van der Geest, Kees

Associate Academic Officer

UNU Publications
Selected NON-UNU Publications
  • Kees van der Geest
    Environmental Migration, Social Vulnerability & Adaptation Section

    Research Interests

    • Climate Change
    • Livelihood
    • Migration


    • PhD, Human Geography, Univeristy of Amsterdam
    • Masters, Human Geography, University of Amsterdam

    Biographical Statement

    Dr. Kees van der Geest is human geographer, specialized in studies of migration, environment, development, livelihood and climate change (vulnerability, impact, adaptation, loss & damage). He has extensive fieldwork experience, mostly in Ghana (5 years), but also in Burkina Faso, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bolivia.

    Currently he works as Associate Academic Officer at UNU-EHS in Bonn. He coordinates the work on “Loss and damage associated with climate change impacts” and manages a 5-year research-to-action project about livelihood resilience in Bangladesh.

    He likes to believe that his work on loss and damage in rural Africa and Asia – with Dr. Koko Warner and national research teams from 12 countries – influenced the establishment and focus of the UNFCCC Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) for loss and damage.

    Dr. van der Geest studied at the University of Amsterdam and the University of Sussex. His Master’s thesis about adaptation to climate change in Northern Ghana (2002) and his PhD thesis about migration-environment linkages in Ghana (2011) were published as monographs by the African Studies Centre. Five chapters of his PhD thesis, and newer work on loss and damage have been published in international journals.

    Before joining UNU-EHS, Dr. van der Geest worked as lecturer and researcher at the University of Amsterdam, researching Participatory Assessment of Development (PADev) project (2008-2012) and lecturing on human geography of developing countries; international development studies; environment and sustainable development (2006-2009).

    Dr. van der Geest did independent consultancies for the Royal Tropical Institute (2009), FAO (2010), CARE International (2011), DFID Ghana and the Foresight programme of the UK Office for Science (2012). For UNU-EHS, he worked on projects funded by the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN), the Asia-Pacific Network on Gobal Change Research (APN), Munich-Re Foundation, United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), CARE International, and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

    He also made two award-winning short documentaries, set in Northern Ghana. The documentaries were screened at over 20 international film festivals and have been watched over 1,000,000 times online.

