Superhero Leonardo DiCaprio is a dreamy movie star by day and loveable philanthropist by night. Could there be a more perfect human on the planet?
The most recent news surrounding Leonardo DiCaprio is the historic and ground-breaking contribution of $15.6 million that he’s granted to an array of worthy humanitarian and environmental causes. It’s big money, but it’s just the tip of Leo’s very large and very generous iceberg (no Titanic-themed puns intended!). There is so much more to Leonardo DiCaprio than international stardom and remarkable bone structure. I’ve tried my best to condense his good deeds down to the 4 main ones you really need to know about.
1. The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation
Let’s focus on Leo’s iceberg. In 1998, the Titanic star founded The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, an organisation that would allow him to actively combat the issues that he had grown exceptionally passionate about. The $15.6m donated by the LDF on July 13th, 2016, is just the latest of the generous contributions. Over the years, it has joined forces with numerous organisations, charities, and campaigns, in order to raise public awareness and incite change.
The total amount granted, since it was established in 1998, is a whopping $59m! The LDF’s main areas of focus are protecting biodiversity, ocean conservation, wildlands conservation and, of course, climate change. To date, over 65 organisations and 44 countries across the globe have been supported by Leonardo’s Foundation. Visit the site to find out about their past and present projects.
2. Speech to the United Nations on April 22nd, 2016 (Earth Day)
In 2014, DiCaprio was selected as the United Nations Messenger of Peace For Climate Change and has done much to earn this heroic position. Most notable, was his motivational speech delivered at the historic UN Paris Agreement, New York, on Earth Day this year. This event saw 170 Nations gather to sign the milestone agreement, undertaking urgent cooperative action to reduce global warming.
“I feel a moral obligation to speak out at this key moment in human history — it is a moment for action.”
As the final speaker, Leonardo gave a powerful speech addressing the assembly frankly, without attempting to disguise the terrifying nature of the current global crisis. He likened climate change to ‘a runaway freight train bringing with it an impending disaster for all living things” and said that “an upheaval, a massive change is required right now”. Pretty intense!
He implored world leaders (some even present on the day!) to return to their countries and ‘lead, inspire and empower…and push beyond the promises of this historical agreement”. The intensity grew as he honed in on those in power – whilst smoothly quoting Abraham Lincoln – and labelled them the “Last, Best Hope of the Earth”. It may sound extreme, but he’s right about this. These are the people who have the tools to bring about the change that is desperately needed.
“The world is watching – you will either be lauded by future generations, or vilified.”
Let’s hope – for the sake of our existence and the planet’s future – they got the message. No pressure.
3. Using fame as a platform
Our main man has, over his twenty-year career, starred in an incredible amount of critically-acclaimed movies: Titanic, Shutter Island and The Great Gatsby, are but a few. Early on, he realised that his acting and passion for environmental issues did not have to conflict as, “one hand shakes the other,” and that “being an artist gives you a platform”. I would argue that he has used this opportunity better than most!
As well as being the founder of the LFD, Leonardo also sits on the boards of other organizations like WWF, Global Green USA and International Fund for Animal Welfare. I’m sure we’d all be intimidated by his day-to-day schedule!
You may remember Leo’s emotional Oscar acceptance speech in April this year. It’s a moment we’re unlikely to forget. After 5 Oscar nominations and no Oscar, decades of hard work finally paid off! The humbled Revenant star was far from swept away in the moment, seizing the chance to appeal to the millions of viewers about the issue of climate change:
“Climate change is real and it’s happening right now. Let us not take this planet for granted, I do not take tonight for granted.”
When asked about the difficulties of filming The Revenant, the actor recalls, “We went out there to [see] what nature was saying… The thing I was left with was this crazy, insane message of nature fighting back and essentially stopping production.” I think that says it all, really.
4. Personal Quest for Knowledge and Change
Since the 1990s, Leonardo has been on a personal quest to educate himself on environmental and humanitarian issues. He has schooled himself on climate science and policy and is constantly up to date with what’s going on. He’s travelled to the far ends of the globe (we’re talking India to Antarctica) to see, first-hand, the terrible effects of human activity.
In his UN speech, he said, “All that I have seen and learned on this journey has terrified me,” and he warns “the effects of climate change will become astronomically worse in the future.” Most importantly, he’s not just reading about it, he’s doing everything he can to actively change it.
It appears that Leonardo DiCaprio is more dedicated to changing the world than we could have ever imagined, and that makes him our kind of person here at Better World International. He’s also shown us that it doesn’t always require fame or fortune to bring about this change. It’s something every one of us can do, starting now.
Get out there and educate yourself on these crucial issues. Go travelling and see it for yourself. Join Leonardo DiCaprio’s crusade to save the world by making small changes in your life that will make a bigger impact.
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