Alipay Ant Forest, a green initiative on the world’s leading payment and lifestyle platform Alipay, has been awarded the United Nation’s highest environmental honor – the “UN Champions of the Earth” award – for inspiring over half a billion people to take action in their daily lives to live greener lifestyles and help protect the environment through the power of digital technology.
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Launched in the Alipay app in August 2016, the Ant Forest green initiative encourages users to adopt low-carbon activities — such as paying utility bills online, and walking or taking buses to work instead of driving — in their daily lives. Such behavior is counted and converted into virtual “green energy points” that accumulate to grow a virtual “tree” in the user’s mobile phone. With enough energy points, the virtual tree is converted into a real one and planted by Alipay and its philanthropic partners in desertification areas that need reforesting. In turn, this tree-planting initiative has inspired users to further adopt low-carbon and environment-friendly behavior.
By August 2019, Alipay Ant Forest has attracted over 500 million users, resulting in 122 million trees planted in arid areas in China, and the avoidance of 7.9 million tons of carbon emission. It’s influence has also traveled beyond China. Inspired by Alipay Ant Forest, the Philippines’ leading mobile wallet GCash introduced GCash Forest on its App in June 2019, enabling local users to contribute to reforestation and environmental preservation by adopting low carbon activities in their daily lives.
“Alipay Ant Forest shows how technology can transform our world by harnessing all the positive energy and innovation of global users,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme. “Although the environmental challenges we face are daunting, we have the technology and the knowledge to overcome them and fundamentally redesign how we interact with the planet. Initiatives like Alipay Ant Forest harness the best of human ingenuity and innovation to create a better world,” she said.
Champions of the Earth is the UN’s flagship global environmental award, established in 2005 to recognize outstanding figures from public and private sector and civil society that have had a positive impact on the environment. The United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) has recognized Alipay Ant Forest as a Champion of the Earth in the “Inspiration and Action” category.
“We are truly honoured to receive this Champions of the Earth award,” said Eric Jing, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Ant Financial. “Alipay Ant Forest reflects our belief that technology can and should be harnessed for social good. We are grateful to our many users and partners who have joined our efforts to plant 122 million trees and advance a shared vision of sustainable and inclusive development. Alipay Ant Forest’s popularity shows that the public is ready to take action to combat climate change,” he said.
In addition to planting trees, users can also choose to protect certain areas of conservation land through Alipay Ant Forest. The green initiative is further exploring innovative solutions that can help alleviate poverty and improve local lives through the power of digital technology.
By August 2019, Alipay Ant Forest has created over 400,000 job opportunities for local communities and generated RMB 60 million in total income. One of those locals is 57-year-old former herdsman Nie Yusheng, who now looks after over 2,000 hectares of Alipay Ant Forest as a forest ranger.
“’I never thought an ordinary herdsman like me could help change the environment in this way. Today, I am really happy to see that the land I live on is becoming greener in the short span of three years, partly due to my tree-planting work,” said herdsman-turned-ranger Mr. Nie, who is also a tree-planter in Alipay Ant Forest No.1 forest zone in the Alashan League of Inner Mongolia.
Operated by Ant Financial Services Group, Alipay is the world’s leading payment and lifestyle platform. Launched in 2004, Alipay currently serves over 1 billion users with its local e-wallets partners. Over the years, Alipay has evolved from a digital wallet to a lifestyle enabler. Users can hail a taxi, book a hotel, buy movie tickets, pay utility bills, make appointments with doctors, or purchase wealth management products directly from within the app. In addition to online payments, Alipay is expanding to in-store offline payments both inside and outside of China. Alipay’s in-store payment service covers over 50 markets across the world, and tax reimbursement via Alipay is supported in 35 markets. Alipay works with over 250 overseas financial institutions and payment solution providers to enable cross-border payments for Chinese travelling overseas and overseas customers who purchase products from Chinese e-commerce sites. Alipay currently supports 27 currencies.
About Champions of the Earth
The annual Champions of the Earth prize is awarded to outstanding leaders from government, civil society and the private sector whose actions have had a positive impact on the environment. Since 2005, Champions of the Earth has recognized 88 laureates, ranging from world leaders to technology inventors.