Posted on 2022-11-23

PROAmazonia and EcoMatcher Partnership: Progress Report

By Giovanny Romero, PROAmazonia

In March 2021, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and EcoMatcher signed an agreement to plant 83,636 trees in the Amazon province of Zamora Chinchipe in Ecuador and track all trees with EcoMatcher’s Technologies. This initiative has been implemented in the framework of the Amazonian Integral Forest Conservation and Sustainable Production Program (PROAmazonia), which is led by the Ministries of Agriculture and Livestock, and of Environment, Water and Ecological Transition of Ecuador, and implemented by UNDP.

PROAmazonía was established in 2017 in Ecuador and is financed by the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and Global Environmental Fund (GEF). This initiative, among other actions, promotes the transition to sustainable and deforestation-free agricultural systems, especially in coffee, cocoa, palm oil, and livestock value chains, which are the main drivers of deforestation in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

To achieve such a goal, PROAmazonia has implemented Agricultural Field Schools, in which technical personnel from specialized institutions have supported the strengthening of 8,000 producers’ capacities in good agricultural practices. As a result, over 64,000 productive hectares of the Amazon are currently in transition to sustainability. In addition, farmers have received non-monetary incentives, all along with the successful completion of the training program and their commitment to conserving the Amazon forest. 

PROAmazonia has also worked on the repowering of 13 collection centers from coffee and cocoa-producing associations so that their post-harvesting processes can render high-quality final products. Eventually, the implementation of traceability systems on producer’s farms and the sale of 11 tons of coffee and 17 tons of sustainable cocoa, with a deforestation-free mention, to companies like Lavazza and Silva Cacao, have marked the final step towards fulfilling a successful strategy of intervention.

Within this framework, we are proud to announce that a portion of PROAmazonia’s intervened farmlands – from over 200 families – have benefited from EcoMatcher’s tree species, which have been planted in agroforestry systems, in favour of the transition to sustainable and deforestation-free production. Such species include cocoa, coffee, and other native plants. 

These agroforestry systems provide environmental benefits like soil protection, an increase in water amount, and an improvement in water quality. As a result, the Amazonian ecosystem becomes more resilient. According to the CEO and Founder of EcoMatcher, Bas Fransen, “Proper tree planting is essential to address the climate crisis, and this initiative could not come at a better time. We are grateful to partnering with PROAmazonia and the UNDP”.

Since all these farmlands have been mapped by trained owners and farmers’ associations within the framework of PROAmazonia, EcoMatcher’s sponsors can have great confidence in preserving their adopted plants. Indeed, such activity was carried out by PROAmazonia to implement a forest conservation monitoring process in each farm, and to link the obtained information to a traceability system that provides transparency and guarantees the products’ origin.

You can adopt PROAmazonia trees here:

Posted on 2022-11-17

Why Partner with a Tree Planting Business

The corporate and charitable sectors have long practiced tree planting, as it has become a safe and unobtrusive strategy for the philanthropic arm of many large businesses. What started as PR fodder has now become an essential component of many companies’ sustainability plans. 

At the scale at which many companies operate, it can be tempting for them to organize tree-planting drives on their own. Tree planting seems like one of those low-effort, high-return initiatives, and this leads some groups to strike out on their own, planting trees where they see empty land. However, this isn’t the best approach for many reasons, including the ones we’ve listed below.

You can’t plant any kind of tree anywhere

While the process of tree planting seems easy on the surface, it is a highly scientific process that takes into account many environmental factors, such as soil conditions, native species, another biodiversity, and rainfall. Not every tree will survive everywhere in the world — in the wrong place; non-natives might die, develop a disease, or become invasive and destroy other vegetation in the area. Some tree varieties also need extensive pruning and care, which, if you can’t provide them, may just burden the community and negate all the effort you put into planting the tree.

Tree planting can be an opaque process if done wrong

Despite the growing number of organizations that offer this element of climate action to anyone and everyone under the sun, we often find that transparency is left in the dust. The process doesn’t end once the tree is planted — you will want to know whether it’s making a difference, like restoring biodiversity or sequestering a good amount of carbon. Anything less than that is greenwashing. Unfortunately, good-hearted consumers are often misled by strategies and end up supporting tree-planting drives that aren’t as clean as they make themselves out to be. Therefore we always recommend partnering with a tree-planting business that is open and transparent about how they conduct tree planting. 

One-off tree-planting projects may not have as significant an impact as we’d like

According to American Forests, if we carried out sporadic projects everywhere, as is still the custom for most tree planting organizations, we wouldn’t really make a significant impact. To make a measurable difference, we would have to focus on specific areas of the world or issues for years on end. That level of dedication may be impossible for a company, but it is very much the core value of a tree-planting organization.

Why you should partner with a tree planting business

If your goal is to do tree planting right, then you’ll want to find a partner that aligns with your business values and culture. Here is why we recommend partnering with a tree-planting business like EcoMatcher.

You can decide on your level of involvement

There are collaborations where the company just contributes financial resources, and expert farmers plant the trees. Other businesses could choose to include their own staff members in planting or engage with children to educate them. Partnering with a tree-planting organization allows you to choose your level of involvement while also having expert help on hand. 

You can identify impact at scale

A good tree-planting organization typically has scientists and experts who can clearly show the impact of your business’ support at scale. This is usually backed by years of data that they’ve collected from their many efforts around the world. Ideally, they would have set up trackers to measure key metrics, such as how much carbon has been sequestered or how much flooding or erosion has reduced. EcoMatcher allows you to see much of this data for yourself on your smartphone, which is a higher level of transparency and involvement. The EcoMatcher system, for example, can help you virtually travel to every tree, learn more about each tree and farmer, view your ESG report, and even calculate your annual carbon footprint. 

You can make a difference where it actually counts

As we said earlier, there are places where it doesn’t make sense to plant a tree, especially if it’s an invasive or non-native species. Partnering with a tree-planting organization ensures you don’t do more harm than good and make a difference in the parts of the world where it counts. Mongabay, for example, has an extremely helpful resource that helps anyone filter among over 350 tree-planting initiatives in 80 different countries. If you’d rather go through a trusted intermediary, then EcoMatcher can help — we have partnered with carefully selected organizations in parts of the world, including Indonesia, India, and Madagascar, where the effects of climate change are rife.

