Award-winning British photographer Matt Porteous becomes first Soneva Namoona Guardian
Soneva Namoona, a Soneva initiative that seeks to radically change the way the Maldives manages its waste, has announced its first Soneva Namoona Guardian: Matt Porteous, the founder of Ocean Culture Life and the Managing Director of Studio M.
The mission of Soneva Namoona is to design a sustainable waste management system that can benefit the whole nation and prevent plastic entering the sea. The initiative centres around the three pillars of Reduce, Recycle, Inspire.
At the heart of Soneva Namoona is Reduce, a radical reduction in the volume of plastic arriving on the islands. Soneva assisted in the establishment of a water bottling plant on the island of Maalhos to desalinate and mineralise sea water, which is distributed in reusable glass bottles, eliminating the need for water bottled in plastic.
Recycle is the second strand of the programme and focuses on the responsible disposal of waste. Maalhos is the first island to open a Soneva-sponsored Eco Centro with machinery that will include a wood chipper and a glass crusher.
The third component is Inspire which aims to foster a love of the ocean and the environment. The belief is that through water sports, education and festivities children will lose their fear of the ocean and learn to love it, and thus protect it.
The goal of Namoona Guardians is to build a network of like-minded people around the world who are committed to making Soneva Namoona a success.
Namoona Guardians can be environmentalists, conservationists, surfers, sailors, athletes, and artists who have a passion for safeguarding the environment. They are innovators, leaders, visionaries and pioneers.
Matt recently did a takeover of the Soneva Namoona Instagram account, @namooonabaa, to talk about his work documenting how the Maldivian islands of Maalhos, Dharavandhoo and Kihaadhoo have become pioneers of the waste-to-wealth philosophy and setting examples in reducing marine plastic waste.
“I’m incredibly fortunate as a photographer to spend time with amazing people. In the case of Soneva Namoona, this means telling stories of the real heroes of Maldivian islands – the community collecting ocean plastic for the benefit of future generations, the team mentoring children on neighbouring islands to become ocean stewards, the waste experts at Soneva who are designing a sustainable way of managing waste that can benefit the whole country,” Matt Porteous said.
“Change starts with individuals and passion. Programmes like Soneva Namoona are so important for creating the systems needed to tackle complex problems. But what is so exemplary about it is the focus on nurturing people and their passion. My passion is in sharing these stories, connecting like-minded individuals and corporations, helping create ripples of change across the world.”
Matt’s love and delight in his surroundings are evident in his work. He captures and reveals the expression and detail that is seldom evident to the naked eye.
Matt is one of the UK’s leading photographers both in and out of the water, where his passion for oceans has taken him to some of the most beautiful places on the planet and connected him to some of the world’s greatest changemakers.
The Jersey-based photographer was chosen by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as the official photographer to photograph Prince George to mark the young royal’s third and fifth birthdays. Matt was also commissioned to shoot Prince H. Louis’ christening at Clarence House. Later in 2018 he was tasked with capturing last year’s Christmas card photograph for the Duke and Duchess’s family portrait in their country home, in Norfolk.
Soneva currently runs two resorts in the Maldives, Soneva Fushi and Soneva Jani, and luxury yacht, Soneva in Aqua. The world-leading luxury resort operator also operates Soneva Kiri resort in Thailand.
In 1995, the award-winning luxury resort Soneva Fushi set the standard for all desert island barefoot luxury hideaways in the Maldives. Located in the Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Soneva Fushi pairs Robinson Crusoe fantasy with intelligent luxury.
Sixty-two private villas with their own stretch of beach are hidden amongst dense foliage within touching distance of a pristine coral reef. Eight new one- and two-bedroom Water Retreats, perched above the turquoise depths of the Indian Ocean, are scheduled to open to guests by May. Intuitive service is provided by Mr./Ms. Friday butlers.
Highlights include the open-air Cinema Paradiso, counting Saturn’s rings in the high-tech Observatory, the home-made chocolate and ice cream rooms, five hundred wines to choose from, six different restaurants and countless destination dining options.
In November 2015, Soneva launched a floating villa concept, Soneva in Aqua, a treasure trove children’s Den and a multi-purpose facility encompasses a glass gallery, boutique and studio where guests can learn the art of glass blowing.
Opened in December 2016, Soneva Jani is Soneva’s newest property and the world-leading luxury hotel group’s second resort in the Maldives.
Soneva Jani is located on the island of Medhufaru within a 5.6 kilometre lagoon in the Noonu atoll, and has uninterrupted ocean views in all directions. The lagoon is 35 minutes by seaplane from Velana International Airport and one hour by speedboat from Soneva Fushi.
Meaning ‘wisdom’ in Sanskrit, Soneva Jani currently comprises 24 overwater villas and one island villa, with additional villas to be built in phase two. Five islands encircle the lagoon, each one with soft white sands and covered in rich tropical vegetation. Four of the five islands will remain untouched, making Soneva Jani the lowest density development in the Maldives. The overwater villas are spaced across the expansive lagoon, offering privacy and extensive views over the Maldives’ turquoise waters. The island villas will be tucked into the lush greenery, providing the ultimate privacy, and all within steps of the beach.
Soneva Jani’s main guest facilities are located at The Gathering, the heart of the overwater villas. This dramatic three story structure is home to the main dining outlets, in addition to the Soneva Spa, library, retail area and wine cellar. It is located next to the Maldives’ first overwater Observatory.
Facilities on the island include the overwater Cinema Paradiso, the Eco Centro Waste-to-Wealth centre, organic gardens, tennis courts, water sports champa and Zuhair’s Beach on a desert island in the lagoon.