After nearly 14 years of using storytelling to delve into the complex world of shifting climates, dwindling 'brown' energy, environmental changes, and hunger amongst South Africa's poor city dwellers, Leonie has built up a portfolio of work spanning different styles of writing, different media, and for many different audiences.


Photo © Sydelle Willow Smith

Hunger & Big Food

The modern food system leaves us sick and hungry. Instead of blaming the individual for making the wrong food and lifestyle choices, this is a series of articles which look at how the food system is 'broken' and what needs to be done to fix it. 




Photo © Sydelle Willow Smith

Photos © Eric Miller

On the Bookshelf

Leonie's books include:

Scorched: South Africa's Changing Climate

Boiling Point: People in a Changing Climate

Invaded: the Biological Invasion of South Africa

The Hungry Season: Feeding Southern Africa's Cities

Oranjezicht City Farm: Food, Community, Connection


She has also contributed a few book chapters, including:

Opinion Pieces by South African Thought Leaders, edited by Max du Preez (Penguin, 2011)

Bending the Curve, edited by Robert Zipplies (Africa Geographic, 2008)

Climate Governance in Africa - A Handbook for Journalists (IPS Africa and HBF, 2014), contributed an article.  

Photos © Leonie Joubert


Over the years Leonie has built up an extensive portfolio of hard news, features, opinion articles, letters to editors, and blogs. 

Like most freelancers, her work has been published widely in the SA media and abroad, including in the Sunday Independent, Mail&Guardian, Sunday Argus, Sunday Tribune, African Decisions, Africa Geographic, Getaway, Progress, Business Day’s EarthYear, Farmers Weekly, Engineering News, Cape Times, SA4×4, Xplore, Wild magazine and the German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung, amongst others.


Photo ©  Michael Groenewald

Creative Non-Fiction

'Long-form', 'narrative', 'creative non-fiction' - in this craft, there are many names for it, but it boils down to good, old-fashioned and highly descriptive storytelling. Here are a few examples. 



   Photo © Sam Reinders

Photo © Sam Reinders

Writing with Researchers & NGOs

Working with non-governmental and civil society organisations to communicate their work for wider audiences. This has included work for: 

Environmental Monitoring Group (EMG)

Heinrich Boll Foundation (HBF) 

WWF-SA (Worldwide Fund for Nature - SA chapter) 

Marie Stopes


Working with academics and research institutions to rework their scientific material for more 'popular' audiences. This has included work for: 

African Climate & Development Initiative (ACDI)

African Centre for Cities 

SANBI - South African National Biodiversity Institute

Environmental Policy Research Unit (EPRU), at the University of Cape Town's School of Economics

Climate Systems Analysis Group (CSAG), University of Cape Town

Energy Research Centre (ERC), University of Cape Town


Scripts for film and animation

The Hungry Season - a short animated story about what food security means in the cityscape, made with the superbly talented Sea Monster animation studios.

The video was also made in Afrikaans and isiXhosa.


The Ancient Astronomers of Timbuktu, 2009 - assisted with script development. 

Journal Articles

'Soft' journal articles for journalism and medical journals. 



Researcher and co-author of the Environmental Management Plan for the Prince Edward Islands Special Nature Reserve. Download the full EMP here