You can free your mind of the logistics

Imagine finding the appropriate sapling, finding the right land, digging a hole, watering the sapling, spraying fertilizer and pesticide, and doing this every day. Now multiply that by a thousand, and you can see that tree planting can be labor-intensive and much more difficult for those without experience in doing this at scale. Partnering with a tree-planting business ensures that you can free your mind of the logistics of tree planting while still making a difference and staying involved. 

You can have a global impact

Carrying out tree planting on our own means that we would be severely limited by where we are, how far we can travel, and what we can locally source. However, when you partner with a tree-planting organization, you can make an impact on any part of the world that truly needs your help without having to travel or physically plant the trees yourself. EcoMatcher, for example, leverages the power of technology to enable a global impact while helping organizations be close to the tree through pictures, details of the farmers, and other constant updates. You no longer have to limit your impact to the local area but can be known for your generosity in other parts of the world, too.

You can think long-term

There is a massive difference between “planting trees” and “sustaining a forest.” The former can be done in an afternoon; the latter takes years and is much more environmentally complex. Tree-planting organizations help companies focus on the entire process, from sourcing and planting seedlings to seeing the tree grow over many years. We must remember that tree planting is a means to an end: conserving and restoring ecosystems.

The final word

As we said, a tree is a proxy for a much more complex goal, one that is measured in biodiversity, livelihood security, and the protection of the planet. Partnering with a tree-planting organization can help companies think more large-scale and long-term in order to maximize their impact and make the best use of their resources and time. 

If you don’t know where to start, why not start with EcoMatcher? We partner with vetted tree-planting NGOs and businesses that plant the right trees at the right time in the right place. We leverage blockchain and technology to make this tree planting accessible and inclusive. At the same time, we support local livelihood, see the forest and not just the trees, and make positive climate change possible at a global level. We’d love for you to join us.  

Posted on 2022-11-09

EcoMatcher Brings Tree Planting to Microsoft Teams

New EcoMatcher app for Teams will enable Microsoft Teams users to plant trees, and track, engage, and share them at the touch of a button

Hong Kong, Sharm el-Sheikh, November 9, 2022 – EcoMatcher is proud to announce the EcoMatcher app for Microsoft Teams, bringing the benefits of tree-planting directly into Microsoft Teams. Teams users can now plant trees, track them through satellite mapping, view pictures of the trees and farmers looking after them, and even chat with their chatbot-powered trees and listen to ‘Forest Sounds’, to improve their overall well-being, all without leaving Teams. 

The integration helps Teams users contribute to reforesting the planet where it is most needed, while providing a moment to relax in nature virtually. 

“We have seen a significant increase in companies looking to leverage technologies that support climate action and promote employee well-being. The EcoMatcher app for Microsoft Teams does exactly that, allowing employees to plant and track trees while taking a moment to recharge before their next work challenge”, said Bas Fransen, CEO, and Founder of EcoMatcher. “We thank Microsoft for supporting EcoMatcher to become part of the Microsoft Teams platform and making EcoMatcher a partner in sustainability.”

Talking about the collaboration with EcoMatcher, Chief Sustainability Officer for Microsoft Middle East and Africa, Sherif Tawfik commented: “EcoMatcher allows any person or organization to plant a tree at the touch of a button. By integrating the app within Microsoft Teams and making it accessible to over a quarter of a billion people that use the platform, we’re empowering more individuals to become actively involved in tree planting. Ultimately, it’s collaborations like these that are needed to shift the momentum, to build a more sustainable future for all.”

For more on the EcoMatcher app for Teams, go to


About EcoMatcher

EcoMatcher ( plants trees with foundations specialized in tree planting. EcoMatcher knows everything about every tree through technologies, offering full transparency and engagement. Companies can use trees for meaningful corporate gifting, loyalty programs, rewards, employee engagement, events, and transparent carbon offsetting programs. You can virtually travel to every tree and learn more about the tree and the tree’s farmer.

For EcoMatcher media relations, please contact

Posted on 2022-11-05

A COP Refresher and What to Expect at COP27

Climate action is top of mind for many countries around the world. With the UN SDGs and the excellent work of on-the-ground organizations as waymarkers, we’re taking baby steps towards climate-positive factors like clean energy and restoration. 

However, the more we come together, the better we’re able to pool our resources and make larger-scale changes. For the last three decades, the United Nations has been bringing nations together in international climate conferences. The COPs, or Conference of the Parties, represent the world’s greatest opportunity to rein in climate change. 

This year’s COP27 is happening from the 6th to the 18th of November and is hosted by Egypt in Sharm el-Sheikh. But before we dive into what is special about this one, let’s have a refresher on the Conference of the Parties.

All about COP (Conference of the Parties)

In the Conference of the Parties, the term “parties” describes countries that have ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). As of today, there are 197 signatories to this 1994 convention (196 countries and the EU). It is in charge of directing the Convention so that it may address both national and international needs pertaining to climate change.

The historic Paris Agreement was created as a result of the Conference of the Parties that took place in Paris in 2015. Known as Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs, countries pledged to submit national plans stating how much they will reduce their emissions in accordance with the Paris Agreement. Every five years, they committed to reviewing and updating the strategy to reflect their current ambitions. 

While a whole host of topics are discussed at the COP, climate change mitigation, adaptation to climate change effects, and financial support to developing countries disproportionately affected by climate change are often top priority items on the agenda. 

A refresher on COP26

Last year, Glasgow, Scotland, hosted the 26th Conference of the Parties. After overshooting the deadline by a day, the Parties finally agreed on the Glasgow Climate Pact, which contained a promise to eliminate inefficient fossil fuel subsidies and to “phase down” coal power. At COP26, the Paris rulebook was also completed, opening the door for trading carbon emissions under Article 6. 

However, many climate activists were disappointed that COP26 did not sufficiently address another vital requirement: a financing mechanism that would speed up the availability of financial help from developed nations in the battle against the long-term harm climate change has caused.

What is special about COP27?

The 27th meeting of the Conference of the Parties will bring together 198 members of the convention to once again discuss where we are on climate change and collectively decide on action points.

COP27 is critical because it follows the solemn finding that we are not at all on track to keep global warming within 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The IPCC report states that emissions have increased more than ever in the last ten years despite the need for immediate action. The repercussions of COVID-19 and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have added further barriers on the road to decarbonization and global climate cooperation.

