Amsterdam Monday 8th March, 11.46 a.m.
“A SIGNIFICANT report thanks Jacques. Drift-net fishing unfortunately is still a continuing problem. Looks like you’ll have to make some major decisions soon.” Mark Stafford, executive director of Greenpeace International, smiled briefly towards Jacques Philippe, international coordinator—marine.
Turning right to the executive secretary, Jill Evans, he asked, “Have you got all that down?”
Her reply was not distinguishable. But Graham Williams, sitting at the end of the left-hand arm of the U-shaped board table, carefully noted the nod of her head. Leaning back, he reflected on his first weekly meeting of the executive committee of the International Environmental Protection Organization. The fine old five-story building beside the Western Kerk at 176 Keizersgracht had impressed him. Held under a preservation order to protect its special features, the rambling office was an example of their aims.
His gaze once again took in the atmosphere of the room. The full-length windows opening three stories above the canal. The walls covered with photographs of Greenpeace in action. He felt his pulse quicken at the sight of a giant sunfish caught in drift-nets, Greenpeace staff releasing weather balloons, dramatic pictures of capsized inflatables being hit by barrels of toxic wastes dumped into the sea. And many more. The room was a montage of Greenpeace’s history.
A late morning burst of sunlight silhouetted the four International Campaign coordinators sitting opposite.. Their features, soft in their own shadows, were still new to him.
“How is it going?”
Graham turned to the speaker opposite. Slim, attractive and fair, Petra van de Roer, from the Netherlands, was the youngest International Campaign coordinator. Perhaps, Graham thought, she was too aware of her youth and over-compensated by being very professional in her manner. Responsible for ocean ecology and recognized as a leader in her field, she had a very confident manner. Almost to the point of arrogance.
“Fine thank you Petra. Just fine.” Graham’s reply was non-committal as he smiled across at her.
“Ladies and Gentleman,” The firm voice of the chairman, Mark Stafford, drew the meeting’s attention. “The next item on the agenda is a report on international treaties and conventions from Graham Williams. You all will have met Graham and I would just like to take this opportunity to welcome him to his first meeting of the executive committee of Greenpeace International. Graham, as you know, is an Australian . . .”
“Bravo,” interrupted Raul Gonzalez, coordinator for energy and atmosphere. Born in Argentina, his appointment reflected the growing strength of Greenpeace in Latin America. Smiling broadly, he continued. “It is good to have another from the Southern Hemisphere to help me keep these Northerners at bay.”
His mocking eyes swept around the other members to meet Graham’s, as he waved in a gesture of companionship.
“Thank you Raul, I didn’t think lack of numbers was ever a problem for you!” Mark Stafford, also grinning, continued. “As I was saying, Graham is an Australian lawyer who has had considerable experience in environmental issues at state and government levels in his own country . . .”
Graham smiled wryly to himself. It was no picnic working in foreign affairs representing Australia in the formation of the Antarctic Treaties System three years ago, or as a Southern Hemisphere member of the Rishworth Committee that set the standards and practices of the last up-date of the London Dumping Convention. “. . . like many of us, he has seen both sides of these major issues and has decided, wisely I’m sure, to support environmental projects from outside his government through Greenpeace. Graham, we welcome you as the international coordinator for treaties and conventions and look forward to your contribution and support.” Mark finished with a nod.