There are plenty of celebrities out there who use their fame (whether established or new found) to raise the profile of the environmental movement and work to further the causes of sustainability. Here are just a few of our favourites (and some lessen known heroes also doing some amazing work:
Greta Thunberg is inspiring a generation – a generation that is waking up to just how much previous generations have let them down. In our warming and increasingly dangerous world, it is easy to become overwhelmed. It is easy to wonder what we, as individuals, can do to combat the unprecedented existential threats that we face. When Greta Thunberg began her solo protest outside the Swedish Parliament aged just 15, little did she imagine just how much she could go on to achieve.
Her bravery in striking from school and quiet dedication became the global Fridays for Future Movement. What began with just one teenaged girl spread to encompass young people from 150 countries, and thousands of other people around the world. With her simple, straightforward fight to raise awareness, Greta Thunberg shows us what just one person can achieve.
But Greta Thunberg, though amazing, is not the only young person doing amazing things.
After a successful crowdfunding campaign, for example, six young people from Portugal have filed an unprecedented lawsuit with the European Court of Human Rights. Cláudia Agostinho (21), Catarina Mota (20), Martim Agostinho (17), Sofia Oliveira (15), André Oliveira (12) and Mariana Agostinho (8) raised the lawsuit following the wildfires that ripped through their country in 2017.
If admissible, it could set an important precedent and show the way for other climate lawsuits that are based on human rights arguments. The six young people are suing the 27 European member states, the UK, Switzerland, Norway, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine for failing to make the urgent emissions reductions necessary to safeguard their future.
Leonardo Di Caprio
Leonardo Di Caprio has long been one of Hollywood's most vocal environmental advocates. In 1998, he founded the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation with the goal of “protecting the world’s last wild places” and since then, he has raised millions of dollars for different causes. He used his platform at the 2016 Oscars to highlight the plight of the planet, and in 2017 took part in the People’s Climate March to protest against Donald Trump’s environmental policies. He's also served as a UN representative on climate change.
DiCaprio has also served on the boards of numerous ecological organizations including the World Wildlife Fund, Global Green USA, International Fund for Animal Welfare, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, and he regularly attends events as an advocate for conservation.
But lets take a moment to celebrate other voices from the field of conservation. For example, let's celebrate the winners of the 2020 Whitley Award: conservation heroes: Patrícia Medici, Abdullahi Hussein Ali, YokYok (Yoki) Hadiprakarsa, Rachel Ashegbofe Ikemeh, Gabriela Rezende, Jeanne Tarrant, and Phuntsho Thinley.
Cate Blanchett is a well known environmental advocate in her home nation, Australia. She is an ambassador for the Australian Conservation Foundation, and helped to launch a campaign called 'Who on Earth Cares' when she pledged to reduce her own carbon footprint. She was also a driving force behing a major environmental overhaul called 'Greening the Wharf' as part of her work with the Sydney Theatre Company.
Since we're visiting Australia, however, let's also take the time to celebrate some other Australian heroes. Australia is the birthplace of permaculture – a blueprint for sustainable food production and sustainable living. And is still home to many of the most important and influential permaculturists today: including David Holmgren, who, with Bill Mollison, started it all. Shout out also to Geoff Lawton and John D Liu, who have been key figures in the permaculture movement and inspired many around the world.
Natalie Portman is another celebrity to commend. She's not just jumped onto the environmental bandwagon. She's been involved in environmental activism since childhood. Strong in the vegan movement, she launched a vegan line of designer shoes, benefiting The Nature Conservancy, and has also kept up her commitment to our planet in a range of different ways. `She has, amongst other things, urged her alma mater, Harvard, to divest from fossil fuels.
Finally, let's celebrate conservationist and broadcaster David Attenborough. Aged 94, this stalwart of the environmental movement is still going strong. His many nature documentaries are beloved by many around the world, and his recent documentary, 'Extinction: The Facts' has been described as the most important of 2020. His Instagram account reached 1 million followers in record time – just 4 hours and 44 minutes! And he's inspired millions to act urgently to tackle the crises we face on this planet.