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Awards for Improving the Coastal Environment: The example of the Blue Flag

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Businesses and Governments alike are gradually incorporating sustainability as one of the core values to drive the tourism industry forward, in an attempt to be more responsive to current market, environmental and community requirements. Central to this process are the adoption of voluntary initiatives such as environmental guidelines, codes of conduct and certification schemes that encourage commitment to change. Numerous voluntary initiatives exist in developed and developing countries, particularly in the hospitality sector, and are moving the industry beyond compliance with environmental laws and regulations. Voluntary initiatives are also being recognized as effective tools supporting implementation of Government programmes for integrated coastal zone management.

Despite such benefits, much remains to be done in creatively fostering responsible growth while safe guarding the quality of coastal destinations. For this reason, UNEP and UNWTO aim at supporting balanced policies based on a spectrum of tools that may include voluntary initiatives, such as eco-labels, while recognising, at the same time, that they are not the only avenue that can be pursued.

It is against this background that the Foundation for Environmental Education presents this publication with the example of the Blue Flag Programme.This is the first award scheme for coastal recreation in Europe, which was designed incorporating existing relevant instruments, such as the criteria to comply with the European Union Directive on Bathing Water Quality, thus facilitating coastal zone management and integrating the implementation of legal obligations.

The present FEE/UNEP/UNWTO publication provides an update on the status of the Blue Flag Programme and its expansion to new countries of the World.

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