Steve Sawyer

Campaigner (USA)


Photograph: David Robie


Steve lived in Amsterdam with his partner and former Greenpeace Antarctic campaign director, Kelly Rigg. He ran the Global Wind Energy Council, a trade association for the wind power industry, focused on representing the sector with international institutions and opening new markets for wind power in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Born in 1956, Steve died in July 2019 shortly after he was diagnosed with lung cancer.


Steve moved from Greenpeace International to run Greenpeace USA in Washington six months after the bombing. In 1988 he succeeded John Frizell as executive director of Greenpeace International. When he stepped down from the top job in 1993, he rejoined the international board for two years, before leaving Greenpeace.

In 1997 he returned to work on the climate campaign in a number of different roles for 10 years. A seasoned campaigner on board Greenpeace boats and a tireless lobbyist, he represented the organisation at many climate treaty negotiations and the UN World Summits on environment and development in Johannesburg in 2002.

He returned to New Zealand to sail on the second Rainbow Warrior to Moruroa in 1995, for the 20th anniversary of the bombing in 2005 and again in 2013 during the new Rainbow Warrior’s first visit to the country. Steve and Kelly have two adult children. Their daughter Layla works in the development aid sector and son Sam is studying mechanical engineering.

Hear Steve talk about the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior.