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Smart’s green programs lauded in latest GSMA global report

The GSM Association (GSMA) cited wireless services provider Smart Communications, Inc. for initiating environmental protection programs that utilize innovative technologies.

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The GSM Association (GSMA), the global industry organization of mobile network operators, cited wireless services provider Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) for initiating environmental protection programs that utilize innovative technologies.

Prior to the Digital Dividends report, Connected Mangroves was also featured in GSMA’s Case for Change 2019, an initiative that features the global mobile industry’s contribution to achieve the UN SDGs.

In its report “Digital Dividends in Natural Resource Management” released on World Environment Day, the GSMA commended Smart in two out of its three featured environmental programs. The study highlighted Smart’s innovations that protect rainforests and restore coastal communities, which are currently under the PLDT Group’s Gabay Kalikasan effective environmental stewardship sustainability pillar.

Conducted under the GSMA CleanTech programme, the study explored the “Digital Dividends” of applying various types of technology to natural resource management (NRM). The report emphasized how digital solutions can significantly improve the efficiency, responsiveness and efficacy of NRM activities. “Innovative approaches to environmental concerns are believed to contribute to at least 10 of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, as natural resources, livelihoods and poverty are interlinked,” PLDT-Smart Chief Sustainability Officer and concurrent PLDT SVP and Group Controller and Smart Chief Financial Officer Chaye Cabal-Revilla explains. 

Guarding the rainforest

Launched in the first quarter of 2020, the Rainforest Connection Program is a collaborative effort between Smart, the Philippines’ Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Huawei Technologies Philippines (Huawei). It has been successfully deployed in five DENR-designated areas in Palawan, which is recognized as the “last ecological frontier” of the country.

The program uses an Internet of Things (IoT) solution that taps mobile technology to record sounds in the rainforest sounds in order to detect illegal logging and poaching activities in the country’s rainforests.

Developed by a US-based NGO of the same name, Rainforest Connection makes use of old cell phones, all powered by solar panels and wireless technology, to monitor and record ambient sounds of DENR-identified priority forest areas.

The bio-acoustics are then uploaded to a cloud service using Smart’s mobile network connectivity. Findings based on the collected data are accessible via a mobile app and may be used by key community stakeholders to interpret patterns of forest activity and to guide their course of action.

Restoring mangroves with Ericsson, LGUs

Smart’s Connected Mangroves partnership with network vendor Ericsson is also featured in the 2020 GSMA Digital Dividends report. This program was also lauded by GSMA in its Case for Change initiative in 2019, as one of the global mobile industry’s contributions to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The IoT for mangroves protection uses wireless connectivity to collect critical data relevant to the survival of these plants, such as water level, temperature, soil moisture, and other conditions in the mangrove area. The information, which is being collected by the mangrove sensor system, is transmitted over a cloud system to a dashboard accessible to the fisherfolk communities and authorities.

Mangrove forests are deemed important in the protection of seaside communities from typhoons, flooding, erosion and other coastal hazards, and serve as a vital habitat for various aquatic life forms. The newly established Sustainability Office of PLDT-Smart aims to scale up the project for 2020, following its 2017 deployment in the Sasmuan Bangkung Malapad Critical Habitat and Eco-tourism Area in Pampanga.

Aside from Rainforest Connection and Connected Mangroves, most NRM projects that GSMA studied also leverage data collected through satellites, drones or connected devices. One in five uses artificial intelligence to discover, explore and derive insights from datasets. GSMA studies show that when an initiative receives support from a telco or a technology organization, it is twice as likely to use emerging technologies like connected devices, blockchain, and the like.

Supporting GSMA’s #RaceToZero

These recognitions coincide with PLDT-Smart’s announcement that it is supporting the GSMA’s Race to Zero campaign, as a member of the organization’s Climate Change Task Force. The movement highlights broad-based commitment to zero emissions from all stakeholders, building back better from the COVID-19 context.

