Natural Justice: Programme Officer - Community Environmental Legal Officers

Natural Justice
Please note: this opportunity closing date has passed and may not be available any more.
Opportunity closing date: 
Saturday, 31 July, 2021
Opportunity type: 
Call for proposals

Call for Applications:         

Programme Officer: Community Environmental Legal Officers (Paralegals) programme
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

What are we looking for?

Based on the intersecting crises including environmental and climate, human rights abuses, patriarchy, race and inequality amongst others, Natural Justice is in a key phase to expand its work to stand behind more communities across Africa, and within South Africa.

As part of the work of Natural Justice in Southern Africa, there has been an increasing demand to have community members trained and placed within their communities to support the work and ensure that the community remains informed about their rights and empowered to affirm and defend their human and environmental rights. Community Environmental Legal Officers (CELOs)/ paralegals are selected from within communities, and are rooted in their cultural heritage, aspirations and struggles.

Natural Justice is expanding its CELO programme to foster and strengthen a network of CELOs from across Southern Africa, including in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Mozambique.
Natural Justice’s Cape Town hub seeks a full-time Programme Officer for the Community Environmental Legal Officer (CELO) programme.  The appointment will be for a period of 12 months with possibility of extension. You will work closely with the Standing with Communities Programme Manager and Hub Director to help oversee CELOs across Southern Africa and will play a central role in the implementation of the Cape Town Hub’s CELOs programme.  You will also work with the Defending Rights and Affirming Rights Stream.

The ideal candidate will be passionate and knowledgeable about climate justice and protecting communities’ traditional knowledge, traditional resource rights and land rights. You will work with a passionate team of staff within the hub and frequently collaborate with staff across the organisation. The successful candidate will be based in Cape Town, with regular travel nationally, and occasional travel internationally. They are expected to begin work as soon as possible.
What’s on offer?

Natural Justice is a close-knit and nurturing collective that places emphasis on facilitating opportunities for the professional and personal growth of its members. Natural Justice will offer a competitive salary commensurate with skill and experience. Joining Natural Justice will also give the successful candidate a chance to work with a passionate and highly professional global team in a fast-paced environment and gain valuable international experience.

Key roles and responsibilities:

  • Oversee a team of CELOs based in Southern Africa.
  • Assist with developing a system and process for tracking CELO work and progress.
  • Assist with the development of legal empowerment materials for CELOs and communities.
  • Provide legal empowerment training to CELOs on an ongoing basis, including providing high quality advice to CELOs, communities and partners.
  • Have daily contact with CELOs and weekly meetings.
  • Support the work of the Southern Africa team, especially that of the Standing with Communities Stream.
  • Engage in environmental and human rights research in furtherance of climate justice and human rights to lands, resources and traditional knowledge.
  • Undertake legal research and support the Affirming Rights team in writing submissions on environmental justice issues.
  • Form and maintain good working relationships with communities that we work with and all community partners.
  • Work closely with CELO’s in other Natural Justice Hubs.
  • Provide thought leadership and share learnings and lessons around the legal empowerment work.
  • Link the work of CELOs to key litigation that Natural Justice is involved in.
  • Provide regular feedback and reports to the Programme Manager of the Standing with Communities stream, and the Hub Director.


  • Completed legal qualification. Being an admitted attorney will be an added advantage but not compulsory.
  • A good knowledge of South(ern) Africa’s human rights, land & environmental law, or a clear ability to acquire the necessary knowledge within a short space of time.
  • Ability to oversee a team of CELOs, remotely.
  • Good legal research skills in law, policy and social issues.
  • Sound written and oral communication skills.
  • Ability to grasp quickly and accurately new and complex concepts.
  • Ability to work under pressure and as part of a team.
  • Ability to balance priorities and co-ordinate work effectively in order to meet deadlines and deal with high workloads.
  • Conviction in and commitment to constitutionalism and principles of human rights and environmental justice.
  • Sound emotional intelligence skills to enable interaction with persons from all sectors of the society.
  • Proficient in English, as well as any other Southern Africa language. Portuguese will be an advantage.

Application process

Deadline: 31 July 2021

Please email your application to with the following subject line: “CT: Programme Officer - CELOs”.

Applications must include:

1.     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;
2.     A detailed CV with three contactable *references; and
3.     Two samples of your past written work (for example, legal briefs 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

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