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’s African headquarters was established in 2008 in South Africa, and since then it has expanded its regional presence to serve the needs of supporters in Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal, and Cameroon.
Greenpeace Africa seeks to protect Africa’s natural resources and biodiversity from exploitation. It is actively working in countries with the most urgent environmental issues – climate change, overfishing, ecological farming, the destruction of the all-important rainforests and ending plastic pollution – issues that affect the entire continent.
Its vision is of ‘an Africa where people live in harmony with nature in a peaceful state of environmental and social justice’, and aims to work with others to foster environmental consciousness where Africa’s people can seek social and economic prosperity in ways that protect the environment for the benefit of humans, the planet, and the future.Greenpeace has always been more than an organisation. It has been, and is today, a movement – a diverse, multinational, multicultural movement of ordinary individuals determined to bring about extraordinary changes necessary to realise a greener, more peaceful future.
Greenpeace organisers, researchers, scientists, volunteers and supporters take bold action to protect the environment, support communities and promote peaceful solutions to the critical issues we all face. It seeks to defend the oceans from unsustainable, destructive industrial fishing practices, and ancient forests from irresponsible corporate actors and reckless deforestation. Working together with others, it denounces the grave dangers posed by activities which exacerbate climate change, and encourages the adoption of renewable energy resources, sensible development and responsive design. It condemns practices that put individuals at risk from exposure to toxic chemicals, and deprive them of access to safe, sustainable food and clean water, and speaks out against those who refuse to acknowledge the great responsibility we have for safeguarding the health of this planet.
Internationally, Greenpeace has been campaigning against environmental degradation since 1971. This tradition of ‘bearing witness’ in a non-violent manner continues today, and its ships are an important part of all its campaign work. With a dedicated Ships, Actions and Investigations unit, direct actions are at the heart of Greenpeace campaigns, as this is how the organisation was founded. The Greenpeace campaigning style is carried out through the use of active lobbying, robust research and advocacy. Non-Violent Direct Actions, which it has become best known for, are however the end result of a long process during which evidence of environmental degradation is gathered and in-depth research is conducted and analysed.
Greenpeace Africa works with local organisations in various countries, as their partners, to help them make African voices heard and African ideas understood. By finding and assisting African expertise and leadership, Greenpeace hopes that it can help find real, sustainable solutions for the entire planet and a greener future. The Greenpeace slogan “People, Actions, Solutions” captures its commitment to work with people by taking collective action to achieve long-term solutions towards environmental protection.
Some of Greenpeace Africa’s recent achievements and wins include:
In the 2017 Hope for West Africa Ship Tour, 14 vessels were found to have been fishing illegally. Some vessels were also found to have altered their fishing nets illegally on board, while another Chinese vessel was caught using illegal nets and fishing for species outside of its license. Vessels found to be operating illegally in West Africa have been fined anything between 25 000 euros to 250 000 euros.
In July 2017, Greenpeace Africa successfully crowdfunded more than its target of R100 000, with 249 backers, to install solar street lights in an off-grid urban community in Diepsloot, Johannesburg. The objective of the crowdfunding campaign was to raise Greenpeace Africa’s profile as a solutions-oriented organisation, and attract new people to the organisation and campaign (in addition to raising the money). Eight solar street lights were installed at a creche in the community, and it contributed to creating a replicable model, which local governments across the country can use in off-grid areas.
In July 2016, Greenpeace publicised evidence that the DRC government had breached at least three times its own logging moratorium in 2015 by awarding three concessions covering a surface area of almost 650 000 hectares. This information was publicised during a press conference in Kinshasa. It also revealed evidence that the current Minister of Environment is aware of these secret and illegal allocations of the former minister and is even actively endorsing it by approving missions to the concession areas to “sensitise” the local communities. In response to this, the DRC Prime Minister sent a letter to the Minister of Environment and Forests outlining three ways that action needed to be taken against these concessions.
Also in 2016, three of South Africa’s top five retailers – Massmart, Pick n Pay and Woolworths – committed to lobbying for an enabling framework, at a roundtable discussion organised by Greenpeace Africa, that will allow for renewable energy expansion in South Africa.
Greenpeace was founded on the values of volunteering, and more than 45 years later its volunteers continue to add power to every step Greenpeace takes. Volunteers give its campaigns a face around the world and help drive change online and in their local communities. There are over 350 Greenpeace Africa volunteers and over 25 000 Greenpeace volunteers worldwide, contributing to campaigns that make a difference in people’s lives today. Greenpeace Africa currently has active volunteer groups in Cameroon, Kenya, Senegal, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa.
Greenpeace is a politically and financially independent organisation. It does not accept subsidies and donations from corporations, public authorities, political parties or international institutions. Greenpeace Africa is funded entirely by donations from individuals, private trusts and foundations, and it is this very independence that allows it to stay free, credible and with no conflict of interests. It is therefore able to take a position against polluters and denounce environmental scandals without any fear or prejudice. This is the pillar of Greenpeace’s reputation, gaining it the trust of many Africans.
Socio-economic and political instability on the African continent contributes to the challenges that it face as an organisation. It is becoming increasingly difficult to resonate with donors who face a multitude of concerns in the civil society space that impact their daily lives. Often, caring for the environment is not prioritised as there are more pressing concerns that occupy peoples’ minds, like worsening living standards and access to basic civil liberties.
“We are not able to tackle issues head-on if we do not have the resources and support of the public do to so, and unless we encourage people to be active eco-warriors and join our cause, we all stand a chance of facing further deterioration to our quality of life due to climate change. The future of the planet is our collective responsibility and it is not too late to take action.”
Click here to make a donation to Greenpeace Africa.
This is the twenty-fifth NGO profile of my #NGOs4Africa Campaign.