Position Available

Call for Applications: Indigenous Fellow (Southern Africa)

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 www.naturaljustice.org 

What is the Indigenous Fellowship Programme (Southern Africa)? 

Indigenous and traditional peoples’ knowledge, together with biodiversity and climate-related science, can help communities facing threats to their lands and territories, to confront the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss. At the same time, a better understanding of how people interact with their environment, and the development of culturally-appropriate methods to better engage everyone in management efforts, will help to confront the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss. 

The Indigenous Fellowship Programme (Southern Africa), as launched in 2021 by the South African hub of Natural Justice, aims to give indigenous persons the opportunity to gain knowledge of the system and mechanisms dealing with human and environmental rights in general, and indigenous issues in particular. Trained participants are better equipped to assist their organisations and communities in protecting and promoting their rights. This training programme is available in English.  

Through this fellowship, we are creating opportunities for indigenous leaders to explore solutions to the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss using the traditional knowledge of people. The fellowship programme will last at least a year and will take place at Natural Justice’s South African hub in Cape Town or at one of NJ’s partner organisations. 

The Indigenous Fellowship Programme focuses on supporting indigenous peoples and elevating their voices in the dialogue around climate resilience and conservation. The fellowship offers individualised support to fellows, in an effort to enhance and expand leadership potential, as well as to provide learning opportunities and connections for personal and professional development – including community activism. 

The objective of this training programme is to enhance the knowledge of indigenous peoples on existing international, regional and national human and environmental rights instruments and mechanisms, so they can use them to more effectively to advocate for the rights of their communities and raise their concerns at the international, regional and national level. At the end of the programme, trained fellows are also in a better position to share their knowledge with their indigenous communities and organisations. 

The training combines theoretical sessions with briefings on international human and environmental rights instruments (Treaties, Conventions, Declarations) – including those more specifically dealing with indigenous issues. Practical assignments and exercises also help better integrate the theory. Fellows are also given the opportunity to actively participate in the staff-, partners- and community meetings of Natural Justice. Additionally, they get introduced to the work of other partners and communities. 

What does the Indigenous Fellowship offer? 

The Indigenous Fellowship offers an exciting opportunity to a young indigenous person who is passionate about supporting communities in securing rights to their lands, resources and knowledge. The indigenous fellow will be introduced to a broad spectrum of issues within environmental and human rights law and provided hands-on experience and training in research, legal empowerment, data collection and analysis, public interest litigation, analysis on laws and regulations, and advocacy. Over the duration of the Fellowship, the Fellow will have the opportunity to spend time and work directly with communities, community-based organisations and Community Environmental Legal Officers.  

The Indigenous Fellowship Programme will be for a period of 12 months full-time.  Participants of the Indigenous Fellowship Programme are entitled to the modest salary and travel allowance provided by the Natural Justice. NJ will not cover any additional expenses such as relocation costs.  

The Fellowship will provide the successful applicant a stronger understanding of/in: 

  • Practical financial and administrative skills running a civil society organization – such as budgeting, organizing meetings, communications, etc. 
  • The principles of environmental and human rights law and citizenry participation in environmental decision-making; 
  • The realities of communities facing environmental injustices; 
  • Community-centred legal empowerment methodologies; 
  • The policy and governance decision-making processes of key institutions and bodies; 
  • Analysing and evaluating environmental and human rights laws, regulations and policies; 
  • Analysing and commenting on policy and legislative frameworks; 
  • Campaigning and advocacy for rights; 
  • Evidence based environmental justice advocacy and research; and 
  • The civil society organizations and individuals in Southern Africa working towards environmental justice. 

The successful applicants will be expected to start on 1 December 2021. 

Who can Apply for the fellowship? 

  • The candidate must be indigenous (non-indigenous persons will not be taken into consideration, even if they have close links with indigenous communities and/or organisations). 
  • Age between 18 – 25.  
  • Formal education is an advantage, but will not be a limitation to participation in the Indigenous Fellowship Programme given the socio-economic barriers confronted by many indigenous peoples that limit access to formal educational institutions. 
  • Candidates are expected to train other indigenous persons after the return to their respective communities/organisations. 
  • The candidate should be proposed and his/her candidacy supported by his/her indigenous organisation and/or community. It is desirable that the collaborating organisation or community has a firm constituency or membership and that it is representative. 
  • The candidate should have a good working knowledge of the language in which the programme is imparted. 
  • The candidate should display an awareness of and sensitivity to the needs and concerns of individuals from diverse cultures, backgrounds and orientations. 
  • The candidate should be committed to continuous learning and to self-development with a focus on professionally promoting organisational interests, objectives and values. 

How is the selection made? 

The selection of fellows reflects a gender and regional balance, as well as a balance between communities represented. The general human environmental rights situation in the respective regions/countries is also taken into consideration. The candidate should meet all requirements stated above, unless stated otherwise with a strong motivation. 

  • A willingness to travel on a regular basis on short notice and sometimes for extended periods. 

Application process 

Deadline: 29 October 2021 

Please email your application to admin.nj@naturaljustice.org with the following subject line: “CT: Indigenous Fellowship”. 

Applications must include:  

  1. A motivation letter that indicates a) why you are interested in this position and what inspires you about environmental justice more broadly; and b) aspects of your background that demonstrate the required competence for this role; 
  2. A detailed CV with three references; and,  
  3. A letter of recommendation from an indigenous community, organization, or reputable individual in the field. 

Please ensure that your application as a whole speaks to the required qualifications, experience, personal profile and key roles and responsibilities. Please do not apply if you do not meet the required experience. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.  

Best of luck!  

The Natural Justice Team 

Closing Date

29 October 2021

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