Saturday, November 5, 2016

Letter to Leonardo di Caprio

Dear Mr. Di Caprio,

I am very grateful that you use your influence to help stop climate change. So thank you for raising awareness about this problem via your film “Before the Flood” (

But I was very also very shocked that you, as a UN Messenger of Peace with a Special Focus on Climate Change responded the way you did to the Indian expert in this film. She said that unsustainable lifestyles need to be addressed and changed. To my great surprise you answered that you agreed, but concluded that in America “it’s probably not going to happen”. How can you say this as a Climate Messenger on behalf of the UN? If you declare change unlikely, change is indeed unlikely to happen.

Your answer was that wind and solar energy were “hopefully going to become cheaper and cheaper and that it will ultimately solve the problem”. It is so sad to hear you say this! To me this sounds like: “Don’t worry, you don’t have to change, continue to build, drive and consume the way you do because clean energy is going to reduce your carbon footprint.” Do you really believe that? With a growing world population?

Your film “Before the Flood” addresses adults to convince them of the seriousness of the climate problem. May I warmly invite you to come to UNESCO where we address children and focus on a solution: Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)? Because like wars, also unsustainable lifestyles always start in the minds of men and women. UNESCO plants the seeds of sustainable lifestyles by promoting ESD, which is the most powerful tool to change unsustainable behavior. 

Maybe if you use your influence to introduce ESD in American elementary schools, junior and high schools, it will happen that citizens start adopting more sustainable lifestyles. I believe this is likely, even in America. You just need to start early enough and show the way. Maybe your next film can take this into account?

I recommend that you watch this French documentary which focuses on concrete solutions that citizens can start implementing right here, right now: It did not make me sad and angry but it gave me the positive energy to do something.

Thank you so much again for your great efforts to protect our living environment!

Warm regards,

Stein van Oosteren

Read also:
-          The UNESCO Associated Schools Network is the biggest educational network in the world (+10,000 schools):
-          This network of schools is used to prevent violent extremism, so why not to prevent unsustainable lifestyles?
-          UNESCO is currently preparing a UN Declaration on the Ethical Principles in relation to Climate Change. This texts helps governments to address climate change not as a technical issue (“we must diminish the emission of greenhouse gasses by so-and-so-much”) but as an ethical issue (“why do we need to change our behavior and on the basis of what principles can we do that?”). Maybe you can help bring this tool to the attention of governments as they prepare for climate negotiations?

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