Prof. Dr. Lisa Schipper

Professor for Development Geography 

Research profile

The focus of my research is what causes people to be vulnerable to climate change in the Global South, and the barriers and enablers for people to adapt to the changes in climate. I am particularly interested in socio-cultural dimensions of vulnerability, including gender, culture and religion, as well as structural issues related to power, justice and equity. I have lived and worked in Central and South America, East Africa and South and Southeast Asia.

My research has shown how understanding socio-cultural and other underlying development factors that drive vulnerability to climate change is vital for identifying the most effective adaptation strategies, but that this knowledge is rarely present in adaptation planning. Recent work (Eriksen et al., 2021) shows how adaptation strategies can end up making people more, rather than less, vulnerable. Other work focuses on the complexities of understanding maladaptation (Schipper, 2020; Magnan et al., 2020) and explores the challenges that remain with respect to understanding how to connect climate change and development (Schipper, Eriksen et al., 2020; Schipper, Tanner et al., 2020). Other research has explored the way in which religious belief influences people's perceptions of hazards and willingness to take action (Schipper, 2010; Schipper et al., 2014; Schipper, 2015).

The IPCC Working Group II report released in early 2022 featured climate resilient development as the way forward to achieve a liveable and sustainable future for all. The chapter I co-led on climate resilient development pathways (Schipper et al, 2022) describes how adaptation to climate change and mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions must be integrated in efforts to achieve sustainable development: that is climate resilient development. 

These findings underscore that in order to achieve climate resilient development, funding agencies, development actors and climate policy makers to engage more with what drives vulnerability to climate change.

Students interested in supervision are welcome to contact me, and should include a brief statement of their desired research question and theoretical approach.

You can write to me in English or German, French, Spanish and Swedish.

You can find me on Twitter at @schipper_lisa

Avatar Schipper

Prof. Dr. Lisa Schipper


Geozentrum - Meckenheimer Allee 176

53115 Bonn


I am professor of Development Geography at the University of Bonn since the beginning of 2023. Broadly speaking, my main focus for the coming years is to unpack the question of whether climate resilient development is possible for everyone. I intend to focus my efforts in three areas:

How can development projects best promote transformative climate change adaptation that is both equitable and sustainable? This would involve asking how climate resilient development ‘travels’ from concept to practice; and looking more specifically at the practice of designing and implementing adaptation projects in the context of development actors and institutions, grounded in participatory methodologies and involvement with a wide range of actors.

Knowledge that informs climate resilient development decisions, to understand how climate change actors are integrating development ideas, the relative hierarchies of social and natural sciences and humanities in informing these decisions; and the extent to which knowledge emerges from the Global South; and the science-policy interface.

The uncomfortable reality of clashing worldviews including religion, aspirations and understandings of development, resilience and fairness contribute to building barriers for policy making and knowledge sharing, and requires unpacking. I am also eager to explore framings and discourses around climate change and development more broadly, starting with a series of efforts to map discourses in social media, academic literature, and government policy.

Prior to coming to Bonn, I was Environmental Social Science Research Fellow at the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford. At ECI, I taught on the MSc in Environmental Change and Management, as well as carrying out research on adaptation and development. In 2021/22, I was a Visiting Researcher at the University of Vienna, where I taught on climate justice, decolonising and diversifying knowledge, and was selected as the Ida Pfeiffer Visiting Professor in the Fall/Winter Semester 2022/23 (declined).

I was Co-ordinating Lead Author of Chapter 18 of the Working Group 2 contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) ('Climate Resilient Development Pathways') as well as Drafting Author of the WG2 Summary for Policymakers, both published in February 2022. I was also a Lead Author in the Fifth Assessment Report (WG2, Ch21), and Co-Editor of the WG2 Glossary, as well as a Lead Author in the Special Report on Managing Extreme Events – SREX (Ch2).

I am the Co-Editor of the journal Climate and Development (Taylor and Francis), where I was one of the founding Associate Editors. I sit on the Editorial Boards of the journals World Development Perspectives (Elsevier) and Global Transitions - Health (KeAi).

I currently sit on the Science Committee of the Adaptation Futures Conference 2023, and the CLARE Advisors Group (IDRC/FCDO), as well as the Reference Group of the OECD Adaptation Governance work programme. During 2022, I was also on the Editorial Board of 10 New Insights in Climate Science (Future Earth) and will continue in this role in 2023. I am also Member of the Climate Adaptation Governance Advisory Board, University of Groningen.

I was an Associate with Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) from 2013-18 and a Senior Research Fellow in the SEI Asia Centre in Bangkok, Thailand, from 2008-13. I also spent one year at the Southeast Asia START Regional Centre at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, and lectured at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Ho Chi Minh city in 2017. I have consulted for several organisations, including the Asian Development Bank, Mekong River Commission, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, CARE International, and numerous UN and other international organisations.

At the beginning of my career, I worked mainly on climate change policy, and spent many years intensely involved in reporting on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations as the Team Leader for the Earth Negotiations Bulletin published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development.