Race to Zero aims to mobilize leadership and support from business cities, regions, and investors for a net zero greenhouse gas emissions economy by 2050, preferably earlier. PLDT-Smart aims to do this by progressively improving operational efficiencies, turning to green technologies this 2020, and pursuing the use of renewable energy in its facilities. This is on top of the various partnerships established to help protect and conserve our rainforests, mangroves, and marine life – all leveraging on digital technology and the PLDT-Smart network.

“For us, ‘The Race To Zero’ has already begun, we have hit the ground running,” PLDT Chief Revenue Officer and Smart President and CEO Alfredo S. Panlilio says in a video message.

“We realize this is not a sprint but a marathon. So, we will run this race at a steady pace, keep our eyes focused on our goal, and stay determined to see it through to the finish line,” he concludes.

“This is the larger mission before us – the purpose that drives our organizational will and energy towards sustainability on the triple bottom line of profit, people, and planet,” PLDT Chairman, President, and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan says.

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Visa, Shopee team up to launch ‘Where You Shop Matters’

The initiative is part of Visa’s broader small business strategy and follows commitments the company has made to support 10 million small and micro businesses in the Asia Pacific, and a global commitment from the Visa Foundation of USD210 million to provide COVID-19 emergency relief for the small business sector.

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Visa launched Where You Shop Matters to encourage consumers to support local businesses while helping SMEs to go digital following the onset of COVID-19. The initiative is part of Visa’s broader small business strategy and follows commitments the company has made to support 10 million small and micro businesses in the Asia Pacific, and a global commitment from the Visa Foundation of USD210 million to provide COVID-19 emergency relief for the small business sector.

As part of the Where You Shop Matters initiative, Visa has partnered with Shopee, the leading e-commerce platform in Southeast Asia and Taiwan, to help support thousands of local small businesses who are selling on Shopee. Visa and Shopee will be creating campaigns to enable Visa cardholders to enjoy discounts when they shop at these local merchants.

“We introduced Where You Shop Matters to support our small businesses in the Philippines. The impact of COVID-19 for these businesses along with shifting consumer behaviors to eCommerce reinforced the need for Visa to launch Where You Shop Matters. Furthermore, the partnership with Shopee will help us support thousands of local businesses in the Philippines. We are confident that Filipinos will help support the local economy, especially since our study showed that 95 per cent of Filipino consumers will purchase from local retailers to support small business recovery,” said Visa Country Manager for the Philippines & Guam, Dan Wolbert.

“The pandemic has accelerated several years’ worth of change into the span of a few months, and this rapid acceleration of the shift to digital payments also means that businesses need to go through a digital transformation and adapt to changing consumers’ behaviors to do well.”

“We are happy to partner with Visa to launch the Where You Shop Matters campaign to help small business owners go digital. Shopee commits to offer our sellers and MSMEs a more secure, seamless, and rewarding way to do business online, and we will continue to explore new ways to help them succeed online” says Martin Yu, Associate Director at Shopee Philippines.

The Visa study also showed that 77 percent of Filipino consumers believe it is important for local retailers to have an online presence. To encourage SMEs to go digital, Visa will be providing them with a Visa eCommerce Starter Kit to help them start, manage, and grow their online storefronts. Visa is partnering with BigCommerce to provide onboarding support and special discount rates for SMEs to sign up and start selling online. SMEs can also benefit from a variety of offers, including Office 365 business packages and cashback on Google Ads to help them get their online business up and running. For SMEs with physical stores, they can order free Visa POS signage to build trust with consumers.

“The pandemic has accelerated several years’ worth of change into the span of a few months, and this rapid acceleration of the shift to digital payments also means that businesses need to go through a digital transformation and adapt to changing consumers’ behaviors to do well,” added Dan.

Said Jowee Alviar, co-Founder of Team Manila, one of the six marquee merchants in the Where You Shop Matters campaign, ” We’re happy to be featured among the local brands in Visa’s #WhereYouShopMatters campaign. It is vital for TeamManila to reach our customers wherever they are, be it through online shopping portals or our website. We can show them the new designs of our collection, answer their inquiries, and fulfil their orders easily and securely through card payments using Visa, at the convenience and comfort of their own homes.”

