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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  https://teams.ecomatcher.com.

-ENDS-

About EcoMatcher

EcoMatcher (https://www.ecomatcher.com) 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 bas@ecomatcher.com.

Posted on 2022-03-27

The State of Climate Technologies

In the first three quarters of 2021, climate tech startups saw a whopping $30.8 billion in investments. 184 deals were closed just in Q4 of 2021 — and this year isn’t showing any signs of stopping, either. According to McKinsey, next-generation technologies might draw $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion in investments by 2025.

This is timely given we are hurtling closer to our deadline for the Paris Agreement pact: limiting global warming to under 2ºC. Stopping climate change will need advanced technologies — especially those that are still in R&D or being developed but not yet mature. 

This next year is significant. It will be a key test of how we move from talking about resilience and widespread adoption of climate technology to implementing novel solutions at scale.

Here are some of the top predicted priorities in the climate and related technology sectors this year:

Electrifying buildings and transport

 

Since the early twentieth century, coal, oil, and gas have been the primary fuels used to power buildings, industrial machinery, and cars. But if we’re to achieve net-zero carbon emissions, we’ll have to electrify most processes and replace the electric-power system with renewable resources such as wind and water. 

In the case of transportation, electrification calls for cutting the cost of batteries and boosting their energy density. Similarly, software systems can play their part in reducing charging times to match the vehicle’s life. 

Many methods of electrification are still too expensive to use at scale, which seems like one of the biggest challenges — but also one of the ripest areas for innovation.

Revolutionizing agriculture, the green way

 

Agriculture currently accounts for 20% of the world’s GHG emissions, the most significant of which is methane. Reducing methane emissions would call for an overhaul in multiple levels of society — from how we farm to how we eat to how we manage food waste. 

Once again, the biggest change can come from replacing conventional fossil-fuel machinery and equipment with their zero-emission counterparts. While most solutions with potential are currently in their proof-of-concept or prototype phases, increased research and investments will help us increase how fast we adopt these technologies. 

Supporting the production of meat alternatives

 

The digestive processes of cattle, sheep, and other ruminant animals account for over one-third of global methane emissions. Consumption breeds production, and so too is the case here. 

That said, lab technology is now pointing towards meat substitutes that are the best of both worlds. Plant-based meats are gaining swift popularity; cultivated meats also see growing interest and innovation. As a result, we might be able to produce meat without the disastrous emissions associated with them. 

Reinventing the power grid

 

Power grids across the world are incredibly carbon-intensive, living on old technology and costing millions of dollars every year. As we work towards electrification, we run into a problem — our current power grids are far from equipped to handle that kind of load. Therefore, it is imperative that climate technologies work to modernize and decarbonize the power grid.

According to McKinsey, this would probably involve three separate tasks:

  • Accelerating the installation of renewable-generation capacity
  • Adding energy-storage capacities to power grids
  • Upgrading the distribution and transmission networks

 

Increasing how and where hydrogen is used

 

Hydrogen, as a clean-energy transporter or fuel element with several uses, might play a vital part in decarbonization. In fact, 30% of GHG emissions can be addressed with hydrogen across industries, including shipping, aviation, road transport, and industry. Hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) are appropriate for long-haul or heavy-duty road transport due to their increased energy density. In the aviation sector, hydrogen can supply electric power for smaller aircraft outfitted with fuel cells over the next decade. Eventually, hydrogen might provide 15 to 20% of global energy needs.

Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go in this area, since a complete system of pipelines and storage facilities would need to be developed at a significant cost. Europe is one of the first regions to begin laying out a plan to adopt hydrogen widely and reduce the costs of manufacturing and use. Here’s hoping that this lights the torch for other regions and sparks innovation.

Bringing climate technologies together

 

Current and future climate tech has the potential to work together to create a multiplied impact. 

Aniruddha Sharma, CEO of Carbon Clean, gave the example of carbon capture — a solution that can work well with options such as green hydrogen and biomass minerals. Some more examples of interconnected tech success include:

  • linking reserve EV batteries to power grids to create an ad-hoc power-storage facility. 
  • facilitating an overlap between agriculture and aviation, where sustainable aviation fuels are made from agricultural biomass and other renewable feedstocks.

 

Increasing carbon capture, storage, and use

 

In sectors where carbon emissions are hard to decrease, carbon capture, use, and storage (CCUS) technology might provide much-needed support. However, the rollout of this technology has been slow because costs are prohibitively high, and innovation is slower-paced. This is one area where further R&D can facilitate immense change and make many uses of carbon economical and widely adopted. 