As the first global climate event in the wake of these catastrophes, COP27 holds great potential and much pressure on its shoulders. Many climate change activists and entrepreneurs are also looking at pushing the loss and damage finance agenda this time around since COP26 did not deliver on this front, and said

“[Countries] need dedicated loss and damage support – separate and additional to finance for adaptation and mitigation.” — Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland.

“Our territories contribute the least to the climate crisis, yet we pay the ultimate price for our world’s carbon addiction.” — Conrod Hunte, Antigua and Barbuda’s UN Ambassador.

South Asian countries are backing this talking point as they have seen some of the worst effects of climate change this year. At least 33 million people in Pakistan have been impacted by catastrophic flooding, resulting in losses of at least USD 10 billion. Similar flooding destroyed the homes and lives of hundreds of thousands of people in Bangladesh and North-east India earlier this year. At COP27, we can expect vulnerable states to put pressure on developed countries to make loss and damage support a priority during negotiations.

In general, however, the Egyptian COP27 Presidency has defined critical overarching goals for the conference. They are:


All parties will be asked to adopt “bold and rapid actions” and reduce emissions to keep global warming well below two °C, especially those in a position to “lead by example.”


Achieve “critically needed progress” at COP27 to help the world’s most vulnerable populations and improve climate change resilience.


Make considerable strides in the area of climate finance, particularly delivering the annual $100 billion in aid promised to developing nations.


Encourage “inclusive and active participation from all parties” because the UN negotiations are consensus-based.

Key areas to watch during COP27

According to the World Economic Forum, we can expect high-priority areas to be extensively covered during COP27. They include:


COP26 saw the shaping of unprecedented multi-stakeholder cooperation to preserve and regenerate nature, including forests and oceans. It is hoped that progress will continue by leaps and bounds during COP27. The Nature Pavilion, in particular, will serve as a key focal point for these multistakeholder alliances.

Industry decarbonization

We can expect the spotlight to shine on materials needed to create low-carbon, climate-resilient cities. This is a particularly critical issue because the global East and South are currently experiencing an unprecedented wave of globalization.


The Egyptian COP leadership has water security as one of its top priorities. There have also been other water-related crises in the last few years, including floods and heavy rain. We can anticipate that this will be one of COP27’s main focal areas.


Agri-commodity prices have increased sharply as a result of the food crisis, which has been made worse by constrained supply chains, the conflict in Ukraine, and rising energy costs. How we scale the solutions necessary to fulfill our expanding food demand while maintaining climate resilience will be a key topic at COP27 and the focal point at the Food Systems Pavilion.

The final word 

We are on the precipice of one of the most important climate conversations. It’s an opportune time to pick up the slack on climate change mitigation efforts at a local and individual level, to create waves of influence too powerful to ignore. EcoMatcher is a staunch believer that, in our ways and at community and organizational levels, we can all contribute to a better planet. 

Posted on 2022-10-13

Creativity, Arts, and Climate Action

More individuals must take climate action to address the climate catastrophe. However, not everyone feels comfortable participating in the climate discourse. Jargon, gate-kept whitepapers, or conferences exclusively open to members of a particular class, age group, or social standing slow things down. This is paradoxical since everyone is impacted by climate change, yet those most at risk are frequently not present.

We must act differently, more effectively, and promptly to maintain a resilient and habitable world. Despite growing consensus that education must alter to combat climate change, the question lingers: how do we do that? How do we take an upsetting, sometimes abstract, and very complex concept and make it into something people of all ages and walks of life can understand? 

The arts and humanities have untapped and underutilized potential in this regard. Why is that?

What arts can bring to the table

It has long been recognized that art can change society, and arouse emotions of compassion, hope, and duty. The visual, performing, and musical arts can offer areas for imaginative creativity, experimentation, and perspective-taking. Our future imaginations can be expanded with the aid of artistic and creative activities and methods, which can help us become more receptive to many scenarios of change.

Harking back to the famous phrase, “a picture is worth a thousand words”, art can add to the narrative on climate change and extend how far and wide it reaches. To borrow from the Creative Responses to Sustainability. Singapore Guide:

“To influence human behaviors, we must go beyond communicating climate change science. The creative and cultural approach to climate change has proved very effective since it speaks to people on an engaging, human, accessible, critical, or fun level. Arts and culture have proved to be effective tools to advance new ideas and influence social norms. Critical engagement from the creative sector is complementary to the engagement of business, science, and industry.”

How can art and creativity contribute to climate action?

According to a pioneering research paper by Julia Bentz, climate change and art can interact in three ways.

Climate change in art

This is where art becomes a form of communication and climate change, the subject. Illustrations, paintings, videos, documentaries, infographics, and comics come into the picture here as mediums that convey a message. However, ecological art dates back to the 1970s, and a common approach focused on environmental problems’ dangers and risks. We’ve already talked about how climate anxiety can be turned into climate action — changing the focus of art from pessimistic to optimistic is yet another way of doing that. 

We’ve now seen the “climate change in art” phenomenon in K-12 education. Children are encouraged to draw, paint, write and create art about the planet and its resources, ingraining the importance of climate action in them from a very young age. Then, the arts become a simplified way to convey the essence of a very complex conversation.

Climate engagement with art

Where climate-based art can be siloed and individual, climate engagement with art can provoke broader involvement. In social, political, economic, and environmental contexts outside of traditional institutions like museums and libraries, exchanges between art and science have grown widespread. It’s not uncommon to go to a popular part of a big city and encounter climate-related art installations, graffiti, and paintings that encourage visitors to engage and think actively. This kind of participatory art can facilitate dialogue and understanding, which means we’re more likely to remember what we came across and how it made us feel. 

Climate engagement through art

On a deep, transforming level, art may work. It may produce responses in a manner that music and text just cannot. When we engage with climate through art, we build personal meaning instead of swallowing the ones peddled by media outlets and institutions, for example. Storytelling is an excellent example of this, as is the theatre. In these, the actors embody the experiences, which means we’re no longer limited by imagination — we can see the effects being played out right in front of us. We’re asked provocative questions and forced to encounter our misconceptions about the planet. We’re also given stories of hope and optimism, and we carry these in our memory as we go about our day-to-day lives.

What might creativity in climate action look like?

