Ant Forest, a tree-planting mini program in the Alipay app that enables users to earn virtual points for making low-carbon lifestyle choices, today announced that it has helped over 600 million users plant more than 326 million trees since it launched in 2016, contributing to reforestation efforts in some of China’s most arid regions.
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Saxaul trees Ant Forest users helped plant in Alxa, Inner Mongolia (Photo: Business Wire)
“Going green has always been part of our calling, but we know that one company’s effort is far from enough. That is why we need to create an innovative open platform, where individuals, NGOs, and brands can work together to protect the environment through low-carbon lifestyle choices”, said Yijie Peng, President of Social Good and Green Development at Ant Group. “We are excited that over 100 brands have chosen to work with Ant Forest in offering low-carbon lifestyle incentives to users, and we look forward to working with even more partners in the future.”
When users make environmentally friendly lifestyle choices, such as paying utility bills online instead of asking for paper invoices, or taking public transportation to work instead of driving, the choices are counted and converted into virtual “green energy points” that accumulate to grow virtual “trees” in the Ant Forest mini program on Alipay.
After accumulating enough points, users can convert their virtual trees into real ones, which are then planted by Alipay and its philanthropic partners in areas that need reforesting. Ant Forest users can also donate their green energy points to help preserve wildlife diversity. To better protect biodiversity, Ant Forest has partnered with various environmental NGOs to provide shelter for over 1,500 species in 18 protected areas across 10 provinces in China.
Many businesses, including international brands like Starbucks, Timberland and Estée Lauder, have also set up their own virtual forests within the Alipay app, where fans of the brands can join their efforts to protect the environment. These fans can opt to donate a certain amount of their own green energy points to branded virtual forests, which are later converted into real trees planted in areas that need to be reforested. As of August 2021, users had donated green energy points to Estée Lauder, Timberland, and Starbucks’ branded virtual forests more than one billion times in total.
Currently, more than 100 brands including chain restaurants, home appliance makers and food delivery companies work with Ant Forest so that when customers make low-carbon lifestyle choices, such as choosing not to ask for disposable cutlery when ordering food or purchasing home appliances with high energy efficiency, they can earn green points. Users can then donate these points to plant trees or to support biodiversity in protected areas.
In 2019, Alipay Ant Forest was awarded the “UN Champions of the Earth” award – the United Nation’s highest environmental honor – for leveraging digital technology to inspire hundreds of millions of people to take greener actions in their daily lives. In the same year, Alipay Ant Forest also won the 2019 UN Global Climate Action Award for using digital technologies to scale up climate action.
Alipay is the leading digital payment platform in China, serving hundreds of millions of users, and connecting them with merchants and partner financial institutions that offer inclusive financial services and digital daily life services such as food delivery, transport, entertainment, and healthcare.
Ant Group, the owner and operator of Alipay, has further introduced the global cross-border mobile payments and marketing solution Alipay+, which enables merchants, especially small and medium-sized businesses, to better serve consumers from all over the world by collaborating with global partners.