  • Articles

    Book Chapters

    • van der Geest, Kees, de Sherbinin, Alex, Kienberger, Stefan, Zommers, Zinta, Sitati, Asha, Roberts, Erin and James, Rachel, “The Impacts of Climate Change on Ecosystem Services and Resulting Losses and Damages to People and Society” in Loss and Damage from Climate Change Concepts, Methods and Policy Options, ed. Mechler, Reinhard, Bouwer, Laurens, Schinko, Thomas, Surminski, Swenja and Linnerooth-Bayer, JoAnne ( Cham: Springer,2018), 221-236.
    • van der Land, Victoria, Romankiewicz, Clemens and van der Geest, Kees, “Environmental change and migration: A review of West African case studies” in Routledge Handbook of Environmental Displacement and Migration, ed. McLeman, Robert and Gemenne, François ( London and New York: Routledge,2018), 163-177.
    • Mechler, Reinhard, Calliari, Elisa, Bouwer, Laurens, Schinko, Thomas, Surminski, Swenja, Linnerooth-Bayer, JoAnne, Aerts, Jeroen, Botzen, Wouter, Boyd, Emily, Deckard, Natalie, Fuglestvedt, Jan, González-Eguino, Mikel, Haasnoot, Marjolijn, Handmer, John, Haque, Masroora, Heslin, Alison, Hochrainer-Stigler, Stefan, Huggel, Christian, Huq, Saleemul, James, Rachel, Jones, Richard, Juhola, Sirkku, Keating, Adriana, Kienberger, Stefan, Kreft, Soenke, Kuik, Onno, Landauer, Mia, Laurien, Finn, Lawrence, Judy, Lopez, Ana, Liu, Wei, Magnuszewski, Piotr, Markandya, Anil, Mayer, Benoit, McCallum, Ian, McQuistan, Colin, Meyer, Lukas, Mintz-Woo, Kian, Montero-Colbert, Arianna, Mysiak, Jaroslav, Nalau, Johanna, Noy, Ilan, Oakes, Robert, Otto, Friederike, Pervin, Mousumi, Roberts, Erin, Schaefer, Laura, Scussolini, Paolo, Serdeczny, Olivia, De Sherbinin, Alex, Simlinger, Florentina, Sitati, Asha, Sultana, Saibeen, Young, Hannah, Van der Geest, Kees, Van den Homberg, Marc, Wallimann-Helmer, Ivo, Warner, Koko and Zommers, Zinta, “Science for loss and damage. Findings and propositions” in Loss and Damage from Climate Change Concepts, Methods and Policy Options, ed. Mechler, Reinhard, Bouwer, Laurens, Schinko, Thomas, Surminski, Swenja and Linnerooth-Bayer, JoAnne ( Cham: Springer,2018), 3-37.
    • van der Geest, Kees, Burger, Kees, Yelfaanibe, Augustine and Dietz, Ton, “Not the Usual Suspects: Environmental Impacts of Migration in Ghana’s Forest-Savanna Transition Zone” in Land Restoration: Reclaiming Landscapes for a Sustainable Future, ed. Chabay, Ilan, Frick, Martin and Helgeson, Jennifer ( n/a: Elsevier,2015), 463-481.
    • van der Geest, Kees and Warner, Koko, “Vulnerability, coping and loss and damage from climate events” in Hazards, risks and disasters in society, ed. Collins, Andrew E. ( n/a: Elsevier,2015), 121-144.
    • van der Geest, Kees and Warner, Koko, “Loss and damage from droughts and floods in rural Africa” in Inside Africa’s agricultural, food and nutrition dynamics: Digging deeper, ed. Akinyoade, Akinyinka, Klaver, Wijnand, Soeters, Sebastiaan and Foeken, Dick ( Leiden: Brill,2014), 276-293.


  • Articles

    • Pouw, N., Dietz, T., Belemvire, A., de Groot, D., Millar, D., Obeng, F., Rijneveld, W., Van der Geest, K., Vlaminck, Z. & Zaal, F. (2016). Participatory Assessment of Development Interventions: Lessons Learned From a New Evaluation Methodology in Ghana and Burkina Faso. American Journal of Evaluation, 1, 13.
    • Van der Geest, Kees. (2011). North-South migration in Ghana: What role for the environment? International Migration, 49(S1), 69-94.
    • Van der Geest, Kees (2010). Local Perceptions of Migration from Northwest Ghana. Africa, 80(4), 595-619.
    • Van der Geest, Kees, Vrieling, Anton and Dietz,Ton (2010). Migration and environment in Ghana: a cross-district analysis of human mobility and vegetation dynamics. Environment and Urbanization, 22 (1), 107-123.
    • Van der Geest, Kees. & de Jeu, Richard (2008). Climate change and displacement: Ghana. Forced Migration Review, 16, 31.


    • Van der Geest, Kees (2011). The Dagara farmer at home and away: Migration, environment and development in Ghana. PhD thesis University of Amsterdam. African Studies Collection, No.33. Leiden: African Studies Centre.
    • Van der Geest, Kees. (2004). “We’re Managing!”Climate Change and Livelihood Vulnerability in Northwest Ghana. Leiden: African Studies Centre.

    Book Chapters

    • Dietz, Ton, van der Geest, Kees and Obeng, Francis (2013). “Local perceptions of development and change in Northern Ghana” in Rural development in Northern Ghana, ed.Yaro, Joseph. (New York: Nova Science Publishers) 17-36.
    • Van der Geest, Kees and Dietz, Ton (2004). “A literature survey about risk and vulnerability in drylands, with a focus on the Sahel” in The Impact of Climate Change on Drylands, eds. Dietz, Ton, Rueben, Ruerd. and Verhagen, Jan (Dordrecht: Kluwer), 117-146 .


    • Van der Geest, Kees. (2010). Rural Youth Employment in Developing Countries: A Global View. Rome: FAO.