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Consumers are four to six times more likely to buy from brands with strong purpose – study

A global study analyzing the business value of brands having a well understood Purpose has revealed a strong business benefit as consumers are four to six times more likely to buy from, trust, champion, and defend companies with a strong Purpose.

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A global study analyzing the business value of brands having a well understood Purpose has revealed a strong business benefit as consumers are four to six times more likely to buy from, trust, champion, and defend companies with a strong Purpose.

The 2020 Zeno Strength of Purpose Study, commissioned by Zeno Group, the global, integrated communications agency, surveyed more than 8,000 individuals across 8 markets (United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, China, India, Singapore, Malaysia). As part of the study, consumers rated their perceived strength of Purpose of more than 75 brands. Zeno then performed a correlation and regression analysis to understand the relationship between consumers’ perceptions of a brand’s Purpose and their attitudes and intended behavior toward them.

Zeno found that when a brand is perceived to have a strong Purpose, consumers were:

  • Four times more likely to purchase from the brand;
  • Six times more likely to defend that brand in a challenging moment;
  • Four and a half times more likely to recommend (champion) the brand to friends and family;
  • Four times more likely to trust the brand.

Globally, France and the UK emerged as the countries most likely to trustchampion and defend a brand with a strong Purpose; consumers in Malaysia, India and Singapore were most likely to buy from a brand with a strong Purpose.

The survey also found that the benefits of a strong Purpose held across regions and generations, with 82% of consumers saying they took action to support a company or brand when they believed in its Purpose, sharing positive opinions of that brand with others, encouraging others to support or buy it, or starting to buy from the brand themselves.

Elements of Purposeful Brands

Zeno asked survey respondents to identify the top attributes of purposeful brands and uncovered eight key elements:

  • Fair treatment of all employees
  • Products or services that reflect the needs of people today
  • Ethical and sustainable business practices
  • Support for important social causes
  • Creation of new job opportunities
  • Diverse and inclusive culture
  • Issue advocacy
  • Strong set of values 

In North America and Europe, respondents ranked “fair treatment of employees” as the number one element of a purposeful brand. In Asia, consumers rated making “products and services that reflect the needs of people today” as the top element of a purposeful brand.

The Purpose Paradox

Consumers have also raised the bar and are looking to companies to advance progress on important issues within and outside of their operational footprint. Ninety four percent of global consumers say it is important that the companies they engage with have a strong Purpose. However, a significant gap exists as only 37% believe companies today actually do. Moreover, 83% of consumers surveyed globally said companies should only earn a profit if they have a positive impact, implying consumers have developed an expectation for brands and companies to have a higher calling beyond earning profits and rewarding shareholders.

When it comes to Gen Z – teens and 20-somethings – the stakes for brands couldn’t be higher, as many of these young people are in fact their own brands.  They expect brands to live their Purpose with action and to responsibly and consistently wield their economic and social power for good.

“By evaluating over 75 global companies, this is truly the first study of its kind directly linking the strength of a brand’s Purpose to reputation and business benefits. The data proves that consumers expect companies to have a more meaningful reason for being and are making decisions about what to buy and where to work with an eye toward supporting those that share their values,” said Alison DaSilva, Managing Director, Purpose & Impact at Zeno Group. “Yet, companies are leaving equity and opportunity on the table as the majority of consumers do not believe companies today have a clear and strong Purpose. It has never been more important for companies to not only articulate their Purpose, but to consistently demonstrate that Purpose in how they operate, support issues and engage with all stakeholders.”

Holding Brands Accountable

The study also found the so-called “cancel culture” expressed in respondents’ replies, as nearly eight-in-ten (76%) global consumers indicated they will act against brands whose Purpose, values or behaviors they disagree with, by no longer buying from the brand, switching to a competitor, or discouraging others from buying  or supporting it. 

The cancel culture behavior appears strongest among younger generations, with 88% of Gen Z and 85% of Millennials saying they were more likely to act negatively towards a brand they disagreed with. Primary actions included sharing their opinions with family and friends, whereas Boomers and Matures were more likely to act with their wallets, saying they would stop buying from the brand altogether.

