Soneva Foundation

We are committed to reducing our environmental footprint by pioneering responsible business practices and accounting for and managing our environmental liabilities through our Total Impact Assessment. While we go to great lengths to improve our own performance, we recognise that the environmental impacts of our resorts also include indirect emissions such as guest air travel.

To address these emissions we have introduced an environmental levy of 2% of room revenue to each guest’s stay, which has raised $7m. We invest these funds in projects that have a positive environmental, social and economic impact, and importantly, offset carbon emissions from resort activities and guest flights. The Foundation uses impact investing principles, seeking to recover outlays through carbon finance, which is in turn will be fed back into projects to help extend the reach and benefits to more families.

The flagship project of the Soneva Foundation supplies clean cook stoves in rural Myanmar. Human development and energy use are intrinsically linked. Indoor cooking on open fires is devastating for human health and a huge contributor to deforestation worldwide. Targeted interventions can make a big difference to individual lives and to environmental impact on a local and global scale.

Overview

The Soneva Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to deliver meaningful projects that have a positive environmental, social and economic impact. We are a registered charity in the UK, with registration number 1138811.

Managing Trustees Message - Meet Bruce

Bruce Bromley is Chief Financial Officer and Deputy CEO of Soneva. He is also a trustee of the Soneva Foundation.

"The impact of our activities extends far beyond the fringes of our coral reefs, and as a company we take responsibility for our total impact on society. Financial and in-kind support for local community initiatives ensure that we are always a good neighbour, addressing our global impact, most notably in terms of the environmental influence of our supply chain and the carbon emissions from the flights of our guests, which requires a different approach.

The Soneva Foundation, through the funds raised from our environmental levy, develops community projects which have the dual benefit of contributing positively to the lives of impoverished local communities, at the same time as allowing us to address the third party impacts of our operations. Programmes such as the Myanmar Stoves Campaign, the first Gold Standard registered programme in Myanmar, which allow us to offset the emissions from guest flights while improving the health and income of rural households in Myanmar are examples of this."

Myanmar Stove Campaign

The Soneva Foundation is delivering the first Gold Standard Foundation certified carbon project in Myanmar which will see the distribution of fuel efficient cook stoves to 84,000 families. We are working Mercy Corps Myanmar as our implementation partner.

Myanmar has one of the fastest rates of deforestation in the world. As the forests disappear, the price of wood gets higher, driving more and more families into energy poverty. Cutting expenditure on wood makes a huge difference to families already living in poverty, and reducing time spent foraging for wood means more time to spend on smallholdings and securing a good harvest.

Over 20,000 stoves have been distributed reaching over 90,000 people in 500 villages. The fuel-efficient stove supplied by Envirofit reduces wood consumption by 50%, air pollution by 80% and CO2 emissions by 60%.

SLOW LIFE Symposium

We founded the SLOW LIFE Symposium to have influence beyond our own networks and beyond our own industry. The Symposium is organised by the Soneva Foundation and hosted by Soneva, providing a perfect opportunity to align the values of the Foundation with the business ethic of Soneva.

Each year we gather the best scientists, philanthropists, business leaders and policy makers for three days of problem solving around the most pressing sustainability challenges and opportunities facing humanity. We use the planetary boundaries framework developed by the Stockholm Resilience Centre to benchmark and communicate how we are doing against interrelated environmental and social boundaries.

Participants leave as partners collaborating on solutions-focused initiatives that are offered logistical support from the Soneva Foundation.

Soneva Dialogue

The concept of the Soneva Dialogue emerged at the SLOW LIFE Symposium. A project team of Symposium participants collaborated to convene a high-level gathering of the leaders of the world’s largest seafood industries, together with leading ocean, fisheries and sustainability scientists. Soneva partnered with the Stockholm Resilience Centre, Forum for the Future and HRH Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden to deliver the event.

The Soneva Dialogue was the initial ‘keystone dialogue’ that culminated in SeaBOS (Seafood Business for Ocean Stewardship), a commitment by ten keystone fishing companies to collaborate on ocean stewardship. SeaBOS is an initiative that, for the first time, connects the global seafood business to science, connects wild capture fisheries to aquaculture, and connects European and North American companies to Asian companies. The ambition is to lead a global transformation towards sustainable seafood production and a healthy ocean. The initiative will actively contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and in particular Goal 14 – Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources.

The Stockholm Dialogue was the second keystone dialogue, hosted by the Stockholm Reslience Centre and Crown Princess Victoria at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm.

A follow-up meeting will take place in 2018. The ambition is that the joint effort and leadership by these keystone actors will influence the whole fishing industry to engage in more sustainable seafood production.

Read the SeaBOS statement for collaboration here

Darfur Stoves Project

The Soneva Foundation has funded the distribution of 26,000 fuel-efficient cook stoves in war-torn Darfur. Reducing the amount of fuel needed for cooking is vitally important. Women are particularly vulnerable to violent attacks while foraging for wood and cooking with wood places a huge pressure on forests while increasing carbon emissions. This project has created a local industry around the assembly of cook stoves, bringing much needed employment to an area where jobs are scarce.

