How does Blue Flag contribute to ending poverty?

  • Blue Flag contributes to fight poverty by supporting local economies through increasing tourism and promoting free access to beaches, business activities and services.

  • Blue Flag creates job opportunities related to the maintenance and management of beaches, marinas and eco-tourism boats.

  • The environmental education activities organised by Blue Flag on its beaches, marinas and boats supports local green activities or initiatives related to education, health, sanitation and infrastructure.

  • Access to sea through beach and environmental management standards ensures that the communities that have been traditionally dependent on ecosystem services continue to enjoy the benefits in years to come.

  • The improved infrastructure creates opportunities for new technologies and skills that have impact on other work sectors in the local communities.

South Africa

Thanks to the ‘Tourism Blue Flag’ scheme, in South Africa, Blue Flag beaches offer paid jobs in various functions, such as lifeguarding, beach cleaning, beach rehabilitation, tourism support and environmental education to people from disadvantaged communities. The initiative is a three-year project implemented by WESSA, Blue Flag National Operator in South Africa, in partnership with the National Department of Tourism. Only impoverished and previously disadvantaged community members living in the proximity of the sites are allowed to apply to these positions.

The Beach Stewards are hosted by local coastal municipalities and are involved in activities such as monitoring of beach activities, conducting of visitor surveys as well as other data gathering, providing updates on weather and general beach-conditions via Twitter, coordinating environmental education activities for school-going children and assisting lifeguards. Overall, over 200 youth are employed to support municipalities with Blue Flag. Thanks to this project, the participants acquire environmental management and other skills, and increase their chances to find employment in the future.

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Dominican republic

Blue Flag awarded sites contribute greatly to the Dominican tourism sector, creating jobs and decreasing poverty among locals.

In Dominican Republic many communities depend on tourism, as beach tourism represents 8.4 % of the gross domestic product. Through Blue Flag, sustainable tourism services are growing, and people are employed in Blue Flag beaches in order to ensure that the necessary services are provided (e.g. lifesaving).

Blue Flag and zero hunger

  • Blue Flag promotes food security through activities such as supporting local sustainable fishing communities, protecting fishery nursery habitat and spreading sustainable agriculture practices.

  • Blue Flag enhances international cooperation in food industry, technology development and rural infrastructure.

  • Blue Flag is strongly committed to fight food waste and over-exploitation of natural resources through raising awareness activities for children and adults, protecting ecosystems and recycling rainwater in order to reduce the consumption of drinking water. These initiatives encourage sustainable development, benefit local agriculture, stimulate the economy and have a positive impact on ending poverty and hunger.

New Zealand

Only one third of most fish is ever eaten with many of those offcuts ending up in landfills as waste. At the Outboard Boating Club Marina in Auckland there are facilities for boat owners to clean and fillet their own fish. Thanks to the Kai Ika Project, running since 2016, the offcuts (fish heads, frames and offal), which would normally have been discarded, are now stored and delivered daily to Papatūānuku Kokiri Marae (Maori Meeting Ground). This initiative contributes to reducing hunger and reinvigorating the Maori cultural tradition of using all parts of the fish, providing nutritious food for up to 60 families in this community where fast food outlets are increasingly common. To date, Outboard Boating Club have given away more than 30 tons of fish offcuts as part of this project since 2016. Recently the Kai Ika project was highly commended at the New Zealand Sustainable Business Network Awards in the category Repurposing Food.

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Dominican republic

One of Blue Flag’s goals in Dominican Republic is to educate people about the sustainable use of natural resources (including food) and larger ecosystems management. Through educating people on these topics, the risk of hunger is also reduced, as waste is avoided and food can be enjoyed by a wider number of people. Particularly, children are involved in activities regarding the importance of fisheries and marine biodiversity

Blue Flag contributes to the achievement of goal 3

  • The Blue Flag has a positive effect on healthy living and well-being. The programme supports initiatives for sustainable healthy community development and welfare.

  • The sites engaged in Blue Flag support a healthy lifestyle by raising people´s awareness through safety education activities.