The inclination for consumers to act against brands or companies they disagreed with was stronger in Eastern countries (China, 92%; Malaysia, 91%; Singapore, 89%). Meanwhile, in the United States, Canada, France, and the United Kingdom, consumers were slightly more forgiving of brands when they disappointed.

Younger Generations: Valuing Purpose

While respondents across generations recognized the strength and importance of Purpose, younger generations were most likely to champion on behalf of brands with a strong Purpose. Findings included:  

  • 92% of Gen Z and 90% of Millennial respondents say they would act in support of a purposeful brand – at least 10 percentage points higher than other generations surveyed.
  • 87% of Gen Z and 84% of Millennials state it’s a CEO, Founder, or Owner’s responsibility to drive a brand’s Purpose – six-to-three percentage points higher than all respondents.
  • 70% of Gen Z and Millennials feel a brand should have a Purpose they personally believe in – 22 percentage points higher than Boomers and Matures.
  • Across all survey questions, Gen Z led all generations in their positive affirmation of a brand’s Purpose. 

“When it comes to Gen Z – teens and 20-somethings – the stakes for brands couldn’t be higher, as many of these young people are in fact their own brands.  They expect brands to live their Purpose with action and to responsibly and consistently wield their economic and social power for good,” said Therese Caruso, Managing Director, Global Strategy & Planning at Zeno Group. “Gen Z’s number one ambition is to build a better world through the strength of collective action.  Those brands that do not put authentic and actionable Purpose at their core risk losing one of the most influential youth generations on the planet.”  

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Apple commits to be 100% carbon neutral for its supply chain and products by 2030

Already carbon neutral today for corporate emissions worldwide, the company plans to bring its entire carbon footprint to net zero 20 years sooner than IPCC targets.

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Apple unveiled its plan to become carbon neutral across its entire business, manufacturing supply chain, and product life cycle by 2030. The company is already carbon neutral today for its global corporate operations, and this new commitment means that by 2030, every Apple device sold will have net zero climate impact.

“Businesses have a profound opportunity to help build a more sustainable future, one born of our common concern for the planet we share,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “The innovations powering our environmental journey are not only good for the planet — they’ve helped us make our products more energy efficient and bring new sources of clean energy online around the world. Climate action can be the foundation for a new era of innovative potential, job creation, and durable economic growth. With our commitment to carbon neutrality, we hope to be a ripple in the pond that creates a much larger change.”

Apple is providing detail on its approach to carbon neutrality with a roadmap for other companies, as industries look to reduce their impact on climate change. In its 2020 Environmental Progress Report — released today — Apple details its plans to reduce emissions by 75 percent by 2030 while developing innovative carbon removal solutions for the remaining 25 percent of its comprehensive footprint.

Solar panels at a solar power plant.

To support these efforts and beyond, Apple is establishing an Impact Accelerator that will focus on investing in minority-owned businesses that drive positive outcomes in its supply chain and in communities that are disproportionately affected by environmental hazards. This accelerator is part of Apple’s recently announced $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, focused on efforts that address education, economic equality, and criminal justice reform.

“We’re proud of our environmental journey and the ambitious roadmap we have set for the future,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives. “Systemic racism and climate change are not separate issues, and they will not abide separate solutions. We have a generational opportunity to help build a greener and more just economy, one where we develop whole new industries in the pursuit of giving the next generation a planet worth calling home.”

Apple’s Climate Roadmap

Apple’s 10-year roadmap will lower emissions with a series of innovative actions, including:

Low carbon product design: Apple will continue to increase the use of low carbon and recycled materials in its products, innovate in product recycling, and design products to be as energy efficient as possible.

