After donating $3.4 million to Ecuador in January to “empower indigenous people in the Amazon” and support a “strategic collaboration between four indigenous tribes in the region, standing together against oil and timber interests,” in his latest philanthropic effort, actor Leonardo DiCaprio has donated $1 million to the African Nation of Seychelles to protect more than 400,000 square kilometers of ocean.
In the world’s first debt swap aimed at ocean conservation and climate resiliency, the deal between the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and the Nature Conservancy increases protection for the country’s waters from less than 1% to more than 30%, and supports the creation of the second largest Marine Protected Area in the West Indian Ocean.
— Rayban (@muchoray) March 28, 2016
DiCaprio released a statement announcing the initiative:
I’m proud my Foundation is partnering with Seychelles and the Nature Conservancy on this innovative project that will protect this vital ocean habitat and fragile marine life. We champion projects like this one across the globe that use cutting edge methods in conservation and environmental protection. This deal will enhance food security for the local people of Seychelles, help mitigate the effects of climate change on their low lying island home, and protect the surrounding rich ocean ecosystems for future generations.“
To restructure approximately $25 million of Seychelles debt in exchange for ocean protection efforts, the Nature Conservancy provided a low interest loan of $21.4 million and helped secure an additional $5 million in private grants from the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, the Waitt Foundation, Oak Foundation, China Global Conservation Fund, Jeremy and Hannelore Grantham and the Turnbull Burnstein Family Charitable Fund and others.
According to the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, debt payments will be redirected to a new independent, locally-led organization called the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust, which will oversee the marine conservation and climate adaptation efforts.
Seychelles President Jean Michel remarked:
“Our future is only as healthy as the ocean that surrounds us. All nations of the world – whether large or small – must take responsibility to better manage our oceans. Through this debt swap we are mobilizing additional resources to both protect the most sensitive and vulnerable marine resources while also embracing the full potential of our blue economy.”
— WildlifeDefence (@WldlifeDefence) July 20, 2015
In July 2015, the Wolf of Wall Street star pledged $15 million in donations to more than 30 organizations that have been credited for “implementing innovative and impactful conservation projects around the globe,” including Amazon Watch, National Geographic: Pristine Seas, Save the Elephants and the World Wildlife Fund. DiCaprio stated:
“The destruction of our planet continues at a pace we can no longer afford to ignore. 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. I am proud to support these organizations who are working to solve humankind’s greatest challenge.”
THIS is why I love Leo. Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation Donates $1 Million to Elephant Crisis Fund https://t.co/DbOJSaaxGU
— Nina Berry (@Ninaberry) February 29, 2016
Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation Donates $3 Million to Help WWF Double Nepal’s Tiger Population |… https://t.co/ruzhjB3aXq
— carmenmartine96 (@carmenmartine96) March 3, 2016
During a speech at the World Economic Forum in January this year, the actor announced that he’s donating over $15 million “to fast-track cutting-edge sustainability and conservation projects around the world,” which included grants to the Rainforest Action Network, an environmental organization that works to preserve natural habitats abroad; the Solutions Project, which is conducting alternative energy research; and the Global Fishing Watch, a revolutionary platform that will help reduce overfishing in the world’s oceans.
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