Soneva celebrates another exceptional year of sustainability achievements, sets new goals for 2022

Soneva has set its key sustainability goals for 2022 and is celebrating another year of milestone achievements. In the coming year, the brand aims to: establish one of the world’s largest coral nurseries that will produce 50,000 coral fragments a year; plant a million trees; remain carbon neutral; and continue to build on impactful projects managed by Soneva Namoona, The Soneva Foundation and SCI:ENCE at Soneva.

The award-winning luxury resorts operator, which has properties in the Maldives and Thailand, pioneers a raft of local and international projects that support environmental sustainability, the protection and conservation of biodiversity and habitats, and far-reaching social and community initiatives.

Key milestones in 2021

Soneva Namoona

Namoona means ‘exemplary’ in Dhivehi, the language of the Maldives, and this flagship project brings a radical reduction of single-use plastic, recycling, ocean stewardship and environmental education under one umbrella. 

In partnership with local island communities in the Maldives, the initiative provides funding, expertise and coordination for a waste management system that cleans up local islands and demonstrates how single-use plastics can be eventually phased out.

At the heart of this project is Soneva Water, which has been rolled out to the neighbouring islands of Maalhos, Dharavandhoo and Kihaadhoo, swapping unreliable rainwater and plastic water bottles for pure, filtered water in reusable glass bottles. Looking towards the future, Soneva Namoona is also nurturing the next generation of ocean stewards through watersports, education and festivities.

  • Soneva Namoona expanded from its initial three island partnerships to eleven.
  • Over 101,680 single-use plastic bottles were avoided through Soneva Water operations and provision of alternative packaging.
  • The Fehi Madharusa (Green School) pilot programme was launched with the Ministry of Education in seven schools across the Maldives, training 158 students and educators.
  • 100,191 kilograms of recyclables were diverted from landfill or toxic open burning and delivered to recycling partners.
  • 250 young people improved their swimming skills through the Inspire Swimming Programme, and 14 new swimming instructors received training.
  • 320 community members participated in Fresh Start waste management activities and took part in segregation training.
  • 84,000 nappies were removed from five Namoona islands – Maalhos, Dharavandhoo, Kihaadhoo, Dhonfanu and Kamadhoo.

Soneva Foundation

The Soneva Foundation was founded to address the direct and indirect environmental impacts of Soneva’s resorts. A 2% environmental levy is added to every guests’ stay, which the Soneva Foundation invests in global projects that have a positive environmental, social and economic impact, and offset carbon emissions from resort activities and guest flights.

  • Launched in 2021, the Soneva Coral Propagation Project is the largest conservation initiative ever supported by the Soneva Foundation. In partnership with the Swiss environmental organisation Coralive and the global ecosystem restoration organisation Ark2030, it aims to create the world’s largest Mineral Accretion Technology (MAT) coral nursery in the world, propagating 50,000 coral fragments each year.
  • The first phase of the Coral Propagation Project was completed in December 2021, with 432 table structures ready for coral planting in 2022.
  • At the end of 2021, the Coral Restoration Project also launched a campaign to salvage as many as 400,000 coral fragments from dredging and construction works in the Gulhifalhu lagoon near Malé.
  • The Myanmar Stoves Campaign, in partnership with Mercy Corps Myanmar, distributes fuel-efficient cookstoves to households across the country. Each stove saves 2.5 tonnes of wood each year, reducing deforestation, lowering carbon emissions, and improving the health and safety of the community. In 2021, the Myanmar Stoves Campaign successfully completed eight years in operation and 37,000 stoves distributed in total, benefitting 170,000 people. USD 28 million in social value was generated, and more than 240,000 Gold Standard carbon credits issued.
  • The Restaurants Against Hunger project is a partnership between the Soneva Foundation and Action Against Hunger UK. The three-year programme aims to reduce child hunger and malnutrition in Bangladesh.  During 2021, families received grants and were trained to set up resilient home gardens to produce fruit and vegetables to feed their families and to sell any surplus to generate additional income.
  • The Soneva Hornbill Project is working with the Hornbill Research Foundation, the Department of National Parks and the Zoological Parks Organisation to reintroduce the Oriental Pied Hornbill to Koh Kood. The species had been wiped out on the island due to over-hunting and loss of habitat. Permissions for the reintroduction project were acquired in 2021, and the first pair of hornbills arrived on the island in December.
  • Initiated in 2021, Soneva Forest Restoration Mozambique is a partnership between the Soneva Foundation and Eden Reforestation Project to plant 4 million trees in Mozambique over the next four years. With planting commencing in 2022, the project will restore 3,378 hectares of forest using native species in central Mozambique.

