Greenpeace International

The fragile earth deserves a voice. It needs solutions. It needs change. It needs action

Monday 2 June 2014, by Anna Wildeboer, Marleen Swart

3 inspired

A. The main facts about the activities of the company.

Greenpeace is a non-governmental environmental organization, which operates independently and globally to change attitudes and behavior with respect to major environmental issues. Their main goal is to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace. The company is established in Vancouver, Canada in 1971 but has its headquarters nowadays in Amsterdam, the Netherlands and has offices in more than 40 countries all around the world. Greenpeace has a staff of 2400 people but is mainly capable of operating its activities by the existence of their 15 thousand volunteers worldwide and a budget 236.9 million euro. This budget consists solely of funding, Greenpeace receives its funding from individual supporters and foundations and screens all major donations in order to ensure it does not receive unwanted donations. The organization does not accept money from governments, intergovernmental organizations, political parties or corporations in order to avoid their influence. Greenpeace has 2.6 million regular donators.

Greenpeace main activities consist of campaigning on worldwide environmental issues, such as global warming, overfishing and deforestation. Greenpeace says they exists because ‘this fragile earth deserves a voice. It needs a Solution. It needs change. It needs action’. To achieve its goals Greenpeace uses direct action, lobbying and research. Their tradition of ’bearing witness’ in a non-violent manner continues today, and their ships are an important part of all their campaign work.

The main activities Greenpeace carries out are the following:
- Catalyzing an energy revolution to address the number one threat facing our planet: climate change.
- Defending our oceans by challenging wasteful and destructive fishing, and creating a global network of marine reserves.
- Protecting the world’s ancient forests and the animals, plants and people that depend on them.
- Working for disarmament and peace by tackling the causes of conflict and calling for the elimination of all nuclear weapons.
- Creating a toxic free future with safer alternatives to hazardous chemicals in today’s products and manufacturing.
- Campaigning for sustainable agriculture by rejecting genetically engineered organisms, protecting biodiversity and encouraging socially responsible farming.

For the public Greenpeace it mostly known for its direct actions, like strikes, workplace occupations, sit-ins, blockades, etc. Greenpeace has been described as the most visible environmental organizational organization in the World and has been very successful in raising public awareness and knowledge about environmental issues.

B. The Ethical challenges this company is addressing.

An ethical dilemma occurs when one has to choose a behavior where economic interest and ethical concern conflicts. An ethical challenge is the call to engage in a fight, contest or competition to solve the ethical dilemma. Since the establishment of Greenpeace there main focus has always been to address ethical challenges. In recent years the focus of Greenpeace was mostly on ecological issues. The main topics were: overfishing, the change of the global climate, nuclear activities and genetic-engineering.

Greenpeace addresses these ethical challenges because:
• Overfishing
The fishing industry growths every year while the population of fish decreases in the world. This results in a great change in marine ecosystems which might cause extinction. To prevent extinction of the sea live Greenpeace is setting up actions to try to make the fisheries stop and inform them about the consequences.

• The change of the global climate
As many research have shown there is a major change in the climate mostly because of the unending use of fossil fuels and devastation of the forest. Which results in natural disasters such as the rise of sea level, erosion, triggering the extinction of the wildlife and has impact on agronomic production. The challenge Greenpeace is now trying to tackle is to decrease the greenhouse gas.

• Nuclear activities
The first well known nuclear activities are the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima and even though nowadays we don’t have such big bombing the nuclear stockpile is still to high. This is one of the ethical situations Greenpeace want to address because this can seriously impact the safety for people directly but also on the long term such as cancer. Next to that nuclear explosions, warfare and waste disposal are harmful for the environment.

• Genetic-Engineering
Nowadays the food production is seriously threatened by the increase in the human population. To provide a solution for this problem we create plants, animals and microorganism by modifying their genomes which is called genetic-engineering. But next to solving a problem it is harmful for agronomic activities and the environment. So Greenpeace is now taking the first step to prevent the contamination of genetic-engineered genomes to the society at large.

C. What makes you believe this company is really ethical and why you trust it?

We believe that Greenpeace is a truly ethical company because it is the core of their existence. Created by the need to tackle environmental issues in a non-violent and peaceful way, trough the processes of direct action, lobbying and research. They want to make the world a better place and do this in such a way that it represents the main interest of many people, their supporters, so in this way they also respect the democratic values. When a organizations main goal is not making profit, it is easier to avoid the tradeoff between making profits and doing ethical business. Although of course they want to have as much revenues as possible to use to finance their activities.

We trust in the honesty and sincerity of Greenpeace for one because of the fact that it is a founding member of the INGO Accountability Charter, this is an international non-governmental organization that intends to foster accountability and transparency of non-governmental organizations. This is a good signal to show that they want to operate in a transparent environment. Another reason why we trust in Greenpeace is because they don’t accept donations from governments or corporations but solely rely on contributions from individual supporters and foundation grants to maintain its independence. We think that Greenpeace has its heart on the right place and for this we believe and trust in them.

D.The possible challenges facing the company in the future and how you think this company may improve.

The possible challenges Greenpeace faces lies in the fact that people not always find their actions ethical by itself. For example in England people accuse Greenpeace of mindless vandalism and taking the law into their own hands. The population thinks that the CEO’s are arrogant and have the feeling they can speak for the majority while they are all unelected men.

Keven Myer stated in the Irish times: “ignorance and magic are their shield and their amour, which is fair enough: the right to be invincibly stupid is inalienable. But invincible stupidity does not confer the right to damage other people’s property, to wreck scientific injury by midnight vandalism, to oppose the rule of democratically created law by organized criminality”.

Also co-founder Patrick Moore stated that he quite the job because he thought that Greenpeace focuses too much on the environment and too less about the human population. Next to that for example the results from research weren’t up to date while attacking Shell in the Brent-Spair affaire. Which made their actions reckless and maybe even unethical.

In our opinion the company could improve in the future by focusing on transparency and being honest in their communication. A really important aspect is that while your goal can be ethical your process is of same importance and we think Greenpeace forget to take this in account sometimes. Important is to try to find a way where they can combine being ethical for the environment with being ethical for the human population as well. This will reduce bad press and also the bad reputation they have.


Location: Amsterdam (The Netherlands)

Sector: Other service activities

Official website: http://

Key figures:

anual budget 2011 : 236,9 million euro
employees: 2400
countries of operation: 40

Nbr. visits: 3253

Nbr. inspires: 3