PhD researcher Delta Wealth: developing adaptation pathways towards a climate-resilient and prosperous Southwest Delta

Published on
May 23, 2023
Location Wageningen
End date Sun 4 June 2023
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Your job

Are you passionate about contributing to a multidisciplinary research project focused on climate-robust water systems and adaptation strategies? Do you have a keen interest in exploring the social welfare implications of future delta plans in the Southwest Delta region of the Netherlands? If so, we have an exciting opportunity for you!

The Environmental Economics and Natural Resources Group is looking for a motivated PhD candidate to join the collaborative research program "Delta Wealth: developing adaptation pathways towards a climate-resilient and prosperous Southwest Delta," funded by the NWO. As part of this program, you will be part of a consortium consisting of leading knowledge institutions, including HZ/University of Applied Sciences, Delft University of Technology, Utrecht University, NIOZ, and Wageningen University&Research.

Delta Wealth is a multidisciplinary consortium of universities, institutes, public authorities, companies and key societal stakeholders. We aim for societal resilience to cope with accelerating sea level rise (SLR), and enable cost savings and innovation opportunities in flood protection, nature conservation, sustainable freshwater supply, and economic sectors. Delta Wealth contributes to solutions for a safe, ecologically healthy and economically prosperous Southwest-Delta (SW-Delta), the Netherlands in the next 50-100 years, by developing science-based knowledge on three overarching adaptation strategies coined ‘protect-open’, ‘protect-closed’, ‘seaward-defence’, and their combination. Comparison between adaptation strategies and pathways is supported through a Social Welfare Framework that extends the current cost-benefit approach in flood risk management by explicitly taking economic, environmental and social aspects into account.

As a PhD candidate, you will contribute to work package 5: Social welfare in future delta plans. You will contribute to developing a Social Welfare Framework of the project by including include various societal interests including flood risk management, freshwater availability and salinization reduction, healthy ecosystems, economic opportunities and a safe and healthy living environment. This involves interacting with other work packages to obtain information on time horizon for land use change and economic costs, changes in water quality and ecological quality etc.

Furthermore, the critical role of social discounting will be considered for the long term perspective in the SW-Delta. Considering the uncertain long-term climate impacts on economy and ecosystem services, we apply the integrated framework based on social welfare maximization to simulate different flood risk levels, technological progress uncertainty, water quality uncertainty and ecological uncertainty and to explore the economic prospects and social welfare impacts. In this task, both dual discounting and time-declining discounting will be applied for different time horizons of investments needed. It is particularly interesting to combine different strategies in the model to identify the optimal strategy of combined options over time, because different single strategies have different benefits and costs at different points of time.
Your duties and responsibilities include:

  • To write your PhD thesis based on this research project.
  • To publish your research results in the peer-reviewed journals.
  • To help with the management of work package 5.
The research is embedded within the chair of Environmental Economics and Natural Resources Group, which is led by Prof. Francisco Alpizar. You will be supervised by Dr Xueqin Zhu.

Your qualities

The ideal candidate must have the following qualities:

  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team;
  • Good organizational and communication skills;
  • Broad understanding of climate impacts, adaptation, and spatial planning;
  • Genuine interest in practical, actionable solutions;
  • Collaboration with stakeholders and decision-makers;
  • Expected to publish research results in peer-reviewed academic journals as Open Science contribution;
You must also possess:
  • A successfully completed MSc degree in quantitative economics, or environmental sciences, climate studies with strong interests in economics and quantitative modelling skills;
  • Very good academic records and analytical skills;
  • Programming skills (e.g. GAMS, Matlab or R, or willingness to learn);
  • An interest in and motivation for scientific research; 
  • Enthusiasm for collaborating with a multidisciplinary team of researchers and stakeholders with diverse backgrounds and disciplines;
  • Advantageous to have knowledge of the Dutch language for stakeholder meetings;
  • Excellent writing and verbal communication skills in English;
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.

We offer you

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

  • sabbatical leave, 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 18th 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.

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. For instance under the "30% rule", certain categories of international staff can receive tax exemption on approximately 30% of their gross salary.

Do you want more information?

Do you want more information?
For more information about this position, please contact Xueqin Zhu, Associate Professor, telephone +31 317 48 20 01 or by e-mail:

For more information about the procedure, please contact Noorien Abbas, Recruiter, by email:

Do you want to apply?
Are you interested in this position and do you fit the qualifications? To apply, please send the following:

  • a complete and up-to-date curriculum vitae;
  • a list of courses taken and grades (insofar already available) for (Research) Master programme;
  • a motivation letter.
You can apply directly using the apply button on the vacancy page on our website which will allow us to process your personal information with your approval.

This vacancy will be listed up to and including 5th of June 2023. We hope to schedule the first job interviews in the week of 12th of June 2023.

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. A good example of how WUR deals with inclusiveness can be read on the page working at WUR

We are

Wageningen University & Research
The mission of Wageningen University & 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 (6,400 fte) and 13,200 students and over 150.000 participants to WUR’s Life Long Learning, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. The unique Wageningen approach lies in its integrated approach to issues and the collaboration between different disciplines.

Read the 5 reasons why your future colleagues enjoy working at WUR and watch this video to get an idea of our green campus!

We will recruit for the vacancy ourselves, so no employment agencies please. However, sharing in your network is appreciated.

Apply now