Our history

In 1971, motivated by their vision of a green and peaceful world, a small team of activists set sail from Vancouver, Canada, in an old fishing boat. These activists, the founders of Greenpeace, believed a few individuals could make a difference.


Crew of the Phyllis Cormack on the first Greenpeace voyage (Vancouver to Amchitka) in 1971. © Greenpeace / Robert Keziere.

Their mission was to ‘bear witness’ to US nuclear testing at Amchitka, a tiny island off the West Coast of Alaska, which is one of the world’s most earthquake-prone regions. Amchitka was the last refuge for 3000 endangered sea otters, and home to bald eagles, peregrine falcons and other wildlife.

Even though their old boat, the Phyllis Cormack, was intercepted before it got to Amchitka, the journey sparked a flurry of public interest. The US still detonated the bomb, but the voice of reason had been heard. Nuclear testing on Amchitka ended that same year, and the island was later declared a bird sanctuary.

We’ve compiled a history of Greenpeace through the decades, so you can follow the journey from there to here:

Greenpeace in the 1970s
Greenpeace in the 1980s
Greenpeace in the 1990s
Greenpeace in the 2000s
Greenpeace in the 2010s