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The Childhood, Law & Policy Network (CLPN)

Dr Sonja Ayeb-Karlsson


Senior Researcher and Lecturer in Policy and Intersectionality at IRDR, University College London, United Kingdom



My research area is broad and interdisciplinary with a particular focus on the interconnections between intersectionality, policy and climate change, and their overlaps with human (im)mobility and migration, or health and mental wellbeing. My work is well-published and widely covered by media outlets across the world.

I am on the SHERA research committee ( investigating mental health of mothers and children in the context of domestic abuse and Family Court proceedings in England and Brazil, Hague Mothers Legacy Project ( that amplify the voices of the women who are further abused as a result of decisions made under the Hague Convention to return their children. I also lead the mental health and climate change work of the Lancet Countdown ( and I was part of the RCPSYCH Climate Emergency and Mental Health Task and Finish Group.

At the moment, I am particularly seeking to further our understanding of psychologically and legally ‘trapped’ populations, gender-based violence and policy protection (or lack of protection), the mental health impacts of humanitarian disasters, the COVID-19 pandemic or specific legal systems (such as the family courts) or policy tools (such as the Human Rights Act, the Istanbul Convention, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and Family Law), and non-economic losses and damages in the context of the UNFCCC climate negotiations.



Flores, E. C., Kelman, I., Joye, Y., Bolderdijk, J. W., Ayeb-Karlsson, S., Wutich, A., ... & Hickman, C. (2022). A healthy planet for a healthy mind. One Earth, 5(4), 307-310.

Di Napoli, C., McGushin, A., Romanello, M., Ayeb-Karlsson, S. et al. (2022). Tracking the impacts of climate change on human health via indicators: lessons from the Lancet Countdown\. BMC Public Health 22, 663.

Ayeb-Karlsson, S., and Uy, N. (2022). Island Stories: Mapping the (im)mobility trends of slow onset environmental processes in three island groups of the Philippines. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, 9(60), 1-18.

Orievulu, K., Ayeb-Karlsson, S., Ngwenya, N., Ngema, S., McGregor, H., Adeagbo, O., ... & Iwuji, C. (2022). Economic, Social and Demographic impacts of Drought on treatment adherence among people living with HIV in rural South Africa: a qualitative analysis. Climate Risk Management, 100423.

Orievulu, K., Ayeb-Karlsson, S., Ngema, S., Baisley, K., Tanser, F., Ngwenya, N., ... & Iwuji, C. (2022). Exploring linkages between drought and HIV treatment adherence in Africa: A Systematic Review. Lancet Planetary Health, 6(4), e359-e370.

Zickgraf, C., Ali, S. H., Clifford, M., Djalante, R., Kniveton, D., Brown, O., and Ayeb-Karlsson, S. (2022). Natural resources, human mobility and sustainability: a review and research gap analysis. Sustainability Science, 1-13.

Zander, K. K., Garnett, S. T., Sterly, H., Ayeb-Karlsson, S., Šedová, B., Lotze-Campen, H., ... and Baggen, H. S. (2022). Topic modelling exposes disciplinary divergence in research on the nexus between human mobility and the environment. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, 9(1), 1-9.

Florido Ngu, F., Kelman, I., Chambers, J., & Ayeb-Karlsson, S. (2021). Correlating heatwaves and relative humidity with suicide (fatal intentional self-harm). Scientific reports, 11(1), 1-9.

Romanello, M., McGushin, A., Di Napoli, C., Drummond, P., Hughes, N., Jamart, L., ... Ayeb-Karlsson, S. … & Hamilton, I. (2021). The 2021 report of the Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: code red for a healthy future. The Lancet, 398(10311), 1619-1662.

Raju, E., Dutta, A. and Ayeb-Karlsson, S. (2021). COVID-19 in India: Who are we leaving behind? Progress in Disaster Science 10: 100163.

Hayward, G. and Ayeb-Karlsson, S. (2021). Seeing with empty eyes: A systems approach to understand climate change and mental health in Bangladesh. Climatic Change 165(1): 1-30.

Kelman, I., Ayeb-Karlsson, S., Rose-Clarke, K., Prost, A., Ronneberg, E., Wheeler, N. and Watts, N. (2021). A review of mental health and wellbeing under climate change in small island developing states (SIDS). Environmental Research Letters 16(3): 033007.

Ayeb-Karlsson, S. (2021). ‘When we were children we had dreams, then we came to Dhaka to survive’: Urban stories connecting loss of wellbeing, displacement and (im)mobility. Climate and Development 13(4): 348-359.

