Prof. Llewellyn Leonard

Llewellyn Leonard is an academic and passionate environmental justice promoter. He has a combination of 20 years of management and research experience in the civil society and higher education sectors and has consulted for civil society and national government health sectors on environmental issues. He has on several occasions served as a research project coordinator funded by the National Department of Tourism Government. 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 sciences to enable his knowledge to serve nature and society. He has an MSc Engineering (Water Quality and Environmental Management) from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and a Ph.D. (Environmental Social Sciences) 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. In 2014 he was awarded the young emerging research award by the Faculty of Management, University of Johannesburg.

Llewellyn previously worked for a human rights organization 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 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 as an environmental scientist 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 in 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.

He is a member of the South African Geographical Society, the International Association for Impact Assessments, and the Rotary Society South Africa. Llewellyn sits on the editorial advisory board for the South African Geographical Journal and the African Journal of Hospitality, Tourism, and Leisure. 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.



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