For now, organizations are rallying to support the most natural carbon sinks in the world: trees. Technology has been widely adopted in this field as well, with blockchain and partner networks enabling people to plant trees anywhere in the world in a transparent and affordable manner. Despite having a long way to go in CCUS, we can still leverage existing technologies in roundabout manners to influence reforestation, habitat protection, and livelihood support. 

The final word

 

Climate technologies are currently at a variety of maturity levels. Performance, costs, market demands, regulations, and large-scale consumer change can be influential in just how widely they’re adopted and scaled. However, achieving all of this means every entity needs to work together — in particular, organizations, financial institutions, governments, and individuals.

Encouraging innovation as early as possible is also a way to accelerate movement towards zero-carbon technologies. If we’re able to instill the urgency of climate change in young minds—positively, of course—and support them as they exercise their creativity and think up new ideas, we’ll be able to find some incredible solutions to our climate problems. 

Of course, all of this presents a formidable challenge, one that can be easy to shy away from. But we mustn’t because we’re perfectly positioned to use great minds and amazing innovations to solve one of our biggest global crises. With more organizations backing great ideas with capital and infrastructure, we take one step closer to the ideal net-zero solution! 

Posted on 2022-02-17

EcoMatcher introduces ForestSounds

Hong Kong, February 17, 2022 – EcoMatcher proudly launches the next generation of tree tracking technology by adding ForestSounds. Tree recipients using EcoMatcher’s TreeTracker can not only track and see their tree and farmer, with ForestSounds they can now also experience the sounds of their tree’s location. 

Depending on the tree’s local weather condition and time of the day, the tree recipient will be able to hear insects, birds, rain, thunder, and more.  

“EcoMatcher is constantly looking for and evaluating new ways and technologies with the objective to improve our customer’s experience. ForestSounds truly brings the next step in tree tracking”, says Bas Fransen, CEO EcoMatcher. “You can virtually travel to your tree and immerse yourself in the local environment of your tree, even if that tree is at the other side of the world. We hope that our customers equally love this amazing experience.”

ForestSounds will be available from today on the web version of EcoMatcher’s TreeTracker and will appear on EcoMatcher’s mobile app later.

You can experience ForestSounds with the trees you may already have, and in case you don’t have trees yet, you can try the “sample” tree (https://www.ecomatcher.com/track/tau123123/) and click the loudspeaker button to unmute yourself.

About EcoMatcher

EcoMatcher plants trees with foundations specialized in planting trees. Through technologies, EcoMatcher knows everything about every tree, offering full transparency and engagement. Every tree can be tracked. Companies use trees for meaningful corporate gifting, loyalty programs, rewards, employee engagement, events, and transparent carbon offsetting programs.

www.ecomatcher.com

For media inquiries, interviews, and additional imagery: laure@ecomatcher.com.

Posted on 2022-02-10

Technologies and the Fight Against Climate Change

We’re currently living in a transformational age. Technology, which was once an alien concept, is now something we can’t imagine living without. It has great potential — and as it continues to scale, technology has become the one thing that can help us fight one of the greatest challenges of our time: climate change.

The history of climate technology innovation

Much of the research into innovation and technological change is driven by our design to achieve economic progress. We want to understand and shape the processes that help us continue to grow our incomes and profits. But the use of technology innovation for socio-environmental issues is a relatively recent phenomenon.

Why is this? It’s probably because innovators respond to the demands and aspirations of the target market. This is why we see so much growth in consumer technology. Every year, for example, new iPhones are released due to the high demand for innovation. There is little, if any, “natural” market for environmental technology. However, that seems to be slowly changing.

The UN’s explicit climate agenda for 2022 already includes science. Innovation is at the top of countries’ climate policies. This is because we’ve set a formidable goal for ourselves: ensuring that the rise in long-term global temperatures is no more than 2°C. There is no one way to achieve this goal; the solutions differ due to myriad factors, including the future availability and cost of technologies. What all models seem to agree on, though, is that the energy system is the biggest contributor to climate change and therefore needs the most drastic changes.

Roadblocks in the path to climate tech

Scientists and researchers have achieved incredible success at the invention and innovation stages of technological change. That said, they need to succeed at the following two stages—adoption and diffusion—to be able to create a mass-scale positive environmental change. That doesn’t happen overnight and has its fair share of roadblocks and challenges.

