• Marianne Haahr

For the first time mobile-led ecological protection is being extended beyond China

Updated: Aug 4, 2019

The idea of leveraging digital technologies to solve environmental problems on a large scale, an idea pioneered by Alipay Ant Forest, is being extended and implemented outside of China for the very first time by Alipay’s e-wallet partner Gcash in the Philippines.

Inspired by Alipay Ant Forest, the Philippines’ leading mobile wallet Gcash has introduced GCash Forest, a new feature accessible through the GCash app which enables local users to contribute to reforestation and environmental preservation by adopting low carbon activities in their daily lives.

Created with the help of digital technology and expertise provided by Alipay, GCash Forest aims to plant 365,000 trees in 365 days, together with partners including the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and The Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN). This would support reforestation efforts to protect the local environment, which according to official data has been losing 47,000 hectares of forest cover every year.

The launch of GCash Forest, as well as the progress made by Alipay Ant Forest in protecting the environment, demonstrates the potential of digital technologies to engage individual citizens in a bottom-up approach to tackle environmental issues and support sustainable development. This approach complements top-down initiatives such as the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

“GCash Forest shows that digital technology has an incredible power to mobilize people in support of sustainable development and the fight against climate change. This movement goes beyond borders and is at our fingertips through our mobile devices,” said Meng Yan, Ant Financial’s Global Head of International Partnerships. “We’re more than happy to open up our technology and expertise to current and potential partners to make the world a better place.”

Alipay, the world’s leading payments and lifestyle platform, created the Ant Forest green initiative in August 2016 to encourage users to adopt low carbon activities in their daily lives. Alipay has also worked with strategic partners including The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to promote and accelerate innovation that addresses environmental challenges worldwide.

This is the first time that a mobile-led means of ecological protection is being extended beyond China. World-leading Internet analyst Mary Meeker noted in her 2019 Internet Trends Report that Alipay Ant Forest has led to the planting of 100 million trees in China’s arid regions, and was able to create large-scale participation in philanthropy facilitated by digital technologies. As of April 2019, Alipay Ant Forest has attracted over 500 million users (about 7% of the world’s population).

“I believe, in this mobile era, digital technologies have great potential to enable ordinary people like me to better contribute to environmental protection, especially the fight against deforestation and climate change” said 24 year old Philippine Alipay Ant Forest user Joahnna Pia Esquivias.

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