Lawyer: Centre for Environmental Rights

Dina Townsend

As an environmental lawyer Dina Townsend helps to lead the charge for accountable environmental and water management in South Africa’s mines. Growing up in Johannesburg’s Crown Mines, Townsend was surrounded by a very forward-thinking community. Many of her neighbours were activists and this affected her. From an early age she developed a strong interest in making a difference in people’s lives. After graduating from the University of Cape Town she landed a position in a private law firm, but left soon afterwards. “I felt a very strong pull to work on environmental justice issues,” she says. Townsend went on to study for a master’s degree in Environmental Law at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. Upon returning to South Africa she joined the Centre for Environmental Rights, where she has been instrumental in the facilitation of a community activist network in the field of mining and environmental justice and has led the centre’s work on improving transparency in environmental governance.

— Billy Rivers