The history of Greenpeace

Standard Page - 14 September, 2009
In 1971, motivated by their vision of a green and peaceful world, a small team of activists set sail from Vancouver, Canada, in an old fishing boat. These activists, the founders of Greenpeace, believed a few individuals could make a difference.

Dave Birmingham raises Greenpeace sail on Phyllis Cormack.

Their mission was to "bear witness" to US underground nuclear testing at Amchitka, a tiny island off the West Coast of Alaska, which is one of the world's most earthquake-prone regions.

Amchitka was the last refuge for 3000 endangered sea otters, and home to bald eagles, peregrine falcons and other wildlife.

Even though their old boat, the Phyllis Cormack, was intercepted before it got to Amchitka, the journey sparked a flurry of public interest.

The US still detonated the bomb, but the voice of reason had been heard. Nuclear testing on Amchitka ended that same year, and the island was later declared a bird sanctuary.

Today, Greenpeace is an international organisation that prioritises global environmental campaigns.

Based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Greenpeace has a growing supporter base of some 24 million; those who work for us, volunteer, donate, follow, like, and take online action, and national as well as regional offices in 41 countries.

Greenpeace turned 40 in 2011. For more on our history, read:

You will also find lots of information about Greenpeace's history in the following books: