Climate Change, Migration and Human Rights Study Released

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Climate change, migration and human rights – Dr. Cosmin Corendea awarded prestigious AXA Fellowship

Paris, 8 April 2016 – Dr. Cosmin Corendea, a senior scientist at the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS), received a prestigious Post Doctoral Fellowship from the AXA Research Fund in support of his research work on “Migration and Human Rights in the Wake of Climate Change,” today.

Dr. Corendea is an internationally renowned legal expert on the connection between climate change and human rights and has lectured on these topics at universities and conferences around the world.

“After an extreme climate event, such as a major flood, the first thing to occur is a violation of someone’s basic rights,” said Dr. Corendea, “such as the right to clean water, education, work or housing. Soon thereafter, the people affected must make a decision: adapt or migrate?”

In his research, Dr. Corendea explores the relationship between environmental triggers, human rights violations, and migration decisions, in order to develop legal approaches where the focus is on the vulnerable people affected by climate change.

The agreement signed in Paris by 195 countries at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference contains the strongest human rights language of any international environmental treaty yet, according to Dr. Corendea.

“Law in general has the power to address diverse risks of climate change and the recent Paris Agreement is a good start in this regard,” he noted.

Already, the percentage of climate victims choosing to migrate has risen to over 30 per cent and the number is expected to increase, leading to both benefits and risks for the countries involved. A legal framework is needed to manage those risks and Dr. Corendea is investigating how international law could address both human rights and help the most at-risk respond to climate threats.

Specifically, Dr. Corendea’s study will focus on the Pacific Islands, in particular Fiji and Vanuatu, two of the countries affected by climate change in the region. While migration in the Pacific is considered to be “a way of life,” as people move frequently among the islands in search of new opportunities, the Pacific does not benefit from any domestic or regional policies to regulate the process.

Dr. Corendea’s work will lead to policy recommendations in this regard, also taking into consideration the impacts of both international and traditional law, which is often maintained only orally, in the Pacific.

“The law is a living organism which needs progressive interpretation, so that it can grow with people’s needs and adapt to today’s mobility patterns,” stated Dr. Corendea.

With his research work supported by the AXA Research Found he intends to contribute research that is human-centered, placing individuals and their basic rights at the center of climate change response.


The scientific title of Dr. Corendea’s Post Doctoral research work is “Hybrid Legal Approaches in Climate Change Scenario” and is supported by the AXA Research Fund for two years. To learn more about Dr. Corendea’s research proposal, please click here.