Greenpeace is a global independent environmental organization that was started in 1971 in Vancouver, Canada, by a few individual radical activists who came together to form a group known as “Don’t make a wave committee”. They believed in the ideology that even individuals can make a difference if the will is strong. Their aim was to make this world a environmentally peaceful world. Their mission was to give voice to a tiny island called Amchitka, off the coast of Alaska and preserve the fragile ecosystem of that place. At stake were some endangered species like sea otters and other varieties of wildlife. Their target was the decision of the United States to conduct nuclear test in this tiny island. Their plan was to take an old fishing boat into the water and register their protest in an extremely vocal manner.
They could not stop the testing but through their daring and innovative method of protest, the world at large got to hear about the damage that was being done to this tiny earthquake prone zone and to the many living species there and there were no further testing done at Amchitka ever again.
Aim and Growth
This became the foundation of Greenpeace which believes in making the world sit up and take notice of the damage being done to our earth and act for its protection. Then in 1979, this Vancouver based Greenpeace foundation landed itself in financial difficulties and they decided to bring all the spread out outfits around the world into a single global Greenpeace International. Headquartered in Amsterdam, Netherlands with offices in 41 countries around the globe across Europe, Asia and the Pacific and North and South Americas, today Greenpeace International has more than 5 million dedicated supporters who have sworn to live by the beliefs of its founding members.
Greenpeace International is the largest environmental group in the world today. Though criticized by some for its skillful manipulation and tactics that would not be accepted by any other for-profit company, it still has worldwide support because of the cause it stands for and its own not–for-profit status. To maintain its independence, it survives on income from donations and foundation grants rather than taking financial support from governments, industries or multinationals.
The core principles of Greenpeace are defined from its determination to ‘bear witness’ to environmental destruction around the globe in a non-violent way; to increase the level, quality and consciousness of public debate on all topics of environment and ecology; to expose all kinds of threats to the environment from any and all sources and to find solutions; to make sure that they are independent financially so as to not bear allegiance to any commercial outfit across the board.
Today some of Greenpeace International’s major global and local issues include wanting to bring about a changed social ethos on climate change and global warming - the main threat to the planet earth, the need to keep the oceans clean and safe from over fishing to protecting endangered marine species and creating a global network of marine reserves. They are also involved in raising awareness about nuclear energy and nuclear armament by campaigning for a worldwide nuclear disarmament and ban on testing. Greenpeace campaigns also include preserving rainforests and working towards sustainable livelihoods, fighting for a cleaner less toxic world and holding forth a sustained campaign against genetically engineered organisms and encouraging socially responsible farming methods.
Though they are known more for their non violent but direct in-your- face methods, they are also very active in lobbying businesses and politicians and taking active part in international conferences.
Greenpeace campaigns have down the decades made a lot of noise and garnered a lot of public attention to issues that would otherwise have been buried under rhetoric. And the results are there for all to see. Some of their major achievements include a sustained four year campaign in New Zealand through court cases, protest marches, petition signings, radio stations and more to make the government cancel coal burning power plants, making computer manufacturing companies such as Dell, LG and HP among others to remove toxic chemicals from their products, through sustained and multi pronged campaigns they have brought immense pressure on the whaling community to cease their unsafe operations and to provide better management of world fisheries, safe guarding and preserving a vast chunk of the Amazon rain forest through a presidential decree, a ban on toxic waste exports from developed nations to the less developed ones, a ban on dumping of radioactive and industrial waste in the oceans.
All the Greenpeace offices in different parts of the world focus on their own local issues and run campaigns along with signing up for the global causes be it fighting alongside native tribes in the Amazon to protect the rainforests against the government and log cutters or fighting for the rights of people in remote villages in India against uranium mining by large industries.
As a summation, the best is said in one of Greenpeace International’s own banners –
"When the last tree is cut, the last river poisoned, and the last fish dead, we will discover that we can't eat money..."