3. Environmental NGOs


Earth Island Institute

  1. What are some advantages and disadvantages of an organizational model (such as EII's) that is based on independently functioning, autonomous projects? (40)
  2. How comprehensive is the menu of environmental issues (collectively) addressed by Earth Island projects? Are there issues that receive too much or too little attention? Justify your answers. (40-41, EII Project Directory)
  3. How much more or less effective would Earth Island Institute be without its inclusive orientation? Explain your answer and provide examples to support your position. (44-47)
  4. Of the three forms of organizational cognizance exhibited by Earth Island projects, which one represents the best way for an environmental NGO to effect political change? Why? (48-49)
  5. Do you read online publications like Earth Island Journal? Who (else) does? What do your responses say about the "reach," electronic or otherwise, of NGOs such as Earth Island Institute? What are some implications of your answers for global civil society? (43, 51)
  6. Compare and contrast the relative impact of some Earth Island projects, then assess the organizational effectiveness of Earth Island as a whole. What does EII do "right"? What steps might it take to improve itself organizationally?

Rainforest Action Network

  1. How much impact do RAN's Action Alerts have? Given your answer, what would you change or keep the same about this organizational tactic, and why? (54-55)
  2. To what degree and in what ways can "high-profile personalities" influence the success of campaigns initiated by NGOs such as RAN? Is using celebrities a good idea or a bad idea? Why? (58)
  3. Is Rainforest Action Network's cultural sensitivity a cause or an effect of its work? Upon what do you base your answer? (59-61)
  4. As an NGO based in the North, is it possible for RAN to be as culturally sensitive as it purports (or intends) to be? Why or why not? (59-61)
  5. In seeking to "jump start a transformation in consciousness," has Rainforest Action Network set its sights too high? Provide examples from the chapter or RAN's website to support your answer. (61)
  6. How does the roughly 20-person staff at RAN manage to convince multinational corporations like Burger King and Mitsubishi to change their way of doing business? (61-63)
  7. Why and how does RAN try to educate children about rainforest issues? Are the materials they make available to students and teachers of sufficient quality to help them accomplish their goals in this regard? (63-64)


  1. What did you know about Greenpeace, or what were your impressions of this organization, before reading this chapter? Has this reading changed any of your ideas or attitudes about Greenpeace? How so, or not?
  2. Could Greenpeace have done anything differently to make its organizational development path any smoother? Be specific in your answer. (67-69)
  3. Is Greenpeace's organizational dynamism necessarily hampered by its size? Provide examples that support your position. (68-71)
  4. To what degree is Greenpeace's increasingly inclusive approach based on practical necessity? Alternatively, how much of this shift is based on organizational principles or values? (72-75)
  5. Drawing examples from various Greenpeace endeavors, cite some specific ways in which Greenpeace—in Wapner's words—"attempts to manipulate values, norms, and modes of discourse." (76)
  6. How valuable and effective are Greenpeace's efforts to "bear witness online"? (78-79)


  1. What are the most significant differences between the three NGOs examined in this chapter? What makes these particular differences more significant than others?
  2. With which of the three NGOs examined in this chapter are you most impressed? Least impressed? Why?
  3. Which one of these three NGOs contributes most significantly to global civil society? Explain your answer.


EII: Brower Youth Awards

Visit the website for the Brower Youth Awards and browse the stories of some recent awardees.

  1. What types of accomplishments do the Youth Award recipients have to show for their efforts?
  2. How significant will be the impact of their achievements, and why?
  3. What does this tell you about the ability of individuals, working alone and with others, to effect political change?

EII: International Marine Mammal Project/Freeing Willy

Read about the efforts of EII's International Marine Mammals Project to return Keiko, star of the "Free Willy" movies, to his natural habitat. (Keiko died in December 2003.) Visit the Keiko Whale Rescue page for an overview of IMMP's campaign and Keiko's legacy.

  1. Was it a good idea for IMMP take on the project of trying to rehabilitate Keiko and release him into the wild? Does it matter that Keiko died a few years after being freed (in December 2003) and was never reunited with his family? How so, or why not?
  2. How might IMMP have approached this endeavor differently and still remained true to its organizational principles and goals?

RAN: Wood Certification

Read these two newspaper articles:

  1. How difficult is it to follow through on proposals and promises such as those made during RAN's Home Depot campaign (59)?
  2. Given your answer, is it worth the effort of trying to effect such political change? Why or why not?

RAN: Add-Water Campaigning

In an effort to broaden the impact of its campaigns, RAN uses its website to provide individuals with the resources and tools they need to plan and conduct their own activist activities. Browse the actions and tools listed on RAN's Take Action Online page.

  1. What information and tools does RAN make available to would-be activists? Can this insure successful activism? How so, or why not?
  2. Potentially, who could use these tools? What does your answer say about global civil society's "ideologically variable channels of opportunity for political involvement" (19)?

Greenpeace: Greenwire

Browse the Greenpeace Greenwire site (for the USA or one of the other listed countries).

  1. Who is involved in this endeavor and in what types of activities are they engaged?
  2. To what degree, and in what ways, might this online community help to reshape world politics? Provide specific examples to support your answers.

Greenpeace: 40th Anniversary

Browse The Greenpeace Chronicles, published to mark the organization's 40th anniversary in 2011.

  1. Of the successes presented here, which impress(es) you as most significant? Why?
  2. Which is relatively more important in helping Greenpeace accomplish its objectives: its organizational characteristics (e.g., size, philosophy, tactics) or the individuals that carry out its activities? Explain your answer.