Taking action

Last edited 26 June 2012 at 4:32pm

Nonviolent direct action is at the heart of our work. It always has been. Greenpeace was founded in 1971 by a small group of anti-war protesters taking nonviolent direct action against US nuclear weapons testing. Today, taking action is as important as ever to the way we campaign for a greener, more peaceful and equitable world.


“Once you have witnessed an injustice, you cannot claim ignorance as a defence for inaction. You make an ethical choice: to act or not.” - Ben Metcalfe, one of the original Greenpeace crew

Greenpeace works for positive change through action, and our principles inspire us to take action to expose and confront environmental abuse by governments and corporations around the world. 

Guiding all of our actions, always, is our commitment to nonviolence and personal responsibility. These principles are inspired by the Quaker concept of 'bearing witness', which is about taking action based on conscience. Everyone on every Greenpeace action is trained in the principles of nonviolent direct action (NVDA).

Direct action is about physically acting to stop an immediate environmental wrong at the scene of the crime. We act to confront those in positions of power with their responsibility for stopping global environmental abuse. We act to raise the level and quality of public debate. Above all, we act to provoke action from those with the power and responsibility to make change happen.

Our fleet of ships allows us to take action and bear witness at the scenes of environmental crimes around the world, often in remote and difficult-to-reach places.

When taking physical action to stop an environmental wrong isn't possible, 'bearing witness' through one's physical presence at the scene of the crime is another way to act on conscience and remind those responsible that they have a higher responsibility than the corporate bottom line.

Our direct actions are vital to winning our campaigns, but we can only take action because individuals – people who have made a personal choice to act to stop environmental destruction – are willing to put their liberty on the line. If you'd like to join us, please get active with a local Greenpeace group/network.

Please note: 95% of people we invite to attend such a training event have been locally involved for 6 months or more.

Such involvement is the best way to get an understanding of how the organisation work, what we campaign on, and to prove yourself reliable, responsible and trustworthy. If there is a local group/network near you, then please get involved.

However we do need additional people with specific skills, or under certain circumstances we do invite individuals from areas without a local group/network to attend such trainings. So if you are not involved locally then we are still interested to hear from you (.doc).

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