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Ngo Assessment: Greenpeace

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NGO Assessment on Greenpeace
In 1969, the U.S. announced that they were going to test a 1.2-megaton nuclear bomb on the Aleutian Island of Amchitka, Vancouver. This disturbed the Canadians because it might cause earthquakes and tidal waves, which could sweep from one end of the Pacific to the other. They tried to stop the U.S. bomb test. All sort of concerned citizens started to meet until the Don’t Make a Wave Committee was created. Don't Make a Wave was an informal committee, endorsed by the Sierra Club, the United Church of Canada, the B.C. Federation of Labour, the Canadian Voice of Women, and other peace and ecology organizations. They created uproar, making noise about the tidal wave image. The committee met in the basement of the Vancouver Unitarian Church. The meetings were exhausting and seemed to go nowhere. One day, while having a cup of coffee, wife of Jim Bohlen, Marie, suggested that they sail a boat up there and confront the bomb. Jim liked the idea and told the committee about it. The Don’t Make a Wave ad hoc group adopted the plan and opts for the name of the boat. A quiet 23-year-old Canadian carpenter, union organizer, and ecologist, Bill Darnell, who rarely spoke at the meetings, added sheepishly "Make it a green peace." The group sailed but was detained before they reached the testing area. With this act, the group created a big fuss that encouraged U.S. Demonstrations every major Canadian city. They adopted the Green Peace name in 1971 because it has a nice ring into it. With this strong background, it is amazing how the Foundation was able to live with its legacy up to the present.
Greenpeace is an international environmental organization known as being “radical” in its campaigns to stop atmospheric and underground nuclear testing and campaigning against whaling. In later years, the focus of the organization turned to other environmental issues, including bottom trawling, global warming, ancient forest destruction, nuclear power, and genetic engineering. Greenpeace has national and regional offices in 41 countries worldwide, all of which are affiliated to the Amsterdam-based Greenpeace International. The global organisation receives its income through the individual contributions of an estimated 2.8 million financial supporters, as well as from grants from charitable foundations, but does not accept funding from governments or corporations. National and regional offices support a network of volunteer-run local groups. Local groups participate in campaigns in their area, and mobilise for larger protests and activities elsewhere. Millions of supporters who are not organised into local groups support Greenpeace by making financial donations and participating in campaigns as citizens and consumers.
Greenpeace's official mission statement describes the organization and its aims thus: “Greenpeace is an independent, campaigning organization which uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems, and to force solutions for a green and peaceful future. Greenpeace's goal is to ensure the ability of the earth to nurture life in all its diversity.” Intense slogan of Green Peace that could be seen in their website says that the Foundation exists because this fragile earth deserves a voice. It needs solutions. It needs change. It needs action. As of March 2007, Greenpeace’s current priorities involves stopping catastrophic climate change (global warming), defending our oceans (including stopping whaling), saving ancient forests, peace and nuclear disarmament, promoting sustainable agriculture (and opposing generic engineering) and eliminating toxic chemicals.
This is very visible the way they handle environmental issues in the Philippines. They did not just helped clean the Guimaras Island oil spill but also helped in investigation too. Environmental watchdog (Greenpeace) were free in criticizing the Philippine government if they feel that there is an irresponsible act concerning the priorities they are raising. Like what they did when the Philippine Government allow an Australian firm to resume mining operations on central island of Rapu-Rapu. They released a lot of article condemning the decision and used media for exposure and to make the issue broader. In terms of promoting agriculture in the country, they encouraged using organic one’s instead of genetic engineering. Green peace representatives make direct comments based on their investigation, backed up with scientific facts. One of the issues that they bring up is about the possible distribution of GE papayas in Los Baños (Phils.). They tackled it by raising the awareness of the business firm saying that if they continue producing GE papayas, they will lose one of their top export markets, which is Japan. This country is only patronizing organic fruits, so the Philippines is going to lose millions of pesos in this industry. On the other hand, if they would stick to the natural production, they will earn more, at the same time, giving environment a big favor. At present, Greenpeace has been calling on the Philippine government for action on the need to address climate change by investing heavily in renewable energy sources. They attribute in this phenomena the calamities and disasters in the country like the landslide in St. Bernard. They started a campaign last year, encouraging citizens to volunteer and take action in this matter. Student activists from UP, UST, and other top universities in the country volunteered. They place an attractive gallery in malls picturing the devastating effects of climate change locally and globally. In Manila, Greenpeace volunteers in swimming trunks and wearing life rings around their waists stood in front of the Department of Energy (DoE) with the words “Act Now!” painted on their chests. Greenpeace haven’t stopped clanging its gong to wake up the administration and policy makers to do something about it.
With the massive action that this Foundation is doing, it is comprehensible how much they directly helped to bring about positive environmental changes in the world and in Southeast Asia. They are so much concern about the preservation, restoration and improvement of the natural environment, such as the conservation of natural resources, prevention of pollution, and certain land use actions. They support the struggles of indigenous peoples against the spread of globalisation to their way of life, which is seen as less harmful to the environment. In spite of these victories, the organization also faced a lot of criticisms from the government, industry and environmental groups. The organisation's system of governance and its use of nonviolent direct action (which is considered by some to be illegal acts of civil disobedience) have caused controversy. Critics said that the organization is very conventional. They conduct door-to-door-fund-raising and relied in media to keep them in front page. When the Rainbow Warrior boat of Greenpeace landed in Puerto Prinsesa Palawan, it is ironic that they accidentaly damaged one of the major reef in Tubbataha while they were on a mission in protecting the very same reef. They attributed the accident to the Government that the map that they gave is outdated. Nevertheless, they paid for the fine. This incident was in front page in different countries making fun of the Foundation. Greenpeace moved with head high still and told their detractors that they are willing to face the consequences of their honest mistakes.
