PhD Position assessing the palm oil sector


ETH Zurich


Monday, June 22, 2020

Start Date

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Project overview

Expansion of globally traded commodities is the leading cause of tropical forest loss. Recent campaigns by NGOs have incentivized major corporations to make commitments to exclude products associated with deforestation from their supply chains (‘zero deforestation commitments’). To achieve these goals, companies are increasing supply chain transparency and traceability, sourcing certified products, and working directly with producers to change land use practices. Yet, the effects of such corporate policies on producer behavior and environmental and social outcomes remain unclear. This project focuses on the Indonesian palm oil sector and aims to understand under what conditions zero-deforestation commitment implementation can be both effective and equitable by supporting low-deforestation rural development.

Job Description

This PhD position will include a combination of fieldwork and modelling to better understand how company zero-deforestation commitments are being implemented and enforced in Indonesia. In particular, the student will conduct household and supply chain interviews to assess how commitment implementation mechanisms and contexts influence commitment effectiveness and equity. 

The PhD student will work closely with the Principal Investigator (Prof. Dr. Rachael Garrett) and co-investigator (Dr. Janina Grabs) in the EPL research group, as well as with our project partners at the Agricultural University Bogor, in designing the sampling and data collection protocols, implementing the data collection and analysis, and producing academic and practitioner-focused outputs.

Your profile

To perform the research successfully, potential candidates should have an interdisciplinary background in environmental/natural resource economics, environmental policy, political science, anthropology, sociology, or similar fields; competence in quantitative analysis, as well as statistical expertise and coding in R (or a desire to learn); and excellent communication, writing, and organizational skills. Strong written and oral English skills are a requirement for a successful applicant, while individuals with working knowledge of Bahasa Indonesia and have experience performing fieldwork will be strongly preferred. Prior experience doing independent research is especially welcomed.


At the start of the working contract (01.10.2020), applicants must have obtained a degree (MA or an MSc in a natural or engineering science) which formally entitles them to embark on a doctorate in the country in which the degree was obtained. The candidate’s final grades must be sufficient to enable him or her to apply for a PhD at the university which issued the candidate’s MA or MSc degree. 

This call is open to applicants of any nationality. Please state your nationality in your application for the purpose of anticipating necessary visa and immigration procedures.

Contact Name

Dr. Rachael Garrett

Contact Email