GCash Forest, the largest corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative of GCash to date, is envisioned to create a ripple effect among big corporations, as it is expected to encourage other tech juggernauts to use technologies to create a positive and lasting impact on the environment.

The first of its kind in the Philippines, GCash Forest, an in-app feature of GCash, incentivizes users to adopt a green lifestyle through green energy points, which they can use to plant a virtual tree, which will eventually be planted at the Ipo Watershed in 2020.

The goal is to plant at least 365,000 trees at the vital watershed by the end of 365 days to help ensure the sustainability of Metro Manila’s main water source and help stimulate the growth of local flora and fauna in the area.

“We hope that the other big companies also participate in this initiative by using their technology and apps to merge ICT and environmental concerns. We must merge the future and the past to save the environment, GCash Forest is one way of doing it,” Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Outgoing Acting Secretary Eliseo M. Rio Jr. said.

Guided by its vision to harness technology for good, GCash has cemented its legacy in the Philippine greening initiative by converging its game-changing financial technology (fintech) application and its CSR thrust with GCash Forest.

“We hope to create a positive impact through this initiative, and we hope to also encourage other companies to follow our lead. One of the main goals of GCash Forest is to create awareness. Deforestation is a huge problem in the Philippines and collaboration among industry stakeholders as well as other big companies is key to solving this,” Mynt President Anthony Thomas said.

Removing 7.5 billion grams of carbon footprint in 1 year

To plant trees through GCash Forest, GCash users need to collect green energy points by performing daily routines that essentially reduce their carbon footprint. For instance, instead of taking a jeepney to pay for utility bills at a bank, a user can simply use the GCash app’s bills payment feature to save time, energy, and cut down his carbon footprint.

Other tasks include walking to work and avoiding single-use materials, among others. Each green energy point nourishes the virtual tree in GCash Forest, and once it is fully-grown, GCash will then plant this tree in its season to ensure its survivability.

“GCash Forest is part of Mynt’s CSR program called GCash For Good, which is envisioned to transform our digital wallet application into a socially-significant, responsible and sustainable platform where GCash users are enabled to participate in social causes that matter to them,” Mynt Vice President for Corporate Communications Ney Villaseñor explained.

For GCash Forest, GCash For Good partnered with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and The Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN) to implement the tree-planting initiatives. Specifically, the DENR will provide land resources in Ipo Watershed, the WWF will be providing trees and manpower, while BIOFIN will provide expertise on monitoring.

“More than the trees, ultimately it’s about embedding the green lifestyle in the daily lives of Filipinos. In the long run, this will create a huge impact on the environment and it will ensure that the future generation will get to experience a greener Philippines than it is today,” Thomas added.

Each tree requires a GCash user to earn 20,560 green energy points, which are converted carbon footprint in grams. This translates to roughly 7.5 billion grams of carbon emissions removed from the ecosystem through the 365,000 trees to be planted through 2020.

Critical initiative

With the changing state of consumerism, demands likewise evolve. Filipinos want to inherit a future where natural resources are still readily available for them and their children, United Nations Development Programme Representative Titon Mitra said.

“Consumer demands constantly change and everyone wants to inherit a bright future. This initiative helps ensure that vision, as it has incredible power. If each of the 20 million GCash users makes their own contribution, that’s 20 million trees, and that’s a huge impact,” Mitra noted.

Over 47,000 hectares of forest land area are lost every year. Philippine forests used to amount to more than 50 percent of the country’s land area, but this percentage gradually declined with the onslaught of illegal logging and deforestation. Today, the country’s remaining forest cover is now only at 7.168 million ha or only 24 percent of its total land area.

“It is very critical that we rehabilitate our forests now. Partnering with GCash enables us to continue rallying a vast network who could grow our movement of restoring our forests and protecting our biodiversity,” WWF Philippines President Joel Palma said.

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