Case Study SDG 14: How an Eco Island Resort Balances Tourism with Biodiversity

SDG 14, “Life under water”, aims to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. The goal addresses the interdependence of marine and aquatic ecosystems with the planet’s health and the well-being of human societies. It recognises oceans as a vital source of food, oxygen, and livelihoods while emphasising the urgent need to preserve and sustainably manage marine resources. However, human activities, such as overfishing, pollution, climate change, and habitat destruction, have severely impacted marine life and ecosystems, pushing many species to extinction. SDG 14 aims to reverse this trend and safeguard the delicate balance of life below water.

SDG 14 transcends mere conservation efforts. It demands a delicate balancing act – responsibly utilising marine resources while safeguarding fragile ecosystems. This intricate dance confronts significant obstacles: overfishing disrupts delicate food chains, plastic pollution chokes marine life, and climate change warms oceans, bleaches coral reefs, and threatens coastal communities. These challenges resonate deeply, reminding us of the urgent need for collective action.

Achieving SDG 14 requires collective action from governments, businesses, and individuals. This article introduces sustainable business strategies for SDG 14 and delves into a case study on an eco-island resort’s effort to implement sustainable tourism, conservation research and activities, and implementing a circular economy in protecting and conserving marine biodiversity in Johor, Malaysia.

SDG 14
Goal of SDG 14
Sustainable Business Strategies for SDG 14

Businesses can play a crucial role in achieving SDG 14 by adopting sustainable practices that protect and preserve marine ecosystems. Here are five business strategies that align with SDG 14:

  1. Sustainable fisheries and aquaculture: Shift gears towards sustainable practices prioritising both ocean health and long-term fish populations. Embrace responsible aquaculture beyond fish production, minimising environmental impacts like water pollution and habitat destruction. Additionally, businesses can source sustainable feed sources, creating a circular system that benefits fish and the environment.
  2. Ocean Pollution Reduction: Businesses should tackle plastic pollution at its source by opting for reusable alternatives in packaging and operations. Minimise waste reaching the ocean through robust reduction and recycling programs. Besides, investing in technologies that capture and remove existing plastic, creating a cleaner, healthier marine future, can help minimise pollution.
  3. Marine Habitat Conservation and Restoration: Support conservation efforts by donating to organisations protecting marine ecosystems and biodiversity. Protecting our oceans requires supporting conservation organisations and restoring habitats like coral reefs and mangroves. But success hinges on science. Before restoration, we must assess an area’s health through data collection and monitoring. This unveils human impacts, allowing us to advocate for change, and guides us in selecting the best restoration methods and locations for lasting positive results.
  4. Climate Change Mitigation: Reduce greenhouse gas emissions throughout the supply chain through energy efficiency efforts, renewable energy adoption, and responsible transportation choices in the supply chain. Invest in resilient infrastructure and technologies that can withstand the changing climate, protecting valuable marine ecosystems.
  5. Sustainable Seafood Sourcing: Source from sustainable fisheries and farms, prioritising minimal environmental impact. Empower consumers with clear labelling and education, promoting well-managed choices. Collaborate with partners to boost supply chain sustainability and traceability, ensuring ethically sourced seafood for all. This trifecta of action provides a healthy ocean and a responsible seafood journey.
Case study: Batu Batu Resort: A living example of sustainable tourism aligned with the SDG 14

Batu Batu Resort, is an eco-island escape located in Tengah Island, Johor, Malaysia, which boasts a rich history steeped in environmental consciousness. Founded by nature enthusiasts Cher Chua-Lassalvy and her father, the resort emerged from their love for the island’s pristine beauty –  a haven where guests could reconnect with nature’s embrace. Sustainability became the cornerstone of their vision, reflected in the resort’s vernacular-style architecture and construction using eco-friendly practices and local materials wherever possible. The resort also established  a dedicated conservation and sustainability department in the Tunku Abdul Jalil Conservation Centre, which later evolved to become the independent non-profit organisation, Tengah Island Conservation (TIC), to safeguard the island’s biodiversity and life on land and underwater in the Sultan Iskandar Marine Park. Today, Batu Batu stands as a testament to their dedication, offering guests myriad opportunities to immerse themselves in Malaysia’s natural splendour while contributing to its preservation.

Figure 1: Tengah Island map showcases the location of the resort, the conservation centre and the organic food garden (Feed Our Loved Ones) on the island.



Batu Batu Resort and TIC faced several challenges in achieving SDG 14 due to its remote location, and the need to balance economic viability with sustainability. The resort’s isolated location posed logistical difficulties in waste management. Additionally, lack of local expertise in sustainable tourism practices required capacity building among staff and the community. Striking a balance between economic viability and sustainability was also a challenge, as implementing sustainable practices often required upfront investments and changes in operations that had to be carefully managed to ensure the resort and the non-profit organisation’s financial stability. Despite these challenges, with TIC’s assistance and expertise, Batu Batu Resort remained committed to SDG 14 and implemented innovative solutions to each challenge.

