Expert Profile

Prof. Dr. Etienne Piguet
Position(s) Professor of Geography of mobilities, University of Neuchâtel

Prof. Dr. Etienne Piguet is an Associate Fellow within the Global Fellowship Initiative of the GCSP. Etienne Piguet holds a Ph.D. in economics (University of Lausanne, Switzerland, 1998). He is Professor of Geography of mobilities [Full Professor, Professeur ordinaire] at the University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland, vice-president of the Swiss Federal Commission on Migration (appointed by the Swiss Federal Council), member of the Council of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) & former Chair of the Commission on Population Geography of the International Geographical Union (IGU). He is involved in numerous scientific associations and committees including the Swiss Association of Geography, the American Association of Geographers and the Société suisse d’études africaines.

In his research Etienne Piguet has examined issues of asylum policies, entrepreneurship and immigration, discrimination in the labour market, “decent work and migration” (for Int. Labour Office), international and internal migration flows, socio-economic integration of immigrants and the mobility of international students, migration intentions, and environmental migrations. He acted as Review Editor for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) fifth report and is still involved as reviewer for IPCC.

Etienne Piguet’s research projects have been conducted in Switzerland, Niger, Senegal and in Latin America. He has worked in collaboration with international organizations such as the OECD, ILO, IOM, UNHCR, and national bodies such as the Federal Office for Migration, Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Proclim, the Commission for Research Partnerships with Developing Countries (KFPE), and others. He is currently involved in the NCCR “On the move” (National Centres of Competence in Research on migration and mobility issues funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation).

His main contributions to research have been the first in-depth analysis of Swiss migration policies and their consequences (2001), the development of methodological tools to assess discrimination on the labour market and in the process of naturalization (2002) and the impact of asylum policies on the geography of asylum requests (2005). Since his pioneer publication for UNHCR in 2008, Etienne Piguet is considered one of the world’s specialist of migration and environment/climate change. His papers are among the most cited on the topic. Recently he conducted a research on the “Migration Crisis” of 2015/16 and on international student migration. He currently co-lead a research on Transnational entrepreneurship and another on the Perception of environmental change and migration intentions in Western Africa.

Etienne Piguet has significant experience in managing research projects involving research teams coordinated from different countries. An example is the large research project entitled “Staying or leaving? Migration in the life plans of West African students: case studies in Abidjan, Niamey and Saint-Louis”, which was financed by the Swiss Network for International Studies in partnership with the International Organization for Migration and UNESCO. He supervised more than 70 MA dissertation and 10 (completed) Phd.

Etienne Piguet has peer-reviewed numerous research projects for the SNF, the NORFACE Research Program (European Commission's 6th Framework), the Economic and Social Research Council (UK), the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (F) and the Government Office for Science (UK). He is also regularly involved in peer-reviewing papers for scientific journals such as Science, Global Environmental Change, Progress in Human Geograpy, AMBIO Journal of the Human Environment, Journal of the Royal Society Interface, Nature Climate Change, etc. He is also a peer-reviewer for scientific publishers such as Earthscan; Cambridge University Press; Springer; Routledge, and others.

His research has been published, among others, in top journals such as the Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Population Space and Place, Nature (Climate Change), La Revue européenne des migrations internationales (REMI). He has also published 4 books as a single author and is a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal Population, Space and Place and editor of GéoRegards. Etienne Piguet publishes in French and English. His scientific publications have been translated in German, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. His google scholar h-index is 29.

In 2021 he gave a Graduate Institute Global Migration Lecture on “Mobility, Migration and Climate Change”:

Last book (in French) : Asile et Réfugiés – Repenser la protection

Recent Papers :

Shortening distances, containment and asymmetry of rights - An interpretation of the 2015/16 “migration crisis” in Europe. Journal of Refugee Studies (June 2021).

African students’ emigration intentions: case studies in Côte d’Ivoire, Niger, and Senegal. African Geographical Review:1-15 (2020).

Linking climate change, environmental degradation, and migration: An update after 10 years. WIREs Climate Change (2021).


Etienne Piguet lives in Lausanne, has 3 children, and loves skiing in deep snow.