Soneva Forest Restoration Project

The Soneva Foundation has partnered with the PATT Foundation to plant 511,920 trees covering 300 acres in the Chiang Mai region of northern Thailand. We used a Framework Species Methodology, with guidance from the Forest Restoration Research Unit of Chiang Mai University, with 90 species of trees planted. Over a period of 7-8 years, seed-disbursing birds will increase the number of species further, creating a rich and biodiverse forest. The project will mitigate an estimated 255,000 tonnes of CO2.

Soneva Wind Turbine

The Soneva Wind Turbine is located in Tamil Nadu, India and will provide 80,000 MWh of clean energy over a 20 year period, mitigating 70,000 tonnes of CO2.

Our Communities

Soneva Ocean Stewards (SOS)

Despite living in an island nation, many Maldivians grow up without learning to swim. While this poses a clear risk to life, it also means that children grow up with little environmental awareness of the ocean and the coral reefs that surround them. We believe that if children learn to swim, they can lose their fear of the ocean and learn to love it. The Soneva Learn To Swim programme takes local children from the very basics through to their first time snorkelling on the reef edge.

During the course of the swimming programme, we take children on a journey of ocean awareness including community beach cleans and school sessions on the vulnerability of the ocean. In fact, the powerful influence of this experience doesn’t just touch the children who are learning to swim. When 20 year old Soneva host Isha Afeef co-ordinated the first programme, she wasn’t able to swim herself. Three years later she is a PADI certified diver and the co-founder of Reef Check Maldives.

Since its launch in 2014, the programme has successfully taught 313 people in the Maldives’ Baa Atoll to swim – including 258 children. The programme is led by local instructors and, in an effort to ensure that the initiative is sustainable in the long term, 38 instructors have now been trained at Soneva Fushi. The programme is supported by Soneva hosts who volunteer their time and expertise to support their communities.

Jon Bowermaster, filmmaker and six-time grantee of the National Geographic Expedition Council, made a documentary film of the first Learn To Swim programme, Sink or Swim.

Clean Water Projects

The Soneva Foundation has funded over 500 projects that provide access to clean water or basic sanitation services to over 750,000 people worldwide.

We are currently funding the social enterprise, VITRIC, in the Maldives.

Soneva Water

Drinking water on Maldivian islands can be an unreliable resource. Extended dry seasons can lead to wells drying up and Maalhos residents – a neighbouring island of Soneva Fushi – have required emergency supplies of drinking water to be transported from the capital, Malé, for the past three years.

Two of Soneva Fushi’s Hosts, Federica Siena and Anshul Bakhda, identified a solution based on Soneva’s own pioneering drinking water system. Working closely with the local community, they identified that an unused desalination machine on the island could be the solution to the island’s water scarcity issues. This formed the basis for the creation of a bottling plant that could service the drinking water needs of the whole island.

From the island’s solar-powered desalination water plant, VITRIC will filter water with carbon resin and reverse osmosis, mineralise, UV sterilise, and bottle water in reusable, eco-friendly bottles. These bottles will then be delivered to households, guest houses, cafes, schools, and businesses in 500ML reusable glass bottles or 5 gallon (19 litre) reusable polycarbonate bottles. Once the water is consumed, the empty bottles will be collected and replaced with a fresh bottle of water. This is the first service of its kind outside of the capital city, Malé.

The innovative model makes water production more environmentally sustainable as it aims to prevent thousands of water bottles from being produced, transported to the island, and then incinerated or thrown into landfills or the sea.

By replacing the thousands of single-use plastic bottles that are consumed on the island every year, VITRIC will help prevent the plastic bottles from being incinerated, thrown in landfills, or discarded in the jungle or sea. It also presents a huge saving on transportation fuel normally used in distributing bottled water, while also making water production more environmentally sustainable.

Soneva is extremely proud of VITRIC and of our partnerships with our local communities. Good ideas have a habit of catching on and we hope that this simple, but effective, solution will soon be replicated across all Maldivian islands.

Action Against Hunger UK

Childhood malnutrition is a potentially fatal health condition. Soneva is funding Action Against Hunger UK to deliver Outpatient Thereapeutic Programmes to identify and treat severely acute malnourished children in rural Nepal. The programmes are designed to reach families in remote villages whose distance from health clinics mean they are often underserved.

The Soneva Foundation funded the programmed with funds raised through Soneva’s participation in the Restaurants Against Hunger programme.

Care for Children

Care for Children was originally established in China to provide foster care for orphaned children, successfully placing over 250,000 children in foster homes. A recent UNICEF report recommends a transition from institutional foster care for Thailand’s orphaned and vulnerable children. At the invitation of the Thai government, Care for Children has now partnered with the government to train all government-run orphanages in local family placement care practice.

The Soneva Foundation funded Care for Children in opening a National Foster Care Training and Resource Centre in Chiang Mai. From this Centre, Care for Children will strategically manage and deliver its national training programme. There are approximately 50,000 orphaned and vulnerable children living in some form of institutional care in Thailand, and the goal is to help the government ensure all children have the opportunity to live with a family they can call their own.