Resort group Anantara is working to bolster its sustainability commitments by obtaining Green Globe Cerification - outlining specific international green tourism standards - for all its Maldives properties.
Resorts including Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa and Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu are amongst properties in the country that have also signed up to the scheme, which was updated last year to bring the Maldives and Sri Lanka in line with updated global sustainable tourist goals.
But under its latest commitments, Anantara has claimed that it is the first operator in the Maldives to have all its properties now meeting Green Globe's standards, including the Anantara Dhigu and Anantara Veli resort and spas, the Naladhu Maldives resort and its latest property in the country, Anantara Kihavah Villas.
According to Green Globe Certification, its standards are based on over 300 sustainability indicators that have in recent years been bought in-line with the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC). These GSTC relate to four specific areas relating to sustainable management, social/economic, cultural heritage and environmental factors.
Anantara has said that the certification has required the uptake of numerous environmental conservation measures in how water and energy are used at its Maldives properties as well as stepping up waste management efficiency. Additional corporate social responsibility initiatives in areas such as cultural heritage programmes are also being provided both at resorts and nearby local islands.
Under these attempted sustainability plans, Anantara has also announced a long-term Coral Adoption Programme that it plans to introduce to guests in the form of practical “learning experiences” aimed at stimulating and regenerating coral growth.
These experiences include allowing guests to take part in reef creation projects through the adoption of a frame on which to transplant coral, albeit with the aid of a resident resort marine biologist. Guests are then invited to monitor growth of this adopted coral online, according to the company.
Speaking about Anantara's latest green commitments, Claudia Pronk, General Manager of the Anantara Dhigu, Anantara Veli and the Naladhu Maldives resorts said that the potential impacts of climate change threatened the low lying archipelago country in a way few other nations faced.
“We are actively engaged in our adherence to the Green Globe Certification standards by introducing innovative technological measures that contribute to the preservation of the fragile ecosystem of the Maldives” Pronk added.
Green Globe Certification says it provides the only accreditation group of its kind to be considered an affiliate member of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), yet it is not the only sustainability model being adopted by resorts in the country as part of attempts for greater eco-responsibility in their operations.
The Adaraan Hudhuranfushi resort in North Male' Atoll is amongst a number of properties working with local telecommunications companies to adopt so-called new ‘green’ mobile towers as part of efforts to reduce their overall carbon footprint.
Telco Wataniya, which provides the new Single Radio Access Network (RAN) tower, claims the device provides more sustainable and operationally-efficient mobile phone and data coverage, albeit at a significantly higher cost of acquisition.
Speaking earlier this year about the adoption of these new resort technologies, Ali Rilwan, Executive Director of local environmental NGO Bluepeace, said he believed that the general commitment of tourist properties in the Maldives for more effective sustainable practices was not limited to green technology and day-to-day issues like waste management.
Rilwan claimed that although tourist regulations did tend to be stricter in regards to the amount of natural land available for development such as in not allowing buildings to tower over an island’s tallest tree - other viable development focuses in areas like renewable energy technologies were needed.
“I think very few resorts are taking responsibility [in this area]. Waste management is another vital area and only a few resorts have sewage treatment plants rather than pumping it into the ocean,” he said.
“Some [resorts] are also not disposing of their garbage correctly either, so they hire local boats to transport garbage to the island of Thilafushi. In some cases management may be unaware that some boats travel just a few hours off shore and then dump trash in the sea without travelling all the way to Thilafushi.”
On an international level at least, environmental responsibility is an issue increasingly synonymous with the Maldives. To this end, Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed has become a major global advocate in recent years for environmental campaigning, citing the welfare of the Maldives as the key driver behind his concerns.
His work campaigning for more drastic global action on trying to reduce the global carbon footprint has been the basis for a documentary called the Island President, which premièred at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival, and has since been shown in the Maldives.
As part of his campaign, Nasheed has pledged to try and transform the Maldives into a carbon neutral nation by 2020, in part by pursuing developments such as renewable energy technologies; a goal that he has previously claimed would be a disaster for the nation if not met.
This cause has also unsurprisingly proved popular among environmentalists, celebrity activists and even some business leaders according to a ‘Slow Life’ symposium held at the Soneva Fushi resort in Baa Atoll earlier this year. The symposium saw figures including the Maldives president, climate experts and scientists including Mark Lynas and Mike Mason, along with high-profile figures like Richard Branson and Ed Norton all gathered to share their views.
The event's organisers claimed the symposium was designed to put forward and debate existing and future global developments in sustainability, particularly in regards to fears over the impact carbon footprints may be having on climate patterns.
However, seemingly millions of miles away on the streets of Male' and other surrounding islands like Hulhumale', waste management appears to be one of the more visible domestic environmental issues.
Clearing the nation's rubbish appears on some small scale to have been picked up by more independent tourists visiting the country. During a local media interview with a French tourist called Mary Kivers, there was some surprise about the current state of waste disposal in the nation.
“Every day we took boats to see inhabited islands. But it’s a pity because there’s a lot of garbage and plastic bottles, shoes, everything really, everywhere. There are no trash bins anywhere, even on the local islands,” Kivers said.
“There’s a large amount of garbage, and sometimes they burn it, but it’s right near the sea. There’s the beach, then the sea, then the garbage.”
Dhonisaurus' review structure includes a specific category to rate resorts, hotels or guest houses on their environmental responsibility commitments. During your stay, were you informed of any recycling or energy efficiency programmes being undertaken by your hosts? Were you at all told to avoid treading on coral whilst out in the reef? It is easier to do than may think!
Either way, we would love to hear your views regarding sustainability in the Maldives, either through our resort reviews or on our advice forums.