I hold a BSc in Environmental Science (1997) from Brown University, an MSc in Environment and Development (2000) and a PhD in Development Studies (2004) both from the University of East Anglia. My doctoral thesis was entitled 'Adaptation to Climate Change: A Development Perspective'. I undertook a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the International Water Management Institute in Colombo, Sri Lanka (2005-2007). In 2021, I completed my Post-Graduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (Oxford).

I am always open to collaboration with people in different disciplines, especially where there are opportunities to explore new theoretical frameworks and methodologies, and am a strong advocate of social science and gender balance in science and academia.

Media appearances include Die Zeit online, Dagens Nyheter, BBC World News, BBC England News, BBC World Service, BBC Radio 5, BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Radio Coventry and Warwickshire, BBC Three Countries Radio, Al Jazeera, Washington Post, Bloomberg, Reuters ClimateHome, Deutsche Welle, Frankfurter Allgemeine, Financial Times, Kyodo News, Der Standard (Austria), The Economist, Channel NewsAsia, TRT World News (Turkey), ANews (Turkey), Boston Globe, New Scientist, Sky News, ITV, Thomson Reuters, Public Finance International, Beijing News, Asialyst, Research Professional News, The Guardian, Forbes, Metro, Politico, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Sierra Magazine, Euractiv, Inside Climate News, Anadolou Agency, Khabarhub, The Third Pole.

Non-academic outreach

You can read a recent post on maladaptation: ‘Maladapted’ OpenMind Magazine, 14 July 2022, [also published at Popular Science under title ‘Why so many climate adaptation schemes fail’ 20 July 2022,]

You can also listen to some of the podcasts that have discussed my work:

  • Podcast, Klimatpodden, Avsnitt 98, 5 December 2022: Om vi inte minskar utsläppen kan vi inte längre anpassa oss till klimatkrisen (in Swedish)
  • Podcast, Systemskiftet, Avsnitt 36, 25 November 2022: Klimatarbete (in Swedish)
  • Podcast, Ready or Not Change is Coming, Episode 1: Connecting to Climate Reality, 9 November 2022
  • Podcast, ClimateGenn, ‘Maladaptation: The Perils of Bad Climate Adaptation’, 4 August 2022
  • Podcast, ClimateOptimists, ‘Climate Adaptation: A Beginner’s Guide’, Episode 48, 26 July 2022
  • Podcast, Living Planet, Deutsche Welle, ‘Climate Change Fuelling Gender Inquality’, 16 June 2022
  • Podcast, CarbonCopy, ‘Why Maladaptation is getting so much attention’ 22 March 2022
  • Podcast, 30 Days of Activism, 3 March 2022, The Ecofeminist
  • Podcast recording from TwitterLive with Eric Holthaus, 5 March 2022
  • Podcast, ‘Adaptation with Lisa Schipper’, Great Adaptations series, 15 January 2022
  • Podcast ‘Vulnerability, Adaptation and Maladaptation to Climate Change’ IOWC Podcast, 23 July 2021



Martin M.A., Schipper, E.L.F. et al. (2022) ‘Ten new insights in climate science 2022’ Global Sustainability 5, e20, 1–20. 10.1017/sus.2022.17

Stringer, L.C., N.P. Simpson,  Schipper, E.L.F., S.H. Eriksen (2022) ‘Climate Resilient Development Pathways in Global Drylands’ Anthropocene Science, (1) 311–319.

Schipper, E.L.F. (2022) ‘Catching Maladaptation Before it Happens’ Nature Climate Change,

Schipper, E.L.F. et al (2022) ‘Climate Resilient Development Pathways’ in Working Group II contribution to the IPCC 6th Assessment Report, IPCC.

Schipper, E.L.F. et al (2022) Summary for Policymakers, WGII contribution to the IPCC 6th Assessment Report, IPCC – Lead for Section D ‘Climate Resilient Development Pathways’

Schipper, E.L.F. et al (2022) Technical Summary, WGII contribution to the IPCC 6th Assessment Report, IPCC


Schipper, E.L.F., Dubash, N.K., Mulugetta, Y. (2021) ‘Climate Change Research and the Search for Solutions: Rethinking Interdisciplinarity’ Climatic Change

Grasham, C, Schipper, E.L.F. et al (2021) ‘Engaging with the politics of climate resilience towards clean water and sanitation for all’ npj: Clean Water,

Schipper, E.L.F. et al (2021) ‘Equity in Climate Scholarship: A Manifesto for Action’ Climate and Development,

*Eriksen, S.E., Schipper, E.L.F. et al (2021) ‘Adaptation interventions and their effect on vulnerability in developing countries: Help, hindrance or irrelevance?’ World Development

Ettinger, J., F.E.L. Otto,  Schipper, E.L.F. ‘Storytelling can be a powerful tool for science’, Nature, Correspondence, 589: 352, 19 January 2021,


Schipper, E.L.F. (2020) ‘Maladaptation: When adaptation to climate change goes very wrong’ One Earth,

Magnan, A.K., Schipper, E.L.F., Duvat, V. (2020) ‘Frontiers in Climate Change Adaptation Science’ Current Climate Change Reports,

Schipper, E.L.F., Eriksen, S.E., Fernandez-Carril, L., Glavovic, B., Shawoo, Z., (2020) ‘Turbulent Transformation: Abrupt societal disruption and climate resilient development’ Climate and Development

Schipper, E.L.F. et al (2020) ‘The Debate: Is Global Development Adapting to Climate Change?’ World Development Perspectives,


Schipper, E.L.F., Ensor, J. (2019) ‘The next decade of Climate and Development’, Climate and Development, 11 (1) : 1-2.

