'H2O on the Go' scheme to help fight plastic pollution

Every minute, about 1 million plastic bottles are bought around the world. In 2016 480 billion were sold and this is expected to increase to 583.3 billion by 2021.  Many of these are not recycled and end up into the sea, endangering its biodiversity and us all.

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The Borough Council of Causeway Coast and Glens, awarded with a number of Blue Flags in the season 2019, has recently launched the ‘H2O on the Go’ project, that aims at fighting plastic pollution in the sea.

The message that ‘H2O on the Go’ wants to deliver is to drink more tap water and use reusable bottles also outside home, raising beach visitors’ awareness on single-use plastic and its impact on the oceans.

Businesses and other outlets across Causeway Coast and Glens are encouraged to take part into the scheme. These will be promoting and offering free refilling of water bottles to reduce the amount of single use plastic bottles in circulation. The location and names of the participating businesses are accessible through the Council’s website www.causewaycoastandglens.gov.uk, so as to allow visitors to include a water refill point when planning their visits to the beaches of the area.

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The Blue Flag programme in Northern Ireland is managed by our member organisation ‘Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful’. You can visit their website here: https://www.keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org/cgi-bin/greeting?instanceID=1

Contributing to SDG 14 with the smurfs

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On the 60th Anniversary of the creation of the Smurfs, Blue Flag Spain has been chosen to support a ‘smurfs project’ focusing on Sustainable Development Goal number 14 on the sustainable use the oceans, seas and marine resources. Blue Flag Spain and Smurfs have drafted a Decalogue with dos and don’ts at the beach, such as using the accesses instead of walking through the dunes and not collecting stones or shells from the beach.

The Decalogue will be posted in the Spanish Blue Centers, Blue Flag beaches and marinas. Moreover, in a series of Blue Flag beaches, there will be a space with games for children to learn more about the sea and its protection.
Additionally, a photo contest for children has been launched to promote good environmental practices on environmental conservation both in natural areas and at home.

What does the Decalogue say?

  1. Use the recycling bins or bring the waste back home.

  2. Bring a bag to pick up the litter you find on the beach or in the water.

  3. Get used to the algae you find on the shore. They are part of the nature and they can be food for the animals.

  4. Do not pick up the shells and the stones you find on the beach, they are part of the ecosystem.

  5. Respect animals and plants from the beach and the sea.

  6. Before leaving the beach, shake the sand off your feet. The beach needs it, we do not!

  7. The water from the showers and the ‘footbath’ is a scarce and valuable resource that we need to preserve.

  8. Always walk on the walking paths. This way, you can reach your destination without damaging the environment.

  9. The dunes are the home of the plants that grow on it. Do not walk on them.

  10. Use the public toilet and take care of them, as they are for everyone. The sea is not a toilet.

Accessibility and the expansion of Blue Flag in Asia at the centre of attention in the 2019 Blue Flag Northern Hemisphere awards

Copenhagen, 27 May 2019 – This year, we are happy to announce that South Korea won its first Blue Flag award, thus increasing the presence of Blue Flag in Asia. Accessibility was the hot topic of this year’s work, both for the international jury discussion and our programme development.

 For the 2019 season, the Blue Flag International Jury has awarded the world’s leading tourism ecolabel to more than 4,400 beaches, boats and marinas in the Northern Hemisphere. This brings the total number of Blue Flag sites worldwide to 4,560, in 45 countries. All northern hemisphere countries have held their national award ceremonies and results for the network are now displayed on www.blueflag.global.

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Today we release the results of the Blue Flag International Jury meeting for the Northern Hemisphere, sharing with you the highlights of this year’s evaluation. Here you will be able to read about our new Blue Flag awarded beach in Asia and the new developments regarding accessibility and Blue Flag boats.

After several years of implementation of the Blue Flag criteria on its beach, Wando County in South Korea has seen its application for Sinji Myeongsasimri Beach approved by the International Blue Flag jury. This first beach in South Korea joins the four Blue Flag beaches awarded in Japan and further increases Blue Flag’s reach in the Asian region.

Moreover, as part of the candidates’ 2019 evaluation, best practices regarding accessibility have been reviewed and highly appreciated by the International Jury. Some of these year’s best practices will be featuring in our best practice database, which is freely available on our website for all to use: https://www.blueflag.global/best-practices. To improve the countries’ accessibility practices, Blue Flag has also entered into a partnership with Total Beach Access.

“This is a unique project, which we have worked very hard on in the past months. It will enable our sites to have accessibility material at little or no cost through the use of sponsorship. Our partners, the European Network for Accessible Tourism and the United World Tourism Organisation, have both expressed their favour for this partnership, seen as a unique set-up which could be a game-changer for beaches worldwide”, says Sophie Bachet Granados, International Blue Flag Director.

Additionally, it is worth mentioning that our new development in 2016 lead us to award Sustainable Boating Tourism Operators (SBTOs). These boats conduct various touristic activities, such as nature or whale watching, city canal tours, scuba diving or recreational fishing, and must be part of the integrated coastal management plan of a region. Already 67 boats have joined us worldwide and are receiving their certification in 2019. “This is just the beginning as we are working hand in hand with Sail Training International towards finalizing a set of criteria for Sail Training Vessels which should be launched in 2020.  By increasing our fleet of awarded boats, we aim to increase our positive impact on the oceans!” concludes Sophie.

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About the International Blue Flag Jury:

The International Blue Flag Jury is composed of representatives from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), International Lifesaving Federation (ILS), the European Environment Agency (EEA), the European Union for Coastal Conservation (EUCC), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the International Council of Marine Industry Associations (ICOMIA), the World Cetacean Alliance (WCA), the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT) and FEE. You can find out more about them on Blue Flag’s website: https://www.blueflag.global/international-jury.

Note that the next meeting of the Blue Flag International Jury will take place in September to award beaches, marinas and boats from the Caribbean, South America, Africa and southwest Pacific. India and Colombia, who have been working hard on the implementation of the Blue Flag programme for the past few years, might be the next ones to join the Blue Flag network with some awarded sites after this International Jury meeting.

Countries working towards implementing the prestigious Blue Flag include Cabo Verde, Chile and Finland.

 

The Blue Flag greatly appreciates the support of its sponsor, the worldwide flag producer Semaphore and Total Beach Access, which provides sponsored beach access for the disabled. 

The Blue Flag programme is run by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE): https://www.fee.global

Feel free to check and use our copyrighted pictures for communication: https://flic.kr/s/aHsk75W98q 

Press Release: Blue Flag awarded to 137 sites in the Southern Hemisphere

Press Release: Blue Flag awarded to 137 sites in the Southern Hemisphere

The International Blue Flag Jury meeting took place on 5 September 2018, roughly a year after Hurricane Maria violently hit Puerto Rico and Hurricanes Irma and Jose devastated the Caribbean Islands and parts of the USA in September 2017. Among the countries proudly flying the Blue Flag in the region, Sint Maarten and the US Virgin Islands are still working to reestablish the Blue Flag criteria in the wake of the storms.

Blue Flag International and ENAT sign Memorandum of Understanding

Blue Flag International and ENAT sign Memorandum of Understanding

The Foundation for Environmental Education, through its Blue Flag certification, long recognised as the global benchmark for sustainable beaches, marinas and boat-based activities around the world, has signed an agreement with ENAT – The European Network for Accessible Tourism non-profit association to work together to promote access for all visitors to beaches, marinas and boat-based activities.