BirdLife South Africa (BLSA), based in Johannesburg, South Africa, is one of the largest, most active, non-governmental conservation organisations in South Africa.

BLSA is the South African Partner of BirdLife International, which operates through partners in 113 countries and territories worldwide. The BirdLife Partnership is the leading and internationally- acclaimed authority on the status of birds, their habitats, and the issues affecting birds. BLSA has special links with the BirdLife partners in Africa, and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) in the UK.

BLSA is looking for a qualified, dedicated and dynamic Policy and Advocacy Programme Manager to head the organisation’s Policy and Advocacy Programme. The ideal candidate would have a strong background in environmental legislation and policy writing, be strategic and innovative, display good administrative and leadership skills, and be a team player, with a passion for conservation.

The Policy and Advocacy Programme Manager will be committed to BLSA’s vision and mission (available at https://www.birdlife.org.za/who-we-are/about/), and be willing to work collaboratively with other organisations, both regional and internationally, to further the bird conservation cause.

The Policy and Advocacy Programme Manager will strategically address the environmental challenges facing birds and their habitats; integrate conservation objectives into environmental policy; engage and support government (especially the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) regarding our obligations to national and global conservation strategies, legislation and Multi-lateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs)) and support the RSPB in its key objectives to provide proactive policy and reactive advocacy support to BirdLife partners across Africa. The Policy and Advocacy Programme Manager will report directly to BLSA’s Head of Conservation.


The primary responsibilities of the Policy and Advocacy Programme Manager will include, but not be limited to:

  • Strategically address the environmental challenges facing birds and their habitats and effectively enhance its conservation solutions by addressing advocacy cases in a prioritized and efficient manner.
  • Manage BLSA’s participation in development applications which could potentially negatively impact on Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs), Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs), Protected Areas (PAs), Other Effective Area-based Conservation Measures (OECMs) and other important sites/habitats for birds in South Africa and further afield in Africa.
  • Integrate conservation objectives into environmental policy.
  • Take proactive steps, e.g. initiate and oversee the development of Best Practice Guidelines, to improve the screening of development applications.
  • Entrench environmental goals into both the public and private sectors by managing BLSA’s efforts to support and integrate environmental policy into non-environmental infrastructure.
  • Engage and support government (DEFF) regarding our obligations to National and Global conservation strategies, legislation and MEAs.
  • Support the RSPB in its key objectives to provide policy, advocacy and casework support to BirdLife partners across Africa, with this work being done in close collaboration with BLSA’s Regional Conservation Programme.
  • Be innovative to strategically identify and pursue projects to advance BLSA’s support to the African region.
  • Liaise and maintain key partnerships with the BirdLife Africa Secretariat, the RSPB, DEFF and other strategic roleplayers.
  • Through innovative fundraising, ensure that the Programme has the financial resources to undertake its work, and nurture key relationships with existing donors.
  • Support and work collaboratively across BirdLife South Africa’s conservation programmes.


Inherent requirements for the position are:

  • Applicable Masters degree, e.g. in environmental law, natural and/or social sciences.
  • Extensive working knowledge of African countries’ environmental legislation and relevant international multi-lateral environmental agreements
  • Ability to develop and comment on policy briefs, position papers and management guidelines.
  • Working knowledge of the Environmental Impact Assessment process and relevant legislation.
  • Relevant experience (preferably two years) in a similar work environment, including knowledge of financial administration and senior managerial duties and responsibilities.
  • Proven ability to collaborate with key stakeholders, donors, funders and government officials.
  • Ability to advise on the co-ordination, implementation and management of complex projects.
  • A proven track record in successful fundraising, identifying donor prospects, donor cultivation and grant writing.
  • Superior communication skills with proficiency in English (written and spoken)..
  • Skilful use of the Microsoft Office suite.
  • Code 8 driver’s licence.


  • Knowledge of Africa’s birds and the main threats to birds and their habitats.
  • Proven analytical skills in order to address advocacy cases in a prioritized and efficient manner.
  • Track record of working collaboratively with diverse groups.
  • Diplomacy and conflict resolution skills.
  • Ability to multi-task, problem solve, prioritise and delegate effectively.
  • Willingness to travel both locally and internationally.


  • The successful candidate will report to BLSA’s Head of Conservation.
  • The position is based at BLSA’s Head office (Isdell House, 17 Hume Road, Dunkeld West) in Johannesburg.
  • The nature of the position requires the incumbent to sometimes work afterhours and over weekends and, at times, may involve extensive travel.


Salary: BLSA offers a salary which is commensurate with the position and responsibilities. The salary information is available on request. For any further enquiries, please feel free to contact 011 789 1122.

Fringe benefits: BLSA provides comprehensive group life insurance. INTERVIEW

Interview: Successful applicants will be required to attend interviews in Johannesburg.


Applicants are to submit:

  • A detailed curriculum vitae with three contactable referees.
  • Copies of qualifications (please provide the SAQA accreditation in the case of foreign qualifications).
  • A list of publications and other achievements.
  • A copy of the applicant’s identity document.
  • A detailed motivation as to how the applicant sees his/her role in this post.

Please note:

  • All applications will be treated in the strictest confidence. Communication will be limited to shortlisted candidates only. Should you not be contacted within six weeks of the closing date for applications, you may assume that your application was unsuccessful.
  • BLSA reserves the right not to make an appointment.
  • BLSA subscribes to and applies the principles prescribed by the Employment Equity Act.

    Preference will be given to candidates from designated groups, in accordance with the principles of the aforementioned act and the employee profile of the specific programme.

Assumption of duties: As soon as possible Closing date: 6 March 2020

To apply please e-mail your CV and motivation to BLSA’s HR Manager, Dr Isabel Human, at [email protected] with the subject title POLICY AND ADVOCACY PROGRAMME MANAGER.

For further information, contact Dr Hanneline Smit-Robinson, Head of Conservation, at hanneline.smit- [email protected]