Sammy Nickalls
July 14, 2015 1:34 pm

Many of us can remember the day — nay, the hour — we fell in love with Leonardo DiCaprio. Maybe it was when we saw him play the romantic Jack in Titanic, or when he screamed “I defy you, stars!” in Romeo + Juliet. Maybe it was his man-bun in 2013 (or in 2014). But if his acting roles or hairstyles never charmed you, perhaps this will: DiCaprio recently pledged $15 million to protect wildlife and combat global warming.

“The destruction of our planet continues at a pace we can no longer afford to ignore,” he said in a statement released today on his website. “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.”

DiCaprio was initially inspired to focus his philanthropic work on environmental issues after Al Gore’s global warming campaign. Since 2010, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation has funded more than 70 projects in more than 40 countries all over the world, according to the statement.

“Our partners on the ground are up against powerful industries that want unfettered access to our planet’s resources,” Justin Winters, executive director of the actor’s foundation, said in the statement. “We are dedicated to helping further their efforts to protect our oceans, forests, and wildlands.”

DiCaprio has directed his foundation to give the $15 million to environmental foundations around the world who are bettering the world in various ways, from “concrete and early-phase solutions to protect key species and threatened marine and terrestrial ecosystems, to empowering indigenous communities to be the long-term stewards and protectors of their natural resources,” according to the statement.

The $15 million dollars went to 27 different environmental organizations, including National Geographic Pristine Seas. “No organization or individual alone can protect our planet’s life-giving engine,” said Dr. Enric Sala, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence. “Partnering with the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation allows National Geographic Pristine Seas to help protect the wildest places in the ocean, so that the ocean can continue to provide for all of us.”

Another beneficiary: Virunga National Park, which is Africa’s oldest park and focuses its efforts on saving endangered gorillas. “The endangered gorillas of Virunga National Park remain at threat of extinction in the coming years,” Emmanuel de Merode, director of Virunga National Park, said in the statement, “and The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation is focusing its efforts on helping us to restore a critically important population in a way that will also enhance local development and stability amongst the communities living around the park.”

According to J. Charles Fox, program director of Ocean 5, the actor’s foundation “brings a strategic focus to helping coastal communities protect biodiversity.” Ocean 5 is another of the beneficiaries, focusing on ocean conservation.

Dicaprio’s foundation has also supported winners of the Goldman Environmental Prize, according to the statement. The prize is the world’s largest for grassroots environmental activists, and the winners for this year include Fatima Jibrell of Adeso, Rudi Putra of Forest, Nature and Environment of Aceh (HAkA) & Leuser Conservation Forum (FKL), and Dimitry Lisitsyn of Sakhalin Environment Watch.

“The Foundation’s pioneering vision to invest in an indigenous-led movement for rainforest conservation and cultural survival is providing vital support to Ecuador’s northern Amazon,” said Mitch Anderson, Founder and Executive Director of ClearWater. “This support is poised to protect millions of acres of tropical rainforest by empowering and strengthening the indigenous nationalities to fend off the extractive industries.”

We totally love that this money is going to such a wonderful cause, and it’s great to see influential people using their power to make the world a better place. “I am proud to support these organizations who are working to solve humankind’s greatest challenge,” DiCaprio said.

Oh, Leo, we love you.

Related:

Everything I need to know I learned from Leonardo DiCaprio

(Images via Paramount, Warner Bros)

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