For one, many promising technologies either aren’t available commercially, are limited to developed countries or are way too expensive to install at an individual level. A handful of them is yet to gain acceptance socially and politically, which means it will be long before they become regular fixtures in any home. The overall rate of development and adoption is also largely controlled by government policies, openness to change, and market forces, including energy prices. 

Promising climate technology currently fighting climate change 

With the increase in technology adoption and consumer awareness, we’re seeing more and more heads turning towards impactful climate tech. Here are a few that have much promise:

1.    Direct Air Capture technology 

Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have increased by 48% since the beginning of the industrial revolution. Trees are a natural way of sequestering carbon, but the issue is urgent enough that any help from climate technology will be welcome.

This is where direct air capture (DAC) technology comes in. Massive vacuum cleaners extract CO2 from the atmosphere, sequestering it underground. In some circumstances, they also redistribute the sequestered gas to specialized businesses, such as those that supply fertilizer for farmers or produce carbonated drinks.

2.    Smart hives network to conserve bees

Bees are essential for a stable, healthy food supply. Bees are perfectly designed to pollinate — assisting plants in their growth, reproduction, and food production. However, theirs is a declining population. By protecting bees and other pollinators, we can tackle problems with global food supply and poverty and prevent further biodiversity loss and environmental degradation. Oracle and The World Bee Project set out to do just that. 

The World Hive Network collects data on the honeybee population decline using cloud technology, artificial intelligence (AI), and smart sensors to preserve them better. Researchers can receive intimate information on honeybee cages utilizing this technique. They can look at the relationships between wing movement, temperature, the environment, honey yield, and other variables. By doing so, they can discover patterns that are critical to the survival of real-world bees and hives. 

3.    Floating solar installations

Although solar energy is catching on in many countries, large-scale installations are difficult to install in densely populated areas or rocky terrains. In countries with limited sunlight, solar installations need to be backed up by other forms of energy that still tax the environment. 

The tech solution to that seems to be floating installations on existing hydroelectric dams. They make use of unused marine surfaces during the day, while hydroelectric energy is created by night. The world’s biggest floating solar plant in South Korea can provide power for 60,000 people. Considering the number of man-made reservoirs that already exist on a global scale, the potential impact of floating solar plants is incredible. 

4.    Transparent and engaging tree planting

Planting trees is one activity that can be done at an individual level but has incredible effects on the global environment. Technology helps connect environmentally conscious consumers and businesses to tree planting organizations in areas of the world that desperately need reforestation. A great example of this is EcoMatcher.

EcoMatcher uses multiple types of technology to make tree planting accessible, engaging, and high on returns. The TreeTracker, for example, is a web application EcoMatcher developed using satellite maps to allow tree owners to visit the location of their tree. Trees are stored on TreeChain based on an EOSIO™ blockchain protocol, the leading open-source blockchain platform that enables transparency in transactions. It’s also carbon-neutral because its footprint (which is small) is offset with more trees.

5.    Ships powered by hydrogen fuel cells

Maritime shipping contributes 2.5% of worldwide CO2 emissions. The bunker fuel that ships burn adds toxic particulates into the water, exacerbating water pollution and affecting seaside towns.

To tackle both these adverse effects, a consortium of Scandinavian countries is constructing a big ferry powered by hydrogen fuel cells. These produce electricity from hydrogen gas and only emit water. The hydrogen itself will be environmentally friendly, as it will be made by splitting water molecules with wind energy.

By 2027, it’s expected to connect Oslo to Copenhagen. That one ship is expected to avoid the production of a whopping 64,000 tons of CO2 annually. This shows the vast potential of hydrogen in marine travel and the possibilities of replacing low-quality fuel.

The final word

Climate change is wired to make us feel hopeless and disparate about the conditions we’re in. However, we have at our disposal a powerful tool that has already entrenched itself in everyone’s lives: technology. We’re already creating and deploying new technologies that can assist the world in breaking its carbon addiction. We also have a rapid increase in climate awareness and the earmarking of massive funds solely for fighting climate change. 

Solar, wind, and hydropower are already inexpensive, market-ready technologies that are being embraced all over the world, displacing fossil fuels. There are even newer technologies poised on the horizon that can accelerate our speed towards a green future.

The world is not without hope: with invention, innovation, adoption, and diffusion, we can expect climate technologies to sway the fight against climate change in our favor.

