The Soneva Sustainability Report 2013-14 details the range of sustainable activities that cumulate in 79% of waste being recycled and carbon reduction projects that will mitigate more than one million tonnes of CO2.
Waste to Wealth
Soneva has increased its recycling capacity from 27% in 2008-09 to 79% in 2013-14. This is a significant achievement given that Soneva operates in remote areas with limited municipal facilities.
The recycling efforts resulted in 72 tonnes of negative CO2. A major contributor to the carbon avoidance was composting of all food waste, which is then used in resort vegetable gardens to produce nearly 15 tonnes of vegetable for the restaurant kitchens. The garden produce resulted in cost savings of US$ 50,000 in 2013-14.
Other important contributors were recycling of cardboard, metal and production of biocharcoal. Soneva also eliminated 150,000 plastic bottles by bottling water on site in reusable glass bottles.
Soneva measures its entire carbon footprint including emissions from guest air travel, which counts for 71% of emissions. 36,698 tonnes of CO2 were emitted in 2013-14, down 12% from the base year of 2008-09.
As most CO2 emissions stem from sources the company cannot control, Soneva has implemented a carbon levy – 2% of room revenue – that has raised US$ 5.5 million since 2008. Through the SLOW LIFE Foundation, funds have been used to initiative carbon reduction projects that will mitigate in excess of one million tonnes CO2 over the next seven years.
The projects are not only about reducing carbon emissions, but also aim to improve the lives of families. For instance, the Myanmar Stoves Campaign addresses energy poverty. Families in rural Myanmar spend up to 40% of their income on wood for cooking fuel. By making efficient cook stoves available at an affordable price, the Myanmar Stoves Campaign reduces the wood required for cooking by 50%.
Additionally, and possibly more importantly, it reduces air pollution by 80%. This health benefit is significant considering that over four million people worldwide die of household air pollution from cooking.
Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve
Soneva Fushi is situated in the Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, a status Soneva Fushi has contributed to. As part of this, Soneva Fushi preserves 50 ha of land area as well as 119 ha of house reef.
The Soneva Fushi marine biologist plays a crucial role in protecting the marine biodiversity as well as educating visitors. In 2013-14 alone 1,652 guests were personally guided in order to enjoy and understand the beauty of the Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve, which is known for its abundance of manta rays.
Learn To Swim
As part of community partnerships, Soneva set up the Learn To Swim programme to teach children how to swim.
Surprisingly to many, most Maldivian children are unable to swim despite being surrounded by water. As a result they have not seen the beauty beneath the surface that attracts thousands of visitors every year.
43 children and 16 mothers from Soneva Fushi’s neighbouring island Eydhafushi were given a two week intensive swimming course in May 2013. The course concluded with snorkelling, the first experience of the local marine life for many of the participants. The aim is that a fear of the ocean will be turned into o desire to protect the marine environment.
SLOW LIFE Symposium
In order to have influence beyond Soneva’s own networks and beyond the hospitality industry, the annual SLOW LIFE Symposium gathers the best scientists, philanthropists, business leaders and policy makers for three days of dialogues around the large sustainability challenges and opportunities facing humanity.
The focus extends the three days the 30-odd participants meet to what happens afterwards in the form of initiatives. One successful concept that came out of the 2011 SLOW LIFE Symposium was the WHOLE WORLD Water Campaign, which aims to unite the tourism and hospitality industry to address global water challenges.
The simple model takes the Soneva concept of filtering and bottling drinking water, selling it to guests and contributing 10% of water revenues to clean water projects. It is estimated that if the hospitality industry unites over this issue, US$ 1bn could be raised annually to provide clean and safe water around the world.
To download the full report please click here.