By Shamman Zahir
The man nicknamed as the Steve Jobs of sustainable development, Gunter Pauli designs and implements businesses by using what is locally available. Best known for his book, The Blue Economy (published first in 2009 now translated in +50 languages), looks at this concept in which what is good for you and the environment should not have to cost more unlike what a green economy suggests.
Maldives Insider team had the opportunity to discuss with Gunter what this could mean for the Maldives as a country at the forefront of countries to be affected by rapid climate change.
He believes that with new insights you can correct the errors in your ways and it is never too late to do the right thing. The man truly believes in his work and ethics, that he does not have a car to this day since 1994. We are certainly not suggesting you change your way of life overnight, but simply hear out what Gunter has to say.
Maldives Insider: Tell us briefly how you started on this path you’re on now.
Gunter Pauli: I established the first ecological factory in history, correct. We had to have a factory that has no waste, emits no emissions, that should pay its staff to come on a bike instead of using a ride share service, it was a surprise to the world at the time. I launched the concept of Zero emissions. Any business should be a zero emissions business. Not net zero in 2030 or 2040. Now! This was in 1989. So, I built the first factory practicing what I had proposed. It was a major success.
MI: What interested you to focus your efforts into this line of work?
GP: It gives you dignity. How much dignity is it to have a chicken frozen in Brazil on your plate here? It satisfies your need to eat. It’s a very basic principle. I figure out what I have and go from there. I will give you an example close to home. You have the largest seaplane fleet in the world. Where does the fuel come from? It is imported. When fuel price increases, it directly effects the airfare at the same pace. This causes a huge drain on the cash available in the country. Do people realise that the algae growing in the sea, that they have the fuel you need to power the aircrafts? Give it a chance! You have it already; the raw materials are around us. It has no dignity to have to import fuel to have to fly people around the nation.
Here is an interesting story. A whale’s heart. It’s pumping thousand litres per pulse. How much electricity does it need to pump? You would imagine a lot. The reality is though, it’s only 6 volts. If you tell an engineer, I have a pump of 6 volts that can pump 1000 litres then the initial reaction would be, impossible. Although there are million whales in the ocean that already do this. So similarly, you have mangroves here. You bite into a leaf, it’s not salty. Yet its roots stand in salt water. This is due to reverse osmosis and capillary action. A mangrove does not use pumps, instead it uses thin tubes called capillaries for its function. So, at the end of the day, be innovative, be more creative.
Blue economy challenges people to start with what you have. Not for you to get filthy rich fast. It is to stamp out poverty and to have an abundance of drinking of water available to all. The mangroves are not suffering, why do you suffer?
MI: What are your thoughts on green energy and how it will benefit the Maldives, especially the tourism sector?
GP: It’s by doing a thousand little steps. We don’t need signed pledges of carbon emissions to be cut down by a certain date. What we need is owners and management that sets these goals with a clear objective in mind. Go to the root causes and figure it out. The same quality assurance imposed on marketing and customer satisfaction applied to sustainability is what we need. Risk analysis is common in business, new technology lets wait and see how it goes is the common script. We believe in the ideas as much to invest in them ourselves. The technology is here today.
Sustainable resorts are the future. With an increasing number of conscious consumers more people would be inclined to spend their money knowing that this stay offsets their carbon footprint.
First, set your goals clearly. Second, be impatient. Don’t push what needs to be done for later. The third thing is, with one initiative aim to meet multiple goals.
MI: What are the biggest challenges you’d predict moving forward with the ideas of a blue economy? There will be critics who’d rather have the convenience now than sustainability. What is your response to that?
GP: My response is, what do you want in life? Do you want convenience or do you want to have happiness and health? It is as simple as that. It’s your choice. Many people choose convenience and that is why we have 50 percent of the world now obese. Is that what we want to have or happiness and health? I am not saying you shouldn’t eat the frozen chicken. What I am saying is it is important to think out of the box in terms of how can I feed the people on my island with what is available to us. Particularly after Covid I believe more people would rather have happiness and health.
