Llewellyn Leonard is an accomplished academic researcher, educationalist, and devoted advocate for environmental justice. Currently holding the position of Distinguished Research Professor at UNISA, and Chair of the Centre of Excellence: Adaptation and Resilience, he has an extensive background encompassing over 20 years of managerial and research expertise in civil society and higher education. He has held positions as a research fellow at Middlesex University, London, and the University of Johannesburg, Sociology Unit. He has also served as Head of Department,  and Vice-Dean Research at the University of Johannesburg. Llewellyn has also served as a researcher for the Royal African Society, based at Westminister London, compiling the African parliamentary environmental briefings to inform decision-making. 


From a young age, Llewellyn’s profound interest in environmental issues spurred him to devour literature on the subject. This early ambition to make a difference eventually culminated in a career dedicated to the environmental sciences, utilizing his knowledge to serve nature and society. He holds an MSc in Water Quality and Environmental Management from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and a Ph.D. in Geography from Kings College, University of London. Llewellyn has lent his knowledge prowess to national governmental health and tourism sectors on environmental matters.

Llewellyn’s extensive portfolio encompasses various environmental justice endeavors in Southern Africa. These range from addressing concerns surrounding industrial, medical, and municipal waste, to grappling with issues related to landfills, mining, air pollution, incineration, cleaner production techniques, and obsolete pesticides across Southern Africa and beyond. For example, he has worked with national African government departments, civil society, and medical waste experts in the USA to conduct audits of hospital waste streams such as in South Africa and Mozambique to implement waste-reduction systems and to measure impact. This culminated in Llewellyn developing a manual for healthcare practitioners on hospital waste management. His primary focus lies in unraveling the intricate interplay between social and environmental dynamics, delving into the complexities that arise.

Operating within the realms of political ecology/economy, environmental justice, and risk society, Llewellyn endeavors to infuse an interdisciplinary approach into questions of development and sustainability. His research interests span a breadth of crucial areas including environmental justice, human rights, urban risks, indigenous knowledge systems, climate adaptation, democracy and governance, civil society-state-industry relations, and the impact of industrial risks on tourism and conservation.

As a National Research Foundation (NRF) rated researcher, Llewellyn’s contributions have not gone unnoticed. In 2014, he received the Young Emerging Research Award from the Faculty of Management at the University of Johannesburg. His dedication to environmental and social justice culminated in the prestigious Paul Harris Fellowship in 2022.

Llewellyn has played a pivotal role in spearheading and coordinating a multitude of far-reaching research partnerships. He currently leads the Centre for Excellence (CoE) in Adaptation and Resilience, a collaborative initiative involving partners from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and South Africa. This visionary CoE aspires to emerge as a global frontrunner in delivering cutting-edge research, best practices, education, and leadership in the realm of adaptation and resilience.

Before his current role, Llewellyn’s commitment to enhancing the quality of life for vulnerable communities led him to work with a human rights organization. Here, he championed initiatives aimed at bolstering civil society’s impact on environmental governance, connecting affected communities across borders to exchange vital scientific and advocacy expertise.

Llewellyn is an avid proponent of sustainable science, advocating for its role in driving positive social transformation rather than generating profits at the expense of people and the environment. He firmly believes in challenging the status quo when it perpetuates corruption and injustice.

Actively engaged in numerous professional societies and editorial advisory boards, Llewellyn’s influence extends across academia, civil society, and policy-making realms. He remains dedicated to advancing socio-economic and environmental justice, working tirelessly to empower marginalized groups and amplify their voices.

With a wealth of experience spanning academia, civil society, and research, Llewellyn’s impact reverberates through various spheres. His leadership roles and contributions have left an indelible mark on institutions and initiatives dedicated to positive societal change. He is a sought-after expert for media engagements, workshops, and public events, and his extensive experience has positioned him as a valuable facilitator and speaker.