Art, science, and technology have often collaborated in recent years to generate awareness about climate change. Here are some of the most popular instances from all over the world:

The F at Burning Man

This is the first fully solar-powered camp at Burning Man and a community that gathers to co-create a beautiful future.

“One Beat One Tree”

This project by artist Naziha Mestaoui projects virtual forests onto concrete city spaces. With each virtual tree, an actual tree is grown in deforested areas all over the world. The current count is 13,000 trees.

“Labyrinth of Plastic Waste”

Created by the art collective Luzinterruptus, the waste labyrinth attempts to inform the public about the amount of plastic waste consumed daily. It is at once beautiful and haunting.

Billie Eilish’s green world tour

Eilish is one of the biggest pop sensations in the world currently and is aware of her potential impact. Recently, she partnered with REVERB, a green non-profit, to eliminate disposable waste, promote plant-based food, and offset carbon emissions during her ‘Happier Than Ever’ tour. Eco-villages at each stop on tour connected fans to local non-profits and allowed them to make donations on the spot.  

The final word

Art has, for centuries, inspired people and planted seedlings of ideas in our minds. It has helped us come to terms with reality and imagine alternative futures for ourselves. It has engaged our hearts and heads — something climate action hasn’t done very well so far. Art inspires that emotional connection that allows people to see just how close climate change is, and how much power we each truly wield when fighting against it. 

Most importantly, using creativity and the arts to inspire climate actions means giving power back to the most vulnerable players: women, children, Indigenous communities, and developing countries. It levels the playing field by keeping giant corporations out of the game and is probably one of the universal ways to communicate globally. When artists come together to encourage climate action, new levels of mass change that we previously thought impossible can become a reality if we meet humans where they are through what they love most: art and creativity!

Posted on 2022-10-03

World Vegetarian Day

Around the world, about one in ten persons identify as vegetarians. October 1 is a celebration of these people and their diet, as it’s World Vegetarian Day. The International Vegetarian Union (IVU) supported it in 1978 after the North American Vegetarian Society (NAVS) created it in 1977. The annual start of Vegetarian Awareness Month also occurs on October 1. Going vegetarian can greatly benefit both the planet and our physical and mental well-being. 

What is a vegetarian diet?

A vegetarian diet excludes meat, poultry, and fish at its foundation. It’s not a brand-new phenomenon or fad. There have been documented records of vegetarianism dating back to the sixth century AD in Europe, and it has been practiced for millennia in many different cultures throughout the globe. Even now, a vegetarian diet still predominates in many nations. There are several vegetarian diet variations that include extra allowances or limits. However, all of them tend to have the same foundational food items, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, and nuts. 

What are the benefits of a vegetarian diet for your body?

The health benefits of a vegetarian diet are real. Eating a plant-based diet is acknowledged as a technique to prevent many chronic diseases in addition to providing enough nutrients. It’s crucial to remember that, just as with any other diet, the key to a healthy vegetarian diet is to consume a variety of meals and limit your intake of sweets and fatty foods. Even if it’s technically vegetarian, eating only chips and soda doesn’t qualify as healthy at all!

Rich in vitamins and minerals our bodies desperately need

Vegetarian diets are meant to be abundant in beneficial vitamins and minerals. These include folate, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and manganese, as well as vitamins A, C, E, and K. These nutrients, some of which are not ingested in sufficient quantities, are essential for the health of our stomach, skin, muscles, heart, nerves, eyes, immune system, and other organs.

Lowers risk for cardiac issues

Research shows vegetarians are less likely to experience cardiac events (such as heart attacks) or pass away from cardiac reasons. One of the greatest studies in this field found that vegetarians had a 25% lower overall risk of dying from heart disease. The best foods for heart health are high-fiber whole grains and legumes because they digest slowly and have a low glycemic index. Nuts are also great because they are rich in protein, fiber, and antioxidants.

What are the benefits of a vegetarian diet for your planet?

One of the best ways to combat climate change is to eat a vegetarian diet. This switch may seem insignificant, yet it has a powerful effect. For instance, eating vegetarian meals for a year can save the same amount of emissions as a family taking an automobile off the road for six months! Here are some more benefits of making the switch for the sake of the planet:

Reduces global warming

Currently, nearly 20% of all greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming and are produced by humans come from the world’s food chain. Reducing meat consumption in high- and middle-income nations is essential for preserving the environment and climate. We can lower carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions by substituting vegetarian sources of protein (such as nuts, seeds, beans, and lentils) in place of meat.

Protects untouched lands from overgrazing and being lost to agriculture

50% of the livable area on Earth is agriculture, and the great bulk of that farmland is dedicated to raising animals and producing their feed. Natural habitat loss, which poses a grave danger to wildlife, is mostly caused by farming. The most significant contributor to the destruction of tropical forests is cattle farming. Therefore, more meat means more habitat loss and more upsets in the natural ecosystem. 

Saves large amounts of water

While a kilo of wheat requires 1,000 to 2,000 liters of water to produce, a kilo of beef might need anywhere from 13,000 to as much as 100,000 liters. To put that into perspective, it’ll take 38 SeaWorld tanks of water to produce enough beef to feed customers of a fast-food chain for just one day. Eating poultry is a little better, but not as ideal as adopting a vegetarian diet, which takes much less water to produce. Additionally, animal feces, antibiotics, and hormones that enter the water cycle, together with chemicals from tanneries, fertilizers, and pesticides sprayed on feed crops, are the main sources of pollution in our rivers. Turning to vegetarianism would also mean keeping our water bodies cleaner and pollutant-free.

How to enjoy a vegetarian diet

It’s easy to think that vegetarian diets can be as boring as eating rabbit food every day. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. You don’t have to sacrifice your joy of eating — if anything, that joy increases tenfold when you realize you’re eating delicious food while saving the planet, nourishing your body, and supporting local farmers. Here are some ways to go over and above the usual carrot-stick discourse of vegetarianism.

Experiment with farm-to-table dining

The phrase “farm-to-table” highlights the close connection between a farm and a dining establishment. This implies that there aren’t any wholesalers, intermediaries, or grocery shops involved. Your carbon footprint will be smaller since your food will be locally grown and obtained rather than traveling great distances. The farm-to-table movement has inspired a lot of individuals to organize unique events. The most popular of these are dining experience at the same farm that has grown your food, often accompanied by a farm tour and access to fresh produce to take home. 

