Prior to establishing the African Climate Foundation, Saliem served for 11 years as the Head of the Policy & Futures Unit of World Wildlife Fund South Africa. He was a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Public Administration and Planning and an Associate Director for the Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy at Stellenbosch University. For eight years, Saliem was the Director of the World Conservation Union, South Africa. He has served on several Boards and is a prolific writer, contributing to leading publications.