Meet Our Speaker

Akhona Xotyeni

Akhona Xotyeni is a South African climate, youth and human rights activist. She is currently a researcher on the CoST Climate Finance project under Rabia Transitions and has previously consulted on similar projects. She is also a non-executive board member for Chapter Zero Southern Africa and the Black Girls Rising South African NGO. 

Xotyeni also sits as a steering committee member for the CoST Climate Finance Project and the Wavemakers United South African Chapter. She is also wrapping up her role as the project manager and coordinator for the South African UN 2023 Water Conference campaign under the South African Youth Parliament for Water. She is a Chatham House Common Future Conversations member and contributor and National Focal Point for UN1FY. 

 She was a 2022 G20 (Y20) Summit delegate and the former Just Green Transition Youth Ambassador for the Royal Danish Embassy in South Africa. 

 Xotyeni recently completed her MPhil in Environmental Management which was obtained from the Stellenbosch University (South Africa). 

In 2020, she was recognised in the Environment Categories for the 2020 Mail & Guardian list of Top 200 South Africans and the Inside Education’s 100 Shining Stars, as well as the Gradstar Top 100 and by the Stellenbosch University’s Rector for her Excellence in Leadership. 

Xotyeni has been affiliated with the Golden Key International Society, Amnesty International Stellenbosch Branch, the South African Institute for International Affairs (SAIIA) and the United Nations Association of South Africa Stellenbosch branch. She has also been part of the U.N. Youngo Human Rights, Food Systems Summit and Indigenous Populations Working Groups. 

From 2019 to date, Xotyeni has been a panelist and speaker at multiple high level events including the UN PAGE Ministerial Conference, the 2020 UNFCCC Race To Zero Dialogues, the 2021 EU in SA Climate 360 Conference and at the 2022 United Nations Status of Women (CSW66) AIDOS Parallel event, and the 2023 UN Water Conference amongst many others. 

Xotyeni is currently primarily a climate consultant, freelance public speaker and writer on climate related topics and policies with South African organisations, the national government, the African Union as well as international entities such as the United Nations and the embassies of the  Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, European Union and the British Consulate to mention a few. 

She is also a co-founder and member of the South African Youth Parliament for Water, a Thought Leader (Op-ed) writer for the Mail & Guardian and was part of the WFUNA (World Federation of United Nations Associations) World International Model United Nations Content Writing Team.