Explore global recipes

There are thousands of delicious vegetarian recipes from all over the world waiting to be tried. Try cooking outside the box by choosing a recipe from a different global cuisine. Indian dishes make superb use of high-protein lentils and vegetables. Mediterranean diets are world-renowned for being chock-full of nuts, dried, fruit, cheese, yogurt, and vegetables cooked in ways that enhance their flavor. Many traditional Korean meals can be cooked without meat and still retain their taste and charm. Don’t let everyday recipes box you in — experiment!

The final word

Every year, hundreds of individuals change their lifestyles to one that is healthier, more ecologically friendly, and more socially conscious. Adopting a vegetarian diet reduces global warming, protects trees from deforestation, and gives you all the nutrients you need with no side effects or health issues. Why not use World Vegetarian Day as inspiration to take it one day at a time? Your body and planet will thank you for it. 

Posted on 2022-09-19

Protect, Conserve, Prevent and Reverse: A Timely Refresher

When we talk about taking action against the environmental disasters caused by global warming and human activities, conversations mainly focus on either conservation, restoration, or protection. Sustainability, though, needs all three concepts to work hand in hand to be effective in any capacity. 

As a refresher, let’s look into what each of these concepts means and how, in the end, they can interact to make more robust and more adaptable climate change solutions.

Conservation and Preservation (i.e., Protect and Prevent)

Conservation is essential to ensure that we do not lose what is here with us. It focuses on protecting biodiversity, which is seriously threatened. The two main goals of conservationists are to safeguard an already diminishing population of species from further decline (i.e., protection) and to increase the number of an already declining population (i.e., preservation). 

It’s rather easy to confuse ‘preservation’ and ‘conservation,’ as there’s very little difference between the two when you read them. But as concepts and in practice, they’re distinctly different. Conservation safeguards the ecosystem by using natural resources sensibly. Preservation shields the environment from destructive human activity. If we take a forest as an example, conserving it would mean enforcing sustainable logging practices. Preservation would mean designating the entire forest, or parts of it, as no-human zones, like in a Nature Reserve. 

Put simply, conservation seeks the proper use of nature, while preservation seeks protection of nature from use. Conservation is often done for one species at a time and tends to focus on the population levels of that species more than anything else. With preservation, human involvement is mostly always restricted to shielding the place from human development so that nature’s rhythms are free to take the wheel without human interference.

The Indigenous Land Back movement is a prime example of interconnected conservation that benefits not just the planet, but also the people that nurture and nourish it. The movement emphasizes rebuilding a relationship with the planet that is just, symbiotic, and sustainable.

Restoration (i.e., Reverse)

If conservation and preservation focus on preventing and protecting from ongoing degradation, then restoration seeks to reverse the damage caused. The goal of ecological restoration is to restore, start, or hasten the recovery of a disturbed ecosystem. The “disturbances” can be due to logging, intense grazing, hurricanes, deforestation, land abuse, or fires. The goal of restoration activities is to either replicate the ecosystem before it was disturbed or to create a new ecosystem where there wasn’t one. If we were to go back to the example of the forest we talked about earlier, restoring it would mean planting more trees of the same species to restore balance. 

How these concepts interact in the real world

Restoration and conservation offer complimentary advantages despite having different histories and methods. Depending on the project, one can happen before the other. For instance, in the case of wetlands, restoration may be necessary to cover the environmental costs associated with building water-diversion infrastructure. Then, what is left should be conserved.

That said, it’s easier said than done because quite a few challenges need to be overcome before these concepts can interact to have a positive effect. 

For example, as we saw previously, conservation and restoration often have different goals and processes. Where conservation might seek to establish protected areas with minimal human intervention, restoration usually requires human intervention in planting and sustaining species within a selected area.

Naturally, the success criteria also differ. In the case of wetlands, conservation efforts might be considered successful when the biodiversity value and population of the area increase. On the other hand, restoration of wetlands might be deemed successful if water quality is enhanced or erosion is prevented. While these success criteria are complementary and not in contrast, they need to be expressly stated and mapped out right at the start of the conservation-restoration project. 

The final word

The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed the current decade, which runs from 2021 to 2030, as the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. However, conservation, preservation, and protection continue to be just as important. After all, it is only when these concepts interact in the real world that we can create large-scale change on a global level. 

Restoration is at the heart of EcoMatcher’s business. While we started with a simple vision—to bring about better, more ecologically-friendly corporate gifting—our project grew to immense proportions. By focusing on restoration, we also pave the way for the conservation of forested areas across the world, not to mention provide livelihoods for local and indigenous communities. 

Posted on 2022-09-08

How to Turn Climate Anxiety into Action

It is deeply painful to see and experience what is happening on the planet right now. Pakistan, for example, has been bearing the brunt of the global climate crisis this month, experiencing devastating floods that have destroyed a whopping 1.2 million homes.

In the face of this and other similar news over the past year, it is easy, even expected to feel anger, grief, anxiety, and disconnection, maybe all at once. It is an existential issue that pushes us past our window of tolerance.

And yet, there is the possibility to turn this anxiety into the one thing that might get us out of this situation: action. But before that, we need to talk about climate anxiety.

What is climate anxiety?

It is the widespread perception that the ecological underpinnings of existence are disintegrating, along with concern about our reliance on these crumbling environments. This anxiety about the future results in a persistently depressed mood, a sense of powerlessness, and hopelessness. Your body could also exhibit signs of anxiousness, such as trouble falling asleep, difficulty unwinding, tense muscles, and appetite loss.

Researchers have identified two major drivers of climate anxiety. The first is the depletion of nature itself. When there is a chance of a catastrophic disaster, people who are deeply connected to nature might get anxious about the climate because their connection to nature may be broken. Events that cause damage to the environment, such as floods, fires, and deforestation, may trigger climate anxiety in such people.

The second major driver is the methods used to convey climate change. Every day, we doomscroll on social media and are treated to images and news of climate horrors from remote corners of the world. It is often a lot more information than we can handle, which triggers climate anxiety. It doesn’t help that while reporting on climate change, mainstream and social media tend to adopt an “alarmist” and apocalyptic tone. 

