As Research Fellow you would contribute to the research and management of our Southern African – Towards Inclusive Economic Development (SA-TIED) programme which builds critical bridges between research and policy in South Africa.
About UN University (UNU)
The United Nations University (UNU) is an international community of scholars engaged in policy-oriented research, capacity development and dissemination of knowledge, furthering the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. UNU’s mission is to contribute, through research and capacity building, to efforts to resolve the pressing global problems that are the concern of the United Nations and its Member States.
For the past four decades, United Nations University (UNU) has been a go-to think tank for impartial research on human survival, conflict prevention, sustainable development and welfare. With more than 400 researchers in 12 countries, UNU’s work spans the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, generating policy-relevant knowledge to effect positive global change. UNU maintains more than 200 collaborations with UN agencies and leading universities and research institutions across the globe.
United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER)
UNU-WIDER is one of 14 research and training Institutes that comprise the think tanks in the UNU system.
UNU-WIDER is a leading international development economics think tank. The Institute provides economic analysis and policy advice with the aim of promoting sustainable and equitable development for all. The Institute began operations in 1985 in Helsinki, Finland, as the first research centre of the United Nations University. Today, it is a unique blend of think tank, research institute, and UN agency — providing a range of services from policy advice to governments, as well as freely available original research.
Based at the premises of the National Treasury of South Africa in Pretoria, South Africa, the Research Fellow (2 positions) supports the research and management of UNU-WIDER’s SA-TIED programme implemented in partnership with the National Treasury.
The Research Fellow will work with 1 or more of the SA-TIED programme’s work streams: (1) Enterprise development for job creation; (2) Public revenue mobilization; (3) Structural transformation and inequality; (4) Macro-fiscal analysis and policy modelling; (5) Food, energy, and water in a context of climate change; and (6) Reform implementation. One of the Research Fellows will also provide support to a cross-cutting Data Stream.
Under the overall supervision of the UNU-WIDER representatives in the SA-TIED Steering Group, the Research Fellow’s responsibilities include:
1. Support the Steering Group in ensuring the successful formulation and implementation of research under the workstreams to which they are assigned
- Engage with and provide support to work stream leads in the development of annual workplans, commissioning of research, and evaluation of research deliverables
- Work closely with work stream leads to ensure that research is of high quality, policy relevant, and reflects the priorities of UNU-WIDER, the National Treasury, and other SA-TIED partners
- Support the work stream leads in monitoring the delivery of commissioned and other research prepared under the workstreams and in evaluating its quality. Provide independent review of deliverables as requested and ensure that research published under the SA-TIED programme is of high quality
- Engage with and provide support for the delivery of high quality research under the work streams, for instance by reviewing research papers and providing advice and training to authors as needed
- Support the synthesis and dissemination of research under the work streams
2. Support the work of the SA-TIED cross-cutting data stream and the use and development of administrative tax data.
- Support and promote research and data analysis that cross-cuts the workstreams
- Supervise assigned UNU-WIDER personnel working in the SA-TIED cross-cutting data stream located at the National Treasury.
- Conduct research in support of the relevant work stream(s) under the SA-TIED programme
- Produce research papers individually or in collaboration with Treasury staff and others related to the SA-TIED programme
- Undertake statistical, econometric, and other analyses in relation to the relevant work streams, and synthesize key findings
- Write policy briefs, blogs, academic journal papers, internal briefing papers and op-eds for relevant news outlets and magazines
3. Provide technical assistance, as well as training and other capacity development activities in the respective thematic areas
- Build the econometric skills of the Economic Policy Division of National Treasury by discussing and reviewing econometric studies proposed by staff, giving feedback on ongoing studies and making proposals on how to improve the technical elements of the work
- Promote long-term collaboration among NT, international researchers, and others within the SA-TIED programme
- Organize and lead policy workshops and trainings
- Provide mentorship to graduate students and trainees hosted under the SA-TIED programme
4. Perform other duties as assigned by the Director
Key performance indicators
- Timely and quality delivery of planned research publications
- Timely and quality delivery of other outputs (dissemination, organization of events, supervision of PhD fellows, etc.)