Lane, S., Ayeb-Karlsson, S., and Shahvisi, A. (2021). Impacts of the Global Gag Rule on sexual and reproductive health and rights in the Global South: A scoping reviewGlobal Public Health 16(12): 1804-1819.

Watts, N., Amann, M., Arnell, N., Ayeb-Karlsson, S., Beagley, J., Belesova, K., ... & Capstick, S. (2021). The 2020 report of The Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: responding to converging crises. The Lancet 397(10269): 129-170.

Ayeb-Karlsson, S. (2020). ‘I do not like her going to the shelter’: Stories on gendered disaster (im)mobility and wellbeing loss in coastal Bangladesh. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction 50(101904): 1-12.

Ayeb-Karlsson, S. (2020). When the Disaster Strikes: Gendered (im)mobility in Bangladesh. Climate Risk Management29(100273): 1-24.

Ayeb-Karlsson, S. (2020). No Power without Knowledge: A Discursive Subjectivities Approach to Investigate Climate-Induced (Im)mobility and Wellbeing. Social Sciences 9(6): 103.

Ayeb-Karlsson, S., Kniveton, D. and Cannon, T. (2020). Trapped in the prison of the mind: notions of climate-induced (im)mobility decision-making and wellbeing from an urban informal settlement in Bangladesh. Palgrave Communications. 6(62): 1-15.

McMichael, C., Dasgupta, S., Ayeb-Karlsson, S. and Kelman, I. (2020). A review of estimating population exposure to sea-level rise and the relevance for migrationEnvironmental Research Letters 15(12): 123005.

Raju, E. and Ayeb-Karlsson, S. (2020). COVID-19: how do you self-isolate in a refugee camp? International Journal of Public Health 65:515-517.

Watts, N., Amann, M., Arnell, N., Ayeb-Karlsson, S., … and Montgomery, H. (2019). The 2019 report of The Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: ensuring that the health of a child born today is not defined by a changing climate. TheLancet 394(10211): 16-22.

Ayeb-Karlsson, S., Kniveton, D., Cannon, T., van der Geest, K., Ahmed, I., Derrington, E. M., Florano, E. and Opondo, D.O. (2019). I will not go, I cannot go: Cultural and social constraints to disaster preparedness in Asia, Africa and Oceania. Disasters 43: 752-770.

Ayeb-Karlsson, S., Fox, G. and Kniveton, D. (2019). Embracing uncertainty: a discursive approach to understanding pathways for climate adaptation in Senegal. Regional Environmental Change 19(6): 1585-1596.

Ahmed, I., Ayeb-Karlsson, S., van der Geest, K., Huq, S. and Jordan, J.C. (2019). Climate change, environmental stress and loss of livelihoods can push people towards illegal activities: a case study from coastal Bangladesh. Climate and Development 11(10): 907-917.

Watts, N., Amann, M., Arnell, N., Ayeb-Karlsson, S., … and Costello, A. (2018). The 2018 report of the Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: shaping the health of nations for centuries to come. The Lancet. 392(10163): 2479-2514.

Ayeb-Karlsson, S., Smith, C. D. and Kniveton, D. (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 47(5):557-573.

Watts, N., Amann, M., Ayeb-Karlsson, S. … and Costello, A. (2018). The Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: from 25 years of inaction to a global transformation for public health. The Lancet 391(10120): 581-630.

Watts, N., Adger, W. N., Ayeb-Karlsson, S., and Costello, A. (2017). The Lancet countdown: tracking progress on health and climate change. The Lancet 389(10074):1151-1164.

Ayeb-Karlsson, S., Van der Geest, K., Ahmed, I., Huq, S., and Warner, K. (2016). A peopleā€centred perspective on climate change, environmental stress, and livelihood resilience in Bangladesh. Sustainability Science 11(4): 1-16.

Book chapters, reports and policy briefs

Ayeb-Karlsson, S. and Barnett, A. (2022). Submissions to the Children and Families Act 2014. Committee Lords Select Committee. London, House of Lords.

SHERA (2022). Submissions to the Children and Families Act 2014. Committee Lords Select Committee. London, House of Lords.

IDMC (2021). Global Report on Internal Displacement 2021. Geneva, IDMC.