  • Blue Flag environmental quality standards help creating clean and healthy environments in order to minimize illnesses, infections or contagious diseases.

  • The beach activities promote active lifestyles and social wellbeing.

  • The Blue Flag safety standards mitigate possible accidents on the beach.


Blue Flag as an ecosystem service provides numerous health and recreational benefits to humans. For instance, lifesavers on Blue Flag beaches in Spain play an important role in the prevention of accidents and promote healthy habits at the beach, related to sun bathing, swimming and biking. Additionally, workshops to teach kids aged 3 to 12 and adults anti-drowning and safety procedures have been organised on some Blue Flag beaches in Spain. In 2018, 17.405 adults and 13,970 kids have participated and learnt about important lifesaving techniques.


At Brighton Beach, Brighton NHS mental health services have a wild swimming group for people with depression and mental health problems. Research suggests that cold water immersion can help with these illnesses and reduce medication.

In Scarborough Blue Flag beaches health walks for elderly people who might feel lonely are organised.

Additionally, the ‘3 p's pooh, pee, paper’ promoted by the Blue Flag National Operator in England, Keep Britain Tidy, is aimed at reducing sanitary waste in the sea, thus helping the achievement of this goal.

Environmental education as an essential part of Blue Flag

  • One of the main pillars of the Blue Flag programme is environmental and sustainability education. Many initiatives launched by Blue Flag raise awareness of sustainable development in freshwater, marine areas and boats.

  • In order to challenge local authorities and sites operators to achieve high standards in water quality, environmental management, environmental education and safety, Blue Flag fosters environmental education activities through which people gain an all-round locally relevant or placed-based education.

  • Blue Flag strongly believes that an important way to raise awareness for sustainable and environmental issues is giving equal access for men and women to the teaching for understanding eco-tourism and environmental sectors.

New zealand

Barefoot Sailing Adventures, a New Zealander Blue Flag Sustainable Tourism Boating Operator, on each trip educates its passengers about the local conservation project, Project Island Song, which aims at restoring ecological balance in the islands of the Eastern Bay of Islands (Ipipiri). These islands have been pest mammal free since 2009, they have had thousands of trees planted, and five rare and endangered species reintroduced. Barefoot Sailing Adventures donates a portion of each ticket sale to the project and recently has been invited to provide input into the Project Island Song 10 year-plan.


CYMEPA, the Blue Flag National Operator in Cyprus, promotes and encourages the participation of local authorities in relevant educational actions and workgroups that have a regional or international dimension. An example of this is the MELTEMI (marine litter transnational legislation enhancement and improvement) two-year project, funded by Interreg Balkan-Mediterranean, with eight partner organisations from four countries, Cyprus, Albania, Bulgaria and Greece. The project aims at enhancing the legal framework and increasing the capacity of public authorities, stakeholders and society in reducing and acting against marine litter pollution.



In Slovenia, Blue Flag often participates in conferences and undertakes environmental education activities with the collaboration of the Eco Schools programme. Summer libraries, where books are lent for free to the beach visitors, are also organised on the Slovenian beaches. This activity is organized by a public Koper City Library in collaboration with the beach operators (or by beach operators themselves) on all the Slovenian coast and it is free for all to use. Sometimes the Library is offering also public book readings for kids and/or presentations of new books, thus contributing to SDG 4.

Blue Flag and gender equality

  • Blue Flag is a non-political and non-religious programme. It involves women and men, regardless of age, race, gender, religion, or socio- economic status in its projects.

  • Blue Flag actively supports the employment and empowerment of women and local minorities in all positions, aiming at strengthening their involvement in the society and workplace.

  • Safety on the beaches is a key factor in Blue Flag and in sustainable tourism in general.


In Mexico, SDG 5 is ensured through several activities aimed at promoting gender equality on Blue Flag beaches and put an end to all forms of violence against women (SDG 5.2). As part of an initiative called ‘Orange days’, a successful activity to raise awareness on sexual harassment and violence was organised in Isla Mujeres. Moreover, in Mexico, more than 50% of Blue Flag local beach operators are women, including a municipal director of ZOFEMAT (Federal Maritime land area). Through Blue Flag, women are empowered to participate in leadership projects.


