Ayeb-Karlsson, Sonja

Gibika Project Manager

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

    Research Interests

    • (Im)mobility Decisions
    • Climate Change
    • Disasters
    • Livelihood Resilience
    • Migration
    • Trapped Populations


    • Ph.D., 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)


    • 2015-2030: Lancet Countdown: Tracking the connections between public health and climate change
    • 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

    Dr. Sonja Ayeb-Karlsson researches (im)mobility decisions, health and wellbeing in the context of environmental stress and climatic changes. She is a project manager at UNU-EHS, which she joined in 2013 to manage the Gibika research-to-action project in collaboration with ICCCAD and MRF. Her research in Bangladesh combined quantitative and qualitative methods such as Q, survey design, storytelling methodology, personal life history interviews and discourse analysis with the aim to further develop anthropological research approaches that support the interaction with people facing climatic stress, while exploring alternative ways to communicate research findings through mediums of photography, visual communication and photo films. She is also a part of WG1 and WG2 in the Lancet Countdown initiative that is tracking the connections between climate change and public health until 2030.

    In 2018 she successfully completed her PhD in International Development at University of Sussex (US) and Institute of Development Studies (IDS) entitled ‘When the Disaster Strikes’. She already holds an impressive publication record including peer reviewed articles in Ambio, Disasters, Sustainability Science and the Lancet. Her teaching in the area of Geography and International Development include the following Undergraduate courses: Environmental Management and Sustainable Development (L7003 17/18), Disaster, Environment and Development (005DA), and the Postgraduate Master courses Climate Change: Impacts and Adaptation (838F8 16/17), and Climate Resilient Development (CRD 16/17), at University of Sussex and IDS, as well as the Postgraduate Master course Risk Management in the Context of Climate Change (UM6 / JM9-2) at University of Bonn and UNU-EHS.
    Before joining UNU-EHS, Dr. Ayeb-Karlsson was involved in a community-led initiative 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, Dr. 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 led 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.
    In addition to Bangladesh, Germany, Argentina and Brazil, Dr. Ayeb-Karlsson has also lived, worked, and studied in England and Australia. She also has extensive international experience, having visited about 65 countries and has spent a large amount of time in South America, as well as South- and Southeast Asia. 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, Soenke, 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, Schaefer, 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.