Blue Flag Program

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 tops the list with 566 such beaches, Greece and France follow with 515 and 395, respectively.


  • It challenges local authorities to achieve high standards in the four broad categories of water quality, environmental management, environmental education and safety.
  • There are nearly 33 criteria that must be met to qualify for the certification, such as the water meeting certain quality standards, having waste disposal facilities, being disabled- friendly, have first aid equipment, and no access to pets in the main areas of the beach. 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 • If a Blue Flag beach does not comply with the criteria for accreditation, the flag may be permanently or temporarily withdrawn.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 power

  • 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


  • 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.


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 Blue Flag, Eco-Schools, Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE), Learning about Forests (LEAF) and Green Key International.


Section : Environment & Ecology