Climate anxiety has been a top concern for many psychologists, especially when dealing with young adults, teens, and children. This becomes more concerning when coupled with the fact that the responsibility for climate action— or cleaning up— is always made to fall on the shoulders o the younger generations. Climate anxiety needs to be taken seriously because the socio-economic effects can add considerably to the global costs of dealing with the climate crisis.

How to turn anxiety into action

To begin converting climate anxiety into meaningful action, researcher and educator Dr. Renée Lertzman recommends starting with ‘attunement’. It means feeling in sync with ourselves and understanding exactly what we’re feeling and how much we can tolerate. When we’re wholly attuned to our window of tolerance, we are so much more capable of being creative and adaptive and turning anxiety into action. 

Find your community

Climate anxiety can generate a very overwhelming “me against the world” feeling. The first way to combat that sense of isolation is to find like minds who share the same feelings and also want to spark action. It’s helpful to surround yourself with people from outside your immediate echo chamber, which means you can hear diverse voices and get to more creative solutions, together. Being grounded and maintaining the awareness that you are not alone is critical to lessening the hold of some of these negative feelings on you. 

Develop more connections to what does exist

Nature can exacerbate our feelings of anxiety, but it can also heal them. It’s important to remind ourselves that while we have lost quite a bit, we have a lot more waiting for us to find them patiently. Take a day to explore your neighborhood parks and national forests. Consider exploring an ecosystem you don’t know much about, like forests if you live in cities or the sea if you live in farmlands. It’s a simple yet profound way to re-accustom ourselves to the world outside our bubble. 

Lead with attunement

Once again, borrowing from Dr. Lertzman, to lead with attunement is to be honest about fear and anxiety around climate and to use those to build solidarity and move towards collective action. It may seem counterintuitive — who wants to see a shaken leader, right? — but, doing so shows that climate anxiety is a human condition and one that can be channeled positively with a few steps.

Engage with books and media that revive your hope

Looking up anything related to climate on the internet can lead to a torrent of information that does more harm than good. Instead, I’ve created this list of media and books that fills you with hope and can energize you towards climate action. 

These resources aim to help people transform helplessness into hopefulness. 

Understand that the future is not yet written

In the face of all the doomsaying, it can be easy to write off the future and assume everything is doomed. But to quote writer Rebecca Solnit

“People who proclaim with authority what is or is not going to happen just bolster their own sense of self and sabotage your belief in what is possible.”

It’s happened time and time again: things that the naysayers said will never happen, have come to pass. Costa Rica is close to 100% clean energy. Gay marriage is not only accepted but legal in many countries all over the world. A whopping 192 countries came together to sign a climate treaty in Paris, a feat that even the leader of the cause, Christiana Figueres, once considered impossible. If we make the changes we want to see right now, the future won’t be set in stone at all. 

Remember our ancestors and our history

To repeat a cliche, ‘history repeats itself.’ And while our ancestors may not have gone through an existential threat of such a global magnitude, they have repeatedly undergone life-threatening situations throughout their lives. And yet, their successors (us!) continue to walk the planet today. It is important to learn about and understand how they overcame their battles and stood their ground so we might be inspired, too.

Today, we sit on a goldmine of millennia-old knowledge — about living in symbiosis with nature and striking a balance between growth and harmony. When we look back to see how the people before us have adapted flexibly, we open the doors to more creative solutions, the awareness that we’re not resigned to our fates, and a way of life that isn’t anxiety-inducing, but life-affirming. 

The final word

It is possible to transform the suffering we feel inside ourselves into a powerful force of action — which is consistent with the adage that you should never waste a crisis.

To do that, we must strengthen our “moral nerve,” a phrase writer Joan Didion coined to describe the non-negotiable virtue we can still display even as we stand on the precipice of fear. It does not mean seeing things through rose-tinted glasses or shutting our eyes to climate catastrophe. It means acknowledging all of this while still holding on to the hope and belief that we have what it takes to change our world for the better.

It’s the first step towards rebuilding a thriving future for ourselves and our planet! 

Posted on 2022-09-06

How did EcoMatcher all started?

Several years ago, I was at the Hong Kong Premium Corporate Gift Fair, a massive fair where thousands of companies were offering plastic pens and USB sticks for corporate gifting purposes. A market worth US 40B (pre-COVID)!

Realizing that many corporate gifts are thrown away probably the same day they are gifted and end up finally in landfills, I thought we needed to develop a better value proposition, that also helps Mother Nature.

Corporate gifting is essential and should create a lasting bond between company and customer, but the plastic pen and USB stick are not the answer anymore; customers are becoming more critical of a company’s sustainability journey.

After a good bottle of wine, maybe two, I came up with the idea to enable companies to gift trees. But how to do that? With my background in technology, though being a lousy engineer, I thought technology should be the answer.

After we built our first Minimum Viable Product (MVP), we got some interest and traction from customers. Compared to what we offer now, our MVP was very minimal indeed! 

Believing in the cause, keeping operating costs low, and diligently working with the technology team in Bandung, we have not only built a world-class technology platform; we now partner with 15 foundations planting trees, have 40,000 active users on our platform, and are privileged to be working with amazing customers like Etihad Airways, Procter and Gamble, S&P Global, and many more. And our customers not only use trees for corporate gifting, they also use trees for loyalty, rewards, employee engagement, and transparent carbon offsetting programs.

And this is only the beginning. EcoMatcher is accelerating on all fronts. Our technology platform gets better, more feature-rich, more secure and robust, and faster; we are adding more tree planting foundations to our platform, offering our customers more choice, and having some fantastic new customer partnerships in the pipeline, besides the amazing ones we already have.

Combating the climate crisis is a collective effort. EcoMatcher wants and will be part of this!

Posted on 2022-08-17

How Tree Planting Engages and Empowers Women

There is a growing understanding that the issue of climate change cannot be handled in a vacuum while the world strives to solve it. For long, there wasn’t much noise about the socio-political dimensions of climate change, because its interpretation focused only on biophysical aspects. Issues like gender norms, gender pay gaps, and power imbalances were overlooked, which only served to accentuate them and exclude groups of the population even more. 

Vulnerable communities, in particular, are disproportionately affected by climate change. Women happen to be one of those vulnerable groups. Even if they contribute extraordinarily to restoration initiatives, existing social norms and secondary treatment ensure they don’t get the benefits of their labor.

