2 Million People Defended the Amazon Reef — And Won

by Diego Gonzaga

The Amazon Reef Defenders have made history — this young but massive global movement has won against one of the most powerful companies in the world: Total will not drill near the Amazon Reef in Brazil!

One of the first images of the Amazon Reef taken from a submarine launched from the MY Esperanza. The Greenpeace ship is currently in the region of the Amazon river mouth, Amapá State, for the “Defend the Amazon Reef” campaign.

© Greenpeace

Almost two years ago, we started an incredible adventure onboard the Greenpeace Esperanza ship. Our goal was clear: to show the world the amazingness of the Amazon Reef and why it is important to protect it from the hands of greedy oil giants like French company Total. It has been a long journey, and we knew it wasn’t going to be easy. We needed to be many, we needed to be strong, diverse, and united. And with you, and all the Amazon Reef Defenders around the world, we did it.


Today is a day to celebrate. All of us Amazon Reef Defenders have made history together. The Brazilian environmental agency (Ibama) has finally denied Total the license to drill for oil near the Amazon Reef in Brazil! This decision sends a powerful message to governments and companies all over the world: the movement to end the age of oil will continue to grow.

In January, a submarine was launched from the Esperanza ship with the scientist from the Federal University of Paraíba Ronaldo Francini Filho and the director of the Greenpeace Oceans Campaign, John Hocevar. Ronaldo took part of the group of scientists who discovered the coral reef at the mouth of the Amazon River. The launch of the submarine involved a large part of the ship’s crew. Esperanza, one of the three Greenpeace vessels, is in the region of the Amazon river mouth, Amapá State, for the campaign “Defend the Amazon Reef. Photo Marizilda Cruppe/Greenpeace.

More than 2 million people joined us on this fantastic journey. From registering the first ever images of the Amazon Reef to crashing a Total meeting with climbers and samba players, you were there with us. It’s been fabulous to see us all working together and collectively building such a movement.

Greenpeace activists protest against TOTAL’s plans to drill in Amazon despite recent evidence of Reef and wide biodiversity in the area. Outside, climbers, activists, and volunteers were standing in front of the building, some playing music, some with banners including two strong messages: “Save the Amazon Reef” and “Total persists, we resist”. © Simon Lambert

The Amazon Reef Defenders did what seemed impossible: defeat one of the most powerful companies in the world. But, with scientists and local communities on our side, our diversity, strength, and love for this natural treasure proved that nothing is impossible. This is just the beginning. We won’t stop until the Amazon Reef is protected for good and until we put an end to the age of oil. And we know we can count on you. Now, it’s time to celebrate. You are the hero the Amazon Reef needed.

By Diego Gonzaga

Diego Gonzaga is a content editor for Greenpeace International

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