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Centre for Environmental Rights – Advancing Environmental Rights in South Africa

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Senior Writer

Reference No: 4/2021

The closing date (19 March 2021) has passed and applications for this position are now closed.

The Centre for Environmental Rights seeks to employ a senior writer to join our Communications Team. The Senior Writer will fill a critical role by shaping and enhancing our overall narratives and messaging, and enabling increased coverage of issues that are central to the CER.

This writer will work across the CER’s programmes, campaigns and cases, and across media platforms. Written content will include press-related text, litigation and campaign stories, as well as high-quality perspective stories aimed for the web and the media.

The ability to develop a rich network of sources on the environment beat is a must, and experience in covering environmental issues is very much preferred. The ideal applicant is an excellent storyteller who can cut through the complexities of litigation, climate change, energy and environmental policy, regulations and science to produce compelling narratives that enlighten and engage readers across our digital and print platforms.

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.


The ideal candidate is based in Cape Town, but other locations will be considered as long as the candidate is also willing to travel, subject to COVID constraints.

Qualifications, skills and experience

  • Bachelor’s Degree in journalism, English or equivalent
  • 7 or more years’ experience as a writer, reporter and/or editor for print and digital, with proven success as an environmental reporter in print and online
  • Excellent writing skills, with a perfectionist’s eye for detail
  • Knowledge of and experience with WordPress would be an advantage, but is not essential
  • Proficiency in writing environment and science news, and an ability to understand and translate scientific and economic reports into text that is easy to understand
  • Ability to research, develop and write compelling stories of the people affected by environmental injustice
  • Thorough knowledge of journalism skills, ethics and standards
  • Strong interpersonal and networking skills, including the ability to collaborate effectively with team members, with communications staff in partner organisations, and with programme staff and community activists
  • A sensitivity to social issues and the experiences and needs of marginalised communities
  • A commitment to high-quality client service
  • A passion for social and environmental justice
  • A commitment to diversity, inclusion, and transformation

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):

  • Writing: Writing media pieces in support of the CER, programme narratives, campaigns and advocacy activities. Developing sources, research and writing environmental stories for CER and its programmes, focusing on issues such as climate change, mining, carbon emissions, sustainability, alternative energy sources, just transition, natural resources and environmental impacts on people and the environment. Delivering timely news stories, robust explanatory pieces and distinct content for the web. Conceive of, and execute sophisticated explanatory news stories and provide distinctive narrative and content for the web and print stories. Provide support for other storytelling formats, including photo galleries, videos and socially sourced content.
  • Research: Undertaking field research, through interviews and analysis of documents, on specific cases where more information is required for purposes of campaign narratives and advocacy stories. Keeping abreast of developments by studying papers, attending events etc. Gathering, corroborating and interpreting existing data for repurposing content.
  • Collaboration: Working with the Communications team and programme staff, to leverage, coordinate and produce appropriate content for the web and print.


Although we will consider other arrangements, this position is ideally a fixed-term, full-time contract for 12 months, starting as soon as possible, with the possibility of extending beyond the 12 month period. The salary range for the position starts at R392 881. The salary offered will be dependent on factors that include the qualifications, level of expertise, and experience of the successful candidate. All full-time staff join our medical aid group scheme with Discovery Health, and the salary package includes a medical aid subsidy.

Working for the CER

The Centre for Environmental Rights is a non-profit organisation and law clinic of activist lawyers who work with communities and civil society organisations in South Africa to realise our Constitutional right to a healthy environment by advocating and litigating for environmental justice. We seek a just, equitable, compassionate society which is resilient, celebrates diversity, and respects the inter-dependence between people and the environment.

As South Africa’s largest public interest environmental law organisation, we use 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 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, Water, 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 Johannesburg.

At CER, we value our staff and regard their 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] with the email subject line: “CER Senior Writer” and Reference No 4/2021:

  • A cover letter setting out your skills and relevant experience, as well as why you want to be considered for this position;
  • A copy of your CV;
  • Two recent written references; and
  • A portfolio of published articles.

Please note that only shortlisted candidates will be contacted. CER reserves the right not to appoint should there be no suitable candidate.