PhD Position in Socio-Economic Analysis of Circular Water Governance
VU University of Amsterdam Institute for Environmental Studies

Do you want to become part of a leading research group in the field of water governance and economics? Do you want to contribute to groundbreaking research to make the water sector fit for the future? Do you want to join the research program AquaConnect funded by the Dutch Research Council (NWO) and collaborate with peers from multiple disciplines? Please apply for a fascinating PhD-position at the Institute for Environmental Studies at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.


FTE: 1.0

Job description

AquaConnect is a NWO-funded research consortium in which researchers from different natural and social science disciplines from 7 Dutch universities collaborate with more than 40 societal partners. The program’s overall aim is to develop innovative technical solutions, perform integrated assessment and assess the transformative potential of hard and soft engineering options to increase the resilience of water supply security in times of increasing risks of water stress. AquaConnect will officially kick-off on September 1st 2021. Together with 12 other PhD candidates and 4 Postdoctoral researchers, you will have the opportunity to conduct highly relevant research in close collaboration with a wide range of societal partners in an interdisciplinary research environment. This PhD position is part of the work package addressing the integrated assessment of new technologies for water security and the prospects for societal change, including legal and policy change. The research will be conducted in close collaboration with other PhD researchers and societal partner from the public and private sectors in four regions in the Netherlands (Zeeuws-Vlaanderen, Amsterdam Region, Zuid-Holland, and the higher sandy areas of the Netherlands with the aim to translate scientific results into tangible societal solutions.  

Your duties

Water shortages can cause major societal disruption. To enhance socio-hydrological resilience, it is imperative that regions start preparing for situations in which freshwater is insufficiently available to serve critical segments of society and the economy for certain periods of time. Without greater resilience to ever more extreme climatic and hydrological events, increasing societal and economic risks and damages loom. A step change is needed in the way freshwater is managed and conserved, including innovative solutions that enhance regional resilience and that can be scaled up and exported to other parts of the world. The development and testing of innovative technologies in the project AquaConnect aims to contribute to this agenda, and will be implemented in direct collaboration with stakeholders and end users.

This specific PhD project focuses on the socio-economic dimensions of water security governance. It will focus on the economic and policy analysis of sustainable, circular water governance systems. Insight will be provided into the costs and benefits of regional freshwater supply under increasingly extreme events, in particular the economic risks and potential damages from freshwater supply disruptions (water insecurity) under different policy scenarios. To this end, a hydro-economic model will be developed that explores the potential net economic benefits associated with innovative circular water management technologies that help to secure water supply in the future under different climatic conditions, and a practitioners’ tool to assess the socio-economic impacts of these technologies and potential public policies to stimulate their introduction and adoption. Besides using market-based valuation approaches, also non-market based valuation will be employed to account for risk behavior and risk aversion under different climate change scenarios and extreme events.

As a Ph.D. candidate in this project you will be based at the oldest centre of excellence in interdisciplinary environmental science in the Netherlands, the Institute for Environmental Studies at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (IVM). Your supervisory team will consist of two experienced professors in Water Economics (prof. Roy Brouwer) and in Water Governance (prof. Dave Huitema). As a PhD candidate in this project you will:

  • engage in supervised scientific research that will ultimately result in a doctoral thesis;
  • participate in the relevant activities of AquaConnect Consortium and the IVM;
  • participate in the organization of scientific and practice-oriented events (workshops, conferences), in close collaboration with other consortium members and relevant stakeholders;
  • participate in the course programme for PhD candidates of the VU Graduate School and National Research School SENSE;
  • publish the results from your doctoral research in the form of conference papers, contributions to scientific journals, as well as through popular publications and presentations.


Do you have an interest in  water management, especially the challenges of future water security, and are you curious and excited to explore the socio-economic and governance complexities underlying the development of sustainable water supply solutions? Are you interested in doing research in an interdisciplinary consortium and are you adept at cooperating with people from different (academic and practice) backgrounds? If so, this position may be of interest to you.To apply for this position, you should:

  • have a degree in (environmental or natural resource) economics, public policy analysis, or public administration, preferably with a focus on environmental and/or water management issues;
  • be willing to actively participate in an interdisciplinary consortium and to undertake activities with other consortium members and stakeholders;
  • have the ability to conduct research in various regions in the Netherlands, working closely together with stakeholders;
  • be fluent in both English and Dutch (both spoken and in writing);
  • be able to demonstrate excellent scientific writing and communication skills, as well as relevant collaborative and social 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 per month during the first year and increases to €3,061 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 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 4 years.

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), 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 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.

The Institute for Environmental Studies

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. You will be based in the Department of Environmental Policy Analysis, but will closely work together with colleagues in the Department of Environmental Economics.


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter until 12 June 2021, 12:00 hours. The job interviews with shortlisted candidates will be planned in the last weeks of June. The preferred candidate must subsequently present their candidacy to the Consortium leadership of AquaConnect on the 7th of July for final approval. If/when possible please take this planning into account when applying for the position.

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions

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

Name: Prof. D. Huitema
Position: Professor of Environmental Policy

Name: Prof. R. Brouwer
Position: Professor of Environmental Economics

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