“Namoona” refers to something that is exemplary, ideal, an exception. The lighthouse communities of Soneva Namoona shine a path for island communities all around the world.    

Our partnership provides a blueprint for how all islands can phase out single-use plastic, introduce recycling and inspire a new generation of ocean stewards by fostering a love for the ocean. 

The Problem

The small coral islands of the Maldives are considered to be among the most beautiful locations on our planet. However, in a nation with few municipal waste facilities, it is expensive to transport waste off the island. Instead, the majority of local islands burn it in open fires to prevent it piling up and spilling into the ocean. The open burning of plastics leaves partially-burned trash and toxic ash that blows or leaks into the surrounding ocean, and very little waste is currently recycled.

The Solution

Soneva Namoona NGO was founded to co-create, pilot and spread innovations that empower zero-waste communities across the Maldives. We address the social, policy and material obstacles to sustainable waste management which include a lack of recycling infrastructure; scarce SUP alternatives; insufficient or inadequate policies and capacities to support a zero waste future. Recognising the need for collective action, we work in partnership with Namoona island stakeholders to tackle uncontrolled waste streams. 

Our Origins

Soneva Namoona is a unique partnership that was initially launched in 2019 as a pilot project between luxury eco resort Soneva Fushi and three local islands – Maalhos, Dharavandhoo and Kihaadhoo.

At the first workshop in 2019, which was attended by local island leaders, government ministers and representatives of the President’s Office, our three partner islands pledged to introduce household segregation and create an ‘eco centro’ waste-to-wealth centre to sort, recycle, and reuse island waste.

Today, we use a similar partnership model to work with 21 islands across three atolls. Our funding partners include Soneva and USAID.

Our Mission

Soneva Namoona co-creates, pilots and spread innovations that empower zero-waste communities across the Maldives. ​ 

Our commitment to the elimination of single-use plastic drives our holistic, strategic approach to addressing the social and systemic problems associated with this waste stream, which exacerbates the environmental crisis on small coral islands. ​ 

 Our innovations fall into three categories.

How We Work

A Wicked Problem

To empower zero waste communities there are social, policy and material obstacles to overcome. On local Maldivian islands, there are few alternatives to single use plastic items, no recycling infrastructure and a lack of coordinated waste management systems. The problem is vastly complex and must be treated as such.

Community Partnerships

We work with community leaders such as the Island Council, the Women’s Development Committee, local NGOs, schools, and swimming groups to co-create zero waste solutions and to ignite change. Co-creating solutions empowers community changemakers to become zero waste champions and to showcase solutions that can be scaled nationally and globally.

Innovating Solutions

Our approach is grounded in a real understanding of the problem. We work with community members to explore problems from different angles and gain unique insights through an understanding of the lived realities of the communities that we work with. Once a problem is identified, we co-create solutions to pilot.


Once innovations are trialed and tested with our local island community partners, the success stories are amplified and learnings are shared at the island, national and international level. It is crucial that waste management policy frameworks are informed by the experiences and learnings of island communities.

Islands we work with

Soneva Namoona partners with islands on various initiatives, co-creating solutions towards sustainable living through eliminating plastics, better waste management practices and environmental literacy. Historically, our work has been primarily been focused in atolls where the Soneva Resorts operate: Baa Atoll and Noonu Atoll, with the most recent addition of Haa Dhaalu. We are excited to be strategizing ways to work with more islands in further regions of the Maldives soon, so stay tuned!

Partner Islands

Meet the Team

Management Team

Our management team oversees the implementation of our work on the ground and is invested in co-designing effective strategies to create empowered zero waste communities across the Maldives.

Director of Operations

Avinash Singh

Inspire Manager

Azhoora Ahmed

Azhoora oversees all community engagement activities, including zero waste workshops, competitions, the Shore to Open Water Series, and so much more. She is also the President of Soneva Namoona NGO.

Azhoora holds a Masters in Tourism, Hotel and Event Management. She represented the Maldives in the 2002 Asian Games, held three female swimming national records, and received the Maldives Olympic Committee Athlete of the Year award. As an ocean lover, she embodies ocean stewardship.

Reduce Manager

Khady Hamid

Khady oversees our Reduce component, implementing initiatives connected to the promotion of alternatives to single-use plastics. She overseas Soneva Water operations, and leads household water-filter trials and reusable nappy trials, and is developing our latest business incubator initiative.

Khady holds a Master’s in Development Practices. She has extensive experience in project management, community engagement and most recently has worked as the Head of Solutions Mapping for the UNDP Maldives Accelerator Lab.

Recycle Manager

Gordon Jackson

Gordon heads our Recycle component and designed the Namoona Sustainable Waste Management Model and accompanying frameworks. He works with island councils to develop island-specific solutions, while consulting with atoll councils on technical and strategic systems that enable atolls to adopt sustainable waste management.

Gordon holds a Master’s in Engineering, and he has been innovating sustainable waste management practices in the Maldives since 2012.

Executive Board

As an NGO registered with the Maldivian Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment, our Executive Board provides oversight to ensure that all decisions taken within the organization are in the best interest of the NGO.

President of the NGO 

Azhoora Ahmed

Vice President 

Hussain Fahumy


Aishath Sana

General Secretary

Yoosuf Sadhaan

Namoona Pioneers

Soneva Namoona would not be possible without the dedication and commitment of the individuals and communities who have worked alongside us to achieve our common objectives. Their passion, effort and dedication has inspired the shared vision we have today of empowered zero waste communities. We would like to express our profound gratitude to all these individuals for making Soneva Namoona a powerhouse of innovation and inspiration for positive change.

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