Katy Harris

Senior Expert

Katy Harris is a Senior Expert at SEI Headquarters with a focus on the global governance of climate change adaptation.

Her current work focuses on the concept of transboundary climate risk: how the impacts of climate change in one place can affect others elsewhere, including the ‘ripple effects’ of our own adaptation responses. She is interested in how governance frameworks and policies can better account for our global interdependence (our systems, networks and pathways) and how a better recognition and understanding of transboundary climate risks might enhance multilateral cooperation on adaptation, and ultimately engender a greater global ambition commensurate with the scale of the challenge. Her ultimate concern is to reveal the hidden vulnerabilities associated with unforeseen or emerging climate risks to encourage more just and sustainable responses.

Katy has over twelve years of professional experience in international relations, directing external engagement programmes, teams and strategies. Much of her work to date has been based within international development and humanitarian organisations where she has led communications, public affairs and advocacy projects to maximise impact and advance policy objectives. Her work has entailed building a number of partnerships and coalitions with key constituencies (multilateral, bilateral, private sector and civil society) and coordinating the delivery of outputs and activities for research and advocacy workstreams – including high-level events and strategic convenings around the world.

Prior to SEI, Katy worked at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and international NGO CAFOD. She has an MA (Hons) in Social Anthropology with Development from the University of Edinburgh.

At ODI, Katy led the development of effective communication strategies and approaches that enhance the reputation and impact of ODI’s research on humanitarian issues, conflict and violence, risk and resilience (including climate adaptation), gender and inclusion, politics and governance, digital societies and migration/displacement. At ODI, Katy managed a team to deliver strong public affairs, communications outputs and convening activities, while identifying opportunities to link ODI’s research agenda with external political processes and supporting researchers to translate their work into strong policy propositions. Katy joined ODI in 2012, leading communications for ODI’s Development Progress, a project which aimed to better understand what’s working and why in international development.

An aerial photo of a dam

Adaptation Without Borders: A brief to participants in COP27

Discover key messages and recommendations on transboundary climate risks, and the action required at global, regional and national levels in this policy brief.

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An aerial viewpoint of houses surrounded by brown floodwater.

Questioning the scientific feasibility and policy relevance of assessing transboundary climate risks

Learn about the scientific feasibility and policy relevance of assessing transboundary climate risks through this short blog post. Discover important areas for future research to advance the incorporation of cascading climate risks and impacts into adaptation responses.

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A protocol for case-study research on transboundary climate risk.

Rising to a New Challenge: A Protocol for Case-Study Research on Transboundary Climate Risk

This work aims to demonstrate why the transboundary nature of climate risk requires a distinct analytical approach and proposes a seven-step guide that aims to facilitate the exploration of transboundary climate risk through case-study-based research for adaptation.

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a flooded out roadway with animals and people on it

Is the New IPCC Report a Game Changer for Adaptation? SEI's Response to AR6

Read SEI's response to the IPCC AR6 WGII report exploring what's new, what's missing and whether it is a game changer for adaptation.

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Baltic sea

Transboundary climate risk and adaptation

This policy brief summarises the present state of knowledge on transboundary climate risks and discusses the implications for adaptation programming, policy and global governance.

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Container Ship

Building a climate-resilient and just future for all: Managing cascading climate risk in global supply chains

This online dialogue shines a spotlight on industry and explore actions to strengthen the resilience of global supply chains.

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