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Thursday
Apr232015

Green Meetings: Companies reduce environmental impact

Novotel Singapore Clarke Quay introduces a service where aware companies can reduce their environmental impact, enjoy healthy meals - and help forestation by sponsoring tree planting at the same time.

Novotel Clarke Quay is innovating business meetings with its new range of offeringsSingapore, April 2015 – In line with its sustainability intiatives, the Novotel Singapore Clarke Quay (part of the Accor Group) has designed a new offering it calls “Green Meeting packages” along with environmentally friendly MICE facilities it describes as helping to “Plant your company success“.

Under its Planet 21 framework, Accor has made 21 commitments in favor of sustainable practice. Planet 21 echoes Accor’s recognition of the urgent need to focus efforts on changing our production and consumption patterns with the goal of protecting our planet, its people and their environment. Following the hotel’s recent ISO 14001 certification, it was awarded 2014’s Champion of the Singapore Environment Council under the Kimberly Clark Singapore Environmental Achievement Awards for its achievements in the Services category.

Its latest initiatiove allows companies wishing to keep their consumption patterns under control to make what it calls a “Green Choice” when booking the next meeting. The hotel has committed to plant one tree in plantation sites in Indonesia for every 40 meeting packages booked. The trees will be planted on the company’s behalf and a certificate of participation with the number of trees will be supplied to the organisers. The scheme is part of Accor’s reforestation program called “Plant for the Planet”.

The hotel will also supply Eco-pens as part of its green meeting packages. These are handmade by the poor using recycled newspapers through the “Yayasan Peduli Tunas Bangsa” Accor foundation in Indonesia. Accor channels funds collected to run workshops and financially support the underprivileged, who are then able to send their children to school.

Companies can enjoy 10% off when booking the Novotel Singapore Clarke Quay Green Meetings packages from now until end September 2015, and residential groups will enjoy a complimentary room. Terms & conditions apply. 

For more information about the “Planting your company success @ Novotel”,  visit www.novotelclarkequay.com  or call +65 6433 8633  or  email: H5993-SM3@accor.com

For more about Accor’s PLANET 21 drive, visit : http://www.accor.com/en/sustainable-development/the-planet-21-program.html.

 

Sunday
Apr122015

Singapore’s Eco-hotel: Ibis Bencoolen bans plastic bottles 

One of Singapore’s leading hotels has taken the plunge and stopped all use of plastic bottles for guest drinking water.

Singapore, March 26, 2015. Ibis Singapore on Bencoolen has been working on a plan to reduce waste, plastic consumption, and save water. Part of this is a move by the 538-room Accor Group hotel to stop providing regular plastic mineral bottled water, and instead offer water from a special filtration system as part of what it calls its Eco Clean program.

Guests that opt for recycled bottles get a handmade Eco pen in appreciation of their gestureThe result? Less plastic and water used, more funds for charities that Accor supports, and a unique pen for guests to use.

“My team brainstormed and arrived at this idea of involving guests in this program,” explains Pierre de Montgrand, General Manager of Ibis Singapore on Bencoolen.

de Montgrand says the use of glass bottles has prevented the hotel from throwing away around 6,000 single-use plastic mineral water bottles a year -  equivalent to 700kg of plastic waste per annum that could end up in landfills or Singapore’s waterways. “I am pleased that our hotel is able to contribute towards Singapore’s sustainability direction,” he says.

The hotel’s initiative is set against the context of the tourism industry’s typical  contribution to ever increasing wastage and resource exploitation. Typical areas are waste in the form of newspapers, magazines, office papers, cardboard boxes, plastic bottles, aluminium cans, plastic containers, printer toner cartridges, food and water waste. Plus, lots of precious water and energy resources.

Beyond the Bottle

The Ibis’s Eco Clean goes beyond just recycling drinking bottles. It is a holistic program that starts with guests opting for Eco Clean at check in. This means housekeepers will tidy the room, make the beds and clear the bins, but cleaning chemicals will be used sparingly, linen and amenities will only be changed and replenished as requested.

The Ibis Bencoolen has moved completely to recyclable glass drinks bottles instead of disposable plasticAs a reward, guests are provided with the Ibis’s free and unlimited refills of sparkling or still water served in a re-usable borosilicate glass bottle. Ibis Bencoolen works with a local firm, Dr. WHO Waterworks Pte Ltd (Dr. WHO), a leading manufacturer and distributors in the bottled water industry for the complete bottling, sterilising and refilling system.

Cost savings from the Eco Clean program are then channelled towards supporting the livelihoods of the poor in Indonesia through the “Yayasan Peduli Tunas Bangsa” foundation sponsored by Accor Group.

With the funding received, a workshop for disadvantaged mothers has been set up to make pens hand rolled from recycled newspapers. These Eco-Pens are then purchased by Ibis Bencoolen for guests’ use, and left in their rooms.

“This completes the Eco Clean circular concept that starts with guests’ participation and ends with them seeing the fruits of our labour,” adds de Montgrand. And if that isn’t enough, guests can borrow bamboo bikes from the hotel to reduce the negative environmental impact of taking taxis and buses around Singapore.

