The International Blue Flag Jury meeting took place only a few hours before Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico so violently on 19 September 2017, and a few days after Hurricanes Irma and Jose devastated the Caribbean Islands and the USA. From the countries proudly flying the Blue Flag, Bahamas, Dominican Republic, French Department and Territories, Puerto Rico, Sint Maarten and US Virgin Islands have seen damages, and in some cases losses, after these terrible weather episodes.
“We would like to express our most sincere solidarity and hope for quick recovery to all affected countries of the recent natural disasters occurring in the Caribbean and Mexico region” commented Lourdes Diaz Colón, Chairwoman of the International Blue Flag Jury. “The International Jury would like to make sure that all the sites affected by these catastrophic phenomenona will return to their former condition. Thus, we wish to express our willingness to provide technical guidance and support when remodeling these sites in the future to guarantee that the Blue Flag criteria are met. We especially reach out to the Blue Flag applicants impacted, and also to other sites that have the will to be part of the International Blue Flag network,”.
Unfortunately, these episodes will become more recurrent and stronger due to climate change. The International Jury, not only as an awarding authority for the Blue Flag, but also as a community of international organisations and experts in the fields of environmental education, safety, services, management and tourism, wishes to highlight the importance of resilient and sustainable ways of thinking, working, and rebuilding after these major climate occurrences.
During the International Jury’s meeting, 131 sites have been awarded for the 2017-2018 Blue Flag season in the Southern Hemisphere, 91 beaches, 20 marinas and 22 boats within nine countries running the Blue Flag programme in this part of the world. Globally, the Blue Flag is proudly flying over 3,667 beaches, 681 marinas and 72 boats in 2017.
The Blue Flag International Jury also approved the feasibility study for South Korea, officially enabling them to start working on the Blue Flag programme.
The full list of awarded sites will be published on 1 November on the international Blue Flag website. Users can visit the Blue Flag website and enjoy its new maps and search systems, in order to find the perfect site depending on their needs.
The next meeting of the International Blue Flag Jury will take place on 11 April 2018 to award beaches, marinas, and boats from the Northern Hemisphere.
The International Blue Flag Jury is composed of representatives from the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment), the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), International Lifesaving Federation (ILS), the European Environment Agency (EEA), the European Union for Coastal Conservation (EUCC), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the International Council of Marine Industry Associations (ICOMIA), the World Cetacean Alliance (WCA) and FEE, plus an Environmental Education expert. You can find out more about them on Blue Flag’s website.
The Blue Flag greatly appreciates the support of its sponsor and worldwide flag producer, Semaphore, as well as the support of AccessRec who provides access for the disabled on beaches.
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