January 14, 2017


This case study was developed in January 2016 as part of the People-Powered Accountability project implemented by Accountable Now. We would like to thank Michael Silberman, Global Director of the Mobilisation Lab at Greenpeace, for providing much of the information in the case study. This case study does not represent the opinion of Greenpeace and is not aimed at outlining a full picture of all their efforts on connectivity to people and partners.

At the strategic level: Greenpeace’s new people-power strategy

Following the disappointing results of the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference in 2009, Greenpeace decided to fundamentally reinvent its strategy. It moved from being the smartest in campaigning, to being the smartest in rallying others to act. Their key strategic ambition now is: a billion acts of courage” to save the planet. To fulfill on this promise, Greenpeace must become nimbler, learn how to listen better, and amplify other people and organisations’ thoughts and acts. When designing campaigns, Greenpeace has always had a highly strategic approach to partner with organised groups, institutions, and allies that have the power to influence and affect the desired change. Under the new strategy, Greenpeace campaigns are only approved when there is a clear role for people to play. This same listening and amplifying approach is also a key feature in developing the organisation’s next Ten Year Strategy. Greenpeace has conducted a Big Listening Project, bringing together input and ideas from thousands of staff, supporters, and partners. It will be important to demonstrate however that the huge effort and high diversity of views collected did really create a better strategy.

At the programme level: Boosting the ability of Greenpeace to connect

The Greenpeace Digital Mobilisation Lab (MobLab) was founded to ‘transform how campaigns are fought and won, pioneering “people-powered” strategies.’ As a result of the MobLab’s work, Greenpeace’s capacity to test and co-create campaigns with external parties has hugely improved as follows:

  • Greenpeace is increasingly employing open campaigning approaches where local citizens contribute input around tactics and content via online and offline discussions, such as the Detox campaign.
  • Greenpeace is currently piloting a campaign prototyping method that is based on design thinking – i.e. surfacing insights from users/audience – which they hope will become standardised across the organisation.
  • The MobLab trained 300 Greenpeace staff on developing skills and experience to find creative solutions to environmental problems. Annually the MobLab holds a Global Digital Mobilisation Skillshare for more than 130 participants from 40 countries to identify best practices in: mobilisation; digital engagement; public communication; campaign ideas; development of mobilisation leaders; and strengthening the network of like-minded staff.
  • Trainings and events were originally designed to strengthen the capacity of Greenpeace staff. More recently, other workshops such as the Open Campaigns Camp 2015 and the Mobiles x Mobilisation have become open to partners.
  • Greenpeace offers two way-communication channels on Twitter, Facebook, and blogs. The organisation monitors social media to find out what supporters think and want. When launching campaigns they use A/B testing on subject lines and multiple images or social media statements to ensure the adoption of the best language to connect with and inspire large audiences.

At the outcome level: How do we know we are successful?

Ultimately, the aim is to know whether campaign victories are attributed – at least in part – to ‘people-power’, or an increased role of external parties. To this end, Greenpeace also track inputs and outcomes such as:

  • The number of people supporting Greenpeace campaigns.
  • The Engagement Pyramid’s metrics and targets, which are used to analyse actions citizens take over time, and their responsiveness rates.
  • Annual supporter surveys conducted by Greenpeace offices. So far, these have been very useful in highlighting the disparity of scores between offices, and thus flagging areas of improvement for each office.
  • The monitoring of how Greenpeace is represented and perceived on social media.