The 10th Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting opened with the 8th Annual Clinton Global Citizen Awards in Gotham Sunday night at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel, honoring those with unparalleled work in philanthropy and service.
Among the honorees were the President of the Republic of Kosovo Atifete Jahjaga, former co-founder and chairman of Qualcomm Dr. Irwin Mark Jacobs and actor Leonardo DiCaprio for his environmental preservation efforts.
“We are exhausting our planet’s capabilities to support you and me. Now more than ever, Mother Nature needs a voice. Ladies and gentlemen, Leonardo DiCaprio is that voice,” said World Wildlife Fund CEO and President Carter Roberts, who presented DiCaprio with his Global Citizen Award for philanthropy.
In his acceptance speech, DiCaprio stressed the importance of environmental preservation and that more needs to be done.
“Now what does that say about us that we care so deeply about growing our own economy and yet do so little to protect our only home?” he said. “Less than three percent of all philanthropic giving goes toward protecting and preserving our environment. That’s ridiculous. And a fraction of that three percent goes to protecting our oceans which is the foundation of all life on this planet.”
“I think what a lot of people think is they can’t do anything. And they think that their voice doesn’t matter. But it’s very important to encourage people to get involved. Even if it’s on a local level,” said newly minted Miss America Kira Kazantsev.
Earlier that day, some 300,000 participants, including DiCaprio, took to the streets in the largest march for climate change ever. DiCaprio will also be speaking at the UN Climate Summit this week. Sting said Sunday’s march participation was a positive sign.
“I thought today was a wonderful example of the thing expanding. I think there were a half a million people walking today and maybe 10 years ago you wouldn’t have got that many,” said Sting. “People are now waking up to the fact that climate change is real and we need to do something about it. We can’t be cynical or complacent. It’s happening. And we marched with the indigenous groups this morning, who’s been giving this consistent message for as long as I know and they said what’s happened to us on the front line will happen to the rest of the world and it’s coming to pass. We need to do something pretty urgently.”
Several supporters of CGI and the honorees attended including Bill and Hillary Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, Princess Charlene of Monaco, Sting and wife Trudie Styler, Idris Elba, Uma Thurman, among others.
Designer Donna Karan and Elba each stressed the importance of traveling as key to change the world.
“Go out and see the world. Go out there and see what it’s all about. Because first of all, you’re going to be inspired. On any level. You’re going to want to help. But if you want to feel alive, you make a difference in the world,” Karan said.
“I think there needs to be unified message when it comes to the planet. I think people need to go out and see the planet,” said Elba. “You can’t really do it on the net. You can look at pictures but in terms of falling in love with the planet, I think people need to travel more and if you can’t travel, read the blogs of people who do travel and understand what’s going on in the world.”