A world for everyone
Today it is just a dream: there is peace and justice in the world. Democratic countries protect the natural foundations of life, and the economy is also environmentally conscious. But “if someone dreams alone, it remains a dream. But if we all dream together, it will become reality, ”recognized the Brazilian Archbishop Hélder Câmara.
Everything is interwoven: environmental protection needs democracy and democracy needs environmental protection. Without a fairer distribution of resources, there will be no lasting peace. Without peace, on the other hand, no democratic discourse about a better world is possible.
But without it we will never come to an economic system that takes into account the natural limits of our planet. This kind of economy is needed if we want to ensure the best possible life for as many people as possible – today and in the future, in Africa as well as in Asia or Europe.
Even if Greenpeace puts the environment at the center of its activities, the organization is part of the society that surrounds it. And the issues that shake society – wars, refugees, terror, the rise of dictatorships – also shake Greenpeace. The organization also takes on these issues within the framework of the legal and factual possibilities.
There is no peace without climate justice
In many places, the work for a better environment interlocks with the work for a more peaceful world or for a defensive, stable democracy. Because the struggle for raw materials such as oil or water as well as the unequal waste of resources are one of the drivers of wars and terror.
Take climate change, for example: If the industrialized nations do not manage to stop global warming soon, the tropical regions of the world will face climatic catastrophe in just a few years. Scientists agree that armed conflicts will then increase further. The number of refugees will also continue to increase if climatic conditions threaten life in entire regions of the world.
Atomic bomb tests, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Yugoslav War or the two Iraq wars have been issues on which Greenpeace has worked since its inception – direct peace work. As the name says: GreenPEACE. Green peace.
Environmental protection needs democratic discourse
Because a political or economic elite alone will not solve the environmental problems we cause. All people are needed for this. Only if we take care not to overexploit the capacities of our planet will we be able to preserve the natural basis of life for ourselves and future generations. Hopefully, the end result will be a socially and ecologically sustainable economy and fair world trade that serve the common good instead of just private profit. But at the beginning of the path is the discourse. Because the change in consciousness and norms that is necessary for this can only be carried out in a democratic discussion.
Greenpeace has repeatedly shown that confrontational work on environmental problems can ultimately lead to new norms and laws. The environmental protection organization has helped shape national law or even international law on several occasions. The long-term conflict over the Antarctic in 1991 led to an extensive protection treaty. The ban on sinking oil platforms from 1998 would not have existed without Greenpeace and its work on the decommissioned Brent Spar oil platform. And whether the toxic marine paint TBT or plasticizers in baby toys would ever have been banned without Greenpeace is also questionable.
But Greenpeace sees it as its duty not only to be active in democratic countries. Especially in regions with totalitarian tendencies, it is important to support civil society: in Russia, for example, or in China, where freedom of expression is restricted and political involvement is a risk. So that society there too develops for the better.
Photo: Victor Freitas