I will tell you of a real-life example from Las Gaviotas, Colombia. In 1984, we decided on a region where 70 percent of the people have diabetes and gastro intestinal issues. We decided to find out what was causing this. We asked ourselves, what do we need to take the root cause away? You have to have a good job, with good physical exercise, food without excessive sugar and water that is rich in the right minerals. Hm, that sounds like we have to regenerate a forest.
That requires a lot of manual labor, it creates shade and better water quality. I am happy to report to you 30 years after we started, we had to close the hospital due to lack of patients. It is a the only such case in the world. That is 8000 hectors of forest land and 12,000 people living without a hospital.
MI: Given that it is one of the hottest summers on record, the timing of this interview is ironic. Of all the possible course of action, what should be top priority right now?
GP: We cannot do a change of the global system overnight. It’s about small initiatives making an impact. That is why I am so interested in the Maldives. 100’s of islands with small populations. If the Maldives can show that it can be done, it is a lesson to the world. The Maldives is a humble and modest nation. You don’t say, we know. Instead have the attitude of can I learn from you?
I was able to 15 years ago to design the first large island that is a 100 percent fossil fuel free. In Spain called El Hierro. The island was at the end of its life. The younger generation wanted to live in the bigger cities such as Barcelona, Valencia and Madrid. The elders said, what can we do to reverse this? We offer subsidies, we offer free education but they aren’t coming. I said you have to offer the next generation a challenge. To become a 100 percent fossil fuel free island. They asked how? I asked what do you have around you? They have an elevation and old craters exist. We designed a system with 5 windmills and pumping of water up and down. We have the first 100 percent reverse osmosis desalination plant and pump the water to the highest crater (700m) and when there is no wind and the water comes down, we generate hydropower. Financially it didn’t work unless we integrated both the water and power production. What used to be an expense, now accounts for 15 percent of its income by supplying water to its people. When we first started on the island there was 5600 people on the island. Today they have 12800. People came back. Why? People thought it was a great idea to live in a self-sufficient island. With these concepts it opened up jobs and new engineers required to have gravity feed systems.
My message is, take those small steps. The small initiatives make a big impact over time.
MI: Maldives currently takes a green tax from the tourism sector, what would be the best way to use such funds in your opinion?
GP: Make your islands free of fuel. It is a big drain on your cash. Being a small country, solar is expensive and takes up a lot of space. The wind reserves and structure are not as feasible to have windmills nor would it be aesthetic. What is the most innovative but practical steps you can take to turn things around? I have made suggestions of how you can produce your fuel with very little space. If that can be accomplished it helps the brand image and convinces consumers to spend consciously.
The right leaders are very important. A leader is not necessarily a boss. It is one who gives an incredible example with performance and transparency striving towards your goals.
MI: What is your message to those interested in contributing to this work?
GP: Start young! You want to be happy and healthy having the energy I have at this age, start young. Do what you believe in. Focus on what is giving you results. Sometimes, results can take a long time. Don’t always accept the easy way. Rome was not built in one day. Blue economy captures that philosophy and adds science. If you have science as the backbone and these philosophies as a foundation, you can do a lot in the world similar to this
(Gunter hands me a business card that looks like any other.)
What you have there is stone paper. It takes up no water. Traditional methods of paper from cutting down trees, to produce 1 ton of paper, takes approximately 6,000 tonnes of water. This novel paper uses up no water and no plants. It was a challenge to the engineers to scale up production. The first sheet, the proof of concept was easy to make. The proof of operation means you need machines that are running constantly. That took 17 years. Modern capital demands are more instant return of investments which should not always be the case. Walking on a coral beach I now say, you’re walking on paper. That is what we are currently doing in Morocco. Sixty-seven percent less carbon emissions and recyclable forever.
Wake up in the morning and look up at the sky. The sky is the limit. We bombard our youth with all the problems in the world.
If you set your goals clear, you can do it. Instead of it can’t be done have a mindset of how can it be done?
Abdulla Wisam: A journey of excellence and growth in the Maldivian hospitality industry
In the heart of the stunning Maldives, where luxury resorts and crystal-clear waters come together to create a paradise on Earth, there are individuals who work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that every guest’s experience is nothing short of exceptional. One such individual is Abdulla Wisam, whose remarkable journey in the hospitality industry is a testament to his dedication, passion, and unwavering commitment to providing the best possible service to guests.
