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Centre for Environmental Rights – Advancing Environmental Rights in South Africa

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Head of Programme

Reference No: 4/2018

The closing date (20 August 2018) has passed and applications for this position are now closed.

The Centre for Environmental Rights is looking for a senior attorney to join our management team and head our Corporate Accountability programme. Based in Johannesburg or Cape Town, this position is for an admitted attorney with several years of legal and management experience, who has a passion for environmental rights and justice, with a particular interest in holding South African and multinational corporates accountable for their impact on our environment and people.

The CER’s Corporate Accountability programme works to expose corporate failures to comply with environmental laws, and to raise investor awareness of the risks of non-compliance. The programme is pioneering new methods to improve transparency and accountability around the impacts of polluting companies on our environment and people, through:

  • tracking environmental impacts and violations of environmental laws by companies operating in South Africa;
  • analysis of environmental disclosures to shareholders by listed companies, including through our Full Disclosure series;
  • input into sustainable reporting frameworks and guidelines;
  • engagement with companies, institutional investors, and industry associations regarding environmental impacts and disclosures; and
  • working with our partner organisation Just Share to support shareholder activism to compel compliance with environmental laws and disclosure of impacts and violations.

Working with CER’s other programmes, we seek to change public expectations of corporate obligations to realise environmental justice, and to ensure that the operations of industry do not violate our Constitutional rights.


Based in Cape Town or Johannesburg

Qualifications, skills and experience

  • An LLB or equivalent qualification. An LLM, particularly in environmental law, would be an advantage.
  • Admission as attorney of the High Court of South Africa, plus at least 5 years’ post-qualification experience, particularly in Constitutional and administrative law (experience in environmental litigation would be an advantage).
  • At least 2 years in a management role, and a commitment to the career development of attorneys and candidate attorneys.
  • A sound knowledge and understanding of: environmental laws and the legal requirements of corporate governance, disclosure, and reporting; sustainable and responsible investment initiatives and associated environmental, social, and governance factors; and legal and procedural requirements for environmental decision-making and legal challenges.
  • Excellent legal research and writing skills, with a perfectionist eye for detail.
  • Good public speaking skills (note that CER supports staff development through specialised public speaking training).
  • A sensitivity to social issues and the needs of communities impacted by environmental degradation and injustice.
  • Excellent networking skills, and strong capabilities in building support amongst a wide range of stakeholders.
  • A commitment to high-quality client service.
  • A passion for social and environmental justice.
  • A commitment to diversity, inclusion and transformation.

Key responsibilities

While we require flexibility from all our staff as our strategic imperatives change and develop over time, key responsibilities of this position currently include the following:

  • Management: Being a member of the management team at the Centre, which includes supporting and advising the Executive Director and Deputy Director on overall strategic management of the Centre, and generally contributing to the reputation, institutional strength and resilience, strategic development, and wellbeing of the organisation;
  • Programme leadership and implementation: Leading the Corporate Accountability programme, and ensuring delivery against the CER’s Strategic Plan; reporting, recording and sharing learning for systemic change; and providing strategic and inclusive leadership to the programme team;
  • Strategic litigation: Leading the programme’s strategic litigation for communities and civil society organisations in line with CER’s litigation strategy and priorities;
  • Legal advocacy: Leading the programme’s advocacy and engagement with regulators, corporates, and other stakeholders that impact corporate accountability, in order to achieve strategic change and improved practice; drafting evidence-based reports in support of the programme’s strategic objectives; providing expert input into draft environmental, social, and governance policies and legislation; and making submissions in Parliament and in other key forums;
  • Strategic communications: Building the profile of the CER and Corporate Accountability programme by leading a communications plan for the programme, which includes writing editorials and media releases, and giving media interviews;
  • Financial management: Planning the programme budget; monitoring and controlling expenditure against the programme budget; and liaising with and reporting to funders;
  • Human resources and talent management: Managing the performance and career development of, and training and overseeing, the work of attorneys, candidate attorneys, and any other staff in the programme team; and working to strengthen and celebrate diversity and inclusion in the programme team;
  • Networking and empowerment: Leading the building and supporting networks of partners and clients, including affected communities and community organisations, and supporting and participating training of activists.

The Centre benchmarks its salaries for the public interest law sector, and the salary offered will be dependent on factors that may include the qualifications, level of expertise and experience of the successful candidate.

The Centre for Environmental Rights strives to reflect South Africa’s racial, cultural, and gender diversity within its staff complement. All suitably-qualified candidates are encouraged to apply.

Working for the CER

The Centre for Environmental Rights is a non-profit organisation and law clinic of environmental rights lawyers that helps communities defend their right to a healthy environment. We do this by advocating and litigating for environmental justice.

As South Africa’s largest public interest environmental law organisation, we leverage our expertise and commitment to fight for environmental justice and advance the right to a healthy environment for all. We take on the big environmental fights – high-stakes cases where we can empower local communities, have an enduring impact, and 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 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: Biodiversity, Mining, Water, Pollution and Climate Change, and Corporate Accountability. We have our main office in Observatory, Cape Town, with a smaller office in Braamfontein, Johannesburg. Staff who join our Johannesburg office are required to travel to our Cape Town office on a regular basis.

At CER, we value our staff and regard their wellbeing as a priority. We have a Staff Well-Being Policy that includes a Savings and Insurance Benefit for permanent staff. We are committed to a work environment that is an inclusive, empathetic space, and in which diversity is celebrated and supported.

How to apply

Please send the following documents to: [email protected] by 20 August 2018, with the email subject line: “CER Head of Programme”:

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

Please note that only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.