By Ignatius Joseph:
Greenpeace Extra, or GPx is a free online petition site launched by Greenpeace India on March 14th, 2013. Greenpeace India has been campaigning on national environmental issues over the past 12 years in India, and now launches GPx – a people-powered website that allows anyone to start, run and win campaigns on local issues that affect their community. It equips individuals to create a movement to bring about environmental and social change.
Greenpeace India has been campaigning on issues like stopping climate change, promoting sustainable agriculture, campaigning against nuclear energy and promoting the use of sustainable energy. GPx is the solution to the challenge of balancing national campaigns with local needs and it allows individuals to work on issues that matter most to them. A large amount of resources are required to run a campaign, however featured campaigns on GPx will be provided with required resources as well as a strategy to make it more impactful. The platform also empowers communities and individuals with campaign trainings and helps them develop skills to successfully win local campaigns.
Petitions are a starting point for activists, who can then go on to lobby and create different strategies to win their campaigns. Umang Choudary, an activist from Jharkhand started a petition on GPx and challenged a company for illegally dumping toxic waste in his village in an eco-sensitive area. His efforts along with the support of locals has forced the company to stop illegal dumping of toxic waste and a court order is pending on the compensation required from the company for damages caused.
Umang Choudary says, “GPx helped me connect my campaign to people worldwide and 120 people have registered their support for this cause till date. This gave me the confidence to challenge the company which is both financially and politically stronger.”
Another activist, Sadashiv P, President of the Lalbagh Walkers Association in Bangalore, initiated a petition to save Bangalore’s iconic 240 acre park from an unnecessary parking lot within its premises. The proposed parking lot would have taken up five acres of fertile land which was initially set aside to grow medicinal plants. Within three weeks of starting the campaign on GPx, a PIL backed by more than 2000 online signatures was able to stall the destructive project as a status quo was ordered by the High Court.
Sadashiv says, “GPx helped us take our campaign online, and we gathered 2,000 signatures in just 2 weeks to stop the parking lot from being constructed. It helped us deliver our messages to our supporters faster and also gather support for the campaign in a short period.”
Environmental campaigns started on the website will be given priority and featured more prominently. Featured campaigns may be pushed through a team of online volunteers and through Greenpeace India’s social media networks. Online volunteers on Greenwired, Greenpeace India’s volunteer networking website, with different skill sets like blogging, filmmaking, photography etc. also work on creating more awareness on the campaign. All these strands help get the campaign off the ground and make it more effective.
Campaigns need effective online strategies that will contribute significantly to the goal. The issue and the context of the petition are more important than the petition size. An effective online strategy has a defined target and delivers quick and reliable messaging to the audience.
Janet Vrinda, Online Campaigner with Greenpeace India will work directly on featured campaigns on GPx and help people start campaigns, walking them through decisions like who it should be directed to, what the ask is, the timeline and why the issue is important. She says, “GPx is a tool for people to work on issues beyond Greenpeace India’s scope. GPx acts as a trigger and an effective platform to facilitate positive change. Protecting the environment and providing solutions to sustainable progress is an important factor for a growing economy like India, making people conscious, aware of issues and getting them to act on them is the biggest challenge we face today.”
Greenpeace India is particularly excited about finding ways for local leaders to create campaigns on environmental issues to bring about awareness and change in their communities. While Greenpeace India has created this platform, it does not endorse all the campaigns that run on Greenpeace Extra. Greenpeace India does not accept funds from any government or corporates and is funded by individual supporters.
GPx gives individuals the power to become leaders and work directly on issues that matter most in their communities to bring about change. Like Mahatma Gandhi said “Be the change you wish to see.”