Sova, C. and Schipper, E.L.F. (2019) ‘Chapter 12: Adaptation policy in the developing and least developed countries’ in C. Keskitalo and B. Preston (eds.) Research Handbook on Climate Change Adaptation Policy, Edward Elgar Publishing.


Schipper, E.L.F., V. Le Masson, L. Langston, S. Kratzer, R. Sogani, E. Nyukuri, M.T. Arana (2017) ‘Closing the Knowledge Gaps on Gender and Climate Change for CCD’ in Nunan. F. (ed.) Making Climate Compatible Development Happen. Routledge: London.


Schipper, E.L.F. (2016) ‘Introduction to Virtual Special Issue for Adaptation Futures 2016’ Climate and Development, available at

Magnan, A., Schipper, E.L.F. et al (2016) ‘Addressing the Risk of Maladaptation to Climate Change, WIREs Climate Change DOI: 10.1002/wcc.409

Schipper, E.L.F., Thomalla, F., Vulturius, G, Davis, M. and Johnson, K. (2016) Linking Disaster Risk Reduction, Climate Change and Development. International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment. 7: 2 [Winner of Emerald Literati Network Award for Outstanding Paper 2017]


Krüger, F., G. Bankoff, T. Cannon, Schipper, E.L.F., B. Orlowski (eds.) (2015) Cultures and Disasters: Understanding Cultural Framings in Disaster Risk Reduction, Routledge: London.


Cannon, T., Schipper, E.L.F. , G. Bankoff, F. Krüger (eds.) (2014) World Disasters Report 2014: Focus on Culture and Disasters, International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC): Geneva.


Schipper, E.L.F., J. Ayers, H. Reid, S. Huq, A. Rahman (eds.) (2013) Community Based Adaptation to Climate Change: Scaling it Up, Routledge: London.


*Conway, D., Schipper, E.L.F. (2011) ‘Adaptation to climate change in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities identified from Ethiopia’ Global Environmental Change, 1(21): 227-237


Christoplos, I, T. Rodríguez, Schipper, E.L.F., et al (2010) ‘Learning from Recovery after Hurricane Mitch’ Disasters 34(2): S202-S219, 10.1111/j.1467-7717.2010.01154.x


*Schipper, E.L.F. (2009) ‘Meeting at the crossroads? Exploring the linkages between climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction’ Climate and Development 1(1): 16-30,

Schipper, E.L.F. and I. Burton (eds.) (2009) The Earthscan Reader in Adaptation to Climate Change, Earthscan: London.


Smakhtin, V., Schipper, E.L.F. (2008) ‘Droughts: The Impact of Semantics and Perceptions’ Water Policy 10 (2): 131-143,


*Schipper, E.L.F. (2006a) ‘Conceptual History of Adaptation to Climate Change under the UNFCCC’ Review of European Community and International Environmental Law (RECIEL) 15 (1): 82-92,

Schipper, E.L.F., E. Boyd (2006) ‘UNFCCC COP 11 and COP/MOP 1: At last, some hope?’ Journal of Environment and Development, 15(1): 75-90.

*Schipper, E.L.F., M. Pelling (2006) ‘Disaster Risk, Climate Change and International Development: Scope for, and Challenges to, Integration’, Disasters, 30 (1): 19-38,


Dessai, S., Schipper, E.L.F., Kjellén, B., Corbera, E., Gutiérrez, M., Haxeltine, A., (2005) ‘Challenges and Outcomes at the Ninth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’, International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics 5 (2) 105-124.

*Klein, R.J.T., Schipper, E.L.F., Dessai, S. (2005) ‘Integrating mitigation and adaptation into climate and development policy: Three research questions’, Environmental Science and Policy 8: 579-588,


Dessai, S., Schipper, E.L.F. (2003) ‘The Marrakech Accords to the Kyoto Protocol: Analysis and Future Prospects’, Global Environmental Change, 2 (13) 149-153.


Boyd, E., Schipper, E.L.F. (2002) ‘The Marrakech Accord - at the Cross-Road to Ratification’ Journal of Environment and Development, 2 (11): 184-190.

*Burton, I., Huq, S., Lim, B., Pilifosova, O., Schipper, E.L.F. (2002) ‘From Impacts Assessment to Adaptation Priorities: The Shaping of Adaptation Policy’ Climate Policy, 2-3 (2): 145-159, [Selected as one of Climate Policy’s ‘Top 20 Papers’]

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