As in most Blue Flag countries, in Wales there is no gender discrimination on Blue Flag beaches: both genders are employed as lifeguards (i.e. male and female are on patrol at the same time) and related jobs have equal pay. Wales is also considering the idea of implementing ‘safe spaces’ for women on the beach.


Water quality and sanitation at the core of Blue Flag

  • The Blue Flag programme promotes sustainable development in freshwater and marine areas. It challenges local authorities and site operators to achieve high standards of water quality, environmental management, environmental education and information, safety and services. Several Blue Flag initiatives concern the monitoring of bathing water quality and safe swimming.

  • The programme aims at increasing water-use efficiency through capturing and using rainwater. Through several criteria, Blue Flag promotes water savings and clean water, minimizing the environmental footprint and promoting good cleaning and recycling practices in beaches, boats and marinas.


As the Blue Flag programme promotes the compliance with the European Directive for Waste Water Management, important improvements in the waste water treatment plants have been achieved in Spain thanks to Blue Flag.


In Slovenia, Blue Flag has had a crucial role in speeding up the building of the Waste Water Management system on the Slovenian Coast and in sharing the water quality data with the public. Nowadays, the achievement of SDG 6 is also helped by a solid collaboration between Blue Flag and the Slovenian Environmental Agency, which is also part of the Blue Flag national jury. A code of conduct for their boat was signed with them and several collaborations – meetings and conferences – have been initiated. Blue Flag is also part of the emergency communication plan of the Agency.

How does Blue Flag contribute to the achievement of SDG 7?

  • The Blue Flag promotes energy saving initiatives and innovative solutions to reduce energy consumption. Thanks to Blue Flag campaigns to promote and implement good energy practices, solar panels, wind turbines and energy saving light bulbs are often used in Blue Flag awarded beaches, marinas and boats.

  • The programme develops sustainability policies in order to provide sustainable energy infrastructures and services. It encourages the use of independent and separated energy systems through photovoltaic energy production in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and go towards “zero energy consumption”.

sweden and bulgaria

This goal can be realised within the context of the Blue Flag programme through marinas, and individual boat owners, but also through the encouragement of sustainable services.

Particularly, in Bulgaria there are two Blue Flag sites that allow only sustainable transportation at the back of the beach. In one of them, only electric vehicles, rickshaws and horse carriages are allowed, and in the other one only electric golf cars.

Also in Sweden, the use of electric vehicles is promoted across all sites. There is in fact a strong demand for charging station, hence why, for instance, the Blue Flag marina of Pampas has built a charging station for electric vehicles. Additionally, another Blue Flag beach is located at the camping site of Lagunen, which buildings run with certified renewable energy, also contributing to this goal.

Blue Flag fosters decent work conditions and economic growth

  • Blue Flag helps and promotes the creation of new jobs and the employment of local staff, through the sustainable development of sites and their surroundings.

  • Blue Flag addresses equitable employment and promotes inclusiveness through informing and engaging staff, guests and local communities.

  • The programme favours sustainable tourism in the seaside areas, enhancing in this way full and productive employment and minimizing the environmental footprint. Therefore, Blue Flag contributes to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation.

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland all the Blue Flag beaches and marinas play an important role in attracting tourism throughout the Country. The participating Blue Flag sites each host a series of events throughout the bathing season offering potential visitors plenty of opportunities to find something for them to enjoy. The hospitality sector in Northern Ireland also benefits greatly from the programme, due to the increased visitor numbers throughout the bathing season. Many of the Northern Irish Blue Flag sites have become renowned destinations for their stunning scenery, excellent water quality and the broad range of amenities on offer.


In Ukraine, Blue Flag helps developing modern beaches and coastal areas: for instance, recreation facilities and sustainable tourism infrastructures have been built in order to comply with the Blue Flag criteria and obtain the Blue Flag award, helping economic growth. This is a beneficial innovation for Ukraine as the new infrastructures built according to the Blue Flag standards are part of anti-coastal erosion projects, that were never erected before in Ukraine for such purposes. Blue Flag in Ukraine thus contributes to economic growth and to prevent environmental degradation.