Abdulla Wisam’s journey in the hospitality industry began right after completing his schooling. In 2003, he embarked on his professional career by joining Dhoveli Beach Resort & Spa, where he gained his first taste of the world of hospitality. It was here that he discovered his passion for creating memorable guest experiences and building relationships with visitors from around the world.
After his initial foray into the industry, Wisam’s career path continued to evolve. His dedication and hard work caught the attention of industry leaders, leading him to take on roles of increasing responsibility. His time at Meeru Island Resort saw him as an Outlet Cashier and Night Auditor, roles that allowed him to develop a deep understanding of the operational aspects of a resort.
Wisam’s determination and eagerness to learn led him to the iconic Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru, where he started as a Recreation Attendant. Over time, he showcased his exceptional skills in guest relations and management, and he was promoted to the position of Front Office Supervisor. His journey with Four Seasons served as a stepping stone for what was to come next.
In 2014, Wisam joined the W Maldives, a resort known for its luxurious offerings and unparalleled guest experiences. Starting as a Welcome Team Leader, he quickly rose through the ranks due to his impeccable guest service skills and innate leadership abilities. His promotion to Guest Experience Manager was a testament to his ability to not only meet but exceed guest expectations. He was then transferred to The St. Regis Maldives as the Assistant Front Office Manager with the pre-opening team.
As his career trajectory continued its upward trajectory, Wisam took on the role of Front Office Manager at prestigious resorts such as Milaidhoo Island, Raffles Maldives, and The Standard Maldives. These roles allowed him to refine his management style, hone his problem-solving skills, and contribute to the overall success of each resort.
Wisam’s journey eventually led him to COMO Cocoa Island, a resort renowned for its unparalleled luxury and exquisite attention to detail. Joining as the Front Office Manager, he embraced the challenges and responsibilities that came with the position. His dedication, combined with his innate ability to create genuine connections with guests, led to his promotion as the Director of Rooms.
Wisam’s journey in the Maldivian hospitality industry is a remarkable tale of perseverance, growth, and a genuine passion for creating exceptional guest experiences. His diverse roles, spanning from recreation to guest experience management, have equipped him with a holistic understanding of the industry. His commitment to continuous improvement and dedication to delivering top-tier service have not only benefited the resorts he’s been a part of but have also contributed to elevating the reputation of Maldives as a premier luxury travel destination.
As Wisam continues to shape the guest experience landscape at COMO Cocoa Island, one can only imagine the heights he will reach and the impact he will make on the ever-evolving hospitality industry of the Maldives. His journey stands as an inspiration to aspiring hoteliers and a testament to the boundless opportunities that await those who are truly passionate about their craft.
A remarkable tale of wanderlust: Naito Takashi’s 103rd journey to the Maldives
The azure waters of the Maldives have long been a magnet for travelers seeking paradise on Earth. Among these wanderers, one name stands out – Naito Takashi, a Japanese tourist whose boundless enthusiasm for the Maldives has led him to visit this tropical haven a staggering 103 times. His unwavering love for this island nation, coupled with its mesmerizing beauty, has turned his visits into a remarkable testament to the allure of the Maldives.
For the past 24 years, Naito Takashi has visited Maldives between three to five times annually, embarking on a journey that has spanned more than two decades. His tale is one of dedication, passion, and a deep-rooted connection with the captivating landscapes that the Maldives offers. Each visit is not just a vacation; it’s a renewal of his profound relationship with the natural wonders that have captured his heart.
Naito Takashi’s 103rd arrival to the Maldives was met with a warm and heartfelt welcome from none other than the Tourism Minister himself, Dr. Abdulla Mausoom. This gesture symbolizes the deep appreciation the Maldivian people have for their loyal and devoted visitors. The ceremony held aboard the M/V Blue of the Fun Azul Fleet was a fitting tribute to a traveler who has become an honorary ambassador of the Maldives.
The M/V Blue, Fun Azul Fleet, holds special significance for Naito Takashi. As an avid diver, he has found his perfect companion in this cruise boat specialized in diving charters. The vessel offers schedules tailored to explore the best dive spots around the Maldives’ islands, making it an ideal partner for a diving enthusiast like Naito Takashi. The crystal-clear waters of the Maldives have witnessed countless underwater escapades orchestrated by this intrepid traveler.
