- Success of Soneva Fushi gathering points to expanded meeting next year
- Environmentalists and industry leaders praise format
- Talks begin to create world’s largest marine conservation area
The Six Senses Eco Symposium at Soneva Fushi in the Maldives, which finished on Sunday, points to a new model for effective travel industry leadership in the fight against climate change.
The Symposium achieved its key goals of bringing together a diverse range of world leading environmental experts with travel industry leaders to discuss practical, effective and profitable ways to combat global warming.
Among the speakers at the event were President Nasheed of the Maldives, Jonathon Porritt, the Founder Director of the Forum for the Future, Stefan Schurig of the World Future Council, Mike Mason of Climate Care, Chris Gorell Barnes, of the BLUE Marine Foundation, Jonathon Counsell, Head of Environment at British Airways, and a host of others.
The host of the Symposium, Six Senses Chairman & CEO Sonu Shivdasani, said that he had been impressed by the collective sense of optimism at the event and the ability of delegates to provide practical solutions to some of the most pressing problems caused by climate change. He said: “Over the course of the last three days we have heard about some amazing schemes ranging from the commercial success of solar power to cost effective ways of protecting our oceans and the need to re-engage with consumers at a more spiritual level.
“Our challenge now is to build on the initial success of the Symposium and bring the thought leadership we have seen over the last few days to a much wider audience.” “Over the course of the next few months Six Senses will be examining the best ways to achieve that.”
Among the highlights of the Symposium was a commitment by British Airways to only use fish from sustainable sources in its in-flight meals and the opening of talks between the government of the Maldives and BLUE Marine Foundation, which could see the creation of the largest marine conservation area in the world.
Chris Gorell Barnes, co-founder of BLUE, said: “I am very optimistic that the talks that began at the Six Senses Eco Symposium will lead to something very special being created. We have to protect our oceans before we entirely empty them of fish.”
The tone of the Symposium was set in the very first speech of the event by Jonathon Porritt. He stressed that the environmental movement has largely failed in its mission of advocacy – partly because of an inappropriate use of language.
He said: “We need to bring the power of science and the power of intuition together. Einstein described intuition as a sacred gift. It is a crucial part of what we want to achieve.”
He added that the spiritual aspect of the environmental debate had been lost. “We have taken the sacred out of nature. We have taken the deeper meaning out of the way we have talked about nature. To what extent has our language contributed to that secularisation of nature? Have we lost the true essence of what sustainability is about?”
President Nasheed of the Maldives, the guest of honour at the Symposium, applauded the work of Six Senses in helping the goal to make the Maldives carbon neutral.
He called upon young people around the world to take direct action to force governments to step up their efforts to combat climate change. He said: “To move the US we must have direct action. The battle must be fought on the street. Politicians do not do anything unless told to do so by the people.
“We should all try to see how we can have another summer of protest. In the US it must be possible to galvanise the people. I believe it is possible and mass direct action must happen. I don’t know when it will happen, but I think we will see another 1960s when everybody is out on the streets.”