Experiments with Truth: Analysis

Kumi Naidoo is Greenpeace’s best hope

Naidoo is Greenpeace’s great hope. He spent his teenage years fighting apartheid in South Africa, buried too many friends, went into exile, and later rose to prominence in the international human-rights world. Greenpeace recruited him in 2009, when the organization was having what could gently be called a crisis of relevance. At one time the most powerful direct-action group on earth, it was trapped in a frustrating phase. With about 2,500 employees spread across 41 offices around the world, Greenpeace was too big to play the underdog, but it was still weighed down by institutional nostalgia for its scrappy no-nukes days. Since taking over in 2009, Naidoo has driven an ambitious plan to turn Greenpeace from a top-down, European NGO—its headquarters are in Amsterdam—to a decentralized, quasi-guerrilla outfit with a powerful presence in the places where, he believes, the climate war will be won or lost: Africa, Asia, and South America.

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