Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford

Dr Lisa Schipper


Research Groups


Dr Lisa Schipper

Honorary Research Associate

Research Overview

My research explores the interlinkages between climate change and human development. By examining how development affects the extent to which people are likely to be affected by climate change, I seek to address the question of whether fair and just development is possible in a changing climate.

The focus of my research is what causes people to be vulnerable to climate change in developing countries, 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).

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.

You can find me on Twitter at @schipper_lisa

You can read a recent post on maladaptation: Why avoiding climate change 'maladaptation' is vital.


At ECI, I teach on the MSc in Environmental Change and Management and have offered an Elective on adaptation and vulnerability to climate change (open to all Geography MSc students), as well as carrying out research on adaptation and development. I am also a Visiting Researcher at the University of Vienna, where I teach on climate justice, decolonising and diversifying knowledge, and will be the Ida Pfeiffer Visiting Professor in the Fall/Winter Semester 2022/23.

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 Policmakers, 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 am an Associate Editor of Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change (Springer).

I currently sit on the Science Committee of the Adaptation Futures Conference 2023, and the CLARE Advisors Group, as well as the Reference Group of the OECD Adaptation Governance work programme. During 2022, I am also on the Editorial Board of 10 New Insights in Climate Science (Future Earth).

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.



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.


Magnan, A., E.L.F. Schipper et al. (2016) 'Reframing 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

Wilkinson, E., L. Schipper, C. Simonet, Z. Kubik (2016) 'Climate change, migration and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development' ODI Briefing Paper.

Nyukuri, E., Naess, L.O., Schipper, L. (2016) 'Gender and Climate Compatible Development: Kenya Report', London: CDKN and Practical Action Consulting.


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

Schipper, E.L.F. (2015) 'Religion and Belief Systems' in Krueger, F., G. Bankoff, T. Cannon, E.L.F. Schipper, B. Orlowski (eds.) Cultures and Disasters: Understanding Cultural Framings in Disaster Risk Reduction, Routledge: London.

Thomalla, F., R. Smith, E.L.F. Schipper 'Cultural Aspects of Risk to Environmental Changes and Hazards: A Review of Perspectives' in M. Companion (ed.) (2015) Disasters' Impact on Livelihood and Cultural Survival: Losses, Opportunities, and Mitigation Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Schipper, E.L.F, L. Langston (2015) 'A comparative overview of resilience measurement frameworks: analysing indicators and approaches' ODI Working Paper 422.

Jones, L., E. Carabine, E.L.F. Schipper (2015) '(Re)conceptualising maladaptation in policy and practice: towards an evaluative framework' PRISE Working Paper, ODI.


Cannon, T., E.L.F. Schipper, G. Bankoff, F. Krueger (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., C. Merli, P. Nunn (2014) 'Chapter 2: Culture, beliefs and people's ways of perceiving risk', in T. Cannon, E.L.F. Schipper, G. Bankoff, F. Krueger (eds.) World Disasters Report 2014: Focus on Culture and Disasters, IFRC: Geneva.

Hewitson, B., A. Janetos, T. Carter, F. Giorgi, R.Jones, W-T Kwon, L. Mearns, E.L.F. Schipper, M. v. Aalst (2014) 'Chapter 21: Regional Context' in Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group II Contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.

Schipper, L., L. Langston (2014) 'Gender equality and Climate Compatible Development Drivers and challenges to people's empowerment' ODI/CDKN Working Paper.

2013 and other key previous publications

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.

Cardona, O.D, M. van Aalst, J. Birkmann, M. Fordham, G. McGregor, R. Perez, R.S. Pulwarty, E.L.F. Schipper, B.T. Sinh (2012) 'Chapter 2. Determinants of Risk: Exposure and Vulnerability' in Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.

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

Schipper, E.L.F (2010) 'Religion as an Integral Part of Determining and Reducing Climate Change and Disaster Risk: an Agenda for Research' in Voss, M. (ed.) Climate Change: The Social Science Perspective, pp.377-393, VS-Verlag: Wiesbaden, Germany.

Christoplos, I, T. RodrĂ­guez, E.L.F. Schipper, et al. (2010) 'Learning from Recovery after Hurricane Mitch' Disasters 34(2): S202-S219.

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

O'Brien, K., L. Sygna, R. Leichenko, W.N. Adger, J. Barnett, T. Mitchell, L. Schipper, T. Tanner, C. Vogel, C. Mortreux (2008) 'Disaster Risk Reduction, Climate Change Adaptation and Human Security' Report prepared for the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs by the Global Environmental Change and Human Security (GECHS) Project, GECHS Report 2008: 3.

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

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

Burton, I., Huq, S., Lim, B., Pilifosova, O., Schipper, E.L. (2002) 'From Impacts Assessment to Adaptation Priorities: The Shaping of Adaptation Policy' Climate Policy, 2-3 (2): 145-159.