Do you want the good news or the bad news first? Let’s be honest, reading mainstream media at the moment will give you plenty of bad news, so let’s talk about the good stuff.
I left the business world to join the non-profit sector because I believe people can change the world for the better. In fact, not just ‘can’, but do and are. Now I see it happening first hand all the time, so wanted to share that with you!
It’s always a collective effort, as one of the founders of Greenpeace International, Rex Weyler, said:
When Greenpeace was starting, what we wanted to do was, we wanted to create an environmental movement… there needs to be an environmental movement.
And it’s the same today. We’re focused on not just being a key part of the environmental movement, but as issues collide (like climate change creating natural disasters) we’re a key part of the movement tackling the root causes of inequality, excessive corporate power and lack of accountability, and weak legal protection for people and planet.
In practice, that looks like Greenpeace working with ActionAid to help relief supplies get through to Vanuatu after the cyclone. With our allies, we loaded up the Rainbow Warrior and helped local people begin the recovery and rebuilding process.
Working with MSF and the Greek Coast Guard we launched an operation to rescue people risking their lives on the sea crossing between Turkey and Greece.
In India we’ve stopped mining companies that were going to take poor people’s land.
Alongside scores of kayaktivists and First Nations people, we protested Shell taking their oil rig to destroy the Arctic. Leading to Shell eventually abandoning its plans to drill in the Arctic.
In 2014, Greenpeace and local farmers helped farmers affected by the typhoon in the Philippines get back on their feet.
With many friends and allies, we got Obama to block a proposed tar sands oil pipeline that would have lead to more tar sands exploitation in Canada, not to mention the pipe itself that would devastate ecosystems, pollute water sources and jeopardize public health in multiple US states.
We stopped banks funding deforestation in Indonesia, and pressured 14 major banks to all refuse or pull their funding for the Carmichael mine that would have caused serious environmental damage to the Great Barrier Reef.
We want to see 40% of the world’s oceans protected by being given marine reserve status, and with our nudging, in 2015 the UN (and world leaders) have agreed to develop a legally biding treaty, that will protect marine life beyond national territorial water. This is an enormous step forward to establishing a network of marine sanctuaries and protecting our oceans across the world.
We won over the Mexican President to the extent that he not only banned the fishing that was killing the vaquita (a beautiful and nearly extinct porpoise), he even blogged about it!
And that’s just recent history.
On oceans (my personal passion) we stopped the French nuclear tests in the Pacific leading to a total ban. Then got the laws enacted which banned dumping of radioactive and toxic waste at sea. Through our Detox campaigning, we’ve stopped major fashion labels using and dumping their toxic chemical pollution into waterways (which inevitably lead to the oceans).
We stopped commercial whaling, successfully campaigned for the creation of an Antarctic Whale Sanctuary and got indiscriminate fishing methods like driftnets banned, and protected the South Pacific from bottom trawling.
And on tuna, one of the world’s most consumed (and consequently depleted) fish, we’re working in multiple countries to make the industry sustainable, and have positive commitments from the whole tuna industry of Australia and the UK. In the Pacific, tuna fisheries are nearly completely sustainable, and should be within a year.
So, as you can see, campaigning together really does make the world a better place. Sometimes it feels impossible when you see the scale of a problem, and the power of the people who we have to challenge. Sometimes it feels like we’re David versus a thousand Goliaths who’ve all got rocket launchers!
When that happens I think about all the impossible odds we’ve overcome in the past, just by ‘doing the best we can’, like Wangari Maathai’s hummingbird:
Every single success in this worldwide movement for justice (for people and the environment) has come about from people like you and me coming together and ‘doing the best we can’ because we believe things can and should be better.
That’s when I realise it’s all possible. We just have to keep working together.
There has never been a more important time to take action.
Are you on board? Leave a comment if you’re keen to be involved and I’ll get back to you.
Be sure to read the bad news as well (spoiler: if we keep working together, it’s good news too!)