Greenpeace runs programs and projects that fit the issues within the organization. There are representatives in each aspect of their priorities in different countries. In the Philippines, Greenpeace GE campaigner is Daniel Ocampo; Regional toxics campaigner is Beau Bacongis and Jasper Inventor, Climate and Energy Campaigner. They are involved in specific concern and face the presses to voice out the organizations stand about it. They also tap volunteers and plans for non-active violence technique to caught the public’s eyes. Some of their strategy is employing students (and other volunteers) in street demonstration, franchising a booth in different malls and speak directly to people about environmental concern, give away pins and brochures, uses media (television and newspaper), attends congressional/senate meetings with banners and then talks to the politicians. In distinct provinces, they help indigenous folks in cultivating their land and crops. It is not sure if they are doing some sort of community development but in some ways, volunteers reach out to people and teach them healthy ways in agricultural trade. They advocate their priorities to people and empower communities in opposing globalization and environmental threat concern. Like what happened in Isabela; Greenpeace encouraged the people to join them in immense opposition against coil in the country and as a result, the Philippine National Oil Company (PNPC) withdrew its plan for integrated coal mining mine mouth project in 1996. The youths are taking a big step in the country right now. Making them aware about this issue and giving them a chance to stand up and explore the current environmental situation gives hope for immediate action. The Greenpeace has a lot of youths in their umbrella. We wonder if they can really work with out of school youth in poverty stricken families. They said they can but they are asking for donations (which is minimum of P300 per month). This is one possibility for the Foundation to explore.
In terms of obstacles as well as challenges, Greenpeace is facing various environmental crimes that rise to high level of alarm. They feel challenged to be the organization to pinpoint the problems (the ugly faces and wrong doings as far as environmental protection is concerned) and also the same one to propose the solutions for those problems. Whenever doing investigation on any environmental violation, they wish they are proven wrong and no crime actually takes place. But they always stick to the job only to find out the painful truth in the end of their investigation. One thing they concerned is that the poor hardly get the concept of the “luxury” word pollution. They find it hard to survive the day and it is all they care. So when mentioning of pollution, they don’t see much connection. It’s hard to say that they are careless of the environmental problems (or somewhat cause some sort of pollution where they squatter). But the main concern for them is to survive one day at a time. They seem to think the rich care and talk about pollution stuff more for the sake of their well-being. Greenpeace people also feel challenged as part of the practical side of the things they are doing: problems are always there everywhere. Greenpeace is short on volunteer people, short on money. They have to mobilize people to do the job and get the fund. From the political and economic side, they are always up against “big interest” which brings them “attacks” from the “big fish”. When it comes to pollution of the air, water and solid waste, the government seems to give them an unspoken hint that pollution is a by-product of development. They are labeled as “terrorists” in a limited interpretation of a new anti-terrorism law even though Greenpeace never uses violence as means of dealing with the problem. So there is a risk/danger in the nature of the job they do to protect environment. Greenpeace workers are exposed to risk of having injuries, arrest and bad records from the police office though they do their job non-violently. To address this, Greenpeace workers are trained on legal action and protection while doing the job. They are briefed on wisely presenting the case then they appeal to the authorities whenever an environmental crime takes place. Non-violence policy is strictly imposed on Greenpeace workers. As part of their inspirations, they are willing to take the risk of being a “bearing witness”
Greenpeace doesn’t actually have their say on eco theology. But they are inspired by the Quakers in being a “bearing witness”. They advocate non-violence, bearing witness and direct action in doing their motto: "Safeguard environmental rights, Expose and stop environmental crimes, Advance clean development." (Greenpeace Southeast Asia's Mission Statement). Since Greenpeace was founded, seagoing ships have played a vital role in its campaigns. Their boat Rainbow Warrior is named after an Indian myth in which the whole earth was destroyed and only a group of native Indians survived to save the world. In relation between human and creation, Greenpeace views that we should be responsible to protect and preserve the earth, at least for our own selfish purpose of enjoying a good living space for this generation and generations to come. They see the church between and environmental issues in which they are hoping that they church should play a significant role in promoting for environmental care. They view that the church is not very active now with environmental issues. The church should be relevant in explaining what’s going with the creation (environment) to Christian community and take a stand on how Christians should respond. Church doctrines need to be articulated more to nature so they can be relevant. Churchgoers should be briefed on what’s happening to the earth environment, especially from church point of view, not media’s. Greenpeace would love to work hand in hand with the church and see more of the church’s involvement in saving the earth environment.
Could a Christian church partner with this group? Well, we think yes. Though Greenpeace is not a sectarian organization and doesn’t have stand on eco theology, they value and protect the earth environment. How much more we who understand the value of creation that is created by God should go about this action? We can carry with us our mandate on “subdue and rule” creation while partnering with Greenpeace people to preserve and protect the earth environment.
We have learned from Greenpeace and have amazed at how they are committed to do such a challenging work. We came to know more about their particular work on stopping climate change, defending oceans, protecting ancient forests, eliminating toxic chemicals, protesting genetic engineering, etc. It’s quite a range! Along the way, we came to realization that we know a little about environment and what may cause harm to it. It’s easy to just stay home and be a good saving consumer, then confess, “I am environmental friendly”. It’s a real challenge to go out there and against the “big interests” that are causing harm to the environment. We all want things in green and peace, yet most of us want to have a convenient lifestyle and stay in our comfort zone. So we feel very challenged about Greenpeace’ work. We need more people like them be there in the frontline for a better world and earth environment.

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