Posted on 2022-02-09

Why Transparency in Tree Planting Matters

Current tree planting initiatives offer little transparency and as a result, insufficiently engage and scale. However, once details are known of each tree planted – its precise location, the date of planting, the species, and the farmer taking care of that tree, and you digitize all that data, you create a win-win for all stakeholders.

EcoMatcher is a technology platform that enables tree data for every tree planted to be recorded easily.  EcoMatcher’s robust and user-friendly platform eliminates doubts about tree planting data and is almost immediately accessible by anyone.

In its current version, EcoMatcher’s TreeCorder can capture an image of the tree, date of planting, and location with a “one-click” of the mobile application.  Other data points can also be entered into TreeCorder such as the tree species and names of “tree carers”.  The data (the “tree records”) from TreeCorder is saved to the cloud and can be accessed remotely via EcoMatcher’s TreeManager and TreeTracker platforms.

The resulting tree records can be used for various purposes. They are advantageous for companies, tree-planting organizations, consumers, and Mother Nature.

Instead of just saying thank you, companies can now reward people for participating in a market research survey with trees they adopt on behalf of the respondent. Those doing so have discovered that people rewarded in this way are more eager to participate and are more engaged in a survey. Corporate gifting provides another example. Instead of giving someone a plastic item, companies now can give someone a newly planted tree or trees. Another option for companies is that they can offer transparent carbon offsetting programs. As you know the date of planting and tree species, you can calculate the carbon contribution of that tree. Airlines can now offer a program where passengers can offset their carbon footprint of a flight with a precise number of trees.

Tree planting organizations have much better insight into what has been planted, where, when, and who is taking care of those trees. That insight and transparency will help tree-planting organizations to get more funding increasing their impact.

Transparent tree planting offers consumers insight into where their contribution is going. You now can adopt a specific tree or trees in a specific location taken care of by a specific farmer. Studies have shown that if people know where their contribution goes, they intend to contribute more.

Conclusion

Bringing transparency to tree planting is advantageous for all stakeholders. It helps companies to do good business by doing good, it helps tree-planting organizations to step up their game, it engages consumers, and last but not least, planting more trees serves Mother Nature and helps to protect this planet we call home.

Posted on 2021-09-23

EcoMatcher adds high-resolution satellite maps by Planet to its portfolio

23rd of September 2021 – Hong Kong, San Francisco – EcoMatcher is adding high-resolution satellite data by Planet to its portfolio, offering customers quarterly updates on the forests they have planted through EcoMatcher.

Trees’ data collected on the ground with EcoMatcher’s TreeCorder, will automatically be mapped with Planet’s high-resolution satellite data offering EcoMatcher’s customers the next level of transparency on a quarterly basis. EcoMatcher will start with satellite mapping in the UAE, Paraguay, Indonesia, and Jordan and gradually add other geographies EcoMatcher is active in. 

“We are proud to partner with and provide our satellite data to EcoMatcher as they continue to provide innovative and easy ways to increase companies’ sustainability practices through transparent tree planting,” said Andrew Brockfield, VP APAC of Planet. 

“Our mission in life is providing customers amazing transparency and engagement in tree planting through innovative technologies and encouraging them to integrate tree planting in their businesses,” says Bas Fransen, CEO of EcoMatcher. “Planet leads in the space of high-resolution satellite mapping, and our partnership cannot come at a better time.” 

The End

About Planet

Planet is the leading provider of global, daily satellite imagery and geospatial solutions. Planet is driven by a mission to image all of Earth’s landmass every day and make global change visible, accessible, and actionable. Founded in 2010 by three NASA scientists, Planet designs, builds, and operates the largest earth observation fleet of satellites and provides the online software, tools, and analytics that enable users to simply and effectively derive value from satellite imagery. To learn more, visit www.planet.com and follow us on Twitter at @planet.

About EcoMatcher

EcoMatcher plants trees with foundations specialized in tree planting. Through technologies, EcoMatcher knows everything about every tree, offering full transparency and engagement. Companies can use trees for meaningful corporate gifting, loyalty programs, rewards, employee engagement, events, and transparent carbon offsetting programs. To learn more, visit www.ecomatcher.com  and follow us on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/company/ecomatcher/

Posted on 2021-08-26

Introducing the next-gen mobile “t(re)e-chnologies” (incl. world’s simplest carbon calculator)

EcoMatcher proudly launches today the next and 5th generation of the EcoMatcher App, integrating new mobile “t(re)e-chnologies” and features that make tree-planting more transparent, engaging, and impactful.
 