Sustainable industry, innovation and infrastructure with Blue Flag

  • Blue Flag supports innovation within the areas of environmental management. The programme increases resource-use efficiency and fosters clean and environmental sound technologies.

  • Blue Flag actively promotes sustainable infrastructure, as well as construction of access for people with disabilities.

  • Blue Flag encourages the development and use of sustainable transportation.

  • Blue Flag is a good framework for coastal zone management.


In Cyprus, several actions are undertaken in order to help achieve this goal. Affordable public transportation to the beach is promoted, together with the use of bicycles and footpaths. Innovative ways to allow everyone to access the beach are also undertaken, such as amphibious wheelchairs or pathways on the sand. On Blue Flag beaches, the seaweed that is found on the shore and which can become a nuisance, is disposed of in an environmentally friendly way, for example, through composting or through its use as a fertilizer.

dominican republic

Blue Flag awarded sites promote infrastructure development, in order to meet the requirements and services needed to be part of the Blue Flag programme. In Dominican Republic, thanks to the Blue Flag, there are now adequate infrastructures to allow people with disabilities to access the beach and lifesaving towers have also been built. The quality of infrastructures near Blue Flag awarded sites is in fact higher than in other coastal areas, thus contributing to this goal and sustainable development in general.

Inequalities are reduced thanks to Blue Flag

  • The Blue Flag criteria are formulated to allow sites of differing size, resource, and global location to be eligible to participate in the programme.

  • Through Blue Flag, sites in developing countries are encouraged to play an active part in the global economy.

  • One of the Blue Flag’s goals is to achieve equality in terms of ensuring equal services to all. In other words, reducing inequalities through providing the same standard of infrastructures and services for disabled people worldwide.


In Spain, big and small, rich and poorer municipalities, marinas and eco-tourism boats receive the same Blue Flag award. Moreover, in most Blue Flag beaches in Spain people with disabilities can access both the beach and the water. Additionally, in Spain, Blue Flag beaches are promoted as a public space, and are accessible to everyone



A great example that shows how Blue Flag contributes to reduce inequalities (SDG 10) is the beach cleaning that took place in Limni beach (Attiki) where all the participants were adults, with mental disabilities. The participants attended a talk from educators about the natural environment, litter and the time different material need to decay in and out of water. After that, the participants were divided in small groups and undertook a beach cleaning activity.

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Blue Flag for sustainable cities and communities

  • The Blue Flag´s local stakeholders such as municipalities, hotel managers or marina owners must build safe and sustainable services. Blue Flag recommends construction and renovation of buildings to be carried out under an environmental management plan put in place before the start of the project and encourages the use of environmentally friendly products.

  • With respect to the local conditions and the protection of the marine heritage and natural habitats, the programme involves local communities by promoting, supporting and engaging in environmental education activities.

  • Through awareness raising events and campaigns directed to the local communities and tourists, Blue Flag highlights the importance of tackling environmental issues in order to improve the sustainability of human settlement through planning and management. Moreover, it actively supports local green transport infrastructure alternatives.

  • Sites’ resilience is encouraged through the protection of green cover, especially mangroves, that reduces the impacts of hurricane and storms. The green cover also reduces coastal erosion.

  • The environmental management standards and practices increase proper management of waste.

south africa

Blue Flag stewards are trained in environmental education. Part of their day to day activities involve providing awareness to tourists visiting the beach. However, not only tourists are part of this transformation: Blue Flag stewards also distribute information and tips on sustainability to local communities and low income schools, while also promoting the use of the beach by its local stakeholders and contributing to the achievement of this goal.


Sustainability, along with education, is at the core of Blue Flag implementation in Ukraine. In Odessa, in semi-desert and eroded coastal zones, new Blue Flag standard infrastructures for beaches are implemented. This is done following a sustainable approach to urbanization and housing. The same type of renovation happens in Kiev, where Blue Flag is transforming the capital city’s beaches into attractive beach recreational zone and helping its development as a more sustainable city.


