NEW YORK - Resort operator Soneva recently launched its Namoona Baa initiative, marking the first major step towards reducing waste in the Maldives.
Soneva unveiled its signature 'Eco-Centro' waste-processing complex on the island of Maalhos in the Baa Atoll, establishing a major shift in how the island recycles and manages waste. Modeled on the Eco-Centro facility established at Soneva Fushi, the brand's flagship resort, the new complex has enabled Maalhos to become the first inhabited island in the Maldives to completely stop the open burning of garbage. This model will be expanded to the neighboring islands of Dharavandhoo and Kihaadhoo later this year, with the hope that this initiative will be expanded across the Baa Atoll, and eventually the whole of the Maldives.
The Namoona Baa project also includes a number of sustainable initiatives, including: launching a 'zero-waste' recycling challenge at local schools; offering surf lessons and tournaments for locals; and introducing the Soneva Water plant, providing 80% of households with drinking water in reusable bottles.
The first Eco-Centro in Maalhos was inaugurated by Maldivian Parliament Speaker and former President Mohamed Nasheed, the Maalhos island council president Abdulla Shujau, and Soneva CEO and co-founder Sonu Shivdasani. As part of the celebration, a friendly cricket match took place to showcase a new recreational area created on the island, which had previously been the site of a garbage dump.
Maalhos island council president Shujau said: "The Eco-Centro is a revolution for Maalhos. After 20 years, we have turned our dump yard into a proper waste centre."
"Maalhos can now produce wealth from its waste. This is just the beginning; and we will roll out the Eco Centros to Dharavandhoo and Kihaadhoo this year, and working with the government hopefully to extend the project to the whole of Baa Atoll - making it truly Namoona Baa," said Shivdasani, Soneva's CEO and co-founder.
In September 2019, Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih announced to the United Nations General Assembly a nationwide phase-out of single-use plastics to be implemented by 2023, which will be one of the most comprehensive phase-outs of single-use plastics in the world.
Thanks to Soneva's support, as well as the partnerships created between the neighboring islands and Common Seas (an NGO dedicated to reducing marine plastic pollution), the Maldives is set to become a global leader in halting ocean plastic pollution.