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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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‘Coffee for Peace’ enables Filipinos to build peace with coffee


Because at the heart of CFP’s operations is training farmers on coffee processing to develop skills to produce high-quality coffee beans.​ CFP provides knowledge on the market for farmers to understand what consumers want in coffee, and the value of what they do for awareness on fairer trade pricing.

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Photo by Nathan Dumlao from Unsplash.com

What if every Filipino, no matter where they’re based in the country, can be a “force for good” simply by sticking to routine—like, say, enjoying their morning cup of coffee?

Davao-based Coffee for Peace (CFP) proves this can be the case as its CEO and co-founder Felicitas “Joji” B. Pantoja confirms that they are a growing community of farmers and business owners practicing and advocating inclusive development principles in the coffee industry. Social entrepreneurship is their business approach to achieve justice and harmony in society and environment.

“As a reputable processor for good beans and an experienced roastery, CFP means business continuity for business owners but equally: support for farming communities. CFP even gives buyers the option to create their own brand under a MOA where 10% of very kilo sold goes back to farmers,” says J. Pantoja. 

Where does the customer from Luzon or Visayas ordering through the online shop fit into the peace building in Mindanao? “CFP by design allocates 25% of its net profit for its Peace and Reconciliation Teams, composed of volunteers from conflict-affected areas and international volunteers. They are trained in inter-faith dialogue, cross-cultural comms, trauma healing, relief and medical operations,” says J. Pantoja.

Because at the heart of CFP’s operations is training farmers on coffee processing to develop skills to produce high-quality coffee beans.​ CFP provides knowledge on the market for farmers to understand what consumers want in coffee, and the value of what they do for awareness on  fairer trade pricing. “We want farmers to be confident about the business side of farming, understand their market, correctly price and inspire the next generation to be farmpreneurs too,” says J. Pantoja.

Once the training is complete, CFP offers to partner communities post-harvest services at cost such as: coffee pulping, coffee dehulling, and coffee drying. Coffee for Peace also offers to partner-farmers and those who buy from them shared services such as: toll roasting, packaging, label design, and photography. The training result is a higher quality coffee product produced by a community in the Philippines.

Nurturing grassroots ‘farmerpreneurs’

At the Philippine Coffee Quality Competition, the top five awards went to Specialty Arabica coffee farmers from Davao del Sur. For jury member Byron Pantoja, CFP VP for operations, this indicates “farmers taking ownership of their craft as producers of some of the best coffee in the Philippines. We need to give more farmers the freedom, knowledge, and opportunity to innovate their coffee processes based on the demands of the market and the limitations of their land. That sense of ownership over what they do is what’s going to make them the best.”

Nurturing community ‘farmerpreneurs’ and realizing the country’s potential for premium to specialty coffee go hand in hand. J. Pantoja says, “Only 25% of the country’s 111M population is served by Filipino coffee farmers. Local cafes are challenged in sourcing good beans. We partner with DTI on bridging gaps such as training, equipment and drying space but getting to a scale that boosts our national reputation as a good coffee producer will take time. From 2,000 kilos at start, we are now at 32,000 kilos and encouraged to continue.”

Coffee for Peace has trained close to 880 farming families from different parts of our country, representing 13 tribes, including some Muslim areas. “Our model is to create our own competitors by giving them the secrets to making good coffee. We want to groom ‘farmerpreneurs’ who are also skilled in coffee tasting, financial management and conflict resolution. We want barista interns to dream of having their own coffee kiosks. For every kilo of coffee, one can make 140 cups of 6 ounces, and a barista in Davao nets 5K a day with his own coffee cart. The same can be done anywhere in the Philippines. Imagine if every region’s farmers had their own pop-up café or coffee cart, neighborhoods will also be educated to buy local,” says J. Pantoja.

“Premium specialty coffee from the Philippines” requires a mindset change that’s supported by the fact that local coffee has scored 80% special quality standard, points out Pantoja. A member of the National Coffee Council, she spoke about the need to streamline various resources from government policy and services and link these to smallholder farmers. “We want every island to join the national movement within the coffee industry to raise the level of coffee quality. Grassroots farmers also mean less carbon footprint for supplying the coffee locals want. We’ve gone to uplands to help a micro-lot owner assess the possibility of coffee farming. We’ve also linked roasters, who used to order coffee from us, straight to the farming community.”

