Maldives eco-tourism summit draws big names

The Slow Life Symposium, organized by the luxury resort company Six Senses Resorts & Spas, Bangkok, and held in the Maldives this week drew some famous names to discuss how to make tourism more eco-friendly.

Attendees included actors Daryl Hannah and Edward Norton, business leader and entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, the heads of two solar power companies and green thinkers Jonathon Porritt and Tim Smit to Soneva Fushi resort in Baa Atoll, Maldives.

They were joined by Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed, who has committed his country to becoming carbon neutral by 2020 by increasing solar power and incentivizing electric vehicles.

Overall the aviation industry accounts for more than 5% of greenhouse gas emissions, which are responsible for causing global warming – more than the whole continent of Africa. Virgin Group entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson told the Symposium that dealing with aircraft emissions was a must: “We have been diverting our profit from airlines into developing fuel for aircraft that won’t damage the environment.” Since leaving the Maldives, Branson has announced a new target for making several Virgin Atlantic routes carbon neutral by using new fuels.

Six Senses has also committed to making Soneva Fushi a zero-carbon resort by 2013, and is in the process of installing a second large solar photovoltaic facility on the island.

 “The Slow Life Symposium brought together some incredible minds in the field of sustainable tourism and business. I fully expect some wonderful initiatives to come out of the work done last week,” said Six Senses CEO Sonu Shivdasani, who hosted the meeting.