Responsible consumption and production encouraged by Blue Flag

  • The Blue Flag believes in the importance of providing relevant education to people in order for them to understand sustainable patterns of consumption. The programme promotes initiatives to monitor sustainable development in the sustainable tourism sector, as the promotion of sustainable fisheries and environmental protection. It encourages sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources in marine areas.

  • The programme promotes the use of clean, renewable and efficient energy, and the increase water-use efficiency through capturing and using rainwater among other best practices. It also improves water quality through promoting the minimum release of softeners in the aquatic environment.

  • Through several criteria set, Blue Flag encourages people to save water and keep it clean, minimising the environmental footprint and promoting sustainable practices. Various environmental education activities take place in order to prevent, reduce, reuse and recycling waste.

the netherlands and the US VIRGIN ISLANDS

In the Netherlands, several municipalities have started installing water taps next to the beaches, thus contributing to this goal. These water taps promote responsible consumption of water and help avoid single-use plastic on the beach, which could lead to pollution.

In the Us Virgin Islands, food and beverages outlets at Blue Flag sites have eliminated plastic straws and greatly reduced their general single use plastics. This decision has had the effect of educating people on the environmental issues related to plastic, while promoting responsible consumption and production.

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Blue Flag and climate action

  • The Blue Flag programme is characterized by its whole-institutional approach, aiming at raising awareness on climate change and on strategies to reduce the environmental footprint worldwide.

  • The programme aims at encouraging sustainable tourism through the promotion of sustainable management at all levels and towards all kind of stakeholders: schools, businesses, public organizations, tourists, local communities.

  • Increasing recycling and the use of alternative energy are some of the mitigating actions undertaken by the programme.

  • The protection of green cover and local biodiversity put forward by Blue Flag helps ensuring a healthy ecosystem that contributes to both climate change adaptation and mitigation.


Blue Flag inherently addresses climate action via educational activities required on the sites. In Puerto Rico one strategy is to connect schools and private companies to site activities. A special focus is climate and shoreline resilience to develop resilient communities to climate impacts. During the disastrous 2017 hurricane season many communities suffered coastal floods, and mangroves and other vegetation have been lost. After that, at least two reforestation activities per beach have been done, as mitigation measures and to educate tourists and communities. Indigenous plants, along other recommended vegetation, are used, in order to reduce shoreline erosion and promote dunes restoration.


Among the activities to fight climate change, in Denmark ocean bins are used to remove marine waste from Blue Flag beaches. The ocean bins make it possible for volunteers to remove larger pieces of marine debris that does not fit in regular bins. They thus provide a solution for beach visitors that want to make a difference in a local perspective by removing marine debris. The ocean bins in Denmark are used at the Danish West Coast where the majority of marine debris wash up. They are placed at selected beaches that are known to have beach visitors all year round. The bins are placed at the beach almost the entire year but are generally removed during high summer where the number of beach visitors are high.

Blue Flag helps protecting life below water

  • The Blue Flag programme promotes the sustainable development of freshwater and marine areas. It challenges local authorities, beach operators and sustainable boating tourism operators to achieve high standards in water quality, environmental management, environmental education and information, safety and services. Several of its initiatives concern monitoring of bathing water quality, conservation of biodiversity and coastal ecosystem, safeguarding swim.

  • The programme prevents and reduces marine pollution, minimizing the impacts of the stakeholders on ocean acidification and promoting the minimum release of chemical products in the aquatic environment. Moreover, Blue Flag supports green fishing communities, the protection of fishery nursery habitat, coral reefs, sea turtles and other endangered species, fauna and flora.

  • The Blue Flag encourages to look upstream to improve water quality standards that motivate action in the watershed.

dominican republic

In Dominican Republic, Blue Flag promotes the conservation of key species and marine ecosystems such as mangroves, seagrass and coral reefs. On Blue Flag sites, activities such as turtles release, reforestation and monitoring of coral reefs are very often undertaken.