The first addition is the world’s simplest one-page carbon calculator developed in partnership with UK-based environmental consultancy Wanderlands. Answers to five curated questions combined with the average national carbon statistics allow users to quickly and easily calculate their personal annual footprint. The calculator automatically suggests the number of trees required to offset the user’s footprint, making carbon offsetting easier than ever. 
 
The second addition allows users to capture and track their own locally planted trees on the EcoMatcher app, at zero cost. This feature also enables organizations to plant trees in their local cities, while automatically planting trees in developing countries with EcoMatcher’s vetted tree-planting partners. This “one tree here, one tree there” concept helps increase the scale and impact of local tree planting.
 
“We wanted to include a carbon calculator that is easy and fast to use. Most other calculators are complex and time-consuming. Moreover, we got requests from customers that want to use EcoMatcher’s technology for their own tree planting activities,” says Bas Fransen, CEO of EcoMatcher. “The EcoMatcher team has worked hard over the summer, and we hope that this new version helps many to get a better understanding of their footprint, plant more trees locally and abroad, and to help to address the climate crisis we have on hand.”    
 
The EcoMatcher App comes in 11 languages, including Arabic, Bahasa, French, Hindi, Japanese, Spanish, and Thai, and can be downloaded from Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store here:

About Wanderlands

Wanderlands is a natural solutions consultancy that provides end-to-end natural solutions for businesses to reduce and offset their carbon footprint locally in the UK. Our thoughtful, scientific approach to biodiversity enhancement and woodland creation set us apart and run through the core of the net-zero outcomes we deliver for clients. 

www.wanderlands.earth

About EcoMatcher

EcoMatcher plants trees with foundations specialized in tree planting. Through technologies, EcoMatcher knows everything about every tree, offering full transparency and engagement. Companies can use trees for meaningful corporate gifting, loyalty programs, rewards, employee engagement, events and transparent carbon offsetting programs.

www.ecomatcher.com

Posted on 2021-06-30

The Next Generation of TreeCorder is Here

June 30, Hong Kong – EcoMatcher proudly launches today TreeCorder 5, the next generation of iOS/Android app used by EcoMatcher’s partner foundations / NGOs that easily records every tree planted and its planter bringing transparency to tree-planting.

Besides capturing a picture of each tree, TreeCorder can now also scan and read a QR code attached to each tree. Capturing a QR code instead of a photo has numerous benefits, such as storing much more data in each mobile and is more energy-efficient.

TreeCorder now also enables the user to easily take geotagged photos of the scenery of tree planting sides. Those pictures will further enhance the tree recipient experience and give more insights as those pictures will be made available in EcoMatcher’s Tree- and Forest-Trackers.

To better serve EcoMatcher’s partners from around the world, TreeCorder comes besides English now also in Spanish, Bahasa, Arabic, and Hindi.

TreeCorder is available today in Google’s Play Store, and Apple’s App Store for EcoMatcher’s partner foundations / NGOs specialized in planting trees and EcoMatcher’s licensing customers. For more information, please contact us at contact@ecomatcher.com.

Posted on 2020-12-27

Blockchain, a Welcome Leap Towards Supply Chain Transparency

21st-century companies are becoming more open about their supply chains in a world where every consumer wants to know what it took to make the product they buy. Shoppers demand the story of where their clothes were made; gourmands demand that the source of the ingredients they choose to be disclosed.

Every product has a storied, lengthy history, from when it was an idea to how it was realised. Much of this history is obscured, whether on purpose or by circumstance. However, more and more voices are being added to the already amplified demands of supply chain transparency as consumers become more active and involved influences on the production process. One solution posited to these requests is blockchain. 

What is Blockchain?

Blockchain is a definitive buzzword that emerged in the last decade. Blockchain is a distributed ledger that contains records that cannot be altered or deleted. This can build a record of transactions, which is permanent and public knowledge.

Despite having been invented for the purpose of bitcoin and virtual currency, the technology is steadily breaking into the authentication aspects of nearly every industry. Its capacity as a transparent ledger of transactions caught researchers’ eyes as they saw the technology could fulfil larger purposes than just bitcoin security. 

