JSPS–UNU Postdoctoral Fellowship Programme 2021

Application procedure
    JSPS–UNU Postdoctoral Fellow
    Tokyo, Japan
    UTC +9

    Jointly organised by the United Nations University and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), the JSPS–UNU Postdoctoral Fellowship Programme is designed to provide promising, highly qualified, young researchers with the opportunity to conduct advanced research in sustainability in co-operation with host researchers at Japanese universities and research institutions.

    The UNU Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS, Tokyo) acts as the nominating authority for the JSPS–UNU Postdoctoral Fellowship Programme. This fellowship is aimed at candidates who have completed their doctorates in the past six years and also have professional and/or research experience. UNU-IAS will assist in securing acceptance from host researchers for shortlisted candidates.

    Fellowships are awarded for a period of 24 months. Applicants must hold a doctoral degree (received on or after 2 April 2014) when the fellowship begins, or be scheduled to receive a doctoral degree before the fellowship begins. Japanese nationals are not eligible, nor are those of dual nationality if one is Japanese. In addition, those who have permanent residency in Japan are not eligible. Those who have previously been awarded a Standard or Pathway Fellowship under the JSPS Postdoctoral Fellowship for Research in Japan are not eligible.

    Terms of the Award

    1. A round-trip air ticket (based on JSPS regulations)
    2. A monthly maintenance allowance of JPY362,000
    3. A settling-in allowance of JPY200,000 (based on JSPS regulations)
    4. Overseas travel, accident, and sickness insurance coverage, etc.


    • The amounts of the awards indicated above are subject to change by JSPS.
    • In the case that a Fellow is already residing in Japan before his/her fellowship starts or obtains resident status before his/her fellowship is designated to begin, the above-mentioned air ticket to Japan and settling-in allowance will not be provided.
    • A research grant, “Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research”, is available to cover cooperative research-related expenses. Application for these grants is made by the host researcher through his/her institution.

    JSPS–UNU Postdoctoral Fellowship Programme 2021

    Under this programme fellows conduct research relevant to one or more of the main thematic focus areas of UNU-IAS: sustainable societies, natural capital & biodiversity, and global change & resilience.

    Research proposals for JSPS–UNU Postdoctoral Fellowships should relate clearly to one of the specific research areas of UNU-IAS listed below. The proposed research must be policy-relevant and incorporate gender issues within the research agenda:

    • Water and Resource Management
    • Innovation and Education
    • Biodiversity and Society
    • Strategic Programme

    Water and Resource Management

    This programme will implement activities in the thematic area “Water & Resource Management” (WRM). It aims to lead policy research to transform water management systems by promoting decarbonized, circular economy, enhancing resilience through decentralized natural resource management, and developing an integrated water resources management (IWRM) approach. It will promote smart, innovative, and community-based sustainable water management by strengthening research collaboration between local researchers and practitioners to explore alternative water resources. The WRM programme will strengthen results-based management of research and project activities through development of KPIs on multiple-use water services, supporting local actions and development plans. It will also contribute to the UN World Water Development Report, and enhance outreach through partnerships with other UN organizations.

    Required qualifications:

    • A PhD degree (no ABDs) in a related field, including, but not limited to water environmental science or engineering, economics, economic policy, quantitative economics, or related field;
    • Ability to design, implement, and summaries desk work and field research;
    • Excellent command of English, both oral and written
    • Strong organizational skills and a team-player ethos

    Innovation and Education

    This programme will implement activities in the thematic area “Innovation &Education”. It will reinforce evidence-based policy advice to translate global goals into innovative Education for

    Sustainable Development (ESD) programmes by creating a consolidating reporting system for valid data collection and analysis. It will also provide policy advice on ICT-supported lifelong learning that promotes ESD. The programme will strengthen the capacity of UNU-IAS regional and global networks including Promotion of Sustainability in Postgraduate Education and Research (ProSPER.Net) and Regional Center of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development (RCE), enhancing partnerships with other UNU institutes as well as other UN agencies. It plans to design and deliver inclusive education contents and curriculums using digital technology.

