Marc Van Loo

Marc Van Loo

Founder and CEO, LooLa & Safe Water Gardens

Dutch by birth, cosmologist by training, educator and author by early profession (Marc was the chief editor of the first independent book on the IB Diploma – http://www.ib-help.com), Dr Marc van Loo opened LooLa Adventure Resort in 2000 – which went on to become the world’s most highly decorated eco resort (Asia’s # Eco resort 2012, World # 1 EcoTourism operator 2015, Singapore most sustainable SME 2016, 2017).

Spurred on by the preventable death of the daughter of LooLa’s cook, LooLa’s team – together with LooLa’s guests and a growing list of company and university sponsors but above all schools – then developed the world’s most compact and cost-efficient sanitation systems –the Safe Water Garden (SWG, for short)– between 2015 and 2018, in doing so demonstrating the power of students to change the world.

More than 700 SWGs have been installed in family homes and schools across Indonesia. The Indonesian government recognised the potential of the SWG to solve the rural sanitation problem and certified the SWG as a safe sanitation system in 2019. In 2021-2022, we brought complete WASH (Water, Sanitation, Hygiene) systems to two entire villages, demonstrating that villagers can be empowered to build these systems themselves and subsequently leverage the WASH systems to start successful micro-farms and homestay businesses. In early 2023, we completed our first Model Village Program (MVP) in which we showed –with the enthusiastic support of Riau’s governor, Mr Ansar Ahmad– that villages can be empowered to become teachers and power a safe WASH rollout regionally on their own. In March 2023, we were invited to the UN Water Conference in New York to exhibit as one of (only 6!) examples of a “scalable WASH innovation”. In August 2023, we started a research collaboration with Outward Bound Singapore, the National University of Singapore, and the IPCC to build Singapore’s first 2 SWGs on Pulau Ubin with the idea to measure, amongst other things, the carbon footprint of the SWG. We expect to establish here that a family on SWG is worth 10 carbon credits, showing that safe sanitation is a climate project too. We continue to work with an ever-expanding group of governments, companies, passionate individuals, and of course, our beloved school guests, to achieve our goal: all Indonesian villagers on safe WASH by 2029 for < $ 400 per family, and do the same for all (sub)tropical village families in the world by 2030!