PhD Researcher at the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

Deadline: 14 June 2015
Open to: PhD students who research the areas of tourism and sustainable development
Scholarship: a monthly lump sum of EUR 2000 per month


The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism. As the leading international organization in the field of tourism, the UNWTO promotes tourism as a driver of economic growth, inclusive development and environmental sustainability and offers leadership and support to the sector in advancing knowledge and tourism policies worldwide. The Sustainable Development of Tourism Programme (SDT) builds its work upon the Plan of Implementation agreed upon at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD, Johannesburg, 2002), in pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals, the post 2015 Development Agenda and in the framework of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism. It covers the areas of policies and tools for SDT, their application to the different types of tourism destinations as well as their integration into global initiatives on sustainable development.

In 2015, UNWTO will continue the PhD Research Programme, successfully started in 2014, which will offer again two PhD students the opportunity to contribute to the UNWTO programme for Sustainable Development of Tourism (SDT). The main aim of this programme is to support research to advance the general knowledge and further broaden ones’ understanding about the importance of sustainable and resilient tourism at the international level.

The PhD Research Programme will be located in Madrid, Spain, at UNWTO headquarters, working with the SDT Programme. Successful candidates will be sponsored for a period of 12 months and are expected to work under the supervision of the Director of the SDT programme and/or another staff member in the programme. Appropriate logistics (i.e., first-hand access to meetings and UN processes; internal access to all UNWTO documents and database and other relevant industry data and processes; own office space, computer and internet accessibility) will be made available. The date of entry on duty is 1ST August or 1ST September 2015. Applicants are required to dedicate most of their time to the research at the UNWTO headquarters; however arrangements for field research are envisaged. PhD candidates are expected to prepare three research papers, for publishing or the equivalent, on their designated research subject. Successful candidates will conduct research in one of the following areas:

  • Global Processes on sustainable development: biodiversity, sustainable consumption and production, sustainable tourism, 10 Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production (10YFP), post-2015 development agenda, Rio+20, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);
  • Resilient tourism: transportation and tourism policies, travel facilitation, post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction (HFA-2) – to foster growth and development;


The researchers should possess the following knowledge and skills:

  • Applicants must be enrolled in doctoral studies and be external collaborative PhD students, but should not be in their final year of study;
  • The lump sum should be used to finance the one year stay abroad in Madrid and should not be used for tuition or other fees related to the PhD degree;
  • The successful candidate must have excellent written and spoken English;
  • Applicants must be computer literate in Windows 7, Microsoft Office 2010 software, Internet and emerging Web tools, and should be able to operate standard office equipment (e.g. scanner, photocopier, etc.); experience with data management software is an asset; have a keen interest in the work of the United Nations and have the ability to successfully interact with individuals of different cultural backgrounds and beliefs;
  • Applicants must have academic background in international affairs, sustainable development, international and/or development economics, aviation and transportation management, environmental affairs or related fields;
  • The successful PhD candidate shall conduct himself/herself at all times in a manner befitting his/her status as a holder of a UNWTO research grant. Any serious infringement of this general rule may lead, after consultation with the authorities concerned, to the termination of the research;
  • Applicants must possess a medical certificate indicating that he/she is in good health and able to undertake the research programme;
  • The researcher shall be in possession of a major global medical insurance coverage to be paid by him/her;
  • The UNWTO is not in any way committed to employ the researcher upon completion of UNWTO research;
  • The researcher shall be responsible for all matters pertaining to his/her stay in Madrid;


The selected candidates will be offered a twelve months sponsorship. A monthly lump sum of EUR 2000 per month, to be paid at the end of each month.

How to apply?

To successfully apply all applications must include the following documents:

  • Curriculum vitae that includes your contact details;
  • 1-2 page motivation letter;
  • Linkages between PhD study and UNWTO research;
  • Academic transcripts;
  • Letter of support from PhD supervisor;
  • All applications must be written in English;

Applicants are kindly requested to:

  • Clearly indicate “PhD Researcher at the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)” on the motivation letter:
  • Avoid sending their application via multiple routes;
  • Refrain from contacting the Organization on the status of their application. Applicants who do not receive any feedback within three months of the deadline should consider their application as unsuccessful;

Applications will only be accepted if completed and according to application requirements.  Applications should be submitted via email to the following address:

For more information please check the official call.

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