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Environment and Human Rights (30 Sep – 10 Nov, 2015)

Course description

Environment and Human Rights 
30 September-10 November 2015 (E02315) | Register for this course
Instructor: Dr. Cosmin Corendea

Note: This course is also offered in blended format with a field visit component in Costa Rica from 7 – 12 December, 2015

This six-week certificate online course jointly organised by HREA and the Human Rights Centre of the UN-mandated University for Peace looks at the linkages between the environment and human rights and examines how these linkages may assist efforts to protect both the environment and human rights. The course uses an interdisciplinary approach and focuses on the educational, legal and social aspects of this relationship. The course will address climate change, environmental degradation, mitigation and adaptation, migration, human rights based approaches to the environment, loss and damage, and the environment and human rights in the light of the post-2015 development agenda. Under the umbrella of international law and environmental sciences, the course will pay special attention to hybrid legal approaches on the environment and human rights, including as a potential strengthening and dispersing method to address the nexus of environment, human rights and mobility.

This e-learning course involves approximately 30 hours of reading, interaction with students and instructor on discussion boards, quizzes, a written assignment and webinars. The course is based on a participatory, active learning approach, with an emphasis on critical reflection and peer-to-peer learning. Students who successfully complete the course will receive a Certificate of Participation. It is also possible to audit the course.

Course outline

Week 1: Introduction to Environment and Human Rights Linkages
Week 2: Legal Approaches: Concepts, Mechanisms and Implementation
Week 3: Water and food security in the context of climate change
Week 4: Climate Change and Human Rights Based Approaches
Week 5: New emerging legal nexus: Environment, human rights and mobility
Week 6: Addressing Human Rights and the Environment in the Post-2015 Agenda

About the instructor

Dr. Cosmin Corendea serves as Associate Academic Officer for Environmental Migration, Social Vulnerability and Adaptation Section at the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS), managing the Climate Change, Environment and Migration Alliance (CCEMA) which is a multi-stakeholder global partnership aiming to bring together actors representing a range of perspectives including migration, development, environment and human rights. He also coordinates the MRF Chair Project on Social Vulnerability initiating policy relevant research and organizes capacity-building in relation to climate change and resilience. He acts as focal point for legal issues (institutional vulnerabilities and adaptation, human rights, forced migration, etc.) associated with the adverse effects of climate change and comparative frameworks of social vulnerabilities and resilience, and as liaison officer to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the University for Peace (UPEACE) and the World Bank. Dr. Corendea holds the Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) distinction in International Legal Studies from Golden Gate University School of Law and he received his LL.M. in Intercultural Human Rights (hons.) from Saint Thomas University Law School.

Who should apply

The course is intended for environmental and human rights academics, advocates, and practitioners who seek a balance of education and work at the institutional and community levels. Candidates should have a good written command of English and have high competence and comfort with computer and Internet use. HREA and the UPEACE Human Rights Centre aim to ensure equal gender and geographical distribution across the selected participants.


Tuition fee for participants: US$ 435 (after 7 September 2015: US$ 495); tuition forauditors: US$ 165 (US$ 195 after 7 September 2015). Payments can be made online with major credit cards (Discover, MasterCard, Visa), PayPal, bank transfer (additional fee applies) and money transfer (Western Union, MoneyGram). Bulk rates are available. Payments are due upon registration.


Register for this course (page opens in new window). Early registration and payment deadline: 7 September 2015. However, registrations are accepted on a first-come-first-served basis. It is also possible to combine the e-learning course with a field experience in Costa Rica from 7-12 December 2015 (E06915-Blended) in the 1st Annual Environment and Human Rights Course & Field Visit in Costa Rica.

1st Annual Course on Environment and Human Rights in the Field, Costa Rica (2-7 June 2014)


Course is limited to 25 participants who will be selected on a combination of first-come-first-served, qualifications, experience, regional and gender representation. Send an email along with your (1) full name, (2) contact information (email & phone) and (3) CV to


The field visit will include an orientation and workshop at the UPEACE main campus (2 June), and a five day field trip to various parts of Costa Rica including a night at the Pacific beach town of Tamarindo (3 – 7 June).

Please plan to arrive in Costa Rica no later than Sunday, 1 June and depart from Costa Rica on Sunday, 8 June. If participants wish to extend their stay, they may do so at one’s own expense.


UPEACE campus, and various parts of Costa Rica.


English (Spanish skills are desirable, but not required.)


The field visit will include a one-day introductory workshop at the UPEACE main campus followed by a field trip to various parts of Costa Rica, where participants will visit different projects and meet varied stakeholders on issues related to Environment, Human Rights and Sustainable Development. The field experience is intense and there will be a debriefing session every day. A wrap-up session will be held in Tamarindo on the morning of 7 June before the group returns to San José/Ciudad Colon.