Solutions and Implementation

To overcome these challenges, protect and conserve marine biodiversity, Cher embarked on a comprehensive sustainability strategy that encompassed various initiatives:

  1. Marine Conservation and Restoration: Under Cher’s leadership, Batu Batu Resort actively initiated and participated in marine conservation and restoration projects. The resort established Turtle Watch Camp in 2014 in partnership with the Department of Fisheries to protect the endangered sea turtle species around the islands. Turtle Watch Camp turned into the independent Tengah Island Conservation (TIC) in 2019 with the increasing participation of scientists from the region and internationally. TIC is dedicated to research, rehabilitation, and regeneration, and the team works on sea turtles, coral reef and seagrass conservation, marine debris and island waste management, and community outreach and engagement.
Figure 2: TIC team


  1. Community Engagement for Awareness: TIC actively engages its guests, staff, and local stakeholders, such as local businesses and schools, in conservation awareness initiatives to support SDG 14. Through nature walks, snorkelling, guided scuba diving, and educational talks run by TIC, guests learn about the importance of marine biodiversity and the threats it faces. Under the influence of Cher and the management team, the staff members continue to adopt sustainable practices mindfully and are encouraged to share their knowledge with guests and the community. Batu Batu also collaborates with various local stakeholders and Sustainable Tourism Malaysia Network (STN) of which TIC is a cofounder together with The Habitat Foundation, to champion sustainable tourism practices in the area. STN is a community of sustainable tourism practitioners who advocate and promote responsible and regenerative tourism in the country. Batu Batu is also a founding member of Sutainable Travel Mersing along with TIC.
  1. Waste Management and Circular Economy: Batu Batu Resort takes a two-pronged approach to waste management and circular economy, focusing on minimising waste and maximising resource reuse. They’ve partnered with FOLO (Feed Our Loved Ones) to create an organic food garden showcasing circular systems. Food scraps are composted and used to nourish the garden, creating a closed loop where waste becomes a valuable resource. Additionally, a portion of mixed food waste is processed through a dedicated composter, further enriching the soil for their organic produce.

    Beyond food waste, Batu Batu works to reduce waste production and prioritises responsible recycling. They meticulously separate and weigh recyclables, sending them to Clean & Happy Recycling in Mersing. This not only diverts waste from landfills but also generates income through their recycling trader, which is then directed towards their staff welfare fund. By implementing these innovative practices, Batu Batu takes a strong stand for circularity and environmental responsibility, ensuring a sustainable future for their resort and the surrounding ecosystem.


Batu Batu Resort’s commitment to SDG 14 has resulted in significant positive impacts on the local environment and community:

  1. Marine Biodiversity Conservation: The resort’s commitment to funding conservation efforts have contributed to preserving marine biodiversity in the area. To date, the TIC team has successfully released 27,680 critically endangered and endangered sea turtle hatchlings. Additionally, the team also cleans, maps and surveys 8.1 square kilometres of coral reefs and seagrass each year.
  2. Sustainable Tourism Model: Batu Batu Resort has become a model for sustainable tourism in Malaysia. In addition to Sustainable Travel Network Malaysia and Sustainable Travel Mersing,  it is a member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) and The Long Run Wherever possible, the resort actively works to promote to the tourism industry in the region to adopt more sustainable practices and promote responsible tourism.
  3. Stakeholder Engagement: TIC’s conservation and sustainability initiatives have engaged the local stakeholders in conservation efforts. The local stakeholders involve themselves in waste management and circular economy initiatives.
  4. Economic Benefits: Batu Batu Resort’s commitment to sustainability has increasingly attracted  like-minded tourists, increasing revenue and job creation. The resort has also supported the growth of local businesses by sourcing and procuring locally whenever possible. 

Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG 14), “Life Below Water,” emphasises the need to preserve and sustainably manage marine and aquatic ecosystems. Batu Batu Resort’s journey towards achieving SDG 14 showcases how businesses can protect marine biodiversity, reduce pollution, and promote sustainable tourism.

Batu Batu Resort is a compelling testament to the synergy between environmental and economic sustainability within the tourism industry. Their innovative practices, exemplified by the establishment of a conservation and sustainability non-profit organisation (TIC) with the support of a for-profit business model (Batu Batu Resort), have established them as a model for responsible tourism development. Batu Batu has demonstrated responsible behaviour and a heightened appreciation for the fragile marine ecosystem by fostering environmental stewardship amongst the leaders, guests, staff, and local stakeholders. This case study is a positive model for tourism businesses, illuminating the path towards a mutually beneficial future for people and the planet.

*Special thanks to the founder of Batu Batu Resort, Cher Chua-Lassalvy and President of Tengah Island Conservation or allowing us to share the story of Batu Batu Resort and the team’s efforts for the protection and conservation of our beautiful marine biodiversity.

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  1. Goal 14 | Department of Economic and Social Affairs. (n.d.). Retrieved from

  2. Batu Batu – an Eco Island Resort in Malaysia (n.d.) Retrieved from Available at:

  3. Tengah Island Conservation (n.d.). Retrieved from: 

Case Study : SDG 14 Life Below Water

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