Art and Regeneration Programme

Every Soneva resort features a comprehensive regeneration programme, which focuses on the three Rs: Re-use, Reduce, Recycle.

Around 90 percent of resort waste is recycled or reused through Soneva’s Eco Centro Waste-to-Wealth facilities. Organic gardens at the heart of each resort operate through permaculture principles, irrigated by greywater, and nourished by compost from Soneva’s kitchens, they supply fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs to the resorts’ dining destinations.

One-of-a-kind experiences invite guests to immerse themselves in Soneva’s regeneration initiatives – from glassblowing at Soneva Art & Glass, the Maldives’ only hot glass studio, which transforms discarded bottles into works of art, to the new Makers’ Place recycling studio.

  • The Art and Regeneration Programme generated USD 427,000 in value in 2021, underpinning Soneva’s waste-to-wealth concept. This brings the total value generated over the last decade to USD 2.6 million
  • The Makers’ Place opened at Soneva Fushi in August 2021. Built in partnership with British artist Alexander James Hamilton, founder of Distil Ennui Studio™, this carbon-neutral island studio recycles waste plastic and aluminium from the soft drinks industry into practical pieces and works of art
  • 50-60 kg of aluminium (approximately 130,000 cans) upcycled into art pieces within four months of operation
  • Ongoing procurement initiatives in partnership with Soneva Namoona communities for processing and upcycling at the studio
  • 52 tonnes of cardboard were collected from Soneva Namoona islands and Waste to Wealth Centres at Soneva Fushi and Soneva Jani, working directly with a recycling facility in India.
  • 45 tonnes of vegetables, worth over USD 178,000, were grown at Soneva’s resorts
  • More than 40 different varieties of plants were added to the organic gardens at both Soneva Fushi and Soneva Jani
  • A new Mushroom Hut was installed at Soneva Fushi, growing eight varieties of organic mushrooms for the resort’s restaurants
  • Stingless bees arrived at Soneva Fushi and Soneva Jani from Southern India. The bee colonies will play an essential role in pollinating the resorts’ organic gardens.
  • Two individual hives were installed at each resort, with four in total

SCIE:NCE at Soneva

SCIE:NCE stands for Sustainability and Conservation of Island Ecosystems through Nurturing Collaborative Endeavours. It covers areas including marine biology, integrated pest control, astronomy, and the Soneva Academy, with a focus on life below water, life on land, the stars in the sky, plastic pollution and life-long learning programmes.

  • Initiated in 2019, the Mosquito Project pioneered a pesticide-free solution to combat mosquitos at Soneva Fushi, developing a sustainable system of traps that mimic mosquito breeding sites and the scent of human sweat. The project has since been fully rolled out at Soneva Jani and has been expanded to other island resorts in the Maldives
  • The mosquito population has dropped by 98% in 2021
  • The project reached a milestone 2.5 years without pesticide fogging at Soneva Fushi, and 1.5 years at Soneva Jani
  • The project team also developed a hand sanitizer from a waste stream of the mosquito traps, which was validated by three independent labs in 2021
  • A bird-spotting compendium was launched for the Soneva Fushi digital app, inviting guests to discover more about the bird life on the island
  • Construction of the SCIE:NCE centre at Soneva Fushi is set to commence in Spring 2022. The new centre will be the focus for guest experiences and learning opportunities around terrestrial and marine biology and astronomy and will also become a knowledge hub for visiting scientists and researchers

Founded in 1995, Soneva is an award-winning sustainable luxury resorts operator. At Soneva Fushi, Soneva Jani and Soneva in Aqua in the Maldives, and Soneva Kiri in Thailand, true ‘luxury’ is defined by peace, time and space. Each day, guests are encouraged to discover the SLOW LIFE, reconnecting with themselves and the natural world through rare, unforgettable experiences that inspire and enthral.

Soneva is a pioneer for responsible tourism, combining a conscientious, proactive approach to sustainability with exquisite luxury and intuitive personalised service. Carbon neutral since 2012, Soneva launched its Total Impact Assessment in 2016, a first for the hospitality industry, measuring its social and environmental impacts. A mandatory 2% environmental levy is added to every Soneva stay, with proceeds going towards the not-for-profit Soneva Foundation to offset both direct and indirect carbon emissions from resort activities and guest flights. The Foundation funds a range of global projects that have a positive environmental, social and economic impact.

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