On Thursday February 15th, Leonardo DiCaprio spoke as special guest at the Postcode Lottery charity gala in Amsterdam on behalf of LDF. After addressing the audience filled with leaders from environmental and humanitarian organizations around the world, Leonardo was surprised to be presented with a check for €900,000 for his Foundation to support their efforts to address climate change and protect biodiversity. Leonardo will also serve as an international ambassador for the Postcode Lottery. He joins individuals such as Bill Clinton, Richard Branson, George Clooney, Desmond Tutu and Rafael Nadal in supporting the Lottery's mission for a green, fair world.
Here is a full transcript of the speech:
I want to thank Postcode Lottery for having me and my Foundation here tonight. It’s an honor to be partnering with an organization that shares our values and sees the deep connection between protecting the environment and ensuring the well-being of people and our very future. Not only does Postcode Lottery acknowledge this important link, they are raising an astounding amount of resources for many of the best organizations working on complex environmental and humanitarian issues worldwide.
A fact I point out frequently is that less than 3% of all global philanthropic donations go towards efforts to protect the environment. That means just a fraction of funding for so many worthy causes is going towards efforts to protect this beautiful planet, our only home. Postcode Lottery’s innovative model has generated 8.5 billion euros for a wide array of charitable efforts and more specifically 2.7 billion euros for efforts to protect the environment, address climate change, and conserve and restore nature. There is no doubt that the funding Postcode Lottery has provided has been a game changer for the environmental movement and for many of you in the room tonight.
Like many of you, I’ve long been concerned about extinction, the loss of biodiversity, and the disappearance of critical ecosystems, all being wiped out by rapid development, greed and indifference. And that’s why, 20 years ago, I established my foundation LDF to work on these often overlooked and under-resourced issues. I wanted LDF to support and partner with the most effective organizations and leaders working to solve critical environmental issues.
I’m proud to say that over the past two decades we’ve supported over 200 projects in over 50 countries and we’ve seen real results. Whether it be through new marine reserves set aside to protect and restore our oceans; stopping over-fishing with new technologies like Global Fishing Watch; empowering indigenous communities to protect their lands and waters in the amazon with Amazon Frontlines and the Ceibo Alliance; or setting up innovative crisis funds that scale up resources for critically endangered species, like elephants, sharks, and lions. LDF has partnered with local and global organizations working to fight climate change, helping protect indigenous rights, and conserving and restoring important landscapes around the world. It is a lot to take on, but given that 6 plant or animal species disappear from our planet every hour - - 1,000 times the rate of natural extinction -- there is an urgent need to get support and funding to as many effective organizations and initiatives as possible.
Needless to say, all of these challenges are compounded by climate change. To avoid the worst consequences of climate change, scientists warn us that we have no more than 5 years to peak our emissions of greenhouse gases, and then need to reduce them every year very quickly thereafter. That’s why we have partnered with the UN and supported organizations like the R20 Regions of Climate Change and the Solutions Project that are helping local governments move to 100% renewable energy, cut waste, and build climate resilient communities.
Of course this is just a start, which is why my team and I at LDF feel committed to getting resources to all of these efforts and to shining a light on the incredible organizations and individuals doing this important work.
The situation is really a convergence of crises that are the result of human activity - - our own rapid, unsustainable development. Our reliance on dirty energy sources, like oil and gas, that has rapidly polluted our air, water, acidified our oceans and disrupted our climate. Rampant, unchecked, industrial fishing - with nets over a mile long that catch everything in their wake – that have depleted our seas and pushed many species to the brink of extinction. Modern agriculture practices and the demand for commodities like palm oil and beef that have destroyed countless acres of once pristine rainforest and rich grasslands, leaving much of the world’s soil dead and toxic. All of this is part of the same picture, and it is all connected.
