Greenpeace is a non-governmental environmental organization with offices in over forty countries and with an international coordinating body in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Greenpeace states its goal is to “ensure the ability of the Earth to nurture life in all its diversity” and focuses its campaigning on worldwide issues such as climate change, deforestation, overfishing, commercial whaling, genetic engineering, and anti-nuclear issues. It uses direct action, lobbying, and research to achieve its goals. The global organization does not accept funding from governments, corporations, or political parties, relying on 2.9 million individual supporters and foundation grants. Greenpeace has a general consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council and is a founding member of the INGO Accountability Charter; an international non-governmental organization that intends to foster accountability and transparency of non-governmental organizations.
Greenpeace is known for its direct actions and has been described as the most visible environmental organization in the world. Greenpeace has raised environmental issues to public knowledge, and influenced both the private and the public sector. Greenpeace has also been a source of controversy; its motives and methods (some of the latter being illegal) have received criticism and the organization’s direct actions have sparked legal actions against Greenpeace activists, such as fines and suspended sentences for destroying a test plot of GMO wheat and damaging the Nazca Lines, a UN World Heritage site in Peru. While no earthquake or tsunami followed the test, the opposition grew when the U.S. announced they would detonate a bomb five times more powerful than the first one. Among the opposers were Jim Bohlen, a veteran who had served in the U.S. Navy, and Irving Stowe and Dorothy Stowe, who had recently become Quakers. As members of the Sierra Club Canada, they were frustrated by the lack of action by the organization. From Irving Stowe, Jim Bohlen learned of a form of passive resistance, “bearing witness”, where objectionable activity is protested simply by mere presence. Jim Bohlen’s wife Marie came up with the idea to sail to Amchitka, inspired by the anti-nuclear voyages of Albert Bigelow in 1958. The idea ended up in the press and was linked to The Sierra Club. The Sierra Club did not like this connection and in 1970 The Don’t Make a Wave Committee was established for the protest. Early meetings were held in the Shaughnessy home of Robert Hunter and his wife Bobbi Hunter. Subsequently the Stowe home at 2775 Courtenay St. became the HQ. As Rex Weyler put it in his chronology, Greenpeace, in 1969, Irving and Dorothy Stowe’s “quiet home on Courtenay Street would soon become a hub of monumental, global significance”. Some of the first Greenpeace meetings were held there. The first office was opened in a backroom, storefront on Cypress and West Broadway SE corner in Kitsilano, Vancouver. Within half a year Greenpeace would move in to share the upstairs office space with The Society Promoting Environmental Conservation at 4th and Maple in Kitsilano