IUCN and Marriott International join hands for community-based environmental conservation and development in Thailand

BANGKOK, THAILAND - 19 September 2013 – IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, and Marriott International have launched a partnership to protect the environment and support Thailand’s local communities through mangrove restoration, the use of sustainable seafood sources and local procurement practices in Bang Krachao and areas in the South potentially to include Mai Khao, Tai Muang and Khao Lak. The two organisations signed a Memorandum of Understanding today and opened a “Mangrove Education Garden” at the Renaissance Bangkok Ratchaprasong Hotel, followed by a planting of 100 mangroves by Marriott associates at Bang Krachao, often described as “the lung of Bangkok”.  

IUCN-Marriott MOU signing and press conference in Bangkok, 19 September 2013

The partnership will take an integrated approach, targeting three main initiatives. Marriott will help raise funds and awareness among its guests for the activities of the IUCN Thailand Programme to support local communities in mangrove restoration. Marriott and IUCN will work together to identify opportunities for creating small businesses in local communities for the production of sustainable souvenirs and gifts for guests at its hotels in Thailand. IUCN will help Marriott International in locating sources of sustainable seafood for its hotels.

Speaking at the signing of the agreement, Dr Robert Mather, Head of IUCN’s Southeast Asia Group, said: “I am very excited by this innovative new partnership. It moves beyond the simple ideas of hotels demonstrating environmental commitments just by reducing water and electricity consumption, to really working on how they can be a force for positive change for the communities, habitats and species in the landscapes and seascapes on which their business ultimately depends.”

More than half of Thailand’s original mangroves have been lost since the 1970s. After the 2004 tsunami, a new determination to replant mangroves in Thailand was marked by the symbolic planting of a mangrove by former US President, Bill Clinton, in Phuket and the launching of “Mangroves for the Future” (MFF) in 2006. MFF is a partnership-based initiative promoting investment in coastal ecosystems for sustainable development, and is co-chaired by IUCN and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). MFF has provided technical expertise to support the development of the Marriott partnership, including training of hotel staff.

Commenting on the agreement, Don Cleary, Marriott International’s Chief Operations Officer in Asia Pacific, said: “This is a very exciting time for us all -- our associates, guests, local communities and the environment, who will all benefit from this partnership. IUCN and Marriott International have powerful networks and together we hope to inspire best practice in environmental partnerships.”

Mangroves play a critical role in protecting the coastline from severe storms and rises in sea level. In addition, mangrove forests are important for conserving biodiversity and storing carbon. The partnership will help restore Thailand’s mangroves and support communities living nearby Marriott International’s properties in Thailand. The goal is to plant 500,000 mangrove saplings and relevant species within the next three years.

This engagement falls under Marriott International's global commitment to sustainability and is embedded in the “Spirit to Serve” initiative. On the IUCN side, the partnership underlines the organisation’s commitment to working with the private sector to effect change, and contributes to two very significant projects focused on coastal protection and management in Asia, Mangroves for the Future and Building Coastal Resilience.

About IUCN
IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges. IUCN’s work focuses on valuing and conserving nature, ensuring effective and equitable governance of its use, and deploying nature-based solutions to global challenges in climate, food and development. IUCN supports scientific research, manages field projects all over the world, and brings governments, NGOs, the UN and companies together to develop policy, laws and best practice. IUCN is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental organization, with more than 1,200 government and NGO Members and almost 11,000 volunteer experts in some 160 countries. IUCN’s work is supported by over 1,000 staff in 45 offices and hundreds of partners in public, NGO and private sectors around the world. www.iucn.org

About Marriott International

Marriott International, Inc. (NYSE: MAR) is a leading lodging company based in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, with more than 3,800 properties in 72 countries and territories and reported revenues of nearly $12 billion in fiscal year 2012. The company operates and franchises hotels and licenses vacation ownership resorts under 18 brands. For more information or reservations, please visit our web site at www.marriott.com, and for the latest company news, visit www.marriottnewscenter.com.

About Mangroves for the Future (MFF)
Mangroves for the Future (MFF) is a partnership-based initiative promoting investment in coastal ecosystems for sustainable development. MFF provides a collaborative platform to help countries, sectors and agencies in the MFF region tackle the growing challenges to coastal sustainability. MFF applies an inclusive, ecosystem-based management approach to the rehabilitation and stewardship of coastal resources. Coastal ecosystems, and the well-being of their inhabitants, are influenced not just by activities carried out in the coastal zone, but also by those happening further inland. Using the reef to ridge approach, MFF helps coastal managers and communities to adopt and benefit from more integrated management of coastal resources and the ecosystem processes that support them. MFF is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the Danish International Development Agency and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation. www.mangrovesforthefuture.org

About Building Coastal Resilience (BCR)
The BCR project, supported by European Union, aims to strengthen the ability of local government and local people to plan for, and adapt to, future climate risks in eight coastal provinces between Ho Chi Minh City and Bangkok: Can Gio, Ben Tre, Soc Trang, and Kien Giang in Vietnam; Kampot and Koh Kong in Cambodia; and Trat and Chanthaburi in Thailand. IUCN and project partners are working together to build capacity in these provinces so that local government agencies can conduct vulnerability assessments; identify pilot activities to reduce vulnerability; design, implement, monitor the success of these activities; and carry out cost-benefit analysis and feasibility assessments for replicating pilot actions over a wider coastal area. www.iucn.org/building-coastal-resilience

For more information, please contact:

Dararat Weerapong, Senior Communications Officer at IUCN Southeast Asia Group, 
Mobile: +6689 5178543; E-mail: Dararat.Weerapong@iucn.org 

Daniel Ford, Executive Director Communications for the Asia Pacific Region at Marriott International, Direct line: +852 2192 6146; E-mail: Daniel.Ford@marriott.com

Work area: 
Climate Change
Climate Change
SEA Group
Project and Initiatives: 
Mangroves for the Future 
Building Coastal Resilience
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