The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation recently granted $1 million to help the Seychelles islands protect their ocean territory — which makes up 99 percent of the country.
It’s part of a huge, unprecedented swap between the Pacific Island nation and foreign investor groups. The gist of the deal: The country of 115 tiny islands commits to protecting 154,000 square miles of its surrounding seas, and in return, its lenders agree to restructure $21.4 million of its debt. From Mashable:
In this case, instead of repaying debt at relatively high interest rates, the Seychelles government will redirect payments to a new, locally-run organization known as the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust.
DiCaprio’s (ahem) titanic donation will go toward financing this swap, which was brokered by The Nature Conservancy and will result in the second-largest swath of protected waters in the West Indian Ocean. By protecting coral reefs and limiting damaging fishing practices, Seychelles is hoping it will encourage more resilient ecosystems — and in turn, a more robust economy for the ocean-dependent nation.
“We champion projects like this one across the globe that use cutting edge methods in conservation and environmental protection,” said DiCaprio in a press release. “This deal will enhance food security for the local people of Seychelles, help mitigate the effects of climate change on their low-lying island home, and protect the surrounding rich ocean ecosystems for future generations.”
All the more reason to lobby for a new holiday: Leonardo DiCapprecation Day!