Dr. Kees van der Geest is a human geographer who studies the impacts of climate change, human mobility, environmental change, adaptation, livelihood resilience and rural development. Key features of his work are the people-centred perspective and the mixed-method approach combining quantitative and qualitative research tools. His work has contributed substantially to expanding the empirical evidence base on migration-environment linkages and impacts of climate change beyond adaptation (“loss and damage”).
Kees has extensive fieldwork experience, mostly in Ghana (5 years), but also in Burkina Faso, Viet Nam, Bangladesh, Nepal, Marshall Islands and Bolivia. He coordinated research in many other countries across the Global South. Since 2012 he has been working as senior researcher at United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security in Bonn (UNU-EHS). In September 2019 he became Head of Section, leading the newly established ‘Migration and Environment’ Section.
Between 2014 and 2017 Kees co-organized the annual Resilience Academy, which is a network of approximately 100 young professionals working on resilience, loss and damage, and human mobility in the context of global environmental change. From 2016 to 2018 he has been on a part-time secondment to the University of Hawaii, where he was involved in a research project about migration and environment linkages in the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
Kees studied at the University of Amsterdam (human geography) and a semester at the University of Sussex (migration studies). His Master’s thesis and PhD thesis were published as monographs by the African Studies Centre. Several chapters of his PhD thesis about migration-environment linkages in Ghana have been published in international journals, like International Migration, Africa, Environment and Urbanization and Forced Migration Review. Two articles from his PhD are in the top-50 of most influential articles on the relation between migration and the environment according to ISI web of knowledge.
From 2006 to 2012 Kees worked as a lecturer and researcher at the University of Amsterdam. He taught courses on environment and international development and his research covered the fields of migration, environment and rural development. In this period, he also worked as independent research consultant. Among his clients have been the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam, CARE International, DFID Ghana and the Foresight programme of the UK Office for Science.
Kees has also been active as documentary film maker. His first, award-winning, documentary was screened at over twenty international film festivals worldwide. His second documentary received a nomination for the Holland-doc Jury Award of the Dutch Film Festival, and has been watched more than three million times online.