Taking action

Page - December 19, 2006
Greenpeace is synonymous with action. We do not just make comment on environmental wrongs, we take action and find real solutions to protect the environment.

Fighting Fonterra Climate Crime

© Greenpeace / Fraser Newman

Greenpeace is best known for taking non-violent direct actions that confront environmental problems directly and peacefully at their source. But non-violent direct action is not the only method we use to protect our environment.

We bear witness to environmental wrongs, we lobby governments and companies to implement change, we use science and technology to promote solutions that are good for the environment, and we communicate with the world to stimulate people, like you, to also take non-violent action on behalf of our environment and the life that shares it.

Non-violent direct action

Non-violent direct action is taking action physically, in person, to stop environmental destruction at its source.

Non-violent direct action is at the core of Greenpeace's values and work. Essentially this enshrines the idea that wrong doing, both environmental destruction and the abuse of power which causes it, must be confronted.

Watch the full video

This leads Greenpeace to go to the place of environmental destruction and has led to the tradition of non-violent actions that confront both problems and the problem-makers. Non-violent direct action rather than any political ideology, is core to our identity and campaigning style.

Non-violent direct action (NVDA) is used as a last resort when lobbying or negotiations with decision makers fails, and when government and industry do not hear the calls to stop harming our environment. NVDA raises awareness, creates urgency and applies pressure for change.

When undertaking a non-violent direct action our committed staff and volunteers are trained in safety procedures, and we take full responsibility for our actions and the consequences.

Greenpeace did not invent NVDA. Earlier NVDA examples include the mass civil disobedience in India lead by Mahatma Gandhi, the sit-ins of the US civil rights movement and the passive resistance lead by Maori Chiefs Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi at Parihaka (Taranaki, NZ) against the government stealing their land.

Bearing witness

Bearing witness was the first act of the founding members of Greenpeace in 1971, when they attempted to sail to the site of nuclear testing in Alaska.

Bearing witness is a Quaker tradition of silent, non-violent protest. Being physically present at the scene of an environmental crime exposes and confronts those responsible. It raises awareness and brings public opinion to bear on decision makers.

Communicating messages to the world

Greenpeace has always sought to communicate our most urgent message - the environment needs action.

Raising public awareness is crucial to making change. We actively use our magazine, websites, email, the media, and talk face-to-face on the streets or in official presentations to inform the public, industry and governments about environmental issues and events - so everyone can take action for our environment! 

Greenpeace's information is widely respected and provides the basis on which many audiences make up their minds and make decisions that affect the environment.

Lobbying governments and companies

Greenpeace communicates with all levels of local, national and international governments and representative bodies, such as the UN, to ensure that representatives and party's live up to their promises and responsibilities.

Greenpeace is accredited with more than 26 international treaties and conventions of the United Nations and other international bodies on issues including toxic trade, ozone depletion, climate change, biodiversity, endangered species, and the Earth Summit.

We also pressure and persuade companies and industries to take a best practice approach and adopt truly sustainable measures, and we propose solutions. For example, having alerted the world to the connection between the use of chlorine-based chemicals and the destruction of the ozone layer, Greenpeace took the lead in developing an ozone-safe refrigerator.

Allies and communities

Sometimes Greenpeace forms partnerships, alliances and coalitions with other Non Governmental Organization's (NGO's) and with communities that share a common goal. At these times we use our respective strengths co-operatively to campaign for change.

Scientific research

Greenpeace, together with international experts conducts scientific, economic, social and political research into the causes and effects of environmental problems as well as to what the solutions could be. This research underpins our campaigning.

Greenpeace International supports a science laboratory at Exeter University where a team of scientists provide reports, analysis and scientific responses, and develop solutions.