School of Social and Political Science

Dr Kim Vender

Job Title


Kim Vender

Research interests

Research interests

biodiversity and climate change policy, water governance and management, Agenda 2030, Chinese domestic and foreign policy, role theory, global leadership, ecosystems-based adaptation and mitigation, Nature-based Solutions, Blue Carbon, international responsibility of emerging powers, development cooperation


I'm a social science researcher with a special interest in foreign policy & international relations, climate change & biodiversity and Nature-based Solutions (NbS) to the multiple crises we are facing. I conducted my PhD research on China's role in global climate change governance with a special focus on climate leadership. My thesis is titled "Bound to lead? China's role in climate change governance between perception, conception, and behaviour", supervised by Prof Juliet Kaarbo and Assoc Prof Oliver Turner. I'm currently working on an NbS project for the Social Responsibility and Sustainability department and as a tutor in the School of Social and Political Science, connecting the local with the global.


PhD Politics and International Relations, The University of Edinburgh

M.A. (Hons) Politics of East Asia, Ruhr University Bochum, Germany

B.A. Sinology/China Studies, Free University of Berlin, Germany


Brod, M.C.M.; Miß, F.; Vender, K. (2019) 'How Development Cooperation can impact Regional Economic Cooperation and Integration - Examples from German support for the Greater Tumen Initiative'. In: Regional Cooperation and Economic Integration in Asia. Bonn, Eschborn: GIZ (publ.), pp. 147-165.

Brod, M.C.M.; Vender, K. (2019) GTI Policy Brief 1: Special Economic Zones in the Greater Tumen Region: how to tap their full potential. Beijing: Greater Tumen Initiative.

Vender, K. (2017) 'China’s Role Conception and Foreign Policy Role in Economic Integration Processes in the Asia-Pacific'. Mapping China Journal. No. 1, 27-51.

Bergner, M.; Breuer (now Schwerbrock), J.; Vender, K. (2015) A Eurasian Approach to Food Security Governance: The potential role of the New Silk Road Initiative. Project paper presented at the Youth Innovation Competition for Global Governance (YICGG), 18-20 August 2015, Milan, Italy.

Vender, K. (2014) Zwischen Demokratie und Nationalismus – Entwicklung eines Nationalbewusstseins in China [Between democracy and nationalism – development of a national consciousness in China]. Stimmen aus China: Ein Blog der Stiftung Asienhaus [Voices from China: A Blog of Stiftung Asienhaus], 26 July, [online].

Relevant Work Experience

09/2023 - today       Tutor on the PG course "Global Development Challenges" (Distance Learning) at SPS and Co-convener on the PG course "Regenerating Place" (fusion on-site) at the Edinburgh Futures Institute, UK

04/2022 - today       Biodiversity and Climate Resilience Projects Officer, Department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability, University of Edinburgh, UK

04/2023 - 07/2023   Co-lead of the UOE-KNU Geopolitics Twinning Lab under the UK-Ukraine Twinning Initiative

01/2023 - 08/2023   Tutor on the UG course "International Political Economy", University of Edinburgh, UK

10/2020 - 08/2021   Marking Assistant on the UG course "International Relations of the Asia Pacific", University of Edinburgh, UK

09/2018 - 08/2019   Tutor on the UG courses "International Cooperation in Europe and Beyond" and "Comparative Politics in a Globalised World", University of Edinburgh, UK

05/2018 - 07/2018   Research Assistant for Dr Kristen Hopewell, then Senior Lecturer in International Political Economy, University of Edinburgh, UK

03/2017 - 08/2017   Programme Assistant at Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammen­arbeit (GIZ) in the programme "Support for Economic Cooperation in Sub-Regional Initiatives in Asia“, Beijing, PR China

05/2015 - 02/2016   Student Research Assistant at the Department for International Political Economy of East Asia, Prof. Sebastian Bersick, Ruhr University Bochum, Germany

08/2014 - 10/2014   Research Assistant at the Centre for China-EU Relations, School of International Relations and Public Affairs (SIRPA), Fudan University, Shanghai, PR China 

Participation in Conferences and Workshops

CHERN Joint Working Group Conference "China-Europe: Reconnecting in an Era of Competition and Rivalry?", 7-8 Sep 2023, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

European Union in International Affairs (EUIA) Conference, 3-5 May 2023, Brussels, Belgium, Presentation title: "Is co-leadership between the EU, China, and US possible? The example of climate change governance"

PhD workshop "Sustainable Development Research – an Interdisciplinary Chance or Challenge?", 12-19 Nov 2020, organised by the Free University of Berlin as part of the University Alliance for Sustainability (UAS)

Global Development Policy and Perspective Professional Development Course, 20-31 July 2020, Institute of Development Studies (IDS), Centre for Rising Powers and Global Development (CRPD)

Joint East Asian Studies Conference (JEASC),  4-6 September 2019, University of Edinburgh. Paper title: "Understanding change in China’s international climate change policy: vertical and horizontal role contestation and foreign policy making in China"

Foreign Policy Research Network Conference: Foreign Policy in a Globalising World: Accounting for Change, 17 May 2019, University of Edinburgh

PSA 69th Annual International Conference, 15-17 April 2019, Nottingham, UK.
Paper title: "A Changing Role in a Changing Climate: China as a Global Climate Leader?"

BISA PG and ECR Conference, 9-10 April 2019, University of Portsmouth, UK. Paper title: "The past, present and future of China’s role in climate change mitigation: a role theoretical examination of foreign policy change"

Awards and Scholarships

PhD Scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) (09/2017-08/2018)

Award for best M.A. thesis in the Department of Politics of East Asia, Ruhr University Bochum, Germany (2017)

Language Skills

German (native speaker)

English (fluent)

Chinese (intermediate)

Spanish (beginner)


In winter 2020/2021, together with two other PhD students, I co-founded the SDG Research Network at the University of Edinburgh. We provide a platform for students and researchers from all disciplines to exchange ideas about their work and how it connects/relates with the SDGs.

From fall 2018 to February 2023 I was co-convening the student-led Foreign Policy Research Group at the University of Edinburgh's Politics and International Relations department.

In the summer months of 2018, I conducted a comparative study of urban climate adaptation measures and knowledge exchange between the cities of Edinburgh and Copenhagen. The report is available at the living lab projects database of Edinburgh University's Social Responsibility and Sustainability department.