7 Questions with the Group Financial Controller, Venkateswaran Ramesh
Jul, 29 2019
While you may not meet many members from the Coco Collection Corporate Office during your visit to our resorts, the Corporate Team works diligently behind the scenes to help carry out the many plans and initiatives we run across the company.
One of the programmes closest to all our hearts is Coco Cares, the sustainability and conservation programme at Coco Collection. The Corporate Team has helped to consolidate the various eco-initiatives from across the resorts to create a unified programme with fixed plans and targets.
Meet one of the leading eco-advocates in our company, Venkateswaran Ramesh. As the Group Financial Controller for Coco Collection, Ramesh is kept quite busy managing all the finance and accounting operations for our entire company. However, he still manages to find time to take part in our sustainability initiatives and is a great advocate of eco-awareness in the office.
1. What does sustainability mean to you?
Sustainability means that there should not be any wastage of natural resources as we conduct our business. We do not have the right to damage the environment, and we have an obligation to leave the earth to the next generation without irreparably damaging it.
2. Why are you passionate about sustainability?
Globally, countries are moving towards rapid development and thereby trying to increase the earning capacity of their respective population. In the process, we are not taking time to assess the growth by seeing to what extent it has damaged the environment. Growth and development need to go hand in hand with sustainability, otherwise there will be nothing left to develop.
3. You’ve been with the company for over 16 years now. How do you feel the approach to sustainability and environmental conservation has changed in the Maldives?
There’s still a long way to go in the Maldives. The alarming number of vehicles in the capital city of Male’ is contributing to a lot of air pollution. When I first came to the Maldives in 2000, the number of motorbikes in Male’ was very few and the air was very clean on the island. Nowadays, the air is like any other major city. Additionally, not very many resorts have implemented renewable energy, whereas a lot of developing countries are moving forward at a very rapid pace with regards to alternative sources of energy like solar energy.
Financial incentives are to be offered to the resorts implementing renewable energy by the government, thereby inducing resorts to adopt alternative energy. Being a tropical country there is a huge potential to go for sources like solar energy, thereby reducing carbon emissions. It’s great that the Maldives is now considering passing laws to ban single-use plastic products such as bags, cups, bottles etc. Some states in India have implemented such laws already to great success, which is very encouraging.
4. What are your favourite eco-initiatives at Coco Collection?
The Marine Turtle Rescue Centre run by the Olive Ridley Project at Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu is definitely a unique and incredible programme. The glass water bottling plant at Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu (and soon at Coco Bodu Hithi!) is also a great initiative as it allows the resorts to get rid of plastic water bottles.
5. What eco/sustainability cause is the most important to you personally? Why?
Promoting solar energy for the resorts is most important to me personally since it reduces to a great extent the use of normal fuel. At the same time, it allows the business to develop but not at the cost of damaging the environment. Curbing vehicle emissions is also very important, and it would be great if more eco-friendly vehicles are brought in to the Maldives
6. What are some eco-friendly initiatives you practice on a daily basis?
I avoid using plastic bottles as much as possible, and I make a conscious effort to use cloth bags instead of plastic bags. I also try to walk around Male’ instead of taking a motorised vehicle.
7. What do you think is the importance of investing in eco-friendly measures in the long term, such as the recent water bottling plant we have ordered for Coco Bodu Hithi?
It is very good and an important step in the right direction. We’re trying to avoid using plastic water bottles at our Corporate Office and are trying to get alternative solutions for our associates as well as for visitors to our office. These steps may seem small and simple, but if we all take a moment to invest our time and effort, it can make a huge different.