Sustainable Tourism – Achieving Excellence in Sustainability through carbon neutral projects
Sustainability has arrived at a point where it no longer suffices to consider the act, nor use the term as a marketing buzz word, or as a line item in your annual report, instead it is time to ACT and ultimately COMMUNICATE those actions. As an organization focused on promoting sustainable development in the luxury industry we are quite sensitive and knowledgeable about the issue and the presumed obstacles and opportunities facing the industry as a whole.
One thing is clear there is a reticence amongst a number of luxury brands to communicate their efforts in terms of sustainability because they are terrorized by the idea of not achieving excellence in this domain. Believe it or not, whether it is fashion, design or tourism there has been tremendous strides towards a more sustainable approach to business. Although we have a long road in front of us we want to ensure that sustainability does not become a zero sum game but instead an intelligent approach to all future business decisions, both social and environmentally speaking. We are convinced that any and every step taken to achieve a more responsible and ethical approach to sourcing, manufacturing, and labor by brands will lead to tremendous benefits including a better viable product, a more productive workforce, economic benefits and greater customer loyalty.
Excellence is ambitious and is a fundamental value of luxury – and we should not hesitate to support all efforts to work towards this ultimate goal in terms of sustainability. However, we firmly believe that consumers understand that there is no perfect solution so that efforts made and promises kept with the right intentions are worthy of their support and serve to achieve a much larger goal which is to create a better and healthier world.
One of the industry’s most touched by the effects of the 0% carbon footprint fallacy is sustainable tourism. It is evident that in tourism a goal of 0% carbon footprint is an impossible mission: due to the impact locally and means of transport used to access the site. Tourism, by its very nature obliges the consumer to travel – thus impacting the environment to some degree determined by their mode of transport. Locally the resort, hotel, lodge also impacts the environment if ever so slightly as most are built on sustainable means. Carbon neutral strategies have come to the rescue and allow sustainable tourism projects to achieve excellence by investing in alternative projects locally and internationally which seek to neutralize or even achieve carbon negative levels of impact.
Beyond the carbon footprint, there are significant benefits to the local community and thus socially these resorts have an important role to play in supporting the local community, economy and heritage. Sustainable tourism is proven to generate employment/income, contribute to improve the livelihood of the local population (including health and education) and the conservation of the local ecosystems.
It is therefore important to look at the whole picture and the overall benefits achieved.
We’ve taken the time to investigate a number of our 1.618 Brands in tourism to illustrate to what degree their presence and ingenuity have made a positive impact on the local and global community:
SONEVA RESORTS, www.soneva.com – Soneva’s vision is to become decarbonised through the implementation of programs that will result in a net absorption of CO2.
* Total carbon footprint in 2012-2013 = 46,098 tons CO2 (including guest air travel). 14% is from energy used at resort level and 78% derived from guest air travel.
* 2% carbon tax /room to mitigate these emissions.
Soneva has implemented and invested in projects that will mitigate far more than Soneva’s total carbon footprint – around 1 million tons CO2 over the next seven years, improving the lives of 150,000 people. Projects include:
• Soneva Forest Restoration Project has, since 2011, planted 511,920 trees of 90 different local species using Framework Species Methodology that regenerate the natural biodiverse forest rather than a plantation. A total area of 300 acres of degraded forest land is being restored in Northern Thailand, mitigating 255,000 tonnes of CO2.
• SLOW LIFE in Myanmar is the first Gold Standard carbon credit project in Myanmar, which started to distribute energy efficient cook stoves in rural Myanmar from January 2014. Benefits to local community: monetary savings for households, protection of biodiversity, training and employment opportunities and health benefits from significantly reduced indoor air pollution. To date 1,000 stoves have been distributed. TARGET : to distribute 12,000 stoves per year, which will mitigate at least 350,000 tons of CO2 over the next seven years.
• Darfur Stoves Project was established in early 2012. The project will distribute highly efficient cook-stoves to 125,000 families in the war-torn region of Darfur, Sudan, mitigating at least 350,000 tons of CO2 over the next seven years. In addition to climatic benefits, Darfuri families benefit from lower energy expenses, less time spent foraging for firewood in dangerous areas and less indoor air pollution, one of the biggest killers of women and children in Africa. To date 30,000 stoves have been distributed.
• 1.5MW Wind Turbine mitigating 70,000 tons CO2 was built in Tamil Nadu, India in 2008.
Soneva is committed to supporting the local community through employment, 76% of their hosts (employees) are local and receive benefits and salaries well above the local minimum wage. In addition to this, a majority of the non-local hosts come from neighboring developing countries such as Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh (in the case of Soneva Fushi). So although their salaries do not go to the local community it helps support developing countries.
In addition they focus on purchasing locally and thus provide an added financial boost to the local community.
Soneva Fushi also employs a full time Marine Biologist. Although this may seem like an environmental related topic, there have been significant achievements which benefit the local community. For instance:
• Lobbied for the establishment of the nation-wide shark fishing ban in the Maldives in 2010. Soneva Fushi named “I’m FINished with Fins” campaign regional headquarters and founders Sonu & Eva Shivdasani as ambassadors.
• Soneva Fushi through its Marine Biologist has since 2007 worked with 5 other resorts in the Baa Atoll to get Baa Atoll recognized as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The status was achieved 2012.
THE BRANDO, www.thebrando.com: The Brando has implemented a number of innovative programs and new technologies to help us achieve our goal of carbon neutrality. They have set a goal of net zero carbon impact.
• Energy for the resort is provided through a variety of on-site initiatives: Sea Water Air Conditioning (SWAC) (reducing energy demands by almost 70%), the use of solar energy, and a coconut oil (biofuel) power station which provides the other half of the resort’s energy needs. Fueled by locally produced coconut oil, this renewable power source also supports the local economy.
• To reduce or eliminate guest travel-related carbon emissions, all vehicles will ultimately be powered by solar energy and bicycles will be provided to all guests as an option for moving around the island.
• Carbon-offset purchase program for inter-island transportation.
• Encourage guests to purchase carbon offsets for international flights.
PRINCESSE BORA, www.princesse-bora.com: Engaged in delivering valuable programs to the local community and employees.
• An incinerator oven permits for the resort to be totally autonomous in treating their waste, while organic is transformed into compost and used in their local plantations.
• Local products from Madagascar are used throughout the resort. Local fisherman and fruit and vegetable vendors work with the resort.
• Attention is given to minimize packaging.
• The 90 employees of the resort come from neighboring villages and are given training before joining the team.
• Annually, in partnership with the Alliance Française they propose classes to their employees to perfect the French language.
We are encouraged and driven by the progress of the sustainable tourism industry. Our organization is here to assure that luxury in the 21st century is defined by beauty, creativity, innovation and sustainability. We will continue to support the advancement of this movement through our events, news, partnerships, courses and consulting services.
We are also in the process of creating a new division of our organization, 1.618 Destinations, which will propose a collection of sustainable luxury tourism properties to consumers and turnkey services to luxury tourism professionals. Stay tuned for more exciting news on the sustainable tourism front via 1.618 Paris![sharethis]