Born in South Africa, Kumi Naidoo became involved in the country’s liberation struggle at the age of 15. In 1986 he was charged with violating the emergency regulations and was forced underground for almost a year before fleeing to exile. During this time he was a Rhodes Scholar and later earned a doctorate in political sociology. After Nelson Mandela’s release in 1990, Naidoo returned to South Africa to work on the legalization of the African National Congress. During the democratic elections in 1994 he directed the training of all electoral staff in the country and was one of the official spokespersons of the Independent Electoral Commission. Kumi Naidoo has served as Secretary General of CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, was the founding executive director of the South African National NGO Coalition (SANGOCO) and also the founding Chair of the Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP), where he remains global ambassador.
Naidoo has also served as a board member of the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) and in 2003 was appointed by the former Secretary General of the United Nations to the Eminent Persons Panel on UN Civil Society Relations. He is a board member of Global Reporting Initiative (2006-2011), Earth Rights International (2008-2011) and Food and Trees for Africa (2008 till present.)
Kumi Naidoo is currently Executive Director of Greenpeace International and Chair of the civil society alliance ‘Global Campaign for Climate Action’ (GCCA.)