Project: Justice First: community-embedded energy transition planning for climate resilience

Justice First is an international collaborative research project with researchers from Canada, the U.S., Norway, Germany, the UK, and Ghana. This project focuses on enhancing energy transition planning, recognizing that such plans must integrate mitigation and adaptation, embrace a justice framework, and be socio-culturally embedded within local geographies. This demands direct engagement with the diverse people living and working in those spaces, with particular attention to vulnerable groups. Empowerment and engagement of marginalized community members reduce inequity and conflict, increase legitimacy, and allow for the deployment of valuable local knowledge, all of which are essential in realizing mitigation, adaptation, and sustainable development goals.

Our primary objectives are to 1) co-produce directly applicable knowledge to facilitate local climate adaptation planning that prioritizes justice and wellbeing and 2) generate scalable knowledge to support capacity-building, enabled by a comparative approach. We will pursue these objectives with a mixed methods comparative analysis of local capacity to respond to key climate-attributed risks across an internationally diverse set of communities.

The Ghana case study (i.e., Tamale) is a coordination between ARL Hannover / Leibniz University Hannover and Simon Diedong Dombo University of Business and Integrated Development Studies (SDDUBIDS). The Tamale Metropolitan Area is the third largest city in Ghana and the capital city of the Northern Region of Ghana. We seek to unravel the contestations in energy access through the lens of energy justice with the following questions in mind.

  • What are the dominant local values and practices that support or compromise community energy security and livelihoods?
  • How can the principles of justice be operationalized in local energy transition planning?
  • What are the options to address potential risk cascades confronted by vulnerable groups at different scales, at, and in different local socio-cultural contexts?

We seek a motivated individual to join our team as a PhD student to address energy insecurity in Tamale region. This is more than a PhD position; it’s an invitation to join a vibrant team of multi-disciplinary scholars based in Germany and Ghana. The PhD will take place at the SDD-UBIDS Wa campus under the Department of Urban Design and Infrastructure Studies.

Your Role and Responsibilities

As a PhD candidate, you will:

  • Make significant contributions to the conceptualization, methodology, and data management of our project
  • Develop your PhD project within the Justice First research project, culminating in a doctoral thesis
  • Participate actively in team meetings and project events
  • Produce impactful scholarly works for top international peer-reviewed journals o Present key findings at scientific conferences and stakeholder meetings, both national and international
  • Contribute to project deliverables, including content creation for our website and social media platforms

Your Profile

We are looking for a motivated individual who possesses not only robust research skills and relevant interests but also a direct understanding of energy justice and climate resilience. Such understanding might come from personal experiences (broadly defined) or from working closely with impoverished communities. We believe that this intimate familiarity will be an asset in delivering the project’s objectives.

Who is eligible?

  1. Must be a Ghanaian, and can speak Dagbani is an advantage
  2. Successfully completed a master’s degree in planning, economics, political science, public policy, sociology, development studies, environmental/sustainability science, or a closely related social science field;
  3. Knowledge of the history, politics, and/or socio-economic issues in Ghana
  4. Knowledge and curiosity about energy justice, poverty, climate resilience, well-being, or development studies
  5. Good training in social science research methods;
  6. Strong quantitative and qualitative research skills
  7. Additional skills in social network analysis or advanced GIS are an advantage;
  8. Good team-player;
  9. Ability to present their work to both academic and professional audiences;
  10. Ability to work in a highly independent, organized, and result-oriented fashion;
  11. Ph.D. students already with admissions or are in the first year are eligible to apply.

Take part in this exceptional journey of knowledge, collaboration, and discovery. Let us work together to create a future where humans and nature thrive. Apply now!

Deadline for applications June 3, 2024

Terms and conditions

The funding for the PhD candidate will be for three (3) years; initially, for one year with an extension of two years after a positive evaluation of progress and skills development, leading to the successful completion of a PhD. thesis. The funding will cover the following:

o Tuition fees and other academic dues

o Fieldwork data collection o Monthly stipend o Participation in international conferences

o One-month research visit to Germany at the Leibniz University Hannover

The starting date is 15 January 2025 or earlier.


SDD-UBIDS is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from females and other marginalized groups.


Enquiries can be made to Dr Abubakari Ahmed at


Please submit online your application no later than June 3, 2024 to and copy

Indicate on the subject JUSTICE FIRST PHD. Please ensure that you upload the following documents in PDF format.

  • A one-page motivation letter (400-500 words) 3
  • Application form or admission letter into a relevant programme at SDD-UBIDS
  • Five pages of research proposal related to the topic (1.5 line spacing, excluding references).
  • Grade list/transcript from previous education programmes followed and completed.
  • Curriculum vitae
  • A writing sample highlighting your research and writing skills (master’s thesis or other publication if applicable)
  • The names and contact details of three potential referees (no actual recommendation letters are required at this stage).

Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed June 28, 2024. formal interviews will take place online or in-person at the Wa Campus.

Enquiries from agencies are not appreciated.