Today’s discourse on restoration needs a reorientation of perspective. How might we put social equity, especially that of women, squarely in the center of discourse instead of on the fringes like in the past few decades? If 17 studies from around the world that dove into this subject are anything to go by, then we’d see massive improvements in conservation and natural resource governance at local, national, and global scales. 

Tree planting can empower women

Tree planting has long been hailed as one of the tried-and-tested fail-safes for averting climate change. When planted with care, they can contribute to bettering women’s rights and gender equality in both overt and covert ways.

1.    Tree planting brings women’s voices into the discussion

According to statistics, males are more likely to be interested in tree species that generate cash than women, who veer towards food- and medicine-producing species. They usually have ingrained expert knowledge about these trees, but are often silenced where it matters most. By attempting to strike a balance between the two, we’ll naturally be able to bring women to the table, and involve them in deciding which trees to plant, where, and at what frequency. 

2.    Tree planting gives women ownership over land 

Women do not inherit or own land in several nations across the world. Traditionally, males receive land inheritances. Planting trees gives women the ability to break the domination of male landowners and take an active role in caring for their families’ and communities’ property. For instance, women leaders in Papua New Guinea form organizations in their communities and receive practical training from forestry officials as well as instruction in conservation from the Papua New Guinea Research and Conservation Foundation. After that, the women construct their own nurseries, distribute trees, and/or plant them. Additionally, they present community education sessions on tree planting and native plant and animal protection.

3.    Tree planting provides jobs, income, and education opportunities

Reforestation can increase women’s income both directly and indirectly. Through collaboration with organizations like EcoMatcher, they have direct access to the revenue they generate and need to survive. Reforestation of their immediate region indirectly promotes higher biodiversity, which has long-term advantages for survival and subsistence (especially for foraging communities).

To be able to participate in reforestation activities, women often have to undergo training and environmental education, covering long-term tree care, sustainable farming and foraging practices, and the basics of running a business of their own. It’s also an excellent opportunity for youth because they can start early and become experts much sooner than their previous generations. This way, they increase their skillset and can contribute much more to the family income, and this happy cycle continues. 

4.    Tree planting can reduce forced migration into urban areas

The lack of jobs in rural areas can lead men to go searching for better opportunities in urban areas. Sometimes, they may go with families in tow, but in many communities around the world, the women stay back to look after the household and take over agricultural labor. This widens the gender gap and leaves women still vulnerable. It has been demonstrated that reforestation, especially sustainable agroforestry, lessens the need for rural residents to leave their homes in pursuit of opportunities in metropolitan areas. Women’s lives are immediately enhanced by reducing the amount of work they are forced to do. 

5.    Tree planting raises the collective sensibilities of the community

Wangari Maathai, a well-known social, environmental, and political activist and the first African to earn the Nobel Peace Prize, believed education was crucial to empower women and society. Raising internal hurdles to take part in tree planting and defending one’s rights requires education. Information is vital for women to understand their rights to take action since it gives them the capacity to demand what is rightfully theirs and avoid being exploited. 

When just a handful of women receive this education, they can pass it on to others in the community. This raises the resilience and independence of the community as a whole, which makes them less vulnerable to climate change and more hands-on in asking for what they need from the world. As Wangari Maathai said to British officers in the Kenyan forestry service, “We need millions of trees, and you foresters are too few; you’ll never produce them. So you need to make everyone foresters.” She added, “I call the women of the Green Belt Movement foresters without diplomas.”

Bonus: What women can bring to the tree planting initiative

When women are involved in conservation techniques and are given the knowledge and training to guide their efforts, they tend to make better judgments about managing natural resources. Men only reinvest 30–40% of their money back into their families and communities; women put a whopping 90% of it back. Additionally, research demonstrates that women are more likely to make judgments that advance the welfare of others and the public good since communal needs rather than individual wants typically drive their activities. Numerous on-the-ground restoration projects have demonstrated that including women in conservation efforts not only tackles gender inequity but also strengthens, sustains, and improves the projects’ quality. All this makes women empowerment a powerful socio-political initiative to support — one that saves people and the planet. It’s a sure win-win.

Reducing barriers to entry

The route to using tree planting to empower women is not an easy one. A report from the World Bank’s Program on Forests (PROFOR) provides insights into gender-responsive actions that forest projects, programs, and policies can consider. These include:

  • Developing performance-based agreements for the planting and upkeep of trees on farms with shared spouse signatures.
  • Enabling registration for initiatives relating to the forest in conveniently accessible locations where women already go, like schools, health centers, community centers
  • Giving direct payments to women (for instance, by cellphone) for initiatives like agroforestry and forest restoration

The final word

Women are disproportionately affected by climate change, but there is strong evidence that educating girls and empowering women is essential to influence climate action significantly. You can support a future that is fairer to vulnerable communities and rural parts of the world by becoming an EcoMatcher partner. When you plant a tree or adopt a forest with us, you support the livelihood of women farmers in Indonesia, Uganda, Guatemala, Thailand, Nepal, India, Ecuador, Kenya, Madagascar, Haiti, and more. You can help reverse climate change and, at the same time, combat gender imbalances so we may all advance towards a greener future, together!

Posted on 2022-08-04

Mental Models to Surpass While Investing in ESG

There’s a pervasive notion that small steps toward sustainability are good enough. But when they don’t add up to meaningful large-scale outcomes, frustration ensues. Effort without returns makes people think that maybe there’s really no meaning to fighting for sustainability in the workplace.

Because of this, many people continue to believe that selecting a more sustainable future requires sacrificing economic development and profit. It’s only natural that we get stuck in this vicious cycle and start to deprioritize ESG investments, like capital costs for reducing energy use and paying livable wages, because they seem more like expenses than investments.

But what if we told you that ESG does pay off, and what it takes to unlock that is a shift in mentality? That’s easier said than done, but it can be done. It starts with recognizing inherent biases and beliefs about sustainability and reframing current mental models, i.e., the explanation of how we think something works in the real world. But before we get into that:

What is ESG investing?

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investments are for businesses that seek to improve the world in any large-scale way. The process is based on unbiased ratings and assessments that help us evaluate how well an organization performs on ESG performance and support them with our funding. Some categories to look out for when assessing an ESG investment include:

  • Sustainability efforts and environmental impact
  • Impact on everything related to society, including LGBTQIA+ equality, racial diversity, and inclusivity at senior levels, livable wages, effect on vulnerable communities
  • Standard of governance, from diversity in leadership to strength of relationships and trust with stakeholders

Broadly, ESG focuses on how a business treats its stakeholders, including the environment, consumers, workers, and communities. Investing in ESG, in essence, means influencing positive changes in society by putting our money where our mouth is. 