- Quality and level of engagement with other researchers, teams, consultants, and partners
- Timely elaboration and implementation of quality programme documents (such as work plans), results frameworks, plans and reports
- Quality and level of engagement with UNU-WIDER’s institutional partners in South Africa
- Quality contribution to increased knowledge and reputation of UNU-WIDER and the SA-TIED programme in South Africa among key stakeholders (SA-TIED partner institutions, donors, UN System in South Africa, Civil Society)
- Inclusion — take action to create an environment of dignity and respect for all, regardless of age, culture, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, gender expression, geography, grade, language, nationality, racial identity, religion, sex, sex characteristics, sexual orientation, social origin or any other aspect of identity
- Integrity — act ethically, demonstrating the standards of conduct of the United Nations and taking prompt action in case of witnessing unprofessional or unethical behaviour, or any other breach of UN standards
- Humility — demonstrate self-awareness and willingness to learn from others
- Humanity — act according to the purposes of the United Nations: peace, dignity and equality on a healthy planet
- Connect and collaborate — build positive relationships with others to advance the work of the United Nations and work coherently as One UN
- Analyse and plan — seek out and use data from a wide range of sources to understand problems, inform decision-making, propose evidence-based solutions and plan action
- Deliver results with positive impact — hold oneself and others accountable for delivering results and making a positive difference to the people and causes that the United Nations serves
- Learn and develop — pursue own learning and development and contribute to the learning and development of others
- Adapt and innovate — demonstrate flexibility, agility and the ability to think and act in novel ways
Required Qualifications and Experience:
- PhD (completed or close to completion) in economics, statistics, econometrics, development studies, political science or a related discipline with strong quantitative skills.
- A minimum of two years of progressively responsible relevant work experience.
- An emerging body of research on issues of economic development, with particular attention to one or more of the following areas: enterprise development; public revenue mobilization; structural transformation; inequality; macro-fiscal analysis; food, energy, and water; climate change; and the political economy of reform.
- Excellent quantitative skills. Knowledge of STATA is required and familiarity with other software, such as R, Oxmetrics, SQL, would be an asset
- Familiarity with systematic approaches to searching and evaluating scientific literature
- Excellent oral and written communication skills in English
- Excellent time management skills
- Ability to work independently
- Excellent team player with strong interpersonal skills and ability to work in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity.
- Strong familiarity with the South African context
- Experience in building and maintaining relationships with government entities
- Experience in policy research and writing policy briefs
- Experience working with spatial data in, for example, R, ArcGIS/QGIS or Python
- Working experience (both programmatic and operational) in planning, monitoring, and implementation of complex, multi-stakeholder programmes, desirably in the nexus of research and policy
- Some experience in building and maintaining relationships with development partners and/or civil society organizations
- Experience with the United Nations system, similar international organization, or large public institutions
- Fluency in English is required
- Knowledge of another UN official working language is an asset.
UNU offers an attractive, tax exempt compensation package including an annual net salary and post adjustment, which reflects the cost of living in a particular duty station and exchange rates (subject to mandatory deductions for pension contributions and health insurance). Other benefits include: 30 days annual leave, dependency benefits, pension plan and health insurance scheme. Benefits for internationally recruited staff may include home leave, travel and removal expenses on appointment and separation, education grant for dependent children, assignment grant and rental subsidy.
Duration of contract
This is a full-time, fixed-term appointment. The initial appointment will be for one (1) year with the possibility of renewal on a fixed-term appointment basis, subject to satisfactory work performance.
For academic positions, the combined duration of fixed-term appointments with UNU may not exceed six (6) years. The mandatory age of retirement for United Nations staff is 65 years.
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