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PhD scholarship: Adaptation to Climate Change – Exploring the Scope for Reducing Climate Risks and Supporting Sustainable Development


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The Centre on Energy, Climate and Sustainable Development, part of the CTCN Consortium partner UNEP DTU Partnership, invites applications for a PhD research project focused on technologies for climate change adaptation in the context of sustainable development.

Over the past 25 years, the Centre on Climate, Energy and Sustainable development of the UNEP DTU Partnership ( has become a leading international research and advisory hub on energy, climate and sustainable Development. The Partnership is an integrated part of the Department of Management Engineering at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU). The Centre works in close partnership with the United Nations Environment Program (UN Environment) and has project activities in more than 50 developing countries. The Centre collaborates with a large number of national and international government and research institutions, especially in developing countries.

The Paris Climate Change Agreement together with the Sustainable Development Goals set the scene for increased focus on accelerating investments in climate technologies for a sustainable future. For developing countries governments, as well as private investors, to decide on which technologies for climate change adaptation to prioritize and to invest in, there is a growing demand for information on the impacts of technologies, both in terms of climate risk reduction potential as well as potential co-benefits in terms of social, environmental and economic impacts.

Traditionally, adaptation has been viewed as a matter for national governments, which for example are responsible for flood preparedness, irrigation schemes, research and development of improved seeds, and dams and water availability. In an ideal world, individuals and communities would act autonomously without government planning or intervention. Nevertheless, often this is not the case. Continuous constraints such as inadequate information (access, availability, quality) entails that governments remain in lead positions when it comes to taking climate adaptation initiatives. In order to move towards more autonomous adaptation and private investments, but also better government planning, improved and more information on the technologies and their effectiveness to reduce climate risks as well as their potential co-benefits is required.

Measuring the impacts and effectiveness of technologies for climate change adaptation, however, has proven challenging. In the way we understand technologies today, it includes everything from a change in practice and exchange in knowledge to the more hardware intensive technologies, e.g. for coastal protection. This may complicate assessment and quantification of technologies. Another complicating aspect is that many technologies for climate adaptation are essentially integration of new aspects into existing technologies.

Project aims
The PhD project should have an overall focus on how to assess and track effectiveness and impacts of technologies for climate change adaptation in developing countries. Specifically, the project should focus on the development of socio-economic approaches to standardize the evaluation of the technologies in terms of their costs, benefits and climate risk reduction potentials, and therefrom ease the way for better comparison, prioritization and implementation.

Research methodology
There is scope within the project for pursuing an interdisciplinary framework of analysis combining different theoretical perspectives as well as methodological approaches. Nevertheless, the research should include a strong element of socio-economics. Research methods should mostly be in the form of quantitative (primarily secondary) data collection and analysis, complemented with framework and methodology development. Potential approaches to this research include, but are not limited to economic assessment approaches, including cost benefit analysis, as well as a risk reduction approach.

Candidates should have a Master’s degree in a relevant social science discipline (for example economics, agricultural economics, development studies), with proven skills in socio-economic assessments, and ideally with a focus or component on technologies and climate change adaptation in developing countries.

Strong oral and written English communication skills are essential. Experience from working in a developing country is an asset. Candidates will be expected to demonstrate the ability to work independently, to plan and carry out independent research, including field work in developing countries. Candidates are expected to have a high degree of self-motivation, leading their research project with the support of supervisors.

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