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Call for Applications: African Environmental Defenders Fellow

Who is Natural Justice? 

Natural Justice is an organisation rooted in the struggles of communities in Africa. As a team of pioneering lawyers and legal experts, we specialise in human rights and environmental law in pursuit of social and environmental justice. 

Natural Justice strives to enhance the collective rights of people and protect the sacred relationships that indigenous peoples and local communities have with nature. Our work is informed by the values, knowledge and self-determination of the communities whom we stand in solidarity with. 

Through legal empowerment, research, policy influencing and litigation, and as part of coalitions and campaigns, we support communities to know the law, use the law and shape the law. 

Natural Justice has three main pillars: Affirming and Securing Rights to Lands, Resources and Knowledge; Defending Rights against Environmental and Social Impacts; and Standing with Communities. 

To learn more about the work of Natural Justice please refer to

About the African Environmental Defenders Initiative 

African Environmental Defenders play an important role in protecting their lands and ecosystems from unsustainable industrial development, logging and extractive projects. But the nature of their work can expose them to significant risks. Throughout the world, there are ever-increasing incidents of attacks against environmental defenders. 

The African Environmental Defenders Initiative was instituted by Natural Justice on Human Rights Day, 2019. The Initiative’s overall objective is to enhance respect for the work of African Environmental Defenders and advocate for and secure their human rights. The Initiative aims to minimise or manage the risks faced by Defenders in Africa by offering support to enhance their resilience in terms of protection against threats. 

Through the Initiative, Natural Justice established the African Environmental Defenders Fund. This is a joint programme by Natural Justice and the various partners which provides emergency funding to land and environmental Defenders based in Africa whose lives are under threat due to their activism or actions. The website of the Fund can be accessed here:

What does the African Environmental Defenders Fellowship offer? 

The African Environmental Defenders Fellowship offers an exciting opportunity for a young person or recent graduate who is passionate about supporting communities and individuals in their activism, and to ensure their safety and dignity is guaranteed. Over the duration of the Fellowship, the fellow will have the opportunity to spend time and work directly with communities and individuals, other organisations and with the staff of Natural Justice. 

They will be introduced to a broad spectrum of issues within the environmental defenders work and be expected to work directly and consistently with African Environmental Defenders.  

The fellow will be involved in the following activities: 

  • Developing a good understanding of Defender issues in Africa.  
  • Working closely with the Defend the Defenders coalition and other partners.  
  • Recognising where assistance and support is essential for the protection of Defenders. 
  • Managing the Fund and ensuring that applications are efficiently and timeously responded to. This includes responding to emergency requests. 
  • Developing legal empowerment materials for Defenders. 
  • Working closely with the communications and advocacy teams to provide support to Defenders and to highlight the issues that Defenders face.  
  • Contributing to trainings, legal empowerment and workshops, both online and physically. 
  • Working to advance policies and rights of defenders.  
  • Working with communities to find solutions to defender issues.  
  • Analysing data and drafting public-facing reports. 
  • Drafting internal and funder reports.  

The Fellowship will be for a period of around 12 months, full-time, based in any African country, with preference given to applicants from Kenya, South Africa, Madagascar, Senegal, and other countries where Natural Justice has a presence.  

A modest salary and travel budget will be offered. The successful applicants will be expected to begin work as soon as possible. 


  • Completed legal qualification in any African country.  
  • Ability to engage in research, draft reports and legal documents. 
  • Sound written and oral communication skills. 
  • Excellent writing skills with the ability to critically analyse relevant environmental rights and policies. 
  • Facilitation and training skills. 
  • Commitment to be available for emergencies. 
  • Commitment to the protection of African Environmental Defenders. 
  • Experience with security (physical and digital) issues will be advantageous. 
  • Experience analysing data and completing evaluations will be advantageous. 
  • A passion for learning and a commitment to environmental justice and constitutionalism. 
  • Ability to work productively and to deadlines. 
  • Reliability and attention to detail. 
  • Ability to work both independently and as a team member. 
  • Sound emotional intelligence skills to enable interaction with persons from all sectors of the society. 
  • Proficiency in English. Fluency in French and/or Portuguese will be advantageous.  

Application process 

Deadline: 24 September 2021 

Please email your application to with the following subject line: “African Environmental Defender Fellowship”. 

Applications must include: 

  • A motivation letter that indicates: a) why you are interested in this position and what inspires you about environmental justice; and b) aspects of your background that demonstrate the required competence for this role;
  • A detailed CV with three contactable references; and 
  • Two samples of your past written work (for example, articles or research reports). 

Please ensure that your application, as a whole, speaks to the required qualifications, experience, personal profile and key roles and responsibilities. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted. 

Best of luck!  

The Natural Justice Team 

Closing Date

24 September 2021

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