Ayeb-Karlsson, Sonja

Gibika Project Manager

UNU Publications
  • Sonja Ayeb-Karlsson
    Environmental Migration, Social Vulnerability & Adaptation Section

    Research Interests

    • Community led Adaptation
    • Environmental Migration
    • Livelihood Resilience
    • Social Vulnerability


    • Ph.D. Candidate, University of Sussex (US) and Institute of Development Studies (IDS) in Development Studies (UK)
    • M.A., Ethnology (Culture Studies), Gotland University (Sweden)
    • B.Sc., International Relations, Stockholm University (Sweden) and Universidade Federal Fluminense (Brazil)
    • B.A., European Studies Program with a Major in Ethnology, Södertörn University, (Sweden)


    • 2008-2009: Member of the Swedish Association of International Affairs Board
    • 2006-2009: Member of the Stockholm Association of International Affairs Board
    • 2008: Stockholm Model United Nations

    Biographical Statement

    Ms. Sonja Ayeb-Karlsson joined UNU-EHS in 2013 and manages the Gibika (research-to-action) project. Gibika is a five-year partnership between UNU-EHS, International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) and Munich Re Foundation (MRF) with the objective of improving the livelihood resilience and living conditions of people in the seven sites in Bangladesh through community-led action.

    Ms. Ayeb-Karlsson has spent the last couple of years based in Bangladesh, working closely with the communities and emphasizing on storytelling methodology (Livelihood Histories) and the development of anthropological approaches to interact with communities’ facing environmental stress. She is also exploring alternative ways to communicate research findings though mediums of photography, visual communication and photo films. In 2015 she became a PhD candidate in “Development Studies” at University of Sussex (US) and Institute of Development Studies (IDS). Her PhD research focus is on decision-making in relation to environmental stress in Bangladesh.

    Before joining UNU-EHS, Ms. Ayeb-Karlsson was involved in a community-based development program in Argentina which focuses on the empowerment and equal rights of ethnic minority groups in the northern areas of the country. She was selected to represent Stockholm on the national board of the Swedish Association of International Affairs in 2008. While completing her university studies in Brazil, Ms. Ayeb-Karlsson dedicated a considerable amount of time to urban development and educational initiatives in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas. At the Swedish Embassy in Brazil she was responsible for organizing a seminar on Corporal Punishment of Children with the Ministry of Human Rights and Save the Children Sweden in the Brazilian National Congress in 2011. Discussions following the seminar lead up to the agreement of a new article on Corporal Punishment Prohibition in 2014 which made Brazil the largest country in the world to sign such a prohibition.

    Including Bangladesh, Germany, Argentina and Brazil, Ms. Ayeb-Karlsson has also lived, worked, and studied in England and Australia. She also has extensive international experience, having visited about 60 countries and has spent a large amount of time in developing countries. She is fluent in English, Swedish, Spanish and Portuguese with basic language skills in German and Bengali.

