Llewellyn Leonard is an academic and an extremely passionate environmental justice promoter. He has a combination of 15 years of management and research experience in the civil society and higher education sectors and has consulted for civil society and government health sectors on environmental issues. He has teaching experience in South Africa and the United Kingdom. From an early age, he displayed a keen interest in environmental issues and read whatever literature he could find on the subject. Although his ambition to save the planet as a child was far-fetched, he eventually chose a career in the environmental social sciences to enable his knowledge to serve nature and society. He has an MSc (Water Quality and Environmental Management) from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and a Ph.D. (Human Geography – Environmental Justice) from Kings College, University of London. Llewellyn has worked on environmental justice issues related to industrial, medical, and municipal waste, landfills, mining, air pollution, incineration, cleaner production techniques, obsolete pesticides, and conservation protection to name a few in Southern Africa and internationally. He is most interested in trying to understand how social and environmental dynamics come together and the complexity of these interactions. His research is framed within the broad field of political ecology/economy and risk society and he seeks to bring an interdisciplinary perspective to questions of development and sustainability. Research interests include environmental justice; human rights and ecological justice, risk communication; urban risks, climate adaptation; democracy and governance; civil society-state-industry relations; and industrial risks and tourism/conservation impacts. Llewellyn is a National Research Foundation (NRF) rated researcher.
Llewellyn previously worked for a human rights organization for many years seeking to improve the quality of life of vulnerable people, through assisting civil society to have a greater impact on environmental governance. Llewellyn’s work on environmental justice issues has taken him to network and support civil society across Africa, Asia, America, and Europe, while also connecting affected communities across borders to exchange local scientific and campaigning expertise. Llewellyn believes that science should be sustainable whilst contributing to positive social change, instead of science being used to generate profits that destroy the environment and benefit a few. Llewellyn was previously involved in scientific environmental forums but was disappointed by the lack of scientific consultants to genuinely incorporate social and environmental concerns into decision making and developmental processes. This led him to become more interested in environmental sociology and human geography and for the integration of diverse methodologies to understand the complexity of environmental issues. Llewellyn believes that the status quo must be challenged when it contributes to corruption and injustices in society. Simple living and higher thinking is his motto in life, whilst striving to always learn new things on a daily basis.
Llewellyn sits on the editorial advisory board for the South African Geographical Journal. He is also an advisory board member of the Food Evolution Research Laboratory (a partnership between Penn State University and the University of Johannesburg) – launched on the 28 August 2018 and advises on food justice and sustainability issues. He sits on the Rotary New Dawn Board and serves as the International Chair and also advisors on the Rotary District 9400NPC Literacy Committee on research support for local communities and Masters and Doctoral students to contribute to social change. He was a member of the Centre for Decision Analysis and Risk Management (DARM), Middlesex University, United Kingdom. DARM is a Research Centre within the School of Health and Social Sciences with an interest in risk, risk assessment, and risk management on the development of strategies in public health, occupational safety, and the environment. In addition to academic and civil society publications, Llewellyn was a freelance environmental writer for the Royal African Society, based within parliaments Westminister, London. He strives to advance socio-economic and environmental justice by developing knowledge about, for, and in dialogue with vulnerable groups (and civil society at large) impacted by injustices. When in Germany he networks with academics at Ludwig Maximilian University also working on environmental justice issues. He is currently engaged in a research partnership with the University of Orebro, Sweden (Environmental Sociology) on how scientific expertise is constructed and how it becomes authoritative. He was also a visiting research scholar at the Sociology unit at the same institution.
Llewellyn has been instrumental in facilitating the development of a Declaration on eliminating the harmful impacts of Health Care Waste and Incinerators in Southern African communities.’ This is the first organized civil society declaration calling on Southern African governments to seek alternative mechanisms for dealing with waste management rather than incineration. In addition, he has also assisted in the formulation of “The Glenmore Declaration on the Elimination of mercury and mercury pollution in Southern Africa communities.” In 2011 he was also instrumental in leading actions at the University of Johannesburg to make the institution the first ‘green university’ on the African continent. This initiative also received financial support from the Vice-Chancellor to facilitate student education to attend the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties (COP) which works to assess progress in dealing with climate change. Llewellyn’s activities have also included setting up community libraries in rural areas around the Kruger National Park in partnership with the Humanitarian Distribution Centre, including getting youth to become active members in society for social change as part of community engagement projects. Due to Llewellyn’s passion and support for social change he was, as part of a ceremony at the University of Johannesburg in 2016 inducted into the Rotary Club by the President of the Rotarian society and then in 2018 inducted into the New Dawn Club.