The Eco Clean program is part of the Accor Group PLANET 21 initiative. This aims to bring sustainable development and a more responsible hotel operation worldwide.

Details from the Ibis Bencoolen – http://www.ibis.com/gb/hotel-6657-ibis-singapore-on-bencoolen/index.shtml 

Tuesday
Oct212014

Asian Ecotourism Network To Be Launched by 2015

A group of Asian ecotourism leaders gathered to kick off the Asian Ecotourism Network (Ecotourism Asia) in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia in conjunction with the 8th Asia Pacific Ecotourism Conference.

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Monday
Sep012014

Carlson Rezidor Bans Shark Fin

Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group today announced that the company has joined the fight in reversing the rapid decline in the shark population and signaling its commitment towards sustainable seafood sourcing.

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Tuesday
Aug122014

Inspiring Tourism Stories Competition 2014

This year, Wild Asia together with Gaia Discovery is on a lookout for inspiring travel stories from within the industry. We are inviting exceptional tourism businesses and projects from across Asia to submit their inspiring story.

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Thursday
Jul242014

Singapore's Ethical Shopping Hackathon - A World's First

Singaporeans are coming together in support of the first ever hackathon focused on ethical shopping: the Good Living Design Jam.

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Saturday
Jul052014

Contested Palm Oil Leases Declared Illegal in Papua New Guinea

High court sides with Indigenous communities in battle over controversial Malaysian palm oil giant’s plan to develop large areas of ancestral territory and pristine forest

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Thursday
Mar132014

Tackling Southeast Asia Haze with Game Rules

Instilling Greater Responsibility Using the Palm Oil Resource Trade Cycle Model as Guide. A Commentary By Mallika Naguran

Singapore 3 March 2014. Singapore is tackling the haze blame game by introducing a penalty card – fine or jail sentence for errant companies that have been found to be directly or indirectly responsible for the fires. The proposed Transboundary Air Pollution Act is intended to mitigate the year-after-year haze issue that enshrouds Singapore, causing immense healthcare, environmental and business related costs.

The Act, punitive in its object, fulfils only one end of the goal keeping. A game can only be played fairly and without dispute if there were clear governing rules in the first place. There exist no such game rules for agricultural-based companies profiteering from stripping forests bare or burning existing plantations to make way for new ones.

Forests are home to at least 70% of all land-based plants and animals, providing essential ecological services for human health, agricultural productivity and climate buffers. Forests help maintain soil fertility, protect watersheds and reduce the risk of natural disasters such as floods and landslides by regulating water supplies and reducing soil erosion.

Protecting such a valuable natural resource should thus be a requirement worked into the business regulations of agriculture-related companies registered in Singapore. Such companies, be they producers, traders or lenders, should demonstrate compliance to an international standard for sustainability with strict environmental protection.

Who’s to Blame

Regulating stricter ethics in capital flow would help in improving deforestation and plantation burning issues. Illustrated by Ivan Nasution.Knowing what rules to apply can only come with the understanding of the kind of players involved and their relationship dynamics.  A resource trade cycle analysis (RETRAC) model developed by Foundation Aidenvironment sheds light on this community and the linkages between the borderless demand, supply, production and consumption of natural resources based products. As haze has been attributed largely to the oil palm sector, a custom model helps identify capital and product flows (represented by arrows in the diagram), plus the policy leverage needed to manage sustainable oil palm trade. 

Policy leverage is important arising from sustainability driving forces such as governmental laws, non-governmental organisation (NGO) activism, EU Renewable Energy Directive (palm oil in biofuel), and intergovernmental organisations e.g. International Finance Corporation. This sphere of influence towards sustainable palm oil production should be extended to key players involved in capital flows (e.g. bankers, investors, stock exchange) as they grease the product flow particularly between traders, plantation owners, palm oil producers and goods manufacturers.

Financial institutions, accountable for providing liquidity in upstream and downstream ventures of agricultural-based trade, can use their leverage to prevent deforestation and forest degradation. Banks can do this with strict engagement and investment policies for the agricultural sector (including forestry) and related trading companies, covering environmental impact, labour rights and human rights. WWF’s Palm Oil Financing Handbook is a good reference for fund, investment and credit risk managers.

Sustainability frameworks that are in place include FSC-certification for forest management and tree plantation operations; FSC Chain of Custody certification for entire wood product and processing chain; and Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification. However, RSPO, being a voluntary and non-binding scheme, has revealed loopholes and limitations, and as such must not be accepted as the ultimate green certification.

Clear regulations must exist on not siting investments in protected areas,  High Carbon Stock Forests and areas with High Conservation Value. Along with that, respect the (land) rights of local communities and indigenous peoples is crucial.

Whatever certification is chosen, an initial independent assessment of socio-environmental impacts should be done to include the macro-impacts of new plantations located in regions in existing ones. The Singapore government could request for yearly compliance audit reports. 

