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

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beautiful coral reef

13 February, 2022

The award-winning creator of luxurious and sustainable resorts, Soneva is marking another year of milestone eco achievements throughout 2021. 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

social and community initiatives

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.
he Fehi Madharusa (Green School)

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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Soneva in The Maldives

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World-leading luxury resort operator Soneva runs two resorts in the Maldives, Soneva Fushi and Soneva Jani.

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. If the experiences are magical, the philosophy is simple: No news, no shoes. No pretensions either.

Sixty-two private villas with their own stretch of beach are hidden among dense foliage within touching distance of a pristine coral reef. 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. READ FULL REVIEW

The perfect combination of luxury and nature, Soneva Jani offers guests an unparalleled experience in idyllic surroundings. Opened in December 2016, Soneva Jani is Soneva’s newest property and the world-leading luxury hotel group’s second resort in the Maldives. This resort doesn't just have character, it has charisma. Soneva Jani is like someone with personal magnetism, someone who knows themself, knows the world and greets it with a big, welcoming smile.

Meaning ‘wisdom’ in Sanskrit, Soneva Jani currently comprises 24 overwater villas and one island villa. Each of the 24 water villas is superbly designed and has a private pool that looks out onto its own lagoon site, and some villas are equipped with water slides from the sun deck down to the lagoon. Feature of the villas is a retractable roof in the main bedroom, which is retracted at the touch of a button so guests can lie in bed and count the stars. 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.

The luxury resort 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 Malé International Airport and one hour by speedboat from Soneva Fushi. 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. READ FULL REVIEW

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