Green Cross International celebrates its 25th anniversary

Press Release – 23 April 2018

Since its launch in April 1993, Green Cross International (GCI) has been promoting a just, sustainable and secure future for all. Its many achievements include working towards the successful elimination of 40,000 tons of chemical weapons in Russia, completing a 15-year process that will also see the last of over 28,000 tons of chemical weapons in the United States destroyed by 2023. These initiatives, accomplished in collaboration with local governments, earned the Right Livelihood Award in 2013.

“The signatories to the Chemical Weapons Convention willingly undertook a challenge both complex and costly,” said Dr. Stephan Robinson, Legacy of the Cold War Programme Director at Green Cross International. “For the first time, these countries have achieved the dismantling of an entire category of weapons of mass destruction.”

For the next 25 years and beyond, Green Cross will continue to work towards peace-building and environmental protection through its five international programmes: Water for Life and Peace, Environmental Security and Sustainability, Social and Medical, Smart Energy and Value Change.

Other accomplishments since the organisation’s founding include:

  • Bringing safe drinking water to more than 140’000 people in 160 communities worldwide;
  • Playing a key role in establishing and implementing the UN Watercourses Convention;
  • The annual certification of 3’000 units of affordable and sustainable housing in the United States;
  • Turning back desertification and the expansion of the Sahara by planting hundreds of thousands of trees and introducing sustainable farming methods in countries such as Burkina Faso;
  • Providing social and medical assistance to 50’000 people annually, as well as imparting crucially important knowledge on how to survive in contaminated environments;
  • Teaching over one million students about climate change, water conservation and energy use through the flagship educational activity for youth, the environmental diaries.

Green Cross has come a long way since five member countries (Japan, The Netherlands, the Russian Federation, Switzerland, and the United States) responded to a call from civil society delegates at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit to form a “Red Cross for the environment”. Both a “World Green Cross” and “Green Cross International” were founded, and in 1993 they merged to form the organisation we know today. Over 25 years, GCI has expanded to 27 national offices around the world providing environmental solutions to populations in need, and promoting the safety and wellbeing of humans and nature alike.

GCI’s unique mission is to provide concrete solutions to the combined challenges of security, poverty and environmental degradation – it is the only globally active NGO targeting this increasingly crucial nexus. The organisation’s remit includes rectifying the damage caused by environmental disasters and helping to prevent future disasters so that the next generations can enjoy an unburdened future. It also means encouraging a global “glasnost”, or public openness, to provide unbiased environmental analysis and expertise, awareness raising, education, objective evaluations for public debate, scientific studies, and support for social and humanitarian causes.

Looking to the future, it is more important than ever to instil positive awareness of the environment and key principles, such as those that make up the Earth Charter, in children and adults alike. Green Cross is committed to continued improvement of transboundary water basin management, as well as achieving universal access to clean water. GCI will also pursue climate-friendly solutions, including the scaling-up of affordable clean energy production, sustainable agriculture and anti-desertification measures. Social and medical care will remain a top priority as still today some 9 million people – most of them children – die as a result of environmental contaminants. Dangerous waste, including the thousands of tons of chemical weapons that in the past have been dumped into the sea in places such as the Baltic, the Mediterranean and the Caribbean, are in urgent need of clean-up initiatives.