The sphere of influence causes ripple effects too. Incredible NGO activism had recently pressured Kelloggs to impose stricter requirements on its suppliers to protect forests and peatlands, and respect community rights. This chain of events has pressured Wilmar International, the world’s largest palm oil trader and an RSPO certified member, into tightening up its sustainability policies within its own supply chain as well e.g. oil palm planters and producers in Indonesia. The RETRAC model shows where and how else influence could be applied to put sustainability in action.

Sustainability in Action

A RETRAC study by Greenpeace in Netherlands in 1999 revealed that many plantation company clients of Dutch commercial banks were involved in social and environmental issues in Indonesia. The study also showed that financiers were able to influence their clients’ environmental policies but lacked internal policies to do so. Under NGO pressure in 2002, all Dutch banks signed a simple statement of intent to declare that no financial services would be made available to errant plantation companies that were involved in illegal activities, deforestation, open burning, or social conflicts.

A Friends of the Earth study in 2006, however, found that Dutch banks performed poorly in implementing such policies. Commercial banks then funded BankTrack, an independent NGO, to focus on banks’ compliance with the Equator Principles.

The Singapore government could likewise ensure the set up of a similar NGO, with the financial industry’s support, to enrich the resource database of agri-businesses’ documentation of licenses, land concession maps, supply chain partner lists, sustainability certifications and audits. Guided by RETRAC models based on agri-businesses, this funded NGO could also double up as the Singapore government’s watchdog to provide evidence for prosecution.

Strengthening the sphere of influence with laws is one aspect. It is by governing product and capital flows that can the agri-game be played well, that is, according to the rules.

Illustrated by Ivan Nasution.

An edited version of this article appeared in Today 3 March 2014. Here's the link to it.

 

Monday
Feb242014

Kellogg to Buy Non-deforested Palm Oil From 2016

Kellogg Co. (K) has agreed to buy palm oil only from suppliers who can prove they don’t damage rain forests, the strongest move yet by a public food manufacturer to stop the practice, according an environmental group that pressured the maker of Corn Flakes and Rice Krispies.

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Monday
Aug122013

Rainbow Warrior in Bali: Greenpeace Visits the Sacred Isle

Greenpeace’s famous vessel the Rainbow Warrior visited Bali recently to promote the Ocean Defender initiative. It didn’t get much press coverage, but the people that did visit

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Sunday
Aug042013

Plastic Bags: Singapore Litter Gets Worse

Plastic bags are durable, waterproof, light, flexible, and strong. They are perfect for lugging groceries, as bin liners, even waterproof hats for old men. But they are choking our planet – and only a few governments are doing anything about it.

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Tuesday
Jul162013

Sustainability in Seychelles: Hotel L'Archipel Goes Green

Seychelles is getting serious about sustainability and its hotels are starting to take measures to protect the earth. Hotel L’Archipel on Praslin, after two years of research and planning, has confirmed that they have taken the initiative to “go green” at their property by implementing numerous renewable energy solutions with a positive impact to the environment and in so doing improving guest comfort.

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Thursday
May232013

JA Jebel Ali Golf Resort Gets Green Globe

Green Globe announces certification of the JA Jebel Ali Golf Resort in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). Over the past few years this luxury resort has demonstrated leadership and innovation in the fields of operational efficiency and globally responsible practices on multiple levels.

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Thursday
May232013

Centara Opts for EarthCheck Sustainability Policy

Thailand - Centara Hotels&Resorts, throughout its 30-year history, has always believed passionately in green and sustainable tourism, a policy that is at the heart of the company and which engages every property in its portfolio.

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Thursday
Mar212013

Eight Shifts Needed for Sustainability

A new international alliance of research institutes has identified eight major shifts that must take place for humanity to achieve sustainable development. The recommendations come in a paper published today by the Independent Research Forum

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Wednesday
Feb272013

What’s quality of life for Singapore?

What makes for quality of life in Singapore? Should we aspire for wealth or well-being? Mallika Naguran writes about these and proposes some indicators from international benchmarks that can apply to Singapore.

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Thursday
Feb212013

Urban Poverty: The Problem in the South

With more people than ever before living in cities – and an tidal wave of migration from rural areas, urban poverty is increasing dramatically. The worst places for this new urban problem are all south of the equator – and growing fast.

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Thursday
Feb212013

The Other Hundred: A Pursuit of Societal Justice 

Media output tells us the world consists successful politicians, businesspeople celebrities and the internet - all with their own “Top 100” lists. The Global Institute for Tomorrow (GIfT) is producing The Other Hundred, a list of what it calls the “incredible yet uncelebrated” who make up the majority of our world.

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Friday
Jun292012

Three Issues the G20 Should Discuss: Climate, Decent Work and Mining

At first glance, working conditions in Mexican factories, mining projects and even drought may seem like local issues. But not if we want a world based on justice, gender equality and a respect for human rights. Michael Switow reports from the People's Summit in La Paz, Mexico.

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Saturday
Apr142012

Communities Protect Vietnam’s Forests: Socio-Economic Benefits Studied

For ten years now, a local community in north central Vietnam has managed a 600+ hectare forest, protecting it from illegal logging and fires. Journey with the Forest Governance Learning Group - which includes development workers, foresters and lawyers united by a desire to improve decision-making in forest policy - as they travel here to gauge the programme's success.

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