Nathan Philander | WWF South Africa

Nathan Philander

Posted on 01 January 2015
WWF-SA intern Nathan Philander
© Natasha Prince/ WWF-SA
A larger than life character full of wit, dynamism and ambition, 25-year-old Nathan Philander is set on blazing a trail within the environmental sector as he journeys through his WWF internship with the Centre for Environmental Rights.

1. What inspired you to pursue a green legal career?
I have a staunch belief in justice and shared resources for all. I did my LLB in Environmental Law to be and make a difference. After all, our Constitution boldly states that everyone has a right to healthy environment. I have always had a passion for justice and for doing the right thing. Also I believe that the environment, much like human beings, deserves protection. I chose a green career to make a difference and to ensure that my children and my children’s children will be able to enjoy all the marvels nature has to offer and breathe clean air and drink fresh water.

2. What’s the coolest project you’ve worked on so far?
The coolest project I have worked on during my internship, was my secondment period of four months. I was, in laymen’s terms, on ‘loan’ to the Vredendal Justice Centre. Here I spent most of my time in court as defence council for accused persons. My worked load comprised of mostly criminal law litigation and it is during this time that I develop confidence to stand up and litigate in court. In has been an amazing experience. I felt that I really made a difference in people’s lives.

3. What value has this experience brought to you?
Being a WWF intern has been an eye opening experience. Interacting with so many different people from various fields has shown me the interconnectedness of the environmental sector. I have grown more confident and assertive in my work and what I do as an environmental lawyer and activist. It’s brought me peace of mind. Also it has taught me how to be a better, more productive employee by working effectively and managing my time correctly and how to interact in a new working environment. I really appreciate and value all that I have learned.

4. What is the funniest thing that’s happened to you during the internship?
It’s not so much a specific moment, to me every day at work is a fun day. The environment I work in, the friendliness and humorous nature of my colleagues makes me laugh throughout the day. I really treasure and appreciate these moments.

5. What advice would you give to a young person planning to enter the sector?
That we have a Constitution in South Africa that protects the most vulnerable people in our society and we have a responsibility to act as advocates to protect the natural world. As the Constitution says, “everyone has the right to an environment that does not affect their health of well-being”. My advice would be don’t do it for the money, but do it for the future goal of building a strong environmental sector in South Africa that is able to make significant strides in ensuring that our planet still be inhabitable a million years from now.

6. What do you think makes our environmental future so bright?
The endless possibilities! We have so much untapped talent in South Africa and with the new faces coming out of university, I’m so excited to be a part of this history in the making. The environmental sector is always growing and what excites me is that more and more environmental leaders are coming to the forefront and saying ‘enough is enough’ we need to change the way we need take action against those harming our environment and fight so that for sustainability so that future generations to can enjoy the marvels of nature.
WWF-SA intern Nathan Philander
© Natasha Prince/ WWF-SA Enlarge