First appeared in

Asian Development Bank

50 climate solutions from cities in the People's Republic of China


Ant Forest, with more than 220 million registered users, is a digital platform bringing about significant sustainable behavior change, planting millions of trees and bringing low-carbon lifestyles into the 21st century.

The world’s most valuable fintech company, Ant Financial, launched its new carbon footprint platform, Ant Forest, gamifying low-carbon lifestyles and planting millions of trees in Inner Mongolia. In the platform’s first 9 months of operation, it has attracted over 220 million users—almost 3% of the world’s population. While the change required to protect our planet is often dictated top-down, Ant Forest harnesses the power of technology to foster behavior change from the bottom up, bringing carbon footprint to people’s online profiles for the first time.


Tracking multiple aspects of users’ daily lives through integration with Alipay and Alibaba, the app rewards users for sustainable behavior, helping them to grow their “virtual tree” and compete against their friends. Once the “virtual trees” have matured enough, the company will plant a real tree in Inner Mongolia to protect against desertification. By April 2017, over 8.45 million “virtual trees” had been planted and real trees are following, thanks to the program, providing significant carbon storage. Ant Forest is an entirely new way of thinking about carbon markets and engaging people, with huge scalable potential.

Over 220 million registered users are using the app to track their carbon footprint (photo by Jieshi Zhang).

The Challenge

The PRC is suffering from extreme desertification and increased temperatures and rainfall as a result of climate change. Ant Forest is providing a bottom-up solution for the masses to take action on mitigation against climate change.


Environment  The combination of behavior change and tree planting is estimated to be having a combined effect of 5,000 tons of CO2 emissions reduction per day.

Health Ant Forest encourages increased active mobility among its users, reducing the likelihood of lifestyle diseases, while a forestation activity improves air quality, reducing respiratory illness.

Social The gamification of the platform brings fun and competitive aspects leading to a more sustainable lifestyle, mobilizing the masses to make tangible change, pushing the low-carbon revolution.