PhD-position: Long-term governance of climate adaptation in Urban Deltas

Updated: Sep 2

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We are looking for

Do you have a background in Public Administration, Environmental Governance, Spatial Planning, Political Science or a governance track of a related discipline? Are you interested in contributing to a climate-robust Dutch Delta? And do you want to join a high impact interdisciplinary research programme on the governance aspects of managing climate risks within the built environment? Sea level rise, soil subsidence, extreme rainfall and drought: climate changes induce new challenges and risks for real estate and infrastructures, especially in low lying urbanized deltas, as in the Netherlands. Urbanized deltas are vulnerable to risks for flooding, excessive heat and rainfall, and damage to pile foundations and (underground) infrastructures. Governments are crucial for making many investment decisions about new and existing real estate and infrastructure. With that, they influence the risk exposure of citizens and physical assets within the Dutch Delta. Therefore, governments will need to consider how their decisions contribute to a climate-robust Dutch Delta. Also, changes of rules and responsibilities that determine how governments and other actors operate, will need to be tested to see whether and when such rules enable fair and climate-robust decisions.

  • Your research will focus specifically on the governance aspects of managing climate risks within the built environment. You will explore the impacts of current legal, planning, and governance arrangements for climate resilience and design new arrangements for climate risk management among stakeholders. You will identify possible interventions (i.e. changes to the existing legal, planning, governance frameworks) and develop a serious game to systematically analyze impacts of these interventions for more forward-looking decisions about climate risks. The project should contribute to addressing short-termism and stimulate the adaptive capacities of involved stakeholders. You will work closely together with municipalities, the Dutch Delta programme, regional water authorities, project developers and the building sector.

  • Specifically, your work will address the following preliminary research objectives. These will be refined by you in cooperation with your supervision team:

1: Analyze existing governance arrangements on climate risk management including the formal and informal divisions of responsibilities between public and private actors within those arrangements.

2: Explore equitable and efficient governance arrangements that could enhance climate resilient infrastructure and real estate assets.

3: Analyze how public and private actors respond to the explored governance arrangements aimed at enhancing climate resilient infrastructure and real estate assets.

4: Co-create effective and equitable governance arrangements for organizing joint responsibility for climate resilient infrastructure and real estate assets.

  • Your research will inform several planned outputs, including:

A serious game for comparing the impacts of governance interventions (e.g. changes in regulations, rules, roles) on infrastructure and real estate re/development and planning processes for two regions in the Netherlands

A design of effective and equitable governance arrangements for promoting integrated urban area climate risk management and re-development.

4 scientific publications; and at least two webinars/symposia and practitioner oriented publications.


We ask


  • a successfully completed MSc. degree, or equivalent, in Public Administration, Environmental Governance, Spatial Planning, Political Science or a governance track of a related discipline.

For this position your command of the English language is expected to be at C1 level.Sometimes it is necessary to submit an internationally recognised Certificate of Proficiency in the English Language. More information can be found here.

  • A good command of Dutch considering the case studies of this research and the societal dissemination of your results (at least B1/B2 level).

  • Demonstrated knowledge of working with governance-related theories and social sciences research methods.

  • Excellent communication and organization skills with the ability to organize workshops and communicate proactively about progress and results.

  • Able to work interdisciplinary and approach challenges from different perspectives.

  • Good listener, able to ask the right questions and to understand the underlying motives.

  • A creative and curious mindset, eager to apply and develop novel methods and approaches.

  • Flexible in off-site and on-site research tasks and qualitative research methods.


We offer

Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our Collective Labour Agreement include:

  • study leave and partially paid parental leave;

  • working hours that can be discussed and arranged so that they allow for the best possible work-life balance;

  • the option to accrue additional compensation / holiday hours by working more, up to 40 hours per week;

  • there is a strong focus on vitality and you can make use of the sports facilities available on campus for a small fee;

  • a fixed December bonus of 8.3%;

  • excellent pension scheme.

In addition to these first-rate employee benefits, you will receive a fully funded PhD position and you will be offered a course program tailored to your needs and the research team.

The gross salary for the first year is € 2.541,- per month rising to € 3.247,- in the fourth year in according to the Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) (scale P). This is based on a full-time working week of 38 hours. We offer a temporary contract for 18 months which will be extended for the duration of the project if you perform well.


There are plenty of options for personal initiative in a learning environment, and we provide excellent training opportunities. We are offering a unique position in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere.


You are going to work at the greenest and most innovative campus in Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the “ Best University ” in the Netherlands for the 17th consecutive time.


Coming from abroad

Wageningen University & Research is the university and research centre for life sciences. The themes we deal with are relevant to everyone around the world and Wageningen, therefore, has a large international community and a lot to offer to international employees. Applicants from abroad moving to the Netherlands may qualify for a special tax relief, known as the 30% ruling. Our team of advisors on Dutch immigration procedures will help you with the visa application procedures for yourself and, if applicable, for your family.


Feeling welcome also has everything to do with being well informed. Wageningen University & Research's International Community page contains practical information about what we can do to support international employees and students coming to Wageningen. Furthermore, we can assist you with any additional advice and information about helping your partner to find a job, housing, schooling, and other issues.


More information

Do you want more information? For more information about this position, please contact

  • Dr Wieke Pot (wieke.pot@wur.nl) or

  • Prof. Dr Art Dewulf (art.dewulf@wur.nl)

Do you want to apply?

Are you interested in this vacancy? Please contact one of the above contact persons.


Equal opportunities

Wageningen University & Research (WUR) employs a large number of people with very different backgrounds and qualities, who inspire and motivate each other. We want every talent to feel at home in our organisation and be offered the same career opportunities. We therefore especially welcome applications from people who are underrepresented at WUR. For more information please go to our inclusivity page. A good example of how WUR deals with inclusiveness can be read on the page working at WUR with a functional impairment.


We are

Wageningen University & Research The mission of Wageningen University and Research is “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. Under the banner Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen University and the specialised research institutes of the Wageningen Research Foundation have joined forces in contributing to finding solutions to important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment. With its roughly 30 branches, 7.200 employees and 13.200 students, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. An integrated approach to problems and the cooperation between various disciplines are at the heart of Wageningen’s unique approach. WUR has been named the best university of the Netherlands by students for the 17th time in a row. Read the 5 reasons why your future colleagues enjoy working at WUR and watch this video to get an idea of our green campus! RED&BLUE is led by Prof. Dr E.M. (Ellen) van Bueren, Delft University of Technology. The consortium includes more than 30 Dutch and international academic and societal partners from government, finance, development, engineering and beyond, including Delft University of Technology, VU Amsterdam, Wageningen University & Research, Maastricht University, Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, University of Utrecht, AMS Institute, APG, Arcadis, Bouwinvest, the City of Amsterdam, the City of Dordrecht, the City of Rotterdam, Cushman & Wakefield, Deltametropolis Association, Deltares, the Dutch Association of Insurers, the Foundation for Area Development Knowledge (SKG), the Ministry of Infrastructure & Water Management, the National Delta Program, PGGM, Province of North Holland, Province of South Holland, the Resilient Delta initiative, Sustainable Finance Lab, the Urban Land Institute, Vesteda, and Waternet AGV. We will recruit for the vacancy ourselves, so no employment agencies please. However, sharing in your network is appreciated.

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