Job Opportunity// PhD position in urban water management with nature-based solutions

The Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA) is recruiting a PhD candidate to work on nature-based solutions for urban water management in Northern latitudes. Nature-based solutions (NbS) are solutions inspired and supported by nature and provide environmental, social and economic benefits. They are used to an increasing extent in urban stormwater management or urban regeneration projects. As NbS can have multiple benefits and fulfill different purposes it is often a challenge to design, scale and place them in a way that several of their benefits are optimized, often in small, confined urban areas.

Ph.D. Description:

The objective of the announced PhD project is to contribute to an interdisciplinary project on NbS and with a specific focus to develop algorithms that allow for multi-objective optimization of NbS. Optimization criteria might consider location, size and type of nature-based solutions, pollution and stormwater retention, biological traits, implementation and maintenance costs and other benefits/ecosystem services of nature-based solutions. Optimization approaches will identify trade-offs and synergies between different ecosystem and land use functions under current and future scenarios of land use and climate. The algorithms should be able to inform cost-effectiveness or cost-benefit analysis and support placement and scaling of NbS by urban planners. It should be applied in Nordic case-studies across different spatial scales (from plot-level to catchment/landscape level). Field work might be required to gather the relevant data.
The PhD candidate is expected to cooperate with an interdisciplinary team of researchers from NIVA and practitioners working with planning and implementation of NbS. The PhD candidate will be enrolled at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), Faculty of Science and Technology. 

Furthermore, the candidate will be co-supervised by a group of senior researchers at NIVA. As part of the PhD curriculum the candidate will undertake courses in relevant fields at NMBU. Emphasis is placed on developing the candidate’s ability to define a problem, develop research methods, and communicate research findings within international scientific and science-policy discussions.


Applicants must hold a Master’s  degree or equivalent in environmental sciences, civil engineering, economics, quantitative social science, hydrology, biology, statistics/mathematics, landscape ecology/planning or another field of relevance. The candidate must have mathematical modelling skills to conduct e.g. temporal and spatial analysis and should have a strong interest to work across disciplines (i.e. spanning from economics/social sciences to ecology/biology and hydrology). Good writing skills are also a requirement. Previous knowledge on multi-objective optimization and GIS-competence are an advantage. The candidate must be able to proof good oral and written communication skills in English. Norwegian language skills are an advantage, but not a requirement. 

To be admitted as a PhD student at NMBU the applicant must fulfill the admission criteria as well as the supplementary rules of the faculty of Science and Technology . We request the applicant to also check the general PhD education procedure of NMBU.

Personal skills:

We seek a highly motivated, enthusiastic, hard-working and open-minded candidate. Applicants must show good interpersonal skills and be willing to work in close collaboration with an interdisciplinary researcher team, as well as have the ability to work independently. 


At NIVA the PhD position will be affiliated to the section “Water and Society”. The section consists of about 20 researchers primarily in social and economic sciences, but also natural scientists working at the border to social sciences and economics. Research themes covered by this section include climate change adaptation, management and governance of freshwater (including urban waters), marine and coastal waters, environmental economics and ecosystem service evaluation, circular economy, private and public sector innovation, participatory processes for stakeholder involvement. Close cooperation is foreseen with other sections at NIVA working in the field of urban water management with nature-based solutions such as the sections of  “Nature-based Solutions” and “Catchment Biogeochemistry”.
The fellowship will be for a period of 3 years, or for a period of 4 years with 25% compulsory work in projects contingent on the qualifications of the candidate and the project needs at NIVA. At NMBU the PhD position will be affiliated to the research WESH-group (Water, Environment, Sanitation, Health). The group consists of 15 researchers and about 10 PhD candidates, and aims to generate new knowledge and disseminate insights in the field of water and water treatment. The group carries out research in the interface between the subjects of water, environment, technology, medicine, biology and social sciences.

Selection criteria:

  • Experience and /or strong interest in conducting interdisciplinary research bridging the fields of economics, social and environmental sciences
  • Experience in a programming language, which allows for multi-objective optimization i.e.  C++, python, R or other
  • Experience/core interest in working with mathematical socio-ecological models
  • Knowledge of scientific theory and methodology including, statistical analysis and modelling
  • Analytical ability and writing skills as demonstrated by scientific reports, papers or degree of the project thesis
  • Willingness and ability to work as part of an interdisciplinary team in a multicultural environment
  • Written and oral communication and presentation skills

NIVA offers:

  • Exciting and stimulating tasks in a leading national water science research institute with great social significance
  • To be part of a network of national and international researchers
  • An opportunity for professional and personal development
  • A multicultural, social and creative work environment
  • Good pension, welfare and insurance schemes, and competitive wages

The application should contain:

  • Cover letter (statement of motivation and research interests)
  • CV (summarizing education, positions and academic work including list of publications)
  • Educational certificates (academic transcripts)
  • Documentation of English proficiency
  • List of max 3 references (name, position, e-mail and phone number)

Application closes on 24th, October, 2021.

Originally posted.