Greenpeace is a non-governmental environmental organization with offices in over 40 countries and with an international coordinating body in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Greenpeace states its goal is to “ensure the ability of the Earth to nurture life in all its diversity” and focuses its work on world wide issues such as global warming, deforestation, overfishing, commercial whaling and anti-nuclear issues. Greenpeace uses direct action, lobbying and research to achieve its goals. The global organization does not accept funding from governments, corporations or political parties, relying on more than 2.8 million individual supporters and foundation grants.
Greenpeace evolved from the peace movement and anti-nuclear protests in Vancouver, British Columbia in the early 1970s. On September 15, 1971, the newly founded Don’t Make a Wave Committee sent a chartered ship, Phyllis Cormack, renamed Greenpeace for the protest, from Vancouver to oppose United States testing of nuclear devices in Amchitka, Alaska. The Don’t Make a Wave Committee subsequently adopted the name Greenpeace.
In a few years Greenpeace spread to several countries and started to campaign on other environmental issues such as commercial whaling and toxic waste. In the late 1970s the different regional Greenpeace groups formed Greenpeace International to oversee the goals and operations of the regional organizations globally. Greenpeace received international attention during the 80s when the French intelligence agency bombed the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour, one of the most well-known vessels operated by Greenpeace, killing one. In the following years Greenpeace evolved into one of the largest environmental organizations in the world.
Greenpeace is known for its direct actions and has been described as the most visible environmental organization in the world. Greenpeace has raised environmental issues to public knowledge, influenced both the private and the public sector. Greenpeace has also been a source of controversy; its motives and methods have received criticism and the organization’s direct actions have sparked legal actions against Greenpeace activists.