Leonardo DiCaprio today announced that his foundation, the conveniently-named Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, will be donating more than $15 million towards efforts to protect our planet. The donation will go towards empowering activists, assisting organisations that fight to maintain sustainability and reduce destruction to the environment. The Wolf of Wall Street Star has been criticised in the past for living a lavish lifestyle, complete with a private jet, but DiCaprio is proving once and for all that when it comes to his passion for saving the planet, he’s willing to put his money where his mouth is.
DiCaprio has long thought that the destruction humans are wreaking on the environment is too serious to ignore, and says that this latest donation is his way of lending a hand to help conservationists solve what he perceives to be the greatest challenge facing humankind today.In 2013, his foundation donated approximately $3 million to the World Wildlife Fund. Its main focus was to protect endangered tigers in Nepal.
Of the $15 million donation, DiCaprio said,
“The destruction of our planet continues at a pace we can no longer afford to ignore. We have a responsibility to innovate a future where the habitability of our planet does not come at the expense of those who inhabit it. I am proud to support these organisations who are working to solve humankind’s greatest challenge.”
The announcement was made during his speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he was accepting the Crystal Award, which celebrates the achievements of leading artists who have shown “exemplary commitment to improving the state of the world.
“We simply cannot afford to allow the corporate greed of the coal, oil and has industries to determine the future of humanity.Those entities with a financial interest in preserving this destructive system have denied—and even covered-up—the evidence of our changing climate. Enough is enough. You know better. The world knows better. History will place the blame for this devastation squarely at their feet.”
The money will be divided into grants, which will support various environmental organisations. These include efforts to preserve the Earth’s delicate and complex oceanic ecosystems and activists working to protect the endangered gorillas in Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The latter was the topic of a documentary, executive-produced by DiCaprio, that received an Oscar nomination in 2015.
Other recipients of grants from DiCaprio’s foundation include Oceans 5, Amazon Watch, World Wildlife Fund, Save The Elephants and the California Wolf Centre. Other, lesser-known organisations that will benefit from grants are Dark Snow, which measures Arctic melting, Digital Democracy, which provides technology for indigenous cultures to enhance their efforts to protect the Amazon, and Powered by Light, which is a renewable energy project.
All in all, more than thirty organisations have received money from DiCaprio’s foundation, and according to DiCaprio, all are working to achieve a similar goal, which is “implementing innovative and impactful conservation projects around the globe.” But this is far from the first time DiCaprio has publicly declared his passion for the environment.
In September 2014, he spoke at the United Nations summit on climate change, which was held in New York. DiCaprio acted as a UN messenger for peace, but stirred up controversy by lecturing delegates on “the need take immediate action to crack down on polluters and cut carbon emissions”. He also marched in the massive climate change rally in New York in September 2014, which involved more than 400 000 people.
In 2015, DiCaprio solicited the help of some of his celebrity friends, including Selena Gomez, Jared Leto, Bono, Marion Cotillard and Robin Thicke to help raise more than $25 million at a gala to further his campaign to save Earth’s wild regions and animals. Together, the group put valuable prizes up for auction, including two walk-on roles in DiCaprio’s next movie ($3 million), Bono’s personal guitar ($1 million), a Damian Hirst sculpture ($6 million) and a Harley-Davidson motorcycle autographed by Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro. Also in attendance were Cara Delevingne and Joan Collins. In a speech made at the Gala, DiCaprio said,
“There has never been, since the time of dinosaurs, as many plant and animal species disappearing so quickly … We must make efforts to protect rich biodiversity.”
DiCaprio has lately been taking every opportunity to speak out about those most vulnerable to climate change. During his acceptance speech for Best Actor at the Golden Globes last week, he rounded off his speech with a warning:
“I want to share this award with all the first nations people represented in this film, and all of the indigenous communities around the world. It is time that we recognise your history and that we protect your indigenous lands from corporate interests and people that are out there to exploit them. It is time that we heard your voice and protected this planet for future generations.”
The picture that won him the award, The Revenant, saw DiCaprio filming in British Columbia and Alberta.During a Q&A for the film, he said that the locals expressed grave concern over a weather phenomenon known as the ‘chinook’. “We were in Calgary,” said DiCaprio, “and the locals were saying, ‘This has never happened in our province ever.’ We would come and there would be eight feet of snow, and then all of a sudden a warm gust of wind would come.” DiCaprio has become somewhat of an expert on environment matters in recent years, and says that the experience in Calgary only served to demonstrate the fragility of nature and foreshadowed the fact that things are “simply just going to get worse.”