Leo DiCaprio: Speaking on climate change no small task

UNITED NATIONS – Actor Leonardo DiCaprio took on his new role not in Hollywood but with the United Nations’ campaign to fight climate change. 

The Wolf of Wall Street star formally accepted his appointment as UN Messenger of Peace with a special focus on climate change in a brief ceremony at the UN Headquarters in New York on Saturday, September 20.

DiCaprio received a pin from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, who called on him to speak about “the most defining issue of our time.” The actor attended the ceremony with his parents. 

“This is no small task,” DiCaprio said in response. “As we all know, the world is involved in the largest movement in human history. We are at a pivotal turning point of rapid climate change.” 

DiCaprio said he was honored by the appointment, which follows years of personal advocacy as an environmentalist. In 1998, he established the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation to “protect the Earth’s last wild places and implement solutions to build a more harmonious relationship between humanity and the natural world.” 

“Thank you so much for bestowing this honor on me, Mr Secretary-General, to be an ambassador on peace, in particular on the issue of climate change, that I and so many people believe is the most important issue of our time, is a humble and great honor,” he said. 

DiCaprio also congratulated Ban for convening the UN Climate Summit on September 23, which will gather 120 world leaders to announce “bold action” and create momentum for negotiations for a global treaty to fight climate change by 2015. 

The actor’s first task is to address the opening of the summit. Ahead of the gathering, he produced and lent his voice to a new short film titled Carbon, calling attention to climate change and calling for US federal action over carbon pollution. 

'Credible voice'

Ban has hailed DiCaprio as a “credible voice in the environmental movement,” saying he can amplify the message on climate change. 

“I am pleased he has chosen to add his voice to UN efforts to raise awareness of the urgency and benefits of acting now to combat climate change," the UN chief said. 

DiCaprio has been involved in the climate change advocacy through grant-making, public campaigns and media projects. He aims to raise awareness on protecting biodiversity, ocean and forest conservation and climate change. 

UN Messengers of Peace come from fields ranging from film, art, literature, music and sports. The UN taps them “to expand public understanding of how the United Nations helps to improve the lives of people everywhere.” 

On Sunday, September 21, DiCaprio and Ban are set to participate in the People’s Climate March in New York City, which aims to be the largest march for climate action in history.

About 1,200 environmental, social justice, human rights, faith and labor groups are organizing the march. Global dignitaries and celebrities will attend including climate change activist former US Vice President Al Gore, and UN Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. – Rappler.com