Leonie Joubert

Specialist in content and style

  • content specialist: content relating to climate and environmental change, biological diversity, natural history, agriculture, food security, energy policy issues, invasive alien species, urban development, food systems, and, more recently, public mental health.

  • style specialist: she grapples with this subject matter using long-form narrative writing, books, feature style articles, columns, opinion and analysis, hard news, and recently, amateur broadcasting (podcasting).


own titles

Burning the Karoo (self-published, 2015)

Science Writing 101: Tips from the Newsroom (self-published training manual, 2015)

The Hungry Season: Feeding Southern Africa’s Cities (Picador Africa/Pan MacMillan, 2012)

Boiling Point: People in a Changing Climate (Wits University Press; 2008)

Boiling Point: 2007 Ruth First Memorial Lecture (Heinrich Böll Foundation; Feb 2008)

Scorched: South Africa’s Changing Climate (Wits University Press, 2006), honorary mention in the 2007 Sunday Times Alan Paton Non-Fiction Awards


commissioned titles

Tomatoes & Taxi Ranks (African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town, October 2018) 

Oranjezicht City Farm: Food, Community, Connection (OCF NPC, 2016)

The Future of Water in Africa (Pearson Education, 2010)

Invaded: the Biological Invasion of South Africa (Wits University Press, 2009), honorary mention in the 2010 Sunday Times Alan Paton Non-Fiction Awards


Book chapters

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

Bending the Curve (Africa Geographic, 2009, edited by Robert Zipplies)


Co-written projects or contributions

FLOW: Fostering Local Wellbeing


Leonie co-authored a collection of stories in an end-of-project report that captures the work of a team of development practitioners, academics, and youth participants. FLOW was hosted by the University of Cape Town African’s Climate and Development Initiative (ACDI), which worked with out-of-work, out-of-school youth in two municipalities near Cape Town, to ‘build individual and community capacity to thrive and innovate in the face of the growing challenges of climate change, resource depletion and inequality’. Here's her favourite piece: Small is Beautiful.

2007 John Platter Wine Guide

Icons South Africas Champion Wines (Wine magazine, 2003)



Shuters Geography Grade 11/Aardryksunde Grade 11 Learner (Shuter & Shooter Publishers, 2009)

Special projects

At the bottom of the food chain: small operators versus multinational corporations in the food systems of Brazil, Mexico and South Africa (Economic Justice Network/NRF-DST Centre of Excellence on Food Security at the School of Public Health, University of the Western Cape, 2014)


Contributing author to the report, which looks at the market dominance of multinational corporations in the food system in several developing world economies, and how this drives public health trends associated with hunger and nutrition, as well as the implications for poverty and inequality.  


Contributed long-form writing pieces to an exhibition by the University of Cape Town’s African Centre for Cities (2014).

The Food Dialogues (Cape Town Partnership & the Oranjezicht City Farm, 2014)


Rapporteur for a lecture series looking at urban food farming and the urban food system that was written up as The Food Dialogues report, hosted by the Cape Town Partnership and the Oranjezicht City Farm (2014).

Untold Stories (Environmental Monitoring Groups, 2014)


A long-form series of stories capturing the development work of the Environmental Monitoring Groups (EMG) (2013-2014).  

The Hungry Season animated videos


Script writing and project managing an animated video on food security for the University of Cape Town’s Centre of Criminology, in English, Afrikaans, Xhosa, and Zulu in 2011.


Conceptualised, researched and wrote up the research relating to inland flooding and sea level rise in the City of Cape Town, for the University of Cape Town’s African Centre for Cities.

Choice 2012 (Marie Stopes, 2012)


End-of-project report written in a 40-page magazine format for Marie Stopes South Africa (MSSA), as commissioned by Creative Consulting & Development Works. The magazine looked at work done by the MSSA in the field of supporting women’s sexual and reproductive health rights, during a European Union-funded project around the country (May - July 2012). 

Life: the State of South Africa’s Biodiversity (South African National Biodiversity Institute, 2013)


An adaptation of the South African National Biodiversity Institute’s (SANBI’s) 2012 National Biodiversity Assessment. This is a 60-page publication for a wider, non-scientific audience (Sep 2012 - Feb 2013). 

Better Production for a Living Planet (WWF South Africa, 2013) 


For the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) South Africa. This 34-page book regionalises the organisation’s international publication by the same name (Nov 2012 - Feb 2013).

Journalism - print

Hard news

Leonie's forte is not in hard news, however she covered two of the UN climate negotiation processes for Independent Newspapers. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Congress of the Parties (COP) in Copenhagen in 2009, and Cancun, Mexico, in 2010.

Features, Opinion & ANALYSIS

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, WildBusiness Day’s EarthYear, Farmers Weekly, Engineering News, Cape Times, SA4×4, Xplore, and been translated for the German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung, amongst others.


Previously, her columns have featured in the Mail & Guardian, Virgin Money’s Extra Virgin newsletter, the Project 90x2030 monthly newsletter, Wine News (2002 to 2007), the Heinrich Böll Foundation’s Energy Transition series, and Getaway magazine (Nov 2007 to March 2008). 


The Psychonauts


A self-funded capacity building initiative through which Leonie is learning the basics of amateur broadcasting (podcasting), while investigating a bold new mental health treatment that is growing rapid momentum in the Unites States and Europe, and asks if this could be a valid public mental health care intervention in traumatised, post-apartheid South Africa.

Journals & grey literature


Joubert, L. 2007. Spinning straw men: when science writing goes wrong. Rhodes Journalism Review. No. 27: 19-20

Joubert, L. 2010. When deadlines don’t loom. Rhodes Journalism Review. No. 29: 73

Joubert, L. 2011. South Africa’s changing climate. Current Allergy & Clinical Immunology. Vol 24(2): 62-64

Davies SJ., Chown, SL & Joubert, LS. 2007. Renewed management system and provisions for South Africa’s Sub-Antarctic Islands.  Paper and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania. Vol 141 (1): 115-120

Joubert, L. 2013. Food security: The optimal diet for people and the planet. South African Medical Journal. Vol 103(11): 809-810 


Environmental Management Plan (EMP) for the Prince Edward Islands (PEI) Special Nature Reserve


Contracted by Stellenbosch University’s Centre for Invasion Biology (CIB) in 2005 to co-author the new Environmental Management Plan (EMP) for the Prince Edward Islands (PEI) Special Nature Reserve. DST-NRF Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology 2010 (2014). Prince Edward Islands Management Plan Version 0.2 (Department of Environmental Affairs).

Script writing

A Vision of Paradise: Global Warming and Religion


TV script writing and editing: script writer on episodes 1 and 4 of A Vision of Paradise: Global Warming and Religion by Hooper Productions; the four-part series was screened on SABC2 in August 2009.

Astronomers of Timbuktu


Script editing for film by Dogged Films.

The Hungry Season animated videos


Script writing and project managing an animated video on food security for the University of Cape Town’s Centre of Criminology, in English, Afrikaans, Xhosa, and Zulu in 2011.

1 Scorched framed.jpg
2 Flow framed.jpg
1 hungry season framed.jpg
1 burning the karoo framed.jpg
1 OZCF framed.jpg
3 Cityscapes framed.jpg
3 Untold stories framed.jpg
2 opinion pieces framed.jpg
3 bottom food chain framedd.jpg
3 food dialogues framed.jpg
1 B Point HBF framed.jpg