For its most recent sustainability report, for 2014 to 2015, Soneva conducted its first Total Impact Assessment (TIA) of its activities. According to Soneva, it is the first time an evaluation of this kind has ever been conducted in the hospitality industry. The TIA takes into account the total impact of Soneva’s business—in areas including environmental, human, social, economic and fiscal. Soneva has resorts in locations including the Maldives and Thailand. Soneva’s TIA differs from the usual sustainability reporting in that it assesses the impact of both the company’s direct activities as well as those of its supply chain. As an example, metrics categorized by land use, water consumption, energy consumption and CO2 emissions are used to measure the true cost of the ecosystem services provided to the food and beverage products utilized at the resorts. Detailed studies of the company’s top 44 products that account for 75 percent of the total food purchase dollar value are carried out.
For the remaining products (in categories such as meat, seafood, fruit and vegetables, groceries, dairy, alcoholic beverages and non-alcoholic beverages), averages are used.
“Our TIA contextualizes the environmental impact of our food and beverage supply chain as a percentage of our total impact,” says Arnfinn Oines, Soneva’s Social and Environmental Conscience. “It also confirms how important our offsetting strategy is, particularly in areas that necessitate longer-term reduction targets such as our supply chain and guest air travel. That is why we continue to measure our carbon footprint rigorously and why our offsetting program of environmental and social initiatives via the Soneva Foundation remains central to our vision.” Using the data collected through the TIA, the company will adapt its operational procedures to further reduce the gap between positive and negative impacts. According to Oines, measures that have worked well so far, such as the two percent environmental levy on guestroom revenue and the reduction of the resorts’ energy footprint will continue. “Our management of waste is a continuing success and is gradually becoming profitable,” Oines adds. “We export compost from our gardens and import glass waste from other resorts to process at our new Glass Studio.”
The company’s TIA shows that the water intensity in their supply chain is much higher than their direct water use and various solutions are being explored to address this problem. “Water provision is always a big challenge for resorts in remote locations,” Oines says. “But we are countering this with an improved efficiency distillation plant at Soneva Fushi.”
I strongly encourage taking a look at Soneva’s unique sustainability report. Soneva clearly illustrates its positive and negative environmental impacts and explains how it is working to balance them. One example of Soneva’s success: It has reduced the tons of CO2 emitted by 22 percent from 2008/2009 to 2014/2015. The majority of that carbon footprint—66 percent—comes from air travel to and from Soneva resorts.
Using TIA, Soneva was able to determine that its single largest natural capital deficit is water used in food production. Soneva is addressing this by growing food on-site and sourcing food from less water-intensive sources. Soneva is making dramatic strides in reducing its impact through investment in a new solar plant at Soneva Fushi in the Maldives and a distillation plant at that location as well. In the area of waste, Soneva Fushi recycles 81 percent of waste on-site.
The sustainability report, rich with photos, explains numerous Soneva Foundation projects—ranging from a Myanmar rural electrification project to a Darfur stoves project.
The report concludes with a detailed explanation of the TIA methodology and the company’s carbon footprint.