A collective sigh of relief was heard across the globe last night as Julianne Moore finally announced that Leonardo DiCaprio, the world’s favourite Dad bod advocate and all round nice guy, had won the Academy Award for best male for his grisly (spoiler) leading role in The Revenant.
And like the total hero that he is, Leo used his acceptance speech to talk about an issue he has tirelessly supported for over 17 years – climate change, and the state of the planet.
"Making 'The Revenant' was about man's relationship to the natural world...climate change is real. It is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating." - Leonardo Di Caprio
No stranger to environmental activism, Leo founded his foundation, aptly named the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, in 1998, which to date has awarded more than $30 million in grants to organisations of all shapes and sizes. The Foundation’s mission is simple – to “support innovative projects that protect vulnerable wildlife from extinction, whilst restoring balance to threatened ecosystems and communities.”
So basically go Leo, right? So we thought, if Leo’s going to shout out climate change during the most important acceptance speech of his life, damn right we’re gonna celebrate him right back and all the incredible things he’s done for our planet, most of which you probably never even realised. So without further ado…
$60 million raised from Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation (LDF) Galas
Sometimes it helps to have friends in high places, and when you’re Leonardo DiCaprio, those friends are both very rich and very famous, often with a conscience to appease. LDF has now hosted two annual Galas, both in St Tropez, which collectively raised a whopping $60 million to help the Foundation continue their all-important mission to protect Earth’s last wild places. Items that were auctioned off including a number of Leo’s personal belongings – a Rolex watch, and Andy Warhol and Banksy pieces of art – as well as one-off experiences, including two private concerts to see Sir Elton John, which sold for $3 million.
The LDF supports a number of wildlife conservation projects across the globe, but one particularly incredible project the foundation donated to was the World Wildlife Fund’s conservation efforts in Nepal to protect wild tigers. The Terai lowlands of Nepal is one of the most crucial ecosystems in the world for tigers, and thanks to the work of the LDF and the WWF, tiger populations have now doubled over the last 5 years.
The state of the ocean is high up on Leo’s agenda, in particular supporting projects that seek to protect endangered ocean species and reefs, as well as the issues faced by overfishing. Oceans 5 is a particularly poignant example of this, and is an organisation the LDF has supported tirelessly with multiple grants since 2011. The purpose of Oceans 5? To establish marine reserves and constrain overfishing, in turn providing refuge for an array of endangered species.
Pledging to divest from fossil fuels
In 2015 Leo announced that both he and the LDF would join the pledge to Divest-Invest, a pledge that asks investors to shift their financial assets away from investing in fossil fuels, and instead put that money towards clean energy solutions. Said Leo “Climate change is severely impacting the health of our planet and all of its inhabitants, and we must transition to a clean energy economy that does not rely on fossil fuels, the main driver of this global problem”. To date, over 500 organisations worth more than $3.4 trillion have joined the pledge.
December 2015 was crunch time for leaders around the world as they gathered together in Paris at the UN Climate Change Conference to hammer out a new agreement that would seek to address the global climate crisis. In his role as UN Messenger of Peace with a special focus on Climate Change, Leo delivered this empowering speech to a packed room of mayors and local leaders from around the world:
So yeah, pretty much #TeamLeo all the way, for so many more reasons than just being one hell of a beautiful face.