The blockchain consists of a chain of blocks storing information including records, transactions, and players involved. Each transaction in a block is timestamped, so there’s a chronological order to the information. Since the blocks form a chain, the result is a process that is backward-traceable to the very first instituting transaction or record. 

This blockchain is made visible to systems on the network with express access to it, making it both public and private. Naturally, this helps avoid discrepancies in information and makes sure everyone is up to date on real-time additions and changes. 

What’s wrong with traditional supply chains?

Herein lies the power of blockchain and the value it holds for supply chains. The current methods of data recording and consolidation are miserable at best and see the following problems: 

  • Disparate record-keeping leads to gaps in information and unreliable reports;
  • Loose track of products during the production process, geographic or otherwise;
  • Inability to identify system failures and leaks; 
  • Reluctance to share production processes with the public lest competitors take note;
  • Covering up negative incidents to preserve the existing positive brand image; 
  • No Plan B for unforeseen delays in production, rise or fall in demand. 

How does blockchain guarantee supply chain transparency?

Blockchain promises to dramatically change this by providing a transparent and irrefutable record for inspection and audits by regulators and consumers alike. Without going too into the weeds, here’s a simple explanation– blockchains track each transaction in chronological order, and every computer on the blockchain network has access to this information. 

To paint a picture– every player in the production of a necklace has a unique identity on the blockchain network, including the mining company, designers, sculptors, artisans, and jewellers. Each stakeholder verifies their participation in the making of a necklace, leaving a visible footprint of the history of the jewellery. If there were any discrepancies at any stage, this blockchain trail would bring it to light in no time. 

Traceability and transparency go hand in hand, although the relationship is not linear. Traceability is the process of identifying the chronology and players of an event in a process chain. On the other hand, supply chain transparency focuses on the information that is readily available for end-users to track. Therefore, the chronology of events must be accurate to embody transparency. If the chain is broken, there’s no point in trying to trace it. 

Why should companies consider blockchain for transparency?

The perks of using blockchain for transparency extend far beyond keeping a good enough record for regulators and auditors when the time comes. 

Demonstration of authenticity

By using blockchain, companies can ensure that the supplies they receive are genuine. On the customer front, using blockchain ensures that the final product they receive is also authentic, thereby protecting the firm’s brand image.

Increase in trust

Allowing end-users to go through your production and supply chronology encourages them to believe in your company and practices. It’s a tell-tale sign that firms have nothing to hide and are willing to share details with consumers in hopes of a deeper relationship. Usually, it works out that way– supply chain transparency has a positive impact on brand loyalty and brand recognition through word-of-mouth that no marketing strategy could emulate. 

Improved compliance

For companies that deal with outsources manufacturing or partners in their process, blockchain makes it easier to ensure compliance across the board. It’s also much simpler to trace shortcomings or failures in any operations and hold accountable the people involved. 

Better visibility

Similarly, having access to the same information in the same chronological order allows all parties to be equally involved in the process. Since data on the blockchain is encrypted, only those with exclusive authority can access the information– this cancels out the fear of competitors getting hold of confidential information. 

Decrease losses and expenses

Using blockchain for due diligence and record-keeping brings down administrative costs by increasing visibility. It reduces the chances of losses caused by holes in the production chain, counterfeit or lower-quality material, and erratic track of expenses due to haphazard record-keeping. It also reduces the time spend on verifying information and records– time that can instead be spent on delivering services seamlessly. 

Better brand positioning

Today, news spreads like wildfire, and firms need to have all posts covered to ensure they won’t have a PR disaster on their hands. By using blockchain, firms can exercise a lot more control over their processes, staying ahead of the curve, and taking the first step to avert any looming issues. In the long run, this positions the firm as a responsible leader in the industry, increasing customer loyalty. 

How can firms approach blockchain for supply chain transparency?

To adopt blockchain processes and achieve supply chain transparency, firms will first need to consider what type of blockchain they want to use. There are three broad divisions:

  • Public: a permission-less ‘free for all’ blockchain that is decentralised with no overarching authority.
  • Consortium: A blockchain controlled by a ‘consortium’ of entities who grant permission and verify transactions.
  • Private: A permissioned blockchain with the power to grant permissions and ensure authenticity resting in the hands of a central authority. EcoMatcher’s TreeChain is a good example of this. Every tree that has been planted by EcoMatcher is stored and visible on EcoMatcher’s TreeChain. 

