Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo announces he intends to step down by the end of 2015

Feature story - 31 March, 2015 -

After five and a half years as the head of Greenpeace International, Kumi Naidoo today announced his decision to step down as the organisation's Executive Director. In agreement with the Board of Greenpeace International, Kumi is staying on until 31 December 2015, at the latest, to ensure a smooth transition to new leadership. The Board is now embarking on the difficult task of searching for a replacement. Meanwhile, Kumi continues in his current role of leading Greenpeace and promoting the organisation's campaigns.

Kumi Naidoo has worked as Executive Director since November 2009. He was chosen for his profile and campaigning experience in the fields of human rights and environmental justice as well as for the opportunities this created for Greenpeace to engage more productively with the broad spectrum of civil society organisations.

This in turn has led to changes in Greenpeace's campaigning style and a shift to a more open and 'people-powered' approach to winning campaigns. During his tenure, Kumi has also overseen the largest reorganisation in Greenpeace's 44-year history. Greenpeace is transforming itself into a global force for a green and peaceful future that focuses the organisation's resources in countries where the key environmental battles are being played out.

Explaining his decision Kumi Naidoo said: "Leading Greenpeace has been a privilege and one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Greenpeace's passionate and dedicated staff, volunteers and its millions of supporters give me hope and courage that we can turn around the crises afflicting our planet before it is too late. The past five and a half years have been as exhausting as they have been rewarding. When I leave, I am looking forward to taking up an even more important role with Greenpeace: as a volunteer."

Concerning the future, he said: "Part of my plan is to return to South Africa and lend my support to the growing struggle for a just energy future. I will take with me the invaluable campaigning experience of having led Greenpeace. My country is arguably facing one of the most pressing challenges since the end of apartheid. With the government putting as much as a trillion Rand (US$ 85 billion) on the table for Russian-built nuclear power plants, this would commit my country to a dangerous path that will do little to provide clean energy services to the roughly one-in-five South Africans who have no access to electricity. As the last 60 years have shown, nuclear power and democracy don't mix. South Africa deserves a future based on 21st century, renewable energy sources that not only protect the environment but help create jobs and economic prosperity."

Ana Toni, who chairs the Board of Greenpeace International, said: "During the past five years, Kumi has been both an incredible leader and an ambassador for Greenpeace. He has built and strengthened bridges to other groups in civil society that have increased Greenpeace's campaigning influence immensely. His skills as a negotiator, facilitator and leader have been crucial in supporting the most extensive transformation in Greenpeace's history while Greenpeace has continued to expand. On behalf of our supporters, volunteers and staff everywhere, I want to thank Kumi for his tireless leadership."

In the search for a replacement, Greenpeace International's Board is contracting an external search agency and will cast the net as wide as possible in a process that will involve thorough internal and external consultation.

For further information please contact: Greenpeace International press desk (media only please) +31 (0) 20 718 24 70.