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By Alexa Gray, Contributing Editor

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 28:  French Minister of Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius, Francois Hollande, Sean Penn, Minister of Ecology Segolene Royal, Sean Parker, Minister of Defense and Foreign Affairs Lener Renaud and Minister of the Environment Dominique Pierre attend the launch of the Haiti Reforestation Initiative at the French Mission to the United Nations September 28, 2015 in New York City.  (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for HRO)

How much power and influence do celebrities have in today’s world?

One would argue, a significant amount, and with great power comes great responsibility. Actor Sean Penn, has demonstrated (yet again) that his organization J/P HRO (Haitian Relief Organization) is committed to using power for good.

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 28:  French Minister of Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius, Francois Hollande, Sean Penn, Minister of Ecology Segolene Royal, Sean Parker, Minister of Defense and Foreign Affairs Lener Renaud, Minister of the Environment Dominique Pierre attend the launch of the Haiti Reforestation Initiative at the French Mission to the United Nations September 28, 2015 in New York City.  (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for HRO)On Monday, Sean Penn and Philanthropist Sean Parker from J/P HRO met with President of France, François Hollande, along with Ministers of Ecology, Development, Defense & Foreign Affairs, and Environment from Haiti, to sign a Letter of Intent, which “formalizes a partnership for a landmark climate change initiative.” The initiative is called Haiti Takes Root and is “dedicated to the reforestation, soil preservation and development in Haiti.” This is a historically significant moment as American, Haitian & French representatives come together to take responsibility for Haitian citizens and their affected land.

At one time, Haiti was 80% forest and a global exporter of natural resources. Today, less than 30% of Haiti is covered in trees and only 2% remains covered by original native forests. This significant degradation is startling and requires immediate action. The Haiti Takes Root initiative aims “to respond to climate change, build national resilience, improve the quality of soil and vegetation, increase forestry cover, and promote the use of sustainable agro-forestry and renewable energy.” The logistics of the project will be finalized for the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (CoP21) this December in Paris.

After the devastating Earthquake in 2010, many celebrities brought significant awareness to the destruction and global call for support. Ultimately, this project is happening “so that our children and the generations to follow live well on this planet, said Lerner Renaud, Haitian Minister of Defense and Foreign Affairs. This is power at its best: when those who have the ability to change lives and protect consecrated lands choose to take action, the most responsible thing they can do with all that power.

jphro.org

cop21paris.org

Image Credit:  Brad Barket/ Getty Images for HRO