Audia, C., Visman, E., Fox, G., Mwangi, E., Kilavi, M., Arango, M., Ayeb-Karlsson, S. and Kniveton, D. (2021). Decision-Making Heuristics for Managing Climate-Related Risks: Introducing Equity to the FREE Framework. In: Conway D. and Vincent K. (eds.) Climate Risk in Africa. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Kniveton, D., Ayeb-Karlsson, S., and Smith, C.D. (2018). Environmental migrants, climate ‘refugees’ and sun-seeking expats: capturing the larger context of migration in a changing climate through appropriate and effective behavioural research.In: McLeman, Robert and Gemenne, François (eds.) Routledge handbook of environmental displacement and migration. Routledge, pp. 151-160. ISBN 1138194468.

Ayeb-Karlsson, S. and van der Geest, K. (2018). Understanding livelihood resilience in Bangladesh: the multifaceted influences of environmental shocks and climate change impacts on people's lives. Project Report. UNU-EHS, Bonn.

Van der Geest, K., Kreft, S., Zommers, Z., Huq, S., … Ayeb-Karlsson, S., Schwan, S., Cannon, T., Loster, T. and Pathak, V. (2016). Loss and damage livelihood resilience. UNU-EHS Policy Brief 10. UNU-EHS, Bonn.

Ayeb-Karlsson, S., Tanner, T., Van der Geest, K., Koko, W. et al. (2015). Livelihood resilience in a changing world – 6 global policy recommendations for a more sustainable future. UNU-EHS Working Paper 22. UNU-EHS, Bonn.

Scientific blog articles

Ayeb-Karlsson, S. (2021). Mental health distress in the wake of Bangladesh cyclone shows the devastation of climate-related loss and damage. Published online on The Conversation (18.11.2021).

Ayeb-Karlsson, S. (2020). Tackling COVID-19 and Climate Change in Unison Will Help Us Better Protect People on the Move. Published online on OurWorld (18.12.2020).

McMichael, C., Kelman, I. Dasgupta, S. and Ayeb-Karlsson, S. (2020). Climate change is resulting in profound, immediate, and worsening health impacts, over 120 researchers say. Published online on The Conversation (03.12.2020).

Ayeb-Karlsson, S. (2020). How do you self-isolate in a refugee camp? Published online on The Conversation (01.12.2020).

Ayeb-Karlsson, S., McMichael, C., Kelman, I. and Dasgupta, S. (2020). How many people will migrate due to rising sea levels? Our best guesses aren’t good enough. Published online on The Conversation (25.09.2020).

Ayeb-Karlsson, S. (2020). OPINION: How can we protect refugees during the COVID-19 crisis? Published online on Thomson Reuters Foundation News (15.05.2020).

Ayeb-Karlsson, S. (2020). Keeping distance, lacking space: COVID-19 in refugee camps and informal settlements. Published online on Sussex Sustainability Research Programme Forum (13.05.2020).

Ayeb-Karlsson, S. (2019). This Bangladeshi man’s story shows why linking climate change with conflict is no simple matter. Published online on The Conversation (13.12.2019).

Ayeb-Karlsson, S. (2019). How Climate Change is affecting Our Mental Health. Published online on HuffPost (04.02.2019)

Ayeb-Karlsson, S. (2018). Climate change and migration in Bangladesh - one woman's perspective. Published online on The Conversation (28.11.2018).

Ayeb-Karlsson, S., Kniveton, D. and Smith, C.D. (2018). The Conceptual Birth of Trapped Populations and the Danger of Using it as a Policy Tool. Published online on TransRe (26.09.2018).

Ayeb-Karlsson, S. (2017). Facing disasters: Lessons learned from a Bangladeshi island. Published online on The Conversation (24.08.2017).

Ayeb-Karlsson, S. (2016). This Bangladeshi woman can tell you why the latest round of climate talks matter. Published online on The Conversation (07.11.2016).

Ayeb-Karlsson, S. (2016). A Climate Migrant’s Story from an Urban Slum in Dhaka. Published online on OurWorld (16.11.2016).

Ayeb-Karlsson, S. (2016). What money cannot buy back: non-economic loss and damage. Published online on UNU-EHS (02.02.2016).

Ayeb-Karlsson, S. (2015). Nepal Earthquake: Preparing and Planning for the Next Disaster. Published online on OurWorld (02.07.2015).

Ayeb-Karlsson, S. (2015). No Need for Luck to Survive: Why We Should Care about Disaster Risk Reduction. Published online on OurWorld (12.05.2015).



Policy, Intersectionality, Migration, Mental Health, Gender Based Violence, Climate Change
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