Our history

LEAD SEA is a legally independent member programme of Leadership for Environment and Development (LEAD).

LEAD International

LEAD is an international network of 8 legally independent Member Programmes, operating under a collaborative agreement and covering more than 90 countries. LEAD as a global network was formed in 1991 at a time when the world was preparing for the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The idea to form LEAD came as a result of discussions between the Rockefeller Foundation and a number of eminent champions of sustainable development including Gro Harlem Brundtland, the author of the Brundtland Report of 1987 that defined Sustainable Development. They identified an urgent need for a new generation of global leaders and set up an organisation for that purpose.

Originally starting as a capacity building organisation, LEAD operated successfully for ten years training leaders around the world from key sectors of sustainable development. Training and capacity building was focused at mid-career professionals, who, upon successful completion of the LEAD Fellowship training programme became LEAD Fellows.

Building on its successful ten years of capacity building, LEAD decided to diversify from Fellowship Training by introducing other training courses in order to meet wide demands of different stakeholders. In addition, LEAD also made a landmark decision of going beyond capacity building and implementing action research and development projects. To guide its new strategic direction, LEAD held a consultative planning meetings in 2003 with more than 80 LEAD Fellows and staff from all Member Programmes. From these meetings four thematic strategic areas were prioritised:

  1. Food security and nutrition
  2. Communicating sustainabilit
  3. Engaging business/private sector in sustainable development
  4. Ecosystem and poverty

Currently there are over 3,000 LEAD Fellows from more than 90 countries globally and dozens of action research, capacity building and development programmes and projects successfully completed by LEAD Member Programmes.

LEAD Southern and Eastern Africa

LEAD SEA was launched in 1994 in Harare (Zimbabwe) by the Vice President of Zimbabwe Comrade Muzenda. Malawi was represented at that launch by Honourable Alhaj Itimu, as Minister of Lands. There were six pioneering countries (Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe) but LEAD SEA has since grown to cover all the countries in Southern and Eastern Africa. LEAD SEA was first registered as DELSA trust in Zimbabwe. In 2001, the secretariat for LEAD SEA relocated to Zambia, registering with the Registrar of Societies in Lusaka.

In 2004, the LEAD SEA secretariat was once more relocated to Zomba, Malawi and was affiliated to the Faculty of Science, Chancellor College, University of Malawi.
As part of institutional growth and re-branding in 2014, LEAD SEA has now registered as a national entity in Malawi called LEAD Malawi, to focus on its expanded role of implementing national Research and Development Sustainable Development projects and programmes. The LEAD SEA entity established and registered in South Africa now coordinates regional and international training following the traditional Fellows' path.

In the coming years, LEAD will be registered in other participating countries in Southern and Eastern Africa as national entities and these entities will work together under a collaborative agreement.