The “Green Digital Finance Alliance”, a ground-breaking initiative to harness digital technologies in catalysing financing that addresses global environmental challenges, was launched last week at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland by its two founders, Ant Financial Services Group (Ant Financial), China’s leading online and mobile financial services provider, and UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
Financing sustainable development is one of the greatest challenges of our times. To meet this challenge will require ambition, innovation, and commitment, underpinned by effective collaboration. Digital finance can drive environmental risks, opportunities, incentives and choices into the decision-making across the financing value chain. The Green Digital Finance Alliance is committed to driving forward such changes through market innovation, collaborative action and increased public’s awareness of sustainable development and green lifestyle choices.
“The Green Digital Finance Alliance is a unique partnership ensuring that we can align tomorrow’s fintech-powered global financial system with sustainable development. UN Environment is honoured to partner with Ant Financial in making green finance an integral part of the daily life of every individual and business,” said Erik Solheim, Executive Director of UNEP.
One such innovation is Ant Financials’ app which provides its users with a carbon account alongside their credit and saving accounts. Ant’s 450 million users in China are now able to benchmark their carbon footprint, generated through algorithms of their financial transaction history, and to earn ‘green energy’ credits for reducing their footprint. Ant Financial has integrated this into a social media experience as well as committing to a complementary, tree-planting carbon offset programme. As of today, 72 million users are participating in the app.
The number of people that signed up yesterday alone was nearly the equivalent of the population of Switzerland. Every day tens of millions of users go to their Ant Forest to grow their virtual trees while reducing carbon emissions.
“Ant Financial is a strong believer in green finance. Several of our products and services have been contributing to sustainable development. Leveraging mobile Internet, cloud computing and big data, we can encourage our hundreds of millions of users to participate in a green lifestyle,” said Eric Jing, Chief Executive Officer of Ant Financial.
The Alliance as a global partnership will include innovative digital finance businesses and active stakeholders in accelerating such innovations and scaling their international deployment.
Dr. Patrick Njoroge, Governor, Central Bank of Kenya, said: “Innovations in financial technologies (fintech) offer the greatest hope for aligning the world’s financial systems with the urgent twin objectives of sustainable development and deepening financial inclusion. Further progress requires the close cooperation of all-innovators, regulators, financial institutions.”
Nick Hughes, Chief Product Officer and Co-Founder, M-KOPA: “Access to affordable, clean energy can transform the livelihoods of millions of people around the world. At M-KOPA we’re harnessing the latest mobile and machine-to-machine technology to connect low-income homes to solar power, as well as productive assets and services. The Green Digital Finance Alliance provides a framework for parallel industries to work together to unlock the next wave of fintech innovation to lift millions out of poverty and drive sustainable development.”
Ambassador Peter Thomson, President of the United Nations General Assembly: “Implementing the SDGs will not be possible without adequate financing. We have to be creative in mobilising finance from every possible source and ambitious in exploring how to work together in aligning our global financial system with sustainable development. I welcome the launch of the Green Digital Finance Alliance as it addresses digital technologies to catalyse finance for the Sustainable Development Goals.”
Erik Solheim, Under-Secretary General of the United Nations, and Head of UNEP: “The Green Digital Finance Alliance is a unique partnership ensuring that we can align tomorrow’s fintech-powered global financial system with sustainable development.”
Eric Jing, CEO, Ant Financial Services Group: “ANT believes that tomorrow’s financial system should help value and manage our common environmental assets. We hope that the Green Digital Finance Alliance will contribute to shaping and accelerating this development.”
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngucka, Executive Director, UN Women: “UN Women is deeply committed to addressing the gender gap in access to finance in order to ensure that new financial solutions benefit women and men equally in support of sustainable development. UN Women welcomes the Green Digital Finance Alliance, and looks forward to supporting this new initiative.”
Rachel Kyte, CEO, Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL): “Getting finance at the right price to the right people at the right time will be critical in both securing clean energy access for all and meeting the climate change challenge. Digital finance can be a powerful tool for unlocking barriers to investment and empowering people to meet the challenge and seize the opportunity of clean, affordable future. This Alliance will I hope help to catalyze finance so that we transform lives, create jobs, clean air, provide energy, and restore landscapes at the speed and scale needed.”
Launched by Ant Financial and UNEP on 19 January 2017 in Davos during the World Economic Forum, the Green Digital Finance Alliance was created to address the potential for fintech-powered business innovations to reshape the financial system in ways that better align it with the needs of environmental sustainability. At its core, the Alliance’s members will comprise innovative financial institutions committed to using digital technology to advance green finance in lending, investment, and insurance. To ensure success, the Alliance will draw in allies from across the worlds of environment and finance, who, through their expertise, insights and networks can contribute to collaborative actions with timely and scaled potential.