The 40-year-old American is currently one of the most popular and famous persons in Hollywood and has been nominated for the Oscar Award several times, as actor as well as executive producer. Over the past few years, DiCaprio repeatedly ranked in the top ten of the best-paid actors worldwide, earning significantly more than 100 million US dollars while yielding considerably more than one billion US dollars with his movies and productions. The popular British magazine “The Guardian” placed him among the 3 of the most influential people in Hollywood.
By now, Leonardo DiCaprio has been working on environment protection for several years. In 1998, being only 24 years old, he founded the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, supporting different environmental organizations both financially and multimedially. In 2007, he produced the documentary “The 11th Hour”, exploring the causes and consequences of the global climate change in showing interviews with more than 50 scientists of different specialization. Being an influential prominent himself, he also appears in the movie as narrator and moderator. In September 2014, he gave a speech at the opening of the UN- Climate Summit in New York which gained worldwide attention. In his speech, he explicitly marks climate change as the major challenge humanity faces nowadays- not at all a purely political case, but a matter of survival of the humankind. Shortly before, DiCaprio has officially been appointed UN Peace Ambassador, being a “reliable voice of the ecological movement” (Ban Ki Moon).
At the „Our Oceans“ conference of the State Department in Washington on June 17th, 2014, he announced his intention to donate 7 million dollars (about 5.17 million euros), coming from the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, to the worldwide active Oceana organization for the marine protection within 2 years and therefore supporting the conversation of the oceans. Triggering moments were especially two dives at the Great Barrier Reef in an interval of 20 years. The obvious decline of the biota within only 2 decades have shaken DiCaprio to the core. “If we do not act now on saving the oceans, shortly not only sharks and dolphins will be seriously affected. It will be our children and grandchildren.”, he points out in his speech. “I am standing here as a worried inhabitant of this planet, who is convinced that this is indeed the most important issue of our time. What we need is more durable activism as well as a bold political leadership. We cannot afford being spectators only, not at this pre-apocalyptic scenario.”
The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation assured giving 3 million US dollars (about 2,2 million euros) to Oceana over the next 3 years in February 2014 already. This amount resulted from a charity campaign in the end of 2013. The donation is earmarked to the work of Oceana on the abolition of gillnets in California, which have a high rate of bycatch (sharks, dolphins, sperm whales, gray whales, swordfishes and turtles).
By awarding the prize , SHARKPROJECT particularly recognizes the donations of more than 10 million US dollars as a shining example. Effective wildlife conversation often fails due to missing financial resources of the NGOs (non-governmental organizations) whilst polluters usually resort to adequate funds, partially even with government aid. We agree on the fact that wealthy people like Leonardo DiCaprio, who are not only able but as well willing to improve the financial ability of wildlife conservation, are to be esteemed.
Leonardo Dicaprio is therefore the SHARKPROJECT Shark Guardian of the Year 2015″.
This translation by Annika Klauth is derived from the German original of this text.