Ant Group, a financial company owned by Chinese tech giant Alibaba, released its “2021 Sustainable Development Report” on Wednesday, officially launching a four-in-one ESG sustainable development strategy of “digital inclusiveness,” “green and low carbon,” “scientific and technological innovation” and “open ecology.”
The report disclosed for the first time Ant Group’s R&D investment details, which exceeded 18.8 billion yuan ($2.81 billion) in 2021, with an R&D investment growth rate of over 39% for three consecutive years. In the report, Ant Group Chairman and CEO Eric Jing said that the company would continue to invest in core technology research and development to provide the world’s leading products and services, while increasing its own technology sharing and helping to digitally upgrade the real economy.
According to the report data, Alipay was the first to implement the policy of reducing fees and making profits in 2021, and reduced the operating costs of small and micro enterprises by 5 billion yuan in more than half a year. Ant Group also achieved carbon neutrality in its operation scope as scheduled. Its annual accumulated public welfare donations reached 1.104 billion yuan, and 1.039 billion yuan was donated through public welfare cooperation institutions such as the Ant Foundation (unused funds will reportedly be used as planned).
The report also shows that in 2021, Ant Group took a number of measures to improve its corporate governance and give full play to the key role of corporate governance in risk prevention. These measures include continuing to strengthen the role of the Board of Directors, expanding the scope of directors’ duties, and establishing a new Board Conflict of Interest Committee, a Risk Management and Consumer Protection Committee, and a Privacy Protection and Data Security Committee.
Since 2017, when ESG (“Environment, Society and Governance”) concept was first used for reference, the promise of “building a good society in the future” was first put forward. Ant Group has now published annual sustainable development reports for six consecutive years.
Jing said in the report, “Following extensive research and hearings, we decided to introduce a comprehensive ESG framework to upgrade the company’s sustainable development governance system and lead Ant’s value creation and stability to the future. It is both our mission heritage to ‘let the world have no difficult business’ and our solemn commitment and action for a better future.”