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Djimon Hounsou

Djimon Hounsou

Posted: July 19, 2010 03:44 PM

It Is Time to Change Our Ways

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For the last few years I have had a growing concern for our planet and our impact on it. It's unbelievable that we as humans live with an expectation that one-day someone will come and rescue us from the devastation that we are causing.

I have never been incredibly vocal in the media. I do my best to remain private; however, I believe strongly in education, and when it comes to certain humanitarian and environmental issues that I believe in, the word and the message must get out. I am an Ambassador for Oxfam, and a staunch supporter of SOS Children International. These organizations have opened my eyes to serious problems facing people on this planet, and the environment itself.

I have had the blessing and opportunity to travel to various parts of the world as a result of my modeling and acting career. I have seen incredible cultures and spent time with wonderful people, however I have also seen the seemingly never-ending industrialization of our planet. Cities like Moscow, Bangkok, and Hong Kong, not to mention my home city of Los Angeles, have more congestion and contribute greater amounts of pollution than most countries put out as a whole.

A year ago, I had the privilege and honor to open the ceremony of the Summit on Climate Change in New York City. I read a moving passage, written by astronomer and author, Carl Sagan, about our delicate. In addition to the Summit, the Clinton Global Initiative was also hosting its annual event during the same week, which I was fortunate enough to attend as well. Following these two events I was inspired and motivated, and had high hopes as many of the world's leaders were preparing to gather in Copenhagen in the fall to address the very issues that we were speaking about.

I was led to believe that after Copenhagen, that our world leaders would come to some understanding and agreement about what to do in regard to the cataclysmic effects of global warming, and moreover to enact legislation to hold one another accountable. In the aftermath of both the Global Summit hearing in New York, and the Conference in Copenhagen, we still have yet to take the initiative that is needed to actually make a difference and try to reverse the damage that we have already done. This is disappointing.

Earlier this year, I was asked to be a part of a global campaign that PUMA spearheaded alongside the United Nations Environmental Program. As a UNEP Ambassador fighting for changes in environmental policy, I actively pursue these opportunities. In a joint effort, surrounding the World Cup, they brought much needed attention to issues facing both the continent of Africa and the world. There is no better platform than the world's game to bring the message to as many people as possible.

I was deeply moved when my wife, Kimora, accompanied me on a recent humanitarian trip to South Africa during the World Cup. One of the reasons I love Kimora is her eagerness to adopt my life's work and passion for uplifting Africa. During our week in Cape Town, we participated in Puma's African Unity campaign and also toured SOS Children's Village visiting kids whose lives have been upended by AIDS, war torn communities and other challenges. We were invited to meet with Bishop Tutu and also cordially invited to leave our handprints on a mural for the Nelson Mandela Foundation. It was a moving trip to say the least.

Having the World Cup take place in Africa was a monumental moment. I cannot express my excitement for my home continent, and to have 6 African teams competing for their home nations, and for their continent as a whole was a breathtaking event. The World Cup has brought this country to the limelight and hopefully garnered much needed attention for the continent of Africa and many issues that they face. South Africa is one of the most developed nations in Africa and has led the way in many respects with going green and preserving the environment.

Developing nations are being forced to adapt to the changing environment, and consequently are taking the initiative to adopt a cleaner way of living. They lack the resources that we in America have, but have the ingenuity and are working by necessity to survive. America and other developed nations around the world have dropped the ball and made poor choices that we are only now trying to change. We have the assets to live differently, but our infrastructure is already founded on our current lifestyle and is difficult to reverse. My message to developing nations would be to learn from our mistakes. It's not too late. You can start on the right foot and pave the trail for the rest of us to follow.

We have showcased a high interest and gone to Copenhagen to really take some drastic measures, but at the end of the day we are left without a clear path to the objective that we know is needed. The time for talking is over. The time for action is now. We know the problem, furthermore, we are the problem. It's time to take steps towards the solution. It is time to change our ways, go green, stop polluting and stop pillaging our planet for its invaluable and irreplaceable resources.