The final word

Firms will also need to ensure that all stakeholders and links in the supply chain are willing to come on board the blockchain process. Ensuring all parties are eager to contribute to the maintenance of the blockchain will guarantee a more traceable transparent supply chain!

Posted on 2020-12-03

How Employee Ownership Can Make Sustainability Second Nature

At a Unilever factory, back in 2015, six employees talked to their manager about starting a beauty and hair care course to prepare local women for jobs and entrepreneurship while simultaneously marketing Unilever products. The green signal came; the course was established. Just a year later, over 800 women were enrolled, and another 600 were working on their own or in other beauty salons. 

Not much ink was spilled over this decision, but that was the point. Unilever’s attention to employee suggestions, and the consequent positive results, it is a fine example of employee ownership over sustainability such that the philosophy becomes an actionable part of their everyday routines1

Sustainability might be a popular enough buzzword, but it doesn’t always cop a seat with the executives at the strategy table. Change management might help it get a foot in the door. Still, the evolution from profit to purpose, diffused throughout the organization, will help sustainability finally capture the speaker’s podium.

Employee ownership is the linchpin to successfully entrenching sustainability as part of organizational culture. Employees need to be onboarded for sustainability strategies to work– but this doesn’t warrant leadership teams ‘telling’ them to do things. On the contrary, it requires that employee opinions be taken seriously and used to inform sustainability strategies.

Above all, it means embedding a sense of purpose in every individual wherever they stand in the company structure, such that sustainability becomes an everyday affair rather than yet another enforced policy.  

How to create employee ownership of sustainability

  • Treat employees as the primary stakeholders

In his book ‘Small Actions, Big Differences,’ C.B. Bhattacharya2 rightly states that employees need to be referred to as the first and primary stakeholder group when it comes to creating and enforcing sustainability strategies3. Unfortunately, many companies take the easier way out, choosing to direct employees rather than engage them. However, treating employees as primary stakeholders involves:

  1. Actively asking each individual for their opinions and feedback, 
  2. Gaining their nod of approval for proposed strategies, and 
  3. Ensuring they’re all bought in as teams and as individuals. 

This creates psychological ownership, a feeling of possession that doesn’t necessarily apply to anything physical – such as a car or a home – but inspires a similar sense of responsibility and active effort to maintain and uphold. 

A great way to approach this is to open the floor to employees across teams and hierarchical levels to pitch their thoughts and ideas about achieving sustainable goals. This could be through weekly town halls, 1-to-1 meetings, departmental discussions, and suggestion boxes. By involving employees from the very start of the conversation, companies are more likely to quickly and effectively achieve psychological ownership. Each employee has an equal say, and each of them shoulders responsibilities equally. 

  • Identify one or two priorities– and stick to them 

Sustainability is often posited as an ‘all or nothing’ effort, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. To become genuinely sustainable – without greenwashing or half-hearted checklists – is to work towards one or two key issues that relate to the organization’s offerings and industry. Energy companies, for example, could focus on becoming carbon-neutral or investing in clean energy, much like Shell’s New Energies project4. E-commerce businesses could focus on assisting afforestation to offset unsustainable packaging and shipping, and pivoting their product designs to be fully sustainable. 

Selecting these priorities needs to be a team effort and can be achieved through a materiality analysis. In this exercise, priority issues are plotted on a two-dimensional axis that equally takes employee and other stakeholder opinions into account. This process involves employees right from the planning stage, which leaves them with a stronger sense of responsibility and involvement than if they were just asked to follow a few new rules around the office. 

  • Creating a psychological need

Creating a psychological need for sustainability is easier said than done. It involves hacking base human behavior through individual appeals such that every individual resonates with the same overarching purpose, albeit in different ways.

Going by the “different strokes for different folks” principle and identifying individual preferences can be a time-intensive yet highly rewarding exercise for the company. Appeals towards creating a better future might sway employees with children. On the other hand, those living on a tight budget might be more inclined to act upon evidence of sustainability saving money and increasing returns. This is a tried and tested method– Apple’s VP of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, Lisa Jackson, finds that the best part of her job is tailoring sustainability appeals to individual businesses such that the heart and mind work as one and buy into the sustainability agenda.

  • Implementing and moving beyond the low-hanging fruit

Sustainability is a complex, multi-step, and long-term endeavor that takes time to pay off. However, there is low-hanging fruit in every organization that make fantastic starting points and build momentum and motivation. A look at any medium- to large-sized organization will reveal many such low-hanging initiatives– plastic-free zones, recycling units, paper-free communication, and reusable cutlery and coffee mugs. Initiatives such as these can usually be accomplished with a handful of top-down directives that are standardized within three to six months. 

