The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO/IOC) is a partner in the European Horizon project “Marine Protected Areas Europe” (MPA Europe). MPA Europe will map the optimal locations for Marine Protected Areas (MPA) in European seas using measures covering the range of biodiversity from species to ecosystems, including habitats. An atlas will provide transparency, traceability and enable reproducibility of the results. Its synthesis will show stakeholders (MSP, NGO, students, researchers) why areas have been prioritized. The use of decision support software will enable alternative network designs based on stakeholder preferences and could thus support wider Marine Spatial Planning beyond the subject and study area. UNESCO/IOC will be involved in the species modelling and data distribution.

Long Description

The incumbent will work under the overall authority of the Assistant Director-General for the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (ADG/IOC), under the direct supervision of the OBIS project manager and be guided by the OBIS data manager project leaders. They will be expected to be able to travel to other partners to aid collaboration and assist with technical reporting and related organizational and management tasks in the in the project.

UNESCO/IOC is seeking to recruit three Post-doc researchers in biodiversity modelling to support the implementation of the MPA Europe project with an interest in Marine Protected Area network design in European seas. The positions will be based at three different partner institutions: Nord University (Bodo, Norway), Center of Marine Sciences ((CCMAR), Porto, Portugal), UNESCO/IOC Project Office for IODE (OBIS secretariat, Ostend, Belgium).

Long Description

The researcher(s) is expected to perform the following tasks:

  • Support the development of the project Data Management Plan.
  • Compile data and develop semi-automated workflows to access observed (recorded) marine species distribution data from OBIS, GBIF and other sources, including research grade citizen science data.
  • Run species and biogenic habitat distribution models on as many species and habitats as have adequate data and publish these models and maps (ranges, richness and other indices e.g. conservation status), as a new service on OBIS.
  • Publish a paper on marine species and habitat distribution models.
  • Support prioritization analysis of MPAs based on biodiversity variable

Long Description

The deliverables and timeline of the project will be outlined as such:

  • Data Management Plan (Month 2)
  • Compile additional data and publish it into OBIS (Month 6)
  • Publish maps and models of species environmental niches and geographic distributions in Europe on OBIS (Month 10)
  • Publish maps and models of biogenic habitat distributions in Europe on EMODnet (Month 12)
  • Database of species and habitats conservation status (Month 16)
  • Paper on marine species and habitat distribution models (Month 30)
  • Prioritization analysis based on biodiversity variables (Month 26)

The assignment has a duration of 40 Months, starting Jan/Feb 2023

COMPETENCIES (Core / Managerial)

Communication (C)
Accountability (C)
Innovation (C)
Knowledge sharing and continuous improvement (C)
Planning and organizing (C)
Results focus (C)
Teamwork (C)
Professionalism (C)

For detailed information, please consult the UNESCO Competency Framework.



  • Advanced University degree (Master’s degree or equivalent) in environmental, marine or biological sciences.

Work Experience

  • At least two (2) years of relevant work experience in biodiversity modeling or similar, of which preferably one year is acquired at international level.


  • Experience with species distribution modelling
  • First author publications in international peer-reviewed journals
  • Good knowledge of a scripting language for statistical analysis, such as R or Python
  • Excellent research, analytical and problem-solving ability, including taking part in the resolution of issues and in the application of good judgement
  • Ability to travel as required within Europe
  • Good communication skills. Ability to write and speak clearly and effectively, including the ability to draft reports in a concise style and communicate complex scientific information to a broader audience via visual, written and verbal modes.
  • Very good interpersonal skills and ability to maintain effective partnerships and working relations within a multicultural environment; ability to work collaboratively as part of a team to achieve organizational goals.
  • Ability to plan own work and manage conflicting priorities, work under pressure.


  • Excellent knowledge of English (spoken and written).



  • PhD or similar qualification in environmental, marine or biological sciences


  • Experience in GIS (e.g. QGIS, ArcGIS, PostGIS
  • Knowledge of data standards
  • Experience in biodiversity informatics
  • Practical familiarity with ocean observing techniques, data management and information generation activities.


UNESCO’s salaries consist of a basic salary and other benefits which may include if applicable: 30 days annual leave, family allowance, medical insurance, pension plan etc.

For full information on benefits and entitlements, please consult our Guide to Staff Benefits.


Please note that all candidates must complete an on-line application and provide complete and accurate information. To apply, please visit the UNESCO careers website. No modifications can be made to the application submitted.

The evaluation of candidates is based on the criteria in the vacancy notice, and may include tests and/or assessments, as well as a competency-based interview.

UNESCO uses communication technologies such as video or teleconference, e-mail correspondence, etc. for the assessment and evaluation of candidates.

Please note that only selected candidates will be further contacted and candidates in the final selection step will be subject to reference checks based on the information provided.

Further information can be found here.

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