The Maldives’ Ministry of Tourism has lauded Naito Takashi’s enduring passion for the nation’s beauty. Their tweet acknowledging his multiple visits serves as a testament to his unique and cherished relationship with the country. He has witnessed the ever-changing landscape of the Maldives, from its pristine beaches to its vibrant marine life, and has undoubtedly contributed to the thriving tourism industry.
Naito Takashi’s story also reflects the profound impact that travel can have on an individual’s life. His unwavering commitment to exploring the Maldives has not only enriched his own experiences but has also brought attention to the natural wonders of Maldives. It stands as a reminder that the act of traveling is not just about ticking off destinations from a bucket list; it’s about forming connections, fostering appreciation, and creating lasting memories.
As Naito Takashi continues his journey through the Maldives, his story resonates as an inspiration to fellow travelers and a tribute to the unyielding allure of this island paradise. His 103rd visit is not just a numerical milestone; it’s a celebration of an extraordinary bond between a traveler and a destination, a bond that has grown stronger with each passing year and promises to endure for years to come.
Amari Raaya Maldives opens its gates to paradise
In a grand celebration of luxury and nature’s wonders, Amari Raaya Maldives resort has officially opened its doors, welcoming its first guests to experience a slice of paradise in the Maldives. The exclusive event was attended by the resort’s management team, as well as Atul Chordia, Chairman of Panchshil Realty, the developer behind this magnificent project.
Nestled on a pristine natural island in the heart of the Maldives’ Raa Atoll, Amari Raaya promises to be a sanctuary for travelers seeking an unforgettable escape amidst the archipelago’s breathtaking beauty. From the moment guests arrived via Manta Air seaplane, they were greeted with warm hospitality and a taste of Maldivian culture, as they were presented with traditional cultural items and treated to mesmerizing Maldivian dances.
Atul Chordia, the visionary behind Panchshil Realty, and Yuthachai Charanachitta ONYX Hospitality Group’s CEO marked the official opening of the resort by cutting the ribbon, signifying the culmination of a labor of love and dedication to creating a unique haven for luxury travelers.
With 187 villas offering a variety of luxurious experiences, Amari Raaya ensures that every guest’s stay is truly exceptional. Visitors can choose from an array of accommodation options, including the Beach Villas, Beach Pool Villas, and interconnecting Family Beach Villas, perfect for creating cherished memories with loved ones.
For those seeking unparalleled luxury and seclusion, the Ocean Villas and Ocean Pool Villas provide panoramic views of the azure waters teeming with marine life. Sunset enthusiasts can revel in the breathtaking beauty of the Maldivian dusk from the privacy of their villas, opting for the Sunset Ocean Villas or Sunset Ocean Pool Villas, promising an unforgettable experience.
Amari Raaya Maldives goes beyond offering captivating villas; it has curated an extraordinary culinary journey for its guests. With eight distinct dining options, visitors can embark on a gastronomic adventure that caters to every palate. From the signature Amaya Food Gallery, serving famous street food and hawker delights, to the rooftop bar Ampers&nd, where guests can savor sunset snacks and cocktails, the resort promises to delight all epicureans. Poolside Italian favorites, freshly caught seafood infused with Maldivian and Asian flavors, and the fun and playful experience of enjoying mobile snacks and drinks served from a bus all add to the culinary magic of the resort.
In the evenings, guests can find a sense of community and immerse themselves in the local culture through live music, traditional Boduberu nights, and regular cultural events and festivities, making every moment at Amari Raaya Maldives an enriching and memorable one.
Amari Raaya Maldives is developed by Panchshil Realty, a name synonymous with excellence in luxury real estate in India. The resort is managed by Onyx Hospitality, renowned for its exceptional and personalized hospitality experiences.
With its official opening, Amari Raaya Maldives invites travelers from around the world to discover the allure of the Maldives in unparalleled comfort and style. As guests arrive at this oasis of luxury and natural splendor, they are sure to find themselves enchanted by the timeless beauty of the islands and immersed in an experience that will linger in their hearts forever.
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