emploi et valorisons la diversité au sein de notre Institut. Nous recrutons sans préjugé en matière d’âge, de situation familiale, d'handicap, d’origine ethnique ou sociale, de genre, d’orientation sexuelle, d’opinions politiques ou de religion.

Pour plus d'informations, les candidats sont invités à consulter le site internet de l'Institut :

Si vous êtes intéressé/e par ce poste, utilisez le bouton "Postuler" ci-dessous afin de soumettre votre candidature. Aucune offre reçue par courrier postal ne sera prise en compte.

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