In Spain, Blue Flag promotes the protection and monitoring of seagrass and Posidonia meadows. This seagrass is endemic to the Mediterranean Sea, and plays a vital part in this regional ecosystem. Blue Flag also promotes the involvement of municipalities and marinas in the management of marine protected areas, as well as the dissemination of their significance among the citizens. Additionally, Blue Flag marinas near a Marine Protected Area must display a code of conduct on how to navigate around those areas and sustainable boating tour operators promote sustainable observation of cetaceans and support marine investigation on board.


Blue Flag and life on land

  • Blue Flag stakeholders, through the promotion of sustainable tourism and sustainable environmental activities, develop programmes for biodiversity conservation of the coastal marine area, especially endangered species.

  • Blue Flag emphasizes the importance of protecting species to maintain equilibrium conditions in the oceans, especially coral reefs and beaches. The programme encompasses also the sustainable use of the terrestrial ecosystem through nature and recreation, encouraging, for example, sustainable harvesting practices. It supports birdlife conservation providing minimalist facilities for bird watching.


In Iceland, the Blue Flag awarded sustainable boating tourism operators carry on whale watching, puffin watching and aurora borealis tours. These tours not only allow tourists to discover the Icelandic marine environment, but they also contribute to this goal as they provide people with information about the local natural environment and they educate them on species and ecosystem protection.

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If a Municipality wants to run the Blue Flag Programme, it has to hand over documents concerning biodiversity conservation. In fact, the closer the attention for the environment, the higher will be the score of the municipality on this criterion. In Italy, conservation of endangered species, such as the ‘caretta caretta’ turtle and the ‘fratino’ bird, is part of the work of Blue Flag. This is performed through monitoring and environmental education activities. The protection of these species through the programme is undertaken not only during the bathing season but also during the rest of the year.

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Blue Flag helps the achievement of SDG 16

  • The Blue Flag programme encourages the engagement of societies and institutions in sustainable development and eco-tourism, requiring accountability and promoting inclusiveness between stakeholders from different sectors at local, national, and international level.

  • Blue Flag promotes people’s cooperation regardless of age, gender, religion and socioeconomic status. It works towards peaceful and just societies, inclusive and accountable, with a strong presence of diverse groups, and encourages guests visiting the Blue Flag sites to be actively involved with sustainability activities and sustainable management of resources.


Blue Flag contributes to the achievement of this goal, creating strong networks for municipality cooperation and acting as a bridge between public sector, private sector and other organisations. With the support of other organisations and NGOs, it fosters peace and justice.


In Slovenia, social justice is promoted through the inclusion of people with disabilities in beaches and marinas. Moreover, justice and strong institutions are promoted through the commitment of Blue Flag sites to comply with several local and regional laws and regulations, such as the European Bathing Water Quality Directive.

Blue Flag partners with NGOs, private and public stakeholders and organisations to achieve the SDGs


Blue Flag’s global profile consists of cooperation and partnerships between multiple stakeholders from the public, private and NGO sectors at the various levels: at the local level, between the establishments and tourists, suppliers and the local community, and at the national and international level between NGOs, corporate partners, public authorities and ministries, UN entities and other partners are committed to sustainable tourism. Partnerships between these actors are crucial in sharing knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.


In Japan, it is not as common to have accessibility for all, especially in leisure sites. This is also true for the organisations structures, who often work vertically rather than horizontally, and where different sectors rarely work jointly. Thanks to Blue Flag, partnerships between governments, organisations and municipalities are undertaken, especially when it comes to accessibility matters. The community approach that Blue Flag helps create can be considered very advanced in Japan and is advancing the achievement of the SDGs.

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new zealand

Blue Flag cooperation with research organisations is fundamental to contribute to the SDGs. For example, in New Zealand, a marina is working with the local university to carry on a research on Specialised Coatings Study in the Marine Environment. A testing apparatus has been installed at the marina to determine if various specialised coatings attract marine growth organisms on marine fixtures under the water. Shell fish such as oysters and mussels assist in the cleansing of water by filtering the silt.