Three people, dressed in protective clothing, are standing on the bank of the Szamos River that separates Hungary from Romania. A Hungarian, a Romanian and a Slovak. It’s 30ºC. The air isn’t moving, sweat drips down their backs. But the chemical sampling must be carried out. Locals have signaled that there is something wrong with the river, yet the authorities are slow and reluctant to react. Greenpeace has been called in because we have the technology and scientific know-how to conduct water tests in a professional credible way.

Pollution of the Szamos River is just one example of the kind of cross-border environmental disasters that an international organisation like Greenpeace is tackling every day. But as a new law comes into effect in Hungary, work like this may be at risk: Greenpeace Hungary and other groups that receive support from people outside the country, as well as inside, are being labelled as ‘foreign funded NGOs’. The need for solidarity is great.

Protecting the Earth knows no borders. 27/06/2017 © GreenpeaceProtecting the Earth knows no borders

Waging struggles for a healthy environment together with 4,000 colleagues, 40,000 volunteers and 42 million supporters — across five continents and in 55 countries from Argentina to the Philippines — is an incredibly uplifting and empowering experience. I never lose sight of the fact that we are not alone but joined with millions of others working to achieve common goals: cleaner air, soil, water and food.

This international strength is now being stigmatised in Hungary. A law on “the transparency of organisations funded from abroad” enters into force on 27 June. This law is unprecedented in the European Union and demands that a number of civil society groups, including Greenpeace, register as foreign-funded organisations.

To enable the continuity of our work, Greenpeace Hungary will follow the special registration procedure set out in the law. But we will fight this law, using all legal means. This is an unnecessary and harmful piece of legislation that violates Hungary's treaty obligations under international law, and can threaten all who work for the well-being of the people and the planet.

We are thankful to have the whole organisation behind us in the midst of all this turmoil. From the US to South-Korea, from Argentina to China, from India to Russia, Greenpeace offices are standing in solidarity. We feel the power of this unity, the same power that enables us to fight for clean air, clean soil and clean oceans that we and future generations depend on.  

Hungary cannot be left out of the global environmental movement that we have been building. We owe this to our 8,500 Hungarian donors, to our tens of thousands of Hungarian followers, to humanity and to the Earth. It is our responsibility to both enable Hungarians to take part in global action for a healthy planet and to invite international support against domestic pollution. Hungarians expect us to continue our struggle for a cleaner environment, both inside and outside Hungary’s borders.

With the onslaught of the global climate crisis, this work is more relevant and urgent than ever. As part of a global organisation, Greenpeace Hungary will muster all its strength to help push the international community to take decisive action to honour the pledges enshrined in the Paris Climate Agreement. And we will push the Hungarian government to implement agricultural, energy and transport policies that are in line with Hungary’s pledges and obligations. We are proud to be able to rely on both Hungarian and foreign experts, volunteers and funds to be effective in our work. Because protecting the Earth knows no borders.

Hajnalka Schmidt is the Director of Greenpeace Hungary