Two years ago, when the PARIS AGREEMENT was signed by 195 countries, the world community breathed a sigh of relief – finally there was collective agreement and a game plan for addressing this global crisis. It was certainly a historic and an important achievement, but unfortunately it falls far short of a real solution. Analysis shows that the best-case scenario of the planned pathway under the Paris Agreement will ultimately lead to a world well above the targeted 2 degrees Celsius.
To put this in context, if we allow the world to warm by 2 degrees Celsius it means…a total collapse of the world’s coral reefs…10 feet of sea level rise by 2100…permanent drought across 25% of the planet’s land, and over 350 million climate refugees migrating from the global south. I don’t know about you, but this certainly doesn’t seem like a world we want to live in. To think that future generations will be left to deal with this disastrous, frankly apocalyptic scenario, is unconscionable.
So what do we do about this? I know we all feel an obligation to find a solution, however ambitious, to get out of this predicament, and to galvanize everyone into action to solve this problem, TOGETHER.
For our part, over the past year, LDF has commissioned research from over 20 top climate, energy, conservation and agriculture scientists around the world to figure out how society could avert a climate catastrophe. This work led to a three-pillar plan, what we call the One Earth Initiative, where protecting nature plays a critical role. In order to avert an even greater climate crisis, we must prevent our climate from warming more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.
To achieve this, we must achieve three top line by 2050:
· Transition all our energy systems to 100% renewable energy
· Protect, connect and restore 50% of our natural ecosystems on land and sea and,
· Transform all of our food production to regenerative, carbon-negative agricultural practices.
Obviously, achieving this will be no easy task. But if we want to provide a sustainable life for the expected population of 10 billion people by 2050, not to mention the species and ecosystems of all other living things, we simply have no other choice. The science and economic analysis tells us that not only is it possible to accomplish these goals, but we must achieve them. Right now, the One Earth Climate Model is in development and will be ready later this year for everyone to use. This model will show the enormous social, environmental, and economic benefits of a rapid transition to 100% renewable energy combined with a portfolio of natural climate solutions, which include the 50% goal for protecting nature and the transition to regenerative agriculture practices, which all together can bring our climate back into balance.
What gives me hope is knowing that there is an expansive network of changemakers all over the globe, thousands, actually millions of people who have committed their lives to turning things around. All of you here tonight are key leaders in galvanizing the world around a new vision for the future, a world where both nature and humanity can coexist, and even thrive.
And as an example of how we hope to work with all of you and get even more people involved, I just learned that last year the Postcode Lottery’s Dream Fund was awarded to a collaborative effort led by Greenpeace and Hivos called “All Eyes on the Forest” which is working with indigenous communities in the Amazon rainforest to map and protect the most important rainforest on the planet. One of the partner organizations leading the mapping and building the technology is Digital Democracy, an LDF grantee. Like Postcode Lottery, my Foundation believes that empowering indigenous communities to protect their lands and their rights is not only the right thing to do, but it is also an incredibly effective way to ensure that we protect the last remaining wild places on the planet – critical ecosystems that are home to so much rich biodiversity and play such a critical role in balancing our climate.
It’s been an honor over the years to meet so many of these inspiring heroes and individuals who are bringing their communities together to protect their lands and their rights - - from rangers who put their lives on the line to guard endangered species, to indigenous tribes that are asserting their rights to protect their homelands. From women leaders in small villages across India and Africa working to bring clean, solar power to their communities; to the scientists that are putting their reputations on the line, speaking truth to power to raise the alarm bells of our inaction.
Getting to meet these remarkable people, hearing their stories, and most of all, being in a position to provide resources that kickstart many of these grassroots organizations and partnerships is what drives us at LDF. And with your help, we hope to continue this work together until we have all succeeded in these ambitious, but essential, global goals.
If we can replicate more innovative models like Postcode Lottery that raise far more resources for the people on the ground making a real, tangible difference we stand a chance at turning the tide and protecting this beautiful planet.
As the old saying goes….never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.
Thank you so much.