    Required qualifications:

    • PhD degree (no ABDs) from a range of disciplines including but not limited to education and/or environmental policy, as well as experience in working with the social sciences and environmental sciences
    • Demonstrated research and communication skills in similar areas
    • Preferred research focus on biodiversity, climate change, and/or sustainable consumption and production in education and/or institutional and organizational challenges to incorporate ESD into higher education activities
    • Ability to design, implement, and summaries research involving both desk work and fieldwork
    • Fluency in English writing and speaking is essential; a working knowledge of other languages is desirable with a preference for French, Japanese, and/or Spanish.

    Biodiversity and Society

    The selected Fellow will conduct research on social-ecological systems to contribute to policy relevant discussions on biodiversity conservation and landscape management. The research should be linked to the concept of the Satoyama Initiative which aims to realize societies in harmony with nature by promoting sustainable production activities and natural resource management. The focus includes multiple benefits of production landscapes and seascapes and their linkages with human well-being, and solutions to various challenges they are facing from social, economic and environmental perspectives. The research is also expected to contribute to the Satoyama Initiative’s efforts in supporting global initiatives such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as well as enhancing local and regional management practices for sustainability.

    Required qualifications:

    • PhD degree (no ABDs) in a field related to applied social or environmental sciences, including but not limited to environmental policy, development studies, ecosystem management, environmental economics and landscape planning;
    • Demonstrated research skills and a sound record of publication in similar areas;
    • Ability to design and implement research involving fieldwork;
    • Fluency in English is essential, and a working knowledge of other languages is desirable

    Strategic Programme

    Strategic Programme is a new flagship programme implemented by the Strategy and Management Office (SMO) in collaboration with Units of Thematic Programmes of the Institute as well as multi-stakeholders such as local governments and the private sector under its Strategic Period 2020-2024. The Strategic Programme implements a research project on the governance on the SDGs, including monitoring and evaluation on the multiple benefits related to SDGs delivered from implementation of major environmental actions, procurement for SDGs, and sustainable finance. The Strategic Programme also implements policy-oriented research activities related to 2030 Agenda for the Sustainable Development such as synergies between climate change and SDGs.

    Required qualifications:

    • Ph.D. either in Public Administration, or in Business Administration, or in Environmental Studies or equivalent field of study
    • Demonstrated research skills and a sound record of publications in relevant thematic areas
    • Ability to communicate and outreach knowledge on research into policy and framework development among the stakeholders
    • Fluency in English is essential, and a working knowledge of other languages is desirable
  • Please note that the Fellowships Office is no longer accepting applications for Fall 2021 commencement.

    Applicants must be citizens of countries that have diplomatic relations with Japan. Japanese nationals are not eligible, nor are those of dual nationality if one is Japanese. Also, those who have permanent residency in Japan are not eligible. Applicants must hold a doctorate received on or after 2 April 2014 (i.e., the degree must have been received within six years prior to 1 April 2021), when the fellowship begins or be scheduled to receive doctorate before the fellowship begins.

    Applicants with at least 10 months’ research and/or professional experience are especially encouraged to apply. Those who have previously been awarded a Standard or Pathway Fellowship under the “JSPS Postdoctoral Fellowship for Research in Japan” are not eligible.

    Duration of the fellowship

    Fellowships are awarded for a period of 24 months.

    Nomination of candidates

    UNU will act as the nominating authority of the programme, and applications should be submitted to UNU-IAS. UNU-IAS nominates candidates to JSPS based on the following criteria:

    • the research objectives of the applicant and the quality of his/her research proposal,
    • the relevance of the research proposal to the ongoing or planned research activities of the applicant’s indicated research programme at UNU-IAS, and
    • the applicant’s academic merit and his/her potential for successful research while in Japan.

    UNU intends to inform successful candidates of the results of the nomination in May 2021. JSPS takes up to 3 months after receiving the nominations to process its award decisions.

    Starting date and deadline for applications

    The JSPS-UNU Postdoctoral Fellowship Programme begins on 1 September and the selected Fellows are required to be in Japan by this date.


    Interested and eligible candidates are invited to submit a completed Application Form and supporting documents to fellowships@unu.edu. If an applicant does not have access to the Internet, he or she should contact UNU-IAS. The form and the required documents indicated in the form must be in English. If supporting documents are not in English, English translations must be attached.

    Review of applications by the Fellowship Committee will begin immediately after the application deadline. Short-listed candidates will be contacted for a telephone interview and to provide reference letters.