Soneva celebrates 20 years of sustainable operations with the release of its Sustainability Report 2015-16. These operations have been running since the company was founded in 1995.
Last year Soneva pioneered the hospitality industry in a global scale by publishing the first ever Total Impact Assessment (TIA) tool, which was developed at the property. The TIA is designed to measure the impact of a company’s operations in five categories, that is Natural Capital, Human Capital, Social Capital, Economic Capital and Tax. It allows the company to quantify and monetize these impacts to translate in to standard business performance metrics. The result in 2015-2016 showed that Soneva contributed a net positive impact of USD 34.2 million.
Founder and CEO of Soneva, Mr. Sonu Shivdasani said “Soneva is built on the foundation that a business must exist for a greater purpose than shareholder returns. We strive to set the benchmark for responsible tourism and we are strong advocates of the overall positive impact of travel and tourism, and the key role it plays in conservation,”
“Our aim is simple – to make a difference wherever we can. We strive to provide a blueprint for the hospitality industry. We innovate to reduce our own emissions and costs and prove to our peers that this is possible. We strive to be the best employer, and own and operate the world’s best resorts. And, above all, we hope that the natural beauty of our resorts inspires our guests to embrace environmental stewardship,” he added.
Soneva’s Sustainable Initiatives include –
Waste: Soneva demonstrates that waste can be used as an asset. Through its innovative Eco Centro Waste-to-Wealth concept, Soneva recycles 73% of solid waste and 100% of food waste at all their properties. This generated USD 265,249 in value in 2015-2016. Furthermore, the Glass Studio at Soneva Fushi in the Maldives turned 12,000 waste bottles from both the resort and neighbouring resorts into useful glassware as well as objects of art. This activity provided a uniquely fun guest experience as well.
Environmental Levy: Early on, Soneva recognized their resorts were located in remote areas, guest air travel would have a significant environmental impact due to this. In 2008 Soneva introduced an Environmental Levy for all guests, which is an additional 2% charge that is invested in projects that have a positive environmental, social and economic impact and most importantly, help compensate for carbon emissions from resort activities and guest flights. This Environmental Levy has raised USD 6.2 million up to the date.
Through the Soneva Foundation, the funds have been invested in carbon mitigating projects like reforestation projects in Asia and the Myanmar Stoves Campaign, which have mitigated 388,599 tonnes CO2 to-date. In addition to making Soneva carbon neutral, which including guest air travel, projects like the Myanmar Stoves Campaign have generated USD 9.4 million in social value over the last three years, and 186,018 people have had a positive impact from fuel efficient stoves in Myanmar and Darfur alone.
WHOLE WORLD WATER: Soneva has prevented approximately 1.2 million plastic bottles from going to landfill since 2008 when the company banned all imported water and produced its own filtered and mineralized drinking water at the resort in reusable glass bottles. The savings achieved from this were invested in the Soneva Foundation and WHOLE WORLD WATER to give 752,345 people access to safe, clean drinking water and basic sanitation.
Other sustainability initiatives conducted by Soneva include; The annual Learn to Swim Programme in the Maldives, Children’s cooking competitions, Junior Host Programmes, Female recruitment and empowerment initiatives, Local community engagement programmes, Mobile dog clinics and many other Soneva Foundation projects.
Soneva’s Social and Environmental Conscience, Arnfinn Oines mentioned that “To solve the social problems of the 21st century, companies need to play an important part. They can do this by making small tweaks to their business models that do not detract from their customer’s perception of the business nor negatively impact on the business’s profitability; but, which can raise considerable capital for good causes,”
The sustainability report also details initiatives and partnerships aiming to creating wider social and environmental change. Through its annual SLOW LIFE Symposium, Soneva collaborates with organizations such as World Travel and Tourism Council, International Tourism Partnership, The Long Run and NGO partners, and Soneva fosters global connections among experts.
Soneva’s won the World Travel & Tourism Council’s Tourism for Tomorrow Award for the second time in 2015, cementing the company’s place as the leading sustainability champion in the hospitality industry. These accolades are supported due to the initiatives mentioned earlier.