Most people are unaware of the actor's environmental activism. He started fighting against climate change when he was just 24 years old.
The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation was founded in 1988 following the success of his now-classic film Titanic. The foundation is a non-profit organization devoted to promoting environmental awareness. According to the organization's official website, [They] support projects around the world that build climate resiliency, protect vulnerable wildlife, and restore balance to threatened ecosystems and communities. However, not many people, including some of his biggest fans are unaware of the fact that the actor is an environmental activist. He started this fight against climate change at a very young age. DiCaprio was only 24 years old when he founded his organization. It has been two decades since the start of the organization and the 44-year-old actor has donated over $100 million dollars towards helping the world become a better place and to not keep going down the road of global warming. Now, a lot of his fans have been inspired by his efforts and some are even trying to follow pursuit.
The organization has worked in around 40 different countries so far. They have also been instrumental in spreading awareness especially via the two documentaries they produced - Water Planet, and Global Warning. The foundation has also funded debt-for-nature swaps, which are financial transactions in which some portions of a 'developing' nation's international debt is forgiven in exchange for local investments in environmental conservation measures. Other organizations like Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy, and the World Wildlife Fund are also known for participating in international debt-for-nature swaps as well.
Earth Day is an annual event that is held on April 22 every year. The event helps raise funds and support towards saving the planet. The actor chaired the Earth Day celebration that was held back in 2000. During the event, DiCaprio interviewed former President of the United States Bill Clinton during which the two discussed the most important issue plaguing the world - global warming. The former president and the actor spoke about future plans and actions that could be/were to be taken in order to deal with global warming and the deteriorating environment in the U.S. and across the world.
Six years later in 2007, he had a major role in the environmental documentary The 11th Hour. The documentary's main focus was on people's relationship with nature and global warming. The actor co-wrote, co-produced and even narrated the film. During a benefit for The11th Hour - a fine art auction - he organized in 2013, the actor helped raise nearly $40 million towards his foundation and its projects. He stated to the event's attendees, "Bid as if the fate of the planet depended on us."
DiCaprio donated $1 million to the Wildlife Conservation Society at Russia's tiger summit in November of 2010. DiCaprio managed to reach the event despite two plane delays. His persistence impressed Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. The Russian Prime Minister went on to describe the actor as a 'muzhik' or 'real man' after seeing the way he worked and his determination and commitment towards the cause. According to the BBC, "[At the summit,] governments of 13 countries where tigers still live have endorsed a plan to save the big cats from extinction. Delegates at a summit in St Petersburg, Russia, agreed to double tiger numbers by 2022."
The Wolf of Wall Street star held a meeting with Pope Francis in 2016. During the meeting, DiCaprio gave yet another charity donation and discussed imperative environmental issues. A few days after the meeting took place, the Pope said that he would act in a planned faith-based charity film, Beyond the Sun. It is believed that the meeting with the actor is what inspired the Pope to take such a step. As reported by Vanity Fair Magazine, "In addition to marking the Pope’s first acting role, the project will make history as the first time that a Pope has ever appeared in a film." All the profits made from the film were donated to charities across Argentina.
In July 2017, a charity auction and celebrity concert put on by the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation raised over $30 million in its opening days and was set to continue the following month. The iconic singer, Madonna, even delivered a surprise performance during the event. During the event, DiCaprio said, "The health of our planet is grave – this crisis is real. What we seem to lose sight of is that we are part of nature, in fact, we depend on nature for our very survival. Our natural systems sustain us with all that is necessary for life – such as ample food, clean air, and drinkable water.”
Throughout his career, the actor has remained an active environmentalist. He is never seen publicizing his work because he isn't doing it for fame or to be in the good books of people, he genuinely cares about saving the planet. DiCaprio still continues to work towards not just stopping climate change and global warming but even animal welfare. Recently, DiCaprio played a crucial role in saving 100 whales that were held captive in Russia. These whales were going to be sold to water parks in China. Thanks to a petition started and publicized by the actor, the whales were released.