  • Articles

    • Ayeb-Karlsson, Sonja, Smith, Christopher and Kniveton, Dominic (2018). A discursive review of the textual use of ‘trapped’ in environmental migration studies: The conceptual birth and troubled teenage years of trapped populations. AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment, 9(82), 1-17
    • Watts, Nick, Amann, Markus, Ayeb-Karlsson, Sonja, Belesova, Kristine, Bouley, Timothy, Boykoff, Maxwell, Byass, Peter, Cai, Wenjia, Campbell-Lendrum, Diarmid, Chambers, Johnathan, Cox, Peter, Daly, Meaghan, Dasandi, Niheer, Davies, Michael, Depledge, Michael, Depoux, Anneliese, Dominguez-Salas, Paula, Drummond, Paul, Ekins, Paul, Flahault, Antoine, Frumkin, Howard, Georgeson, Lucien, Ghanei, Mostafa, Grace, Delia, Graham, Hilary, Grojsman, Rébecca, Haines, Andy, Hamilton, Ian, Hartinger, Stella, Johnson, Anne, Kelman, Ilan, Kiesewetter, Gregor, Kniveton, Dominic, Liang, Lu, Lott, Melissa, Lowe, Robert, Mace, Georgina M., Sewe, Maquins Odiambo, Maslin, Mark, Mikhaylov, Slava, Milner, James, Latifi, Ali Mohammad, Moradi-Lakeh, Maziar, Moradi-Lakeh, Maziar, Morrissey, Karyn, Murray, Kris, Neville, Tara, Nilsson, Maria, Oreszczyn, Tadj, Owfi, Fereidoon, Pencheon, David, Pye, Steve, Rabbaniha, Mahnaz, Robinson, Elizabeth, Rocklöv, Joacim, Schütte, Stefanie, Shumake-Guillemot, Joy, Steinbach, Rebecca, Tabatabaei, Meisam, Wheeler, Nicholas J., Wilkinson, Paul, Gong, Peng, Montgomery, Hugh and Costello, Anthony (2017). The Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: from 25 years of inaction to a global transformation for public health. The Lancet, 390(10107), 2-50
    • Watts, Nick, Adger, W Neil, Ayeb-Karlsson, Sonja, Bai, Yuqi, Byass, Peter, Campbell-Lendrum, Diarmid, Colbourn, Tim, Cox, Peter, Davies, Michael, Depledge, Michael, Depoux, Anneliese, Dominguez-Salas, Paula, Drummond, Paul, Ekins, Paul, Flahault, Antoine, Grace, Delia, Graham, Hilary, Haines, Andy, Hamilton, Ian, Johnson, Anne, Kelman, Ilan, Kovats, Sari, Liang, Lu, Lott, Melissa, Lowe, Robert, Luo, Yong, Mace, Georgina M., Maslin, Mark, Morrissey, Karyn, Murray, Kris, Neville, Tara, Nilsson, Maria, Oreszczyn, Tadj, Parthemore, Christine, Pencheon, David, Robinson, Elizabeth, Schütte, Stefanie, Shumake-Guillemot, Joy, Vineis, Paolo, Wilkinson, Paul, Wheeler, Nicholas J., Xu, Bing, Yang, Jun, Yin, Yongyuan, Yu, Chaoqing, Gong, Peng and Montgomery, Hugh (2016). The Lancet Countdown: tracking progress on health and climate change. The Lancet, 1-14
    • Ayeb-Karlsson, Sonja, van der Geest, Kees, Ahmed, Istiakh, Huq, Saleemul and Warner, Koko (2016). A people‐centred perspective on climate change, environmental stress, and livelihood resilience in Bangladesh. Sustainability Science, 11(4), 679-694


    • van der Geest, Kees, Kreft, Sönke, Zommers, Zinta, Huq, Saleemul, Amy Quandt, Preato, Alberto, Chandra, Alvin, Mulla, Ava, Chaffin, Brian, Koto, Camari, Barthelt,Christian, Carter, Christopher J., Corendea, Cosmin, Wrathall, David, Opondo, Denis Opiyo, Florano, Ebinezer, Yustiningrum, Emilia, Boyd, Emily, Derrington, Erin, Roberts, Erin, Rabbani, Golam, Khan, Hafijul Islam, Islam, Ina, Ahmedi, Istiakh, Bolland, Jack, Rhyner, Jakob, Junghardt, Jana, Warner, Koko, Schäfer, Laura, Nijzink, Laurens, Mukherjee, Nandan, Jha, Nimisha, Serdeczny, Olivia, James, Rachel, Granados, Rocio, De Souza, Roger M., Henry, Sabine, Ayeb-Karlsson, Sonja, Schwan, Susanne, Cannon, Terry, Loster, Thomas and Pathak, Vishal (2016). Loss and Damage Livelihood Resilience. United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security.
    • Ayeb-Karlsson, Sonja, Tanner, Thomas, van der Geest, Kees, Warner, Koko, Adams, Helen, Ahmedi, Istiakh, Alaniz, Ryan, Andrei, Stephanie, Barthelt,Christian, Bhargava, Malashree, Bronen, Robin, Contreras, Diana, Cradock-Henry, Nick, Fernando, Nishara, Henly-Shepard, Sarah, Huq, Saleemul, Lawless, Christopher, Lewis, David, Loster, Thomas, McNamara, Karen, Milan, Andrea, Mitchell, Tom, Nawrotzki, Raphael, Olson, Laura, Prasad, Vivek, Rahman, Ashiqur, Rhyner, Jakob, Rivera, Andrea, Sietz, Diana, De Souza, Roger M., Thomalla, Frank, Tellman, Elizabeth, Vivo, Gaetano, Williams, Casey, Wrathall, David and Zommers, Zinta (2015). Livelihood resilience in a changing world – 6 global policy recommendations for a more sustainable future. UNU-EHS Working Paper. UNU-EHS.