Photo by Nathan Dumlao from Unsplash.com

Coffee and PH culture

Coffee is innate in the Filipino culture. “When we visit high-conflict communities, coffee served from a palayok is good quality. When I brought a sample to Canada where I used to live, the roasters said there was potential for premium quality to specialty. But we can only produce limited quantities. Opening opportunities for our farmers drove me to collaborate—inspire baristas to educate customers, get roasters to work with traders who source from farmer,” said J. Pantoja.

Operating for 13 years now, Coffee of Peace started with peacebuilding work. “Coffee is the vehicle but the ‘product’ is peace. In our peacebuilding work in Maguindanao, Basilan, and Sulu, we saw that coffee makes Moslem and Christians sit together and dialogue to settle conflict. In our environmental work, we saw that Arabica trees are included in our national greening program. Giving life back to forests also give locals a new, sustainable means of livelihood. I tell farmers: ‘You don’t have to go to the city, the buyers will come to see protected forest.’ We also advise farmers to get to know their customers, then the process follows,” said J. Pantoja.

As a case, Korean buyers came to Davao looking for fine Robusta. Local farmers have since expanded to Robusta. Explains B. Pantoja, “While specialty Arabica has fruity flavors like blueberries and strawberry, fine Robusta has a super smooth, full-bodied chocolatey taste like black tea.”

This distinction in tastes can be a strength of the Philippines as a group of islands since, explains J. Pantoja, we can’t compete with the land mass and harvest volumes of Vietnam, Brazil or Colombia, and we can’t produce for large coffee chains. “Instead, our edge is premium specialty coffee, with micro-lot orders of 1 to 2 tons that are of a quality and fetch a good price. Each island can produce a different taste profile depending on soil and fauna of that area. Arabica alone has 3,500 subvarieties, while Robusta has 2,400 subvarieties. The higher, the elevation, the sweeter the coffee.” The growing community of coffee champions and curiosity of millennials can only drive excitement over developing Philippine variants that are also ‘Just’ coffee of the social-justice kind.

For more information, visit www.coffeeforpeace.com and peacebuilderscommunity.org. Follow Coffee for Peace at www.facebook.com/coffeeforpeace.

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Ethical Biz

Teleperformance renews commitment to planet by pledging monthly switch-offs

Teleperformance Philippines renews its commitment to the planet as it pledges to do monthly switch-offs in all 22 of its business sites nationwide this 2021.

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Teleperformance Philippines renews its commitment to the planet as it pledges to do monthly switch-offs in all 22 of its business sites nationwide this 2021. 

The pledge was announced at its recent “Let’s Change the World” Citizen of the World (COTW) Meet-up, which shared updates on current advocacy projects of Teleperformance. The townhall, also held in celebration of Earth Hour, included special guest World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines Ambassador Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski. 

The WWF Philippines Climate Change Solutions Steward and the first female Earth Hour Ambassador, Cojuangco-Jaworski shared practical ways for Teleperformance employees and their friends and family to contribute to sustainability and climate change solutions for a cleaner and greener planet.

“Ultimately, it’s the things we do when nobody’s watching that matters the most. It’s about what we do as individuals, which was what we do in our own homes, what is our lifestyle and what are our habits. The biggest problem is the carbon footprint we leave on this earth,” shared Cojuangco-Jaworski.

Among some of the tips Cojuangco-Jaworski shared was reiterating the importance of the three R’s – to reduce buying what you don’t need, to look at what we can reuse and to recycle when we do our daily tasks. Another topic she touched on was plastic waste, hence, the importance of reducing consumption of single-use plastics, which could be ingested by animals, and then by people.

Teleperformance is committed to creating a positive impact on our local communities around the world through Citizen of the World, a charitable initiative to help the world’s most vulnerable infants and children meet basic survival needs and ultimately reach their individual potential. This effort is joined by the Citizen of the Planet program, a global corporate initiative implemented in 2008 aimed at ensuring that Teleperformance operates in an environmentally friendly and responsible manner.

Going beyond Earth Hour, Teleperformance employees are encouraged not only to volunteer for Citizen of the World activities but can also contribute by donating pre-loved items, purchasing items in the COTW store, donating part of their monthly salary, and participating in the monthly Earth Hour pledged by Teleperformance Philippines in all their sites across the country. 

“As we work to help bring awareness around environmental sustainability and, in addition to this commemoration this month, we at Teleperformance also commit to have an Earth Hour every single month. So for one hour every single month, we will switch off our lights for the rest of this year. We hope this will help continue to bring awareness as this is such an important goal for humanity and the community,” shared Jeffrey Johnson, Senior Vice President for Human Capital Resource Management and Citizen of the World Foundation President. 