Llewellyn has over fifteen years of leadership and management experience. He was previously Vice Dean: Research at the College of Business and Economics, University of Johannesburg home to over 500 staff members. He was part of the College Higher Degrees Committee, Higher Degrees Assessment Committee, College Leadership Team, and part of Senate and Senex University Committees. Prior to that, he was for several years Head of the Tourism department at the University of Johannesburg and lectured on sustainable development and environmental issues. He was also a Senior Research Associate at the South African Research Chair in Social Change, University of Johannesburg, and was a research fellow at Middlesex University, London. Llewellyn also served as an environmental manager for a human rights and non-profit organisation dealing with environmental justice issues. He is currently Professor (Environmental Science) and acting director at UNISA and serves as Masters and Ph.D. coordinator and is leading the postgraduate environmental justice and ethics module. Llewellyn serves as a reviewer for a number of accredited international journals, including serving as an external examiner for Masters and Ph.D. research and serving as a postgraduate module examiner for prestigious institutions.
Llewellyn is available for media interviews, workshops, and public events. He has served as a facilitator for workshops, chaired conference sessions, and has been interviewed on numerous media platforms.
September 9, 2020
Although the significance of scientific expertise is often proposed and empirically illustrated in academic literature, it is still unclear how environmental expertise becomes authoritative, and how its legitimacy can be challenged. In order to understand the interplay between scientific expertise and civil society engagement, this paper examines how industrial scientific expertise has worked with surrounding […]
April 6, 2019
Current academic literature examining race and nature conservation in South Africa has relied mainly on secondary data analysis while neglecting the voices of local communities. This article draws on empirical experience to assess the extent of the impact of race and social equity in conservation, with the aim of promoting sustainable and more inclusive conservation […]
January 6, 2019
During the apartheid era in South Africa, the mining industry operated without restraint and had undue influence over government decision-making. This created an environment where companies maximised profits at the expense of people and the environment. To establish whether this is still the case I did research in Dullstroom, Mpumalanga and St. Lucia, KwaZulu-Natal. Dullstroom has a strong […]
December 6, 2018
There are fears that new mining operations in the north east of South Africa could threaten communities, tourism and the environment. Plans to resume coal mining operations at the Mapungubwe Unesco World Heritage Site in Limpopo have been halted and it’s uncertain when mining operations will resume. What’s known is that the government is currently […]
November 6, 2018
This paper explores the potential to converge the theory of political ecology with the environmental justice discipline as means to promote more effective civil society actions against macro-economic risks, whilst analysing the case of South Africa. Such a convergence could result in mutual benefit for both arenas that already share a commitment towards justice. Whilst […]
October 6, 2018
In contemporary South Africa, environmental justice is a critical question for geographers. It is argued in this chapter that whilst new civil society leadership has emerged to address environmental justice concerns in the post-apartheid period, these have not been effective in formulating an emerging ‘environmental justice framework’ by way of a coherent ideology to collectively […]
August 6, 2017
Mining licenses in post‐apartheid South Africa are being granted by the ruling government in sensitive areas that are important tourism hubs and employment generators. Limited research has been conducted to understand mining impacts on protected environments and tourism sites. This paper will focus on the Mapungubwe World Heritage Site as a tourist attraction in Limpopo […]
March 17, 2017
South African democracy witnessed considerable effort to redefine Environmental Impact Assessment regulations to improve participation of citizen’s towards sustainable development of activities. Unfortunately, the effectiveness of participatory processes has generally been mixed and in many cases fallen below expectations, with a lack of empirical evidence especially in South Africa to understand the underlying elements that […]
March 14, 2017
Poor participatory processes during Environmental Impact Assessments and weak governance over mining development in Mpumalanga is causing loss of environmentally sensitive tourism and conservation areas. This is according to a series of recent published journal articles conducted by the University of Johannesburg’s Department of Tourism. The research which investigated governance processes and participation during Environmental […]
December 22, 2016
Despite the advent of democracy witnessing government making considerable progress in developing the legal frameworks to manage mining development and include citizens in decision-making processes, this has largely been unsuccessful. Although it is known that the post-apartheid state may be ineffective in holding mining companies accountable for social and environmental abuse and engaging citizens in […]
August 30, 2016
Although the tourism sector has greater potential for job creation than the mining sector, the debate on which sector may be more sustainable for employment and local social development, has not been extensively researched, especially in the global South. The popular tourist destination of Dullstroom, Mpumalanga has come under threat from an increase in the number of mining applications […]
August 25, 2015
The Kyoto Protocol is an international arrangement setting goals for thirty-seven industrialised countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Clean Development Mechanism as a flexibility mechanism defined in the Kyoto Protocol offers emission reduction projects which generate Certified Emission Reduction units which may be traded in emissions trading schemes. The purpose is to support industrialised […]