8 Indian beaches get coveted ‘Blue Flag’ tag, create record

Blue Flag Certification

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Blue Flag Certification
Blue Flag Certification

In News:

  • Eight Indian beaches have got the coveted ‘Blue Flag’ certification — one of the world’s most recognised awards for clean, safe and environment-friendly beaches.

News Summary:

  • Eight Indian beaches have got the coveted ‘Blue Flag’ certification, which are:
    1. Shivrajpur (Dwarka, Gujarat)
    2. Ghoghla (Diu)
    3. Kasarkod and Padubidri (Karnataka)
    4. Kappad (Kerala)
    5. Rushikonda (Andhra Pradesh)
    6. Golden Beach (Puri, Odisha)
    7. Radhanagar (Andaman & Nicobar Islands)
  • Union environment ministry had last month sent the list of these eight beaches to the international jury, seeking Blue Flag certification.
  • The Union environment minister said that India has achieved an outstanding feat considering that no ‘Blue Flag’ nation has ever been awarded for eight beaches in a single attempt. 
  • He said this is also a global recognition of India’s conservation and sustainable development efforts.

Background on Indian Efforts at Blue Flag certification:

  • The union environment ministry started a pilot project to develop the Indian beaches according to the Blue Flag standards in December 2017.
  • Work began on developing the Indian beaches according to the Blue Flag certification standards, by the Society for Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM), under a Unified Coastal Areas Management Programme.
    • SICOM is an environment ministry’s body working for the management of coastal areas.
  • To help Indian beaches meet the required criteria, the Ministry has allowed structures such container toilet blocks, change rooms, shower panels, mini grey water treatment plants, mini solid waste recycling plants, off-grid solar photovoltaic panels etc.
Chandrabhaga beach received Asia’s first Blue Flag tag:
  • In June 2019, the Chandrabhaga beach on the Konark coast of Odisha became the first in Asia to be awarded the Blue Flag certification on World Environment Day on June 5.

Way ahead:

  • India has plans to expand the network of Blue Flag certification to 100 such beaches in the country in the next five years.
  • In order to achieve this goal, the environment ministry has in September, 2020, launched India’s own eco-label “BEAMS” (Beach Environment & Aesthetics Management Services) under its Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) project.

About: Blue Flag Program

  • The Blue Flag Programme for beaches is run by the Copenhagen-based Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE).
  • It started in France in 1985 and has been implemented in Europe since 1987.
  • The campaign spread outside Europe, to South Africa, in 2001.
  • It aims to promote sustainable development in freshwater and marine areas.
  • The programme also awards certification to marinas and boats.
  • Globally, there are over 4,000 Blue Flag beaches.
  • Spain and Greece have more than 500 such beaches, with France having about 400 such certified beaches.
  • The jury:
    • The jury, which takes a final call on the Blue Flag certification, comprises eminent members from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), World Tourism Organisation, FEE and IUCN.
  • It challenges local authorities to achieve high standards for the beaches in nearly 33 criteria under four major heads:
    1. Environmental Education and Information
    2. Bathing Water Quality
    3. Environment Management and Conservation
    4. Safety and Services
  • Among these heads are criteria such as water quality standards, waste disposal facilities, disabled- friendliness etc.
  • Some criteria are voluntary and some compulsory.
  • If a Blue Flag beach does not comply with the criteria for accreditation, the flag may be permanently or temporarily withdrawn.
  • Promote and participate in environmental education programmes for the users of beaches, marinas and boating operators.
  • Implement sound safety and environmental management systems.
  • Monitor environmental conditions to reduce the impact of human activity at the beaches, marinas and boating operators.
  • Commit to partnerships and collaborative action to promote the sustainable development of tourism.

Advantages of Blue Flag Certification Marketing value:

  • Ecolabels are market instruments and therefore one indication of their success is the market power given to the destination which has been awarded the ecolabel.
  • Hence it brings benefits such as marketing advantages and competitive advantages for all parties involved.
  • The products can be sold at a premium, garner a higher market share, create a new market for existing products and come up with new product categories.

Environmental Protection:

  • For the government the program provides more than just marketing advantages, it motivates other governments, stakeholders or producers on the island and surrounding areas to act in an environmentally sustainable way as well. Not only to follow a good example, but to stay competitive.
  • It forces tourist destinations to be managed in an ecologically sensitive manner, for destinations need to preserve and improve their environmental quality in order to stay competitive in the tourism market.
  • In addition ecolabels can improve the environmental performance of the tourism sector in deliberately targeted areas where improvement is most needed.
  • Stricter zoning policies help protect existing monuments and natural and cultural environments in order to preserve these for future generations and to protect the island from over- development.

Benefits for consumers:

  • Access to Information:
    • Ecolabels raise the environmental awareness of the main stakeholders in the tourism industry – the consumers.
    • Tourists have easy access to information relating to coastal zone ecosystems, and sensitive natural areas in the coastal zone displayed at the beach. Information about the bathing water quality, is also displayed at the beach.
    • Beaches will have a map, that will show the different facilities available
  • Safety:
    • There is a safe access area to the beach, and the beach area has to be constantly patrolled, to ensure safety and enforce the rules.
    • There are adequate number of lifeguards and life-saving equipments at the beach, along with first aid.
  • Other Consumer Benefits:
    • Beaches will be clean and well-maintained.
    • Waste disposal bins will be available in adequate numbers and will be regularly emptied and cleaned.
    • Adequate recycling facilities, on or near the beach.
    • Good sanitary facilities, with controlled sewage disposal.
    • Steady supply of drinking water.
    • Unauthorised camping, driving or dumping is not be allowed.
    • Sustainable means of transportation, promoted around the beach area.

About: Foundation for Environmental Education

  • The Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) is a non-governmental, non-profit organisation promoting sustainable development through environmental education.
  • It was established in 1981 as the Foundation for Environmental Education in Europe (FEEE).
  • However, at its 20th anniversary general assembly, held in Copenhagen in 2001, the organisation decided, because of growing interest from outside Europe, to become more global and dropped Europe from its name, to become the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE).
  • With members in 77 countries it is the world’s largest environmental education organisation
  • It is recognised by UNESCO and UNEP as a world-leader within the fields of Environmental Education and Education for Sustainable Development.
  • FEE is active through five programmes:
    1. Blue Flag
    2. Eco-Schools
    3. Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE)
    4. Learning about Forests (LEAF)
    5. Green Key International.

Also Read: India’s health budget fourth lowest in world: Oxfam

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