Among the other projects accomplished by Citizen of the World were donations of food packs and PPEs to frontliners of the Philippine General Hospital, Vicente Sotto Medical Center and Southern Philippines Medical Center. Bringing to life its commitment to children and education, Citizen of the World also gave medical and financial aid to 100 children and their families through Kythe Foundation, awarding of 2,000 school supplies to various elementary schools in Metro Manila and the provinces. 

The elderly in need were also not forgotten as Citizen of the World donated 1,200 grocery packs to White Cross, Mary Mother of Mercy Home for the Elderly and the Abandoned and Good Samaritan Nursing Home for the Elderly. TP’s Gawad Kalinga village was also supported during the pandemic with a feeding program, donations of disinfectants and face masks and the provision of cash allowances.  

To help the country in its fight against Covid-19, the Citizen of the World program also donated 8 e-bikes to the Department of Health and PHP 150,000 worth of medical aid to the Philippine National Red Cross. Altogether, the Citizen of the World Foundation was able to create an impact on the lives of around 28,000 Filipinos. 

For more information on Teleperformance Philippines and its Citizen of the World initiatives, visit http://teleperformance.ph/

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Smart teams up with SM Cares to boost e-waste collection program

Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) teamed up with SM Cares to encourage more Filipinos to properly dispose their electronic waste for a better world.

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Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) teamed up with SM Cares to encourage more Filipinos to properly dispose their electronic waste for a better world. 

Shoppers can bring their old gadgets — like mobile phones, chargers, computer wires, earphones, and other e-waste — to the collection hubs at SM Supermalls nationwide. To encourage customers to support the program, Smart will raffle off 22 units of the Smart Bro prepaid pocket WiFi devices to those who will participate in the Live Smarter Challenge at designated areas until May 22, 2021.

Last month, Smart launched its “Live Smarter for a Better World” campaign which puts the spotlight on its long-running community partnership and corporate social responsibility programs to inspire Filipinos to commit to “personal revolutions” to generate lasting positive impact to society.

“We are happy to have partnered with SM Cares as we enable people to pursue their passions and purpose, especially for the environment,” said Jane J. Basas, SVP and Head of Consumer Wireless Business at Smart. 

She further underscored that big and small efforts can contribute to making a better world, highlighting the importance of Smart’s network and services in keeping Filipinos connected and empowered. “This is the driving force that has kept us going. It has always been in our DNA to serve and improve the lives of Filipino people—not just our customers,” Basas added. 

Meanwhile, SM Supermalls, through the SM Cares Program on Environment, launched its Electronic Waste Collection (EWC) Program earlier this year.  

“This is just the beginning of our series of CSR programs with Smart, as we join hands in creating a better world for Filipinos. We at SM are committed to continuously look for ways and means to better care for the planet and to support the communities where our malls are present, including addressing the growing problem of e-waste,” said Liza B. Silerio, VP – Corporate Compliance Group of SM Supermalls.

Smart Communities

Smart is also continuously enabling communities with technology, particularly education and livelihood, with two of its corporate social responsibility programs: School-in-A-Bag and “Buy Local, Buy Smart.” 

The School-in-a-Bag is designed to provide access to technology, connectivity, content, and a disaster-resilient pedagogy even for schools in remote areas without electricity. Each water-resistant backpack carries a laptop and pocket WiFi for the teacher and 10-20 tablets for the students, all pre-loaded with interactive, multimedia content accessible even if offline.  

Meanwhile, the “Buy Local, Buy Smart” initiative enjoins employees of PLDT, Smart, and its sister companies to buy their produce directly from local farming communities. By providing a sure and direct market for their produce, Smart is helping small-scale farmers earn more. Through the program, a sustainability fund for farmers is also established. For every purchase of rice from store.cropital.com, up to Php100 goes to funding their next planting cycle.  

Smart’s other initiatives also include building a culture of disaster resilience among communities with its #SafePH campaign, enhancing tourism through digital innovation with its Digital Tourism efforts, and preserving nature through mobile and communications technologies with its various environmental protection programs.

Smart’s environmental stewardship programs are aligned with the company’s commitment to helping the Philippines attain the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG #13: Climate Action.

For more information, visit https://smart.com.ph/Pages/betterworld

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