However, it is critical that sustainability efforts move beyond these low-hanging fruits and undertake more ambitious structural changes. The end goal must be to make sustainability an intrinsic part of every individual’s role at the company and a critical indicator of the company’s performance in front of stakeholders and investors. Cosmetic changes must give way to structural upheavals that may seem daunting and labor-intensive but, if well thought out, can increase profits and put companies leagues ahead of their competitors. 

From a bottom line to a triple bottom line

Sustainability can be achieved and diffused on a company-wide scale only when the focus shifts from a singular bottom line to a triple bottom line that equally values social, environmental, and financial performances. Some companies go so far as to institute a quadruple bottom line, to include future generations, and to emphasize the long-term thinking that sustainability constitutes. 

Sustainability is neither one department’s role nor one board committee’s responsibility. It underlines all aspects of a business, from office culture to energy consumption, supply procurement to product and service design. Fostering a “can do” attitude among employees means investing in accessible and comprehensive education about sustainability. It is also bolstered by systems and processes that make it easier – even rewarding – for employees to integrate sustainability into every decision they make, big or small.

Posted on 2020-11-05

Introducing TreeChain, blockchain for trees, finally!

The EcoMatcher team very proudly introduces TreeChain, offering the next level of transparency in planting trees using advanced blockchain (distributed ledger) technology:

  • Every tree that has been planted and every tree that will be planted by EcoMatcher is stored and visible on EcoMatcher’s TreeChain.
  • Anyone can check any tree with TreeChain, including every tree’s transaction history. No secrets!
  • TreeChain is based on the EOSIO protocol, the leading open-source blockchain platform that enables transparency in transactions.
  • Customers can apply for a “node” on TreeChain. 
  • TreeChain is carbon neutral as EcoMatcher offsets TreeChain’s carbon footprint with trees; actually, due to its smart implementation, very few trees are needed for this.

EcoMatcher believes that it is only scratching the surface of what blockchain can offer and is excited about the next steps.

Posted on 2020-05-21

EcoMatcher Goes Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Introduction

EcoMatcher plants trees with vetted foundations from around the world. Through technology, EcoMatcher knows everything of every tree planted offering full transparency. Every tree can be virtually visited. Companies can use trees for reward, loyalty, corporate gifting, employee engagement, and transparent carbon offsetting programs. 

EcoMatcher’s System, see below, consists of the following main building blocks: TreeCorder (step 2) for capturing, TreeManager (step 5) for managing, and TreeTracker (step 6) for tracking every tree planted.

EcoMatcher’s System

TreeCorder is a sophisticated mobile app that is used by the tree planting foundations to capture every tree planted. TreeCorder runs on any type of smartphone. TreeCorder records, for example, a picture, the GPS coordinates, the date of planting, and the species of the tree, all with one click of a button. All TreeCorder data is sent automatically to EcoMatcher’s cloud-based platform.

Until recently, all data coming from TreeCorder was checked manually by EcoMatcher (step 3 in our system). With the enormous growth of EcoMatcher, manual incoming inspection only would become a bottleneck for EcoMatcher.

EcoMatcher introducing Artificial Intelligence

EcoMatcher recently started using successfully Artificial Intelligence for incoming inspection of all tree data (step 3), with the intention to automate this process.

Artificial Intelligence or AI in short refers to the simulation of human intelligence in machines that are programmed to think like humans and mimic their actions. 

Our AI algorithms can, for example, filter already on the following items:

  • If accidentally multiple pictures of the same tree in the same location have been made with TreeCorder;
  • Whether the picture has a tree; a picture could have been taken by accident; 
  • Whether the picture is in line with our quality standards. We want, for example, the tree in the middle of the image, and the pictures should be clear and in focus.

EcoMatcher has trained its AI algorithms with thousands of datasets and will continue to do so. Step by step, the system will become smarter and will help EcoMatcher to speed up the incoming trees’ inspection significantly with the ultimate goal to fully automate this step.

Conclusion

EcoMatcher’s objective is to plant and capture by 2023 a billion trees, tree by tree. Transparency and quality are what matters for EcoMatcher and our clients most. AI will help us tremendously. We will keep you informed about the exciting progress EcoMatcher is making.