The field visit will build upon the 6-week e-learning course Environment and Human Rights, and will increase participants’ knowledge and understanding about how the subject is being dealt with in Costa Rica – a country that is known for its leadership in this field.

The field course will explore the linkages between different elements of the ‘human rights and environment’ agenda, with focus on a holistic approach to sustainable development. Thus, the visits will cover a wide range of social, economic, and environmental issues, drawing on the intersections between the three areas. Strong focus will be on impacts of different activities on local communities and vice-versa. Topics covered include, but are not limited to:

1. Impact of industrial scale agriculture on conservation (including issues of water quality and quantity, bio-diversity, forest cover)

2. Private conservation projects in Costa Rica and studies on bio-diversity

3. Tropical rain-forests and sustainable development

4. Payment for environmental services

5. Sustainable ‘forest management’

6. Reforestation with native tree species

7. Hydroelectricity and sustainable development

8. Sustainable agriculture

9. Sustainable aqua-culture

10. Wildlife protection and conservation

11. Costa Rica’s National Parks system and conservation policies

12. Tropical Dry Forests and Sustainable Development

13. Environment and water security

14. Environment and food security

15. Tourism, Eco-tourism and sustainable development

16. Business corporations, and the Environment and Human Rights nexus

17. Education on environmental issues in Costa Rica

18. Green Economy and REDD+


1 June (Sunday): Arrival in Ciudad Colon

2 June (Monday): Orientation and Workshop on ‘Introduction to Environment and Human Rights in the Costa Rican Context’ at UPEACE campus

3 June (Tuesday): Departure from Ciudad Colon for Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui

  • Dole banana plantation
  • Pineapple production sites
  • La TIRIMBINA (Private conservation projects)

4 June (Wednesday): Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui

  • FUNDECOR (Payment for environmental services)
  • Private hydroelectricity company
  • Visit native species reforestation projects

5 June (Thursday): Cañas area on the Pacific side of Costa Rica

  • La Pacifica (Sustainable farming, Tilapia production project)
  • Wild Cat Rescue Center

6 June (Friday): Santa Rosa National Park and Tamarindo (beach town on Pacific Coast)

  • Santa Rosa National Park
  • Tamarindo

7 June (Saturday): Wrap up session in Tamarindo, beach time, and return to Ciudad Colon (End of course)

Please note that the above list of contents covered and the itinerary is tentative. Given that this is a customized course, specific topics might be suggested by the participants ahead of time.


The field trip includes visiting several environmental projects and areas of interest across Costa Rica. As such, participants may be hosted on some nights by host organizations. Accommodations will be clean and neat, but will not be five-star. Also, on some occasions, participants will be placed in shared accommodations with co-participants.

Participants are expected to arrange their own travel insurance and ensure they meet all visa requirements for the fieldvisit (including any visas participants may need while in transit to and from Costa Rica). UPEACE will provide documentation for your visa applications upon request. Participants should also check whether they need any vaccinations for their travel.

Course instructors

The field course will be led by Prof. Jan Breitling (Costa Rica/Germany) and Prof. Mihir Kanade (India). Prof. Jan Breitling is the Head of Department of Environment and Development at UPEACE. Prof. Mihir Kanade is the Director of the UPEACE Human Rights Centre and is a faculty member in the Department of International Law and Human Rights at UPEACE.

Course fee and payments

The fee for the field course is US$ 1,750 (non-credit). The fee covers: tuition for the field course; accommodation for 7 nights in Costa Rica (3 nights in Ciudad Colon, of which two nights will be spent with a host family immediately after  arrival and before departure from the Juan Santamaria airport, 4 nights at various places across Costa Rica); transportation during the field visit (participant airfare and airport transfers are not included), meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner on all 7 days of the field visit in Costa Rica); and course materials. This rate is available until 15 March 2014.

Unfortunately, UPEACE does not have scholarship funding/grants available to support participation in the program.

Payments may be made by credit card or wire transfer.

If you wish to make the payment by credit card, please go to

Payments by wire transfer must be made to the following bank account:

University for Peace
Human Rights Centre
Banco Nacional de Costa Rica
Bank account number:100-02-099-600195-4
Swift Code: BNCRCRSJ
Avenidas 1 y 3, Calle 4
San José, Costa Rica

Certificate: Upon successful completion of the e-learning and field-based components of the course, participants will receive a certificate issued by the Human Rights Centre of UPEACE.

Accessibility: UPEACE seeks to ensure our training programs are fully accessible for persons with disabilities and that everyone is able to participate on an equal basis with others. The conditions in the indigenous communities, however, including the roads and lodging may present obstacles to participation for some individuals. We ask that you please write to us directly with any questions or concerns about this aspect of the training program, as well as the specific types of accommodation you may need in order to participate.