Biases and incorrect mental models affecting ESG investing

ESG investments are picking up speed but are still relatively new to large swathes of the population. That means many of us are susceptible to biases and incorrect mental models that lead us in the wrong direction. We’ve identified some of these mental models, so you can introspect, correct and invest sensibly in a better future for all. 

Falling for perceived costs when we should look for the real costs

Let’s think small, for starters. When we buy a car, we think about how much it costs, the road tax, how expensive fuel is, and how much annual maintenance costs might be. These are tangible costs that we can calculate in a matter of minutes. However, there’s a real cost hiding behind all those numbers: the cost of all this plus what we’re getting for free from the environment, like air and water.

It’s the same for large-scale organizations, who can see the costs of setting up offices and factories, but often forget about the real cost of emitting carbon and pollutants into the air and water. So, when investors make decisions about ESG investments, it’s only natural that the returns aren’t impressive: they never factored in all the costs involved in the first place.

One way to do this is to impose shadow prices on these “externalities” so they can be added to measurement metrics. When investors get correct pricing signals on everything that is going to be affected by their decisions, they will have much more accurate data to use while planning ESG investments.

Relying on limited perspectives

A problem that arises from treating sustainability as one department’s responsibility instead of the whole organization is that it leads to limited perspectives. It’s human to have biases and be susceptible to groupthink; however, this can have dangerous repercussions when it comes to ESG investing. It makes it easier to fall back on tried-and-tested initiatives, like swapping paper cups for reusable mugs, when there is no healthy conflict in decision-making.

According to former CEO of Unilever Paul Polman and leading sustainability thinker Andrew Winston, the way to break this mental model is to flush out old and stale thinking. This can be done by inviting a diversity of voices into the boardroom: representatives from vulnerable groups, NGOs who have been critical of the organization’s past ESG work, and younger employees who have much more at stake.

By inviting this sort of friction, organizations can bring forth new and counter-perspectives that, in turn, lead to potential solutions.

Sustaining focus only on short-term benefits

It can be tempting to focus on low efforts that bring the highest returns in the shortest possible time. This is especially so because clean technology and sustainable practices are expensive to install, and which almost always is given up in favor of a cheaper option. However, the case with any new technology is that it starts expensive but becomes more normalized as more and more people subscribe to it. That’s the case with sustainable practices, too. 

To reap the true benefits of ESG investing, organizations should broaden their view to include the long term. A few ways to stop being tempted by sticking with the short-term run are:

Misunderstanding ESG factors that are critical to the local area

Surface-level research has many problems — one of them being data from one country or region that is mistakenly applied to another. Areas of the world that will increase in economic power warrant a different kind of investment than those that will be flooded if climate change goes unchecked, like Miami, FL, and Bangladesh. Using data from America to make European decisions is a sure-fire way to tank investments and nip any idea of profits in the bud.

Therefore, it is worth putting in the extra effort to find localized data in order to make more effective decisions. This is especially true if the organization is based only in one country or in different countries.

To combat investment losses to the potential tune of millions of dollars, it’s always best to research the major, nonlinear themes that are affecting society today in both a global and localized fashion.

Concentrating only on one or two industries in one’s portfolio

Here again, there’s the temptation to play it safe by investing in limited industries or sectors. However, it’s important to note that different industries weather economic, social, and climate change differently, so putting all your eggs in one basket won’t do.

To lessen the chance that bad performance in one area may wipe out your investment funds, it is crucial to have a variety of industries represented in your investments. 

ESG investing is the way to go

Today’s investors are very much involved in building a future they would want to experience and would like to create for their children. As a result, they prefer to invest in companies that are leaders in advancing ESG initiatives rather than those that worsen or contribute to these issues. ESG assets are set to hit $53 trillion by 2025, which means it’s a great time to add each of our power to the mix and be the change we want to see!

Posted on 2022-07-21

EcoMatcher and Regrow Borneo announce partnership to tackle deforestation in Sabah, Malaysia

Hong Kong, Borneo, 21st of July 2022 – EcoMatcher is thrilled to announce its latest tree-planting partnership with Regrow Borneo, a community-based reforestation project in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo.

The biodiversity of Borneo’s rainforests is among the richest in the world, possessing staggeringly high numbers of unique plants and animals. However, as in many tropical areas around the world, Borneo’s rainforests are being cut and degraded for palm oil, timber, pulp, rubber, and minerals.

Regrow Borneo plants trees in the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, in Sabah, Malaysia. Since the 1980s, three-quarters of the area’s tropical rainforest has been lost to deforestation, largely from the expansion of palm oil plantations.

For over 20 years, researchers at Cardiff University and the Danau Girang Field Centre in Borneo have worked together closely, collaborating on research encompassing wildlife conservation, biodiversity enhancement, soil erosion, and social science in the Kinabatangan.

Recognizing the devastating impacts on biodiversity of deforestation in the Kinabatangan, a pilot project called ‘Regrow Borneo’ was launched in 2019, to begin restoring these areas.

“At a time when action on the climate crisis is more urgent than ever, we are thrilled to partner with EcoMatcher to reforest Borneo transparently”, said Professor Benoit Goossens, Director of Danau Girang Field Centre. “ Regrow Borneo delivers a model of sustainable and ethical reforestation that goes beyond simple carbon sequestration, planting trees in a way that will also improve lives and livelihoods in local communities, and increase biodiversity and ecosystem resilience in the Lower Kinabatangan, Sabah, Malaysia. We are excited to partner with EcoMatcher to achieve this vision.”

“EcoMatcher is proud to partner with Regrow Borneo to support reforestation efforts in Malaysia”, said Bas Fransen, CEO, and Founder of EcoMatcher. “The forests of Borneo are among the most biologically diverse habitats on Earth, and we look forward to partnering with Regrow Borneo to help preserve the precious lowland tropical forests in Sabah.”

Starting in August, EcoMatcher’s customers will be able to adopt trees in Borneo directly on the EcoMatcher platform.

For more information: