'Blue Flag' certification for Tamil Nadu's Kovalam beach and Puducherry's Eden beach: What it is, why it is prestigious

·3-min read

Tamil Nadu's Kovalam beach and Puducherry's Eden beach have been accorded the prestigious 'Blue Flag' certification, as per an official statement on Tuesday.

With Gujarat's Shivrajpur, Diu's Ghoghla, Karnataka's Kaskarkod and Padubidri, Kerala's Kappad, Andhra Pradesh's Rushikonda, Odisha's Golden, and Andaman and Nicobar's Radhanagar beach also being recertified (had received the 'Blue Flag' certification in 2020), this takes the total number of Indian beaches with this coveted eco-label to double digits.

"This is yet another recognition of India's commitment to protect and conserve the pristine coastal and marine ecosystems through holistic management of the resources," as per a statement put out by the Environment, Forests & Climate Change Ministry.

But what is the 'Blue Flag' certification? And why is it a big deal? Let's take a brief look at it.

What it is

"The iconic Blue Flag is one of the world's most recognised voluntary awards for beaches, marinas, and sustainable boating tourism operators," states its website.

'Blue Flag' certification is conferred by the Foundation for Environment Education in Denmark (FEE) who comprise eminent members from United Nations Environment Programme(UNEP), United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), Denmark-based NGO Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The Blue Flag programme lists its mission as the following:

To 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.

Why is it a big deal?

As mentioned previously, 'Blue Flag' certification is an eco-friendly label. Thus, getting it is no easy task. Thirty-three stringent criteria must be complied with before a beach can be certified and permitted to hoist such a flag, which testifies to the sound health of the beach.

FEE-nominated representatives will conduct regular monitoring and audits for compliance and thus, concerted efforts are required to qualify for Blue Flag Certification. The moment a 'Blue Flag' is hoisted in a beach, the mention is made in the global headquarters of Foundation for Environment Education (FEE) in Copenhagen, Denmark and thereby on the World Tourism Map.

The programme kicked off in France in 1985. It gained acceptance across Europe in 1987. After South Africa joined the programme in 2001, the European Blue Flag became the International Blue Flag.

India's journey

The ministry in 2018 beginning its pursuit of 'Sustainable Development' of the coastal regions of India, embarked upon highly acclaimed & flagship programme 'Beach Environment & Aesthetics Management Services' (BEAMS), which is one of the initiatives under Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) approach that it has undertaken for the sustainable development of coastal regions, with a prime objective of protecting and conserving the pristine coastal and marine ecosystems through holistic management of resources.

The objective of BEAMS programme is to abate pollution in coastal waters, promote sustainable development of beach facilities, protect and conserve coastal ecosystems and natural resources, and seriously challenge local authorities & stakeholders to strive and maintain high standards of cleanliness, hygiene, and safety for beachgoers in accordance with coastal environment and regulations.

With inputs from agencies

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