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China's Ant Forest receives top UN environmental honor for tree-planting initiative

2019-09-28 08:42栏目:NEWS

U.S.-NEW YORK-ANT FOREST-CHAMPIONS OF THE EARTH-AWARD

Xu Di (1st L), general manager of the Ant Forest initiative, delivers a speech after receiving a 2019 "Champions of the Earth" award, in New York, the United States, Sept. 26, 2019. Ant Forest, a green initiative in China, on Thursday received a 2019 "Champions of the Earth" award, the United Nations highest environmental honor. Ant Forest won the "Inspiration and Action" category of the award given by the UN Environment Program (UNEP) for turning the green good deeds of half a billion people into real trees planted in some of China's most arid regions. (Xinhua/Li Muzi)

NEW YORK, Sept. 26 (Xinhua) -- Ant Forest, a green initiative in China, on Thursday received a 2019 "Champions of the Earth" award, the United Nations' highest environmental honor.

Ant Forest won the "Inspiration and Action" category of the award given by the UN Environment Program (UNEP) for turning the green good deeds of half a billion people into real trees planted in some of China's most arid regions.

Xu Di, general manager of the Ant Forest initiative, and Shen Junliang, a representative app user, received the award.

Launched by Ant Financial Services Group, an Alibaba affiliate, Ant Forest promotes greener lifestyles by inspiring users to reduce carbon emissions in their daily lives so as to better protect the environment.

Ant Forest users are encouraged to record their low-carbon footprint through daily actions like taking public transport or paying utility bills online. For each action, they receive "green energy points" and when they accumulate a certain number of points, an actual tree is planted. Users can view images of their trees in real-time via satellite.

"Leveraging digital technology connects us and brings us here," Xu told the award-giving ceremony. "This miracle is created by the power of digital technology."

Since its launch in August 2016, Ant Forest and its non-governmental organization partners have planted around 122 million trees in some of China's driest areas, including in arid regions in Inner Mongolia, Gansu, Qinghai and Shanxi. The trees cover an area of 112,000 hectares, making the project China's largest private-sector tree-planting initiative.

"It's very innovative. It's big. It is managed to mobilize millions of people to get an understanding of the environment and what they can do by contributing a small amount of resources," UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen, who gave out the awards, told Xinhua. "So having people engage in a personal way is very powerful."

She said she was pleased with the progress in China and in many other countries. "I think that in China there's a strong commitment to this through ecological civilization, through a commitment to making the next century one of environmental integrity. And we obviously want everyone to step up on this field, and so that's why we have been very, very pleased to see this year Ant Forest get the 'Champions of the Earth' award."

The private sector has an important role to play. The resources needed to make the Earth sustainable, produce renewable energy and restore degraded ecosystems cannot come from the taxpayers alone, they have to come from the leaders of the private sector, said Andersen.