He starred as Han Solo in Star Wars and Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark, but Harrison Ford also plays action-packed and compelling roles off screen. For more than 15 years the actor has served on Conservation International's board of directors, and on Sept. 19 was honored for his passion for protecting the Earth.
Ford accepted the "ICCF Good Steward Award" Tuesday night at a congressional caucus event in Washington, D.C., where he explained his long-standing dedication to global environmental issues.
"We can unite the world to take individual responsibility by establishing a global conservation ethic that every person – rich, poor, indigenous – can embrace," Ford said. "We need every person on the planet, all 6.5 billion inhabitants, to understand that they must do their part and take individual responsibility for conserving, protecting, and restoring nature."
Ford asked his audience at the inaugural gala for the International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF) to "place humanity before politics" and assured them that "what's good for the Earth is also great for global economic opportunity." He implored attendees to help do the heavy lifting to conserve the world's natural resources.
The actor, who joined CI's board of directors in 1991, is doing just that. He narrates public service announcements for CI, Earthshare, and the Environmental Media Association; he donated half of his Jackson, Wyo. estate to the Jackson Hole Land Trust as a conservation easement; and he has patrolled the New York's Hudson River watershed by helicopter as Riverkeepers' first "airborne watchdog." As one of CI's earliest board members, Ford has helped mold CI's mission and foster its growth. In turn, acknowledgments of all shapes and sizes have followed.
In Belize and Honduras, a species of ant now goes by the name Pheidole harrisonfordi. A "primitive" spider found in California is likewise dubbed Calponia harrisonfordi. The actor has also been honored with several environmental awards, including the 2002 Global Environmental Citizen Award from the Harvard Medical School.
On Sept. 19, the International Conservation Caucus Foundation also honored Patagonia founder, Yvon Chouinard, and former congressman Rob Portman, who now serves as director of the White House Office of Management and Budget.
Chouinard has made protecting the environment a foremost tenet of his outdoor equipment and apparel business. Portman authored legislation to implement "debt for nature" swaps between developing nations and the United States government that allow them to relieve debt while" generating funds to conserve their natural heritage.
Founded by the U.S. House of Representatives in 2003 to raise awareness of international conservation issues among lawmakers, the ICCF was inspired by members of Congress and the International Conservation Partnership (ICP) – a collaborative effort of nongovernmental organizations including Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy, Wildlife Conservation Society, and World Wildlife Fund.