United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon just named Leonardo DiCaprio a United Nations Messenger of Peace with a special focus on climate change. The Academy Award-nominated actor and committed environmental activist joins 11 others in the role, including Stevie Wonder, primatologist Jane Goodall, author Paulo Coelho, and fellow actors Michael Douglas, Charlize Theron and George Clooney. DiCaprio’s first engagement as a Messenger will be to address the UN Climate Summit in New York on 23 September, 2014.

Leonardo DiCaprio UN

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said of the appointment, “Mr. DiCaprio is a credible voice in the environmental movement, and has a considerable platform to amplify its message. I am pleased he has chosen to add his voice to UN efforts to raise awareness of the urgency and benefits of acting now to combat climate change.” The Secretary-General praised the 39-year-old actor’s long-standing commitment to fighting for environmental causes through the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, which was established in 1998. The Foundation has raised substantial funds and bestowed generous grants to environmental protection and conservation projects in three focus areas — protecting biodiversity, ocean and forest conservation, and climate change. DiCaprio also spoke at the Our Ocean 2014 summit back in June, 2014.

Related: Leonardo DiCaprio Pledges $7 Million Towards Ocean Conservation Projects

United Nations Messengers of Peace are individuals who possess widely recognized talents in the fields of art, film, literature, music and sports. Their role is to help to raise worldwide awareness of the UN’s ideals and activities through their public appearances, contacts with the international media and humanitarian work. In addition to DiCaprio’s focus area of climate change, other areas of focus include prevention of HIV (Charlize Theron) and disarmament (Michael Douglas). In response to receiving the role DiCaprio stated, “It’s an honor to accept the role of UN Messenger of Peace on Climate Change and to support the Secretary General in his efforts to address one of the most important issues we face as a global community. I feel a moral obligation to speak out at this key moment in human history — it is a moment for action. How we respond to the climate crisis in the coming years will likely determine the fate of humanity and our planet.”

The UN Climate Summit will be held on 23 September, 2014, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The Secretary-General has invited world leaders to announce significant and substantial initiatives at the Summit to work towards limiting global warming. The Summit marks the first time in five years that world leaders will meet to discuss a new course of action on climate change.

+ United Nations Messengers of Peace

+ Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation

Via The Hollywood Reporter and The Huffington Post

Photos by U.S. Department of State via Wikimedia Commons, and The 11th Hour