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Centre for Environmental Rights – Advancing Environmental Rights in South Africa

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Deputy Director: Programmes

Reference No: 11/2022

The closing date (13 January 2023) has passed and applications for this position are now closed.

The Centre for Environmental Rights is recruiting for a Deputy Director: Programmes to join our Executive Management Team. The Deputy Director: Programmes is the technical lead for CER’s programme work.

Ideally based in Cape Town or Johannesburg, this position is for an admitted and experienced attorney with significant post qualification litigation and legal advocacy experience, and 5 years of management experience – preferably in a public interest law organisation.

The successful candidate will be skilled at using strategic litigation and public interest law advocacy to advance climate justice and human rights; to represent and litigate on behalf of affected communities, affected individuals, and civil society organisations; and at facilitating networking among relevant stakeholders and supporting activists.

CER is committed to diversity, inclusion and transformation and strives to reflect South Africa’s racial, cultural, sex and gender diversity within its staff complement. Candidates from historically disadvantaged or marginalised groups are strongly encouraged to apply for this post, and will be preferred.


Cape Town or Johannesburg, subject to negotiation

Qualifications, skills and experience

  • An LLB or equivalent qualification, plus accreditation as a practising attorney with the Legal Practice Council. An LLM, particularly in environmental or human rights law, will be an advantage.
  • At least 5 years’ experience in litigation practice, preferably in public interest litigation.
  • Experience in managing and overseeing advocacy campaigns and strategies.
  • An understanding of social issues and to the needs of communities impacted by environmental degradation and injustice, and a passion for social, environmental and climate justice.
  • A broad knowledge and understanding of Constitutional law, administrative law, environmental laws and governance, legal and procedural requirements for environmental decision-making, and legal challenges, as well as aptitude in developing legal (litigation and advocacy) strategies.
  • Aptitude for leadership, and managerial competence:  at least 5 years’ experience in a management role, including experience in organisational development and team leadership.
  • Commitment to and experience in implementing diversity, inclusion, and transformation in all aspects of the work, building a value-driven institutional culture, and promoting staff wellness.
  • Competence and experience in strategic planning, monitoring and evaluation.
  • Good public speaking skills, and experience and confidence in dealing with the media.
  • Excellent networking skills, and strong capabilities in building support amongst a wide range of stakeholders, partners and networks.
  • Experience in raising funds and managing donor relationships.

Key responsibilities

Key responsibilities of this position currently include the following (although we require flexibility from all our staff as our strategic imperatives change and develop over time):

  • Strategic leadership: Providing strategic leadership to the CER, building institutional resilience, sustainability, reputation, strategic direction, and well-being of the organisation, standing in for the Executive Director where required. Overseeing overall legal and litigation strategies in the CER’s programmes, and supporting Programme Heads where necessary.
  • Programme Management: Leading regular review of and measurement against CER’s Strategic Plan (supported by the Grants & Evaluation Manager), and ensuring reporting, recording, and sharing learning for systemic change; giving input to CER programmes’ legal strategies and litigation; working with Programme Heads to ensure that the organisation’s work remains aligned with CER’s Strategic Plan, and monitoring the overall organisational workload.
  • Stakeholder Management: Overseeing CER’s partnership relationships and leading CER’s strategic collaborations. Supported by the Head of Communications, overseeing CER’s public profile, and acting as a spokesperson for CER on programme related matters.
  • People Management: Mentoring, managing and overseeing the work of Programme Heads in respect of the programme work and strategic plan.

The position reports to the Executive Director. At least four Programme Heads report to the Deputy Director: Programmes.


The salary range for the position is between R916 191 and R1 239 552 (total cost to company). The salary offered will be dependent on factors that include the qualifications, level of expertise, and experience of the successful candidate. All new staff join our medical aid group scheme with Discovery Health, and the salary package includes a medical aid subsidy. Leave benefits include our 15 working days’ end-of-year break from 17 December every year – which is over and above annual leave; and long leave in the form of a period of 20 working days’ leave every 5 years.

Working for the CER

The Centre for Environmental Rights is a non-profit public interest law organisation of activist lawyers who defend the right of communities and civil society organisations to an environment not harmful to health or wellbeing for present and future generations. Through litigation, advocacy and activist support and training, we seek to advance our vision of a more equal society, free of fossil fuels, in which environmental and climate justice is realised and all people and the planet flourish.

As South Africa’s largest public interest environmental law organisation, we use our expertise and commitment to fight for climate justice and advance the right to a healthy environment for all. We take on the big environmental battles: cases in which we can empower local communities, have an enduring impact, set powerful precedents for other cases, and help improve policy and practice across the country.

Winning the legal case is only part of the battle. CER’s litigation work is strengthened by local training and empowerment, dedicated policy and advocacy work, and strategic communications. In all of our work, we work closely with partners in affected communities, with other civil society organisations in the environmental and social justice sector, and with other public interest law organisations.

We work across the following core themes: Mining, Pollution and Climate Change, Corporate Accountability & Transparency, and Activist Support & Training. We have our main office in Observatory, Cape Town, with a smaller office in Forest Town, Johannesburg.

At CER, we value our staff and regard their wellness and wellbeing as a priority. We are committed to a work environment that is inclusive and empathetic, and in which diversity is celebrated and supported.

How to apply

Please send the following documents to: [email protected] by 13 January 2023, with the email subject line: “CER Deputy Director Application”:

  • A cover letter setting out your skills and relevant experience, as well as why you want to work at the CER in this position;
  • A copy of your CV;
  • Two recent written references.

Please note that only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.