  • Apple’s latest recycling innovation — a robot the company is calling “Dave” — disassembles the Taptic Engine from iPhone to better recover key materials such as rare earth magnets and tungsten while also enabling recovery of steel, the next step following its line of “Daisy” iPhone disassembly robots.
  • The company’s Material Recovery Lab in Austin, Texas, which is focused on innovative electronics recycling technology, is now partnering with Carnegie Mellon University to further develop engineering solutions.
  • All iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch devices released in the past year are made with recycled content, including 100 percent recycled rare earth elements in the iPhone Taptic Engine — a first for Apple and for any smartphone.
  • Apple decreased its carbon footprint by 4.3 million metric tons in 2019 through design and recycled content innovations in its products. Over the past 11 years, Apple has reduced the average energy needed for product use by 73 percent.

Apple’s latest recycling invention — its Dave robot — recovers material from an iPhone component for better use in future products.

Expanding energy efficiency: Apple will identify new ways to lower energy use at its corporate facilities and help its supply chain make the same transition. 

  • Through a new partnership with Apple, the US-China Green Fund will invest $100 million in accelerated energy efficiency projects for Apple’s suppliers.
  • The number of facilities participating in Apple’s Supplier Energy Efficiency Program grew to 92 in 2019; these facilities avoided over 779,000 annualized metric tons of supply chain carbon emissions.
  • Last year, Apple invested in energy efficiency upgrades to over 6.4 million square feet of new and existing buildings, lowering electricity needs by nearly one-fifth and saving the company $27 million.
A worker atop a wind turbine performs repairs hundreds of feet off the ground.

Renewable energy: Apple will remain at 100 percent renewable energy for its operations — focusing on creating new projects and moving its entire supply chain to clean power.

  • Apple now has commitments from over 70 suppliers to use 100 percent renewable energy for Apple production — equivalent to nearly 8 gigawatts in commitments to power the manufacturing of its products. Once completed, these commitments will avoid over 14.3 million metric tons of CO2e annually — the equivalent of taking more than 3 million cars off the road each year.
  • New and completed projects in Arizona, Oregon, and Illinois bring Apple’s renewable capacity for its corporate operations to over 1 GW — equivalent to powering over 150,000 homes a year. Over 80 percent of the renewable energy that Apple sources for its facilities are now from Apple-created projects, benefitting communities and other businesses.
  • Globally, Apple is launching one of the largest new solar arrays in Scandinavia, as well as two new projects providing power to underserved communities in the Philippines and Thailand.
Two employees in a server room of an Apple data center.

Process and material innovations: Apple will tackle emissions through technological improvements to processes and materials needed for its products.

  • Apple is supporting the development of the first-ever direct carbon-free aluminum smelting process through investments and collaboration with two of its aluminum suppliers.
  • Today the company is announcing that the first batch of this low carbon aluminum is currently being used in production intended for use with the 16-inch MacBook Pro.
  • Through partnerships with its suppliers, Apple reduced emissions from fluorinated gases by more than 242,000 metric tons in 2019. Fluorinated gases are used in the manufacturing of some consumer electronics components and can contribute to global warming.
A factory worker monitors the smelting process at an aluminum production plant.

Carbon removal: Apple is investing in forests and other nature-based solutions around the world to remove carbon from the atmosphere.

  • Apple is announcing today a first-of-its-kind carbon solutions fund to invest in the restoration and protection of forests and natural ecosystems globally. 
  • In partnership with Conservation International, the company will invest in new projects, building on learnings from existing work like restoring degraded savannas in Kenya and a vital mangrove ecosystem in Colombia. Mangroves not only protect the coasts and help support the livelihood of those communities where they grow, but they also can store up to 10 times more carbon than forests on land.
  • Through its work with The Conservation Fund, the World Wildlife Fund, and Conservation International, the company has protected and improved the management of over 1 million acres of forests and natural climate solutions in China, the US, Colombia, and Kenya.
A giraffe in a savanna in Kenya.
Field workers in a Colombian mangrove.

Apple engages with governments, businesses, NGOs, and consumers around the world to support policies that strengthen environmental protections and the transition to clean energy, which the company sees as a vital component of global climate action. The company’s complete plan and how it measures its carbon footprint can be found in its 2020 Environmental Progress Report at apple.com/environment.

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