Leonardo DiCaprio is the latest high-profile name to join an eclectic group of judges for next year's Zayed Future Energy Prize.
The prestigious awards, which are given out each year in Abu Dhabi, recognize companies, individuals, and nonprofits that have made "significant contributions in the global response to the future of energy." First-place winners receive a price of $1.5 million, while second and third receive $1 million and $500,000 respectively.
DiCaprio, 36, will jury nominations along with Maldives President Mohammed Nasheed, South Africa's Energy Minister Elizabeth Dipuo Peters, President of the U.N. Foundation and Better World Fund Timothy Wirth, and founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation, Cherie Blair.
But wait — there's one more: Andre Agassi.
What's the former tennis star doing on a jury dedicated to honoring clean energy mavens? I was wondering that myself, but it turns out that the guy has pushed hard for environmental conservation and energy efficiency through his Andre Agassi Foundation for Education. Earlier this summer, he announced a 465 kilowatt photo-voltaic energy system to provide electric power to the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy — the largest such rooftop solar array in Nevada.
“Like the Zayed Future Energy Prize, the Agassi Foundation is committed to advancing the use of renewable energy systems as a vital step to reduce our carbon footprint and mitigate the negative effects of climate change," said Agassi in a statement. "I am pleased to be a member of this jury to support worldwide efforts to create a cleaner sustainable energy future for generations to come.”
DiCaprio mirrored those sentiments saying that it's "our generation that must create a sustainable environment and mitigate the potentially devastating effects of climate change."
The Zayed Future Energy Prize was created to honor the legacy of the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founding father of the United Arab Emirates, who championed environmental stewardship as an integral part of United Arab Emirates history and heritage.
“There is no greater challenge today than to address climate change, sustainable development and the need for cleaner sources of energy,” said Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, director general of the Zayed Future Energy Prize, and CEO of Masdar. “By offering the world’s largest future energy prize, our goal is to serve as a catalyst in identifying the most innovative solutions in this arena around the world.”
Nominations for the prize are being accepted through Aug. 22. Winners will be recognized Jan. 17, 2012, at an awards ceremony in Abu Dhabi.