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Greenpeace marks 40 years on the environmental frontline


Amsterdam – At a ceremony in Vancouver, marking the 40th anniversary of the founding of the global environmental organisation, Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo applauded the inspiration provided by the group’s founders and called on people everywhere to demand climate justice at the upcoming UN climate conference in Durban.

“After four decades of putting environmental issues centre stage and achieving significant victories in defence of the planet, today we face a perfect storm of crises; economic, ecological and democratic. And none more challenging than climate change”, said Naidoo. “No more can we put up with politicians squabbling over and squandering opportunities to agree on how to avert the worst ravages of climate change. We need leaders with vision who will take bold action to curb climate change and protect those most at risk from its effects. We need active citizens who will hold their political and corporate leaders to account.”

The seeds of Greenpeace were sown 40 years ago today, when a small band of dedicated people set out to change the world, sailing from Vancouver to end US nuclear testing in the Aleutian Islands. While the first voyage failed to reach its destination, and the test went ahead, their non-violent direct action captured the public imagination, caused the cancellation of future tests and sparked a movement that grew into the world’s largest independent environmental organisation.

With offices in over 40 countries, Greenpeace counts 11.6 million people amongst its subscribers and 2.8 million donors. It operates a fleet of ships allowing it to work to protect some of the world’s most vulnerable regions, such as the high seas, the Amazon rainforest and the Arctic.

“The Greenpeace founders proved how a small group of committed people can change the world, through peaceful protest and by bearing witness. This should be an inspiration for what we can achieve if all of civil society works together through coalitions and alliances to demand a better future for our children, and for our planet”, added Naidoo.

Dr Naidoo was speaking from Vancouver, Canada, where he will plant a tree today dedicated to the founders of Greenpeace. The city’s mayor has declared September 15th ‘Greenpeace Day’.

Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace.

Greenpeace victories over its 40-year history:

Greenpeace archive photo selection:

40th anniversary video also available: Contact Eveline Zoomers on +31 646177533 or

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