Blue Flag Certification

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Context: Twelve Indian beaches are in the race for the ‘Blue Flag’ challenge, which started in France in 1985.

Prelims: Current events of national and international importance.
Mains: GS III-

  • Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment Disaster and disaster management.


  • It is international recognition conferred on beaches and marinas that meet certain criteria of cleanliness and environmental propriety and equipped with amenities of international standards for tourists.
  • It was first started in France in 1985 and has been implemented in Europe since 1987.
  • It is run by international, non-governmental, non-profit organisation Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE).
  • Since 2001 it has been implemented in areas outside Europe when South Africa joined.


  • There are almost 33 criteria that must be met by beaches and marinas to qualify for Blue Flag certification. It includes:
    • Information about the Blue Flag Programme and other FEE eco-label must be displayed.
    • Environmental education activities must be offered and promoted to beach users.
    • Information about bathing water quality must be displayed.
    • Information relating to local eco-systems, environmental elements, and cultural sites must be displayed.
    • A map of the beach indicating different facilities must be displayed.
    • The beach must fully comply with the water quality sampling and frequency requirements.
    • The beach must fully comply with the standards and requirements for water quality analysis.
    • Industrial, waste-water or sewage-related discharges must not affect the Beach Area
    • The beach must comply with the Blue Flag requirements for physical parameters.
    • At least one Blue Flag beach in each municipality must have access and facilities provided for the physically disabled.


  • If approved, beaches are given a blue flag tag for a year and they must apply annually to continue meriting the right to fly this flag at their locations.

Top countries:

  • Spain (total blue flags: 684), France (492) and Turkey (458). Japan and South Korea are only countries from South/southeastern Asia to have Blue Flag beaches. Now India has also joined the list.

Indian beaches and Blue flag certification:

  • About ₹20 crore have been spent on each of the beaches which are in the race to bag Blue flag certification. It will be decided by the FEE jury by October 2019 if these beaches meet the standards.
  • If approved, beaches will be given the qualification for a year and must apply annually to continue meriting the right to fly the flag at their locations. 
  • The Indian beaches are being developed by the Society for Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM), an environment ministry’s body working for the management of coastal areas, according to the Blue Flag certification standards.
  • In December 2017 a pilot blue flag project was launched to develop Indian beaches.
    • The prime objective of the project is to enhance standards of cleanliness, upkeep and basic amenities at beaches.
    • Under the project, each state or union territory has been asked to nominate a beach which will be funded through the ongoing Integrated Coastal Management Programme
  • Chandrabhaga beach on the Konark coast of Odisha became the first in Asia to get the Blue Flag certification in 2018.


Society for Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM):

  • SICOM has been established under the aegis of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate change, Government of India with a vision for vibrant, healthy and resilient Coastal and Marine Environment.
  • To Support implementation of the Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) activities in India.
  • To promote Research & Development (R&D) and stakeholder participation in the management of the Coastal areas.
  • To support to check violations to Coastal Regulatory Zones (CRZ) through improved technology-enabled enforcement, strengthened institutions, and regulatory and legal reform.

Beach Environment & Aesthetic Management System (BEAMS):

  • MoEF&CC has conceived an integrated coastal management scheme called BEAMS to reduce existing pollutants on beaches and to aspire & achieve such high International Standards in India
  • The main objective of setting up of BEAMS programme is to promote sustainable development in coastal regions.
    • Environmental Management including cleanliness, solid waste management in beaches.
    • Environment Education.
    • Safety & Security of Beachgoers.
    • Bathing Water Quality Standards
  • SICOM has initiated the process for clean beaches in 13 pilot beaches (one pilot beach in every Coastal States/UTs) under this programme and in line with Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan.

Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE):

  • FEE is a non-profit non-governmental organisation with member organisations in 48 countries as of June 2007.
  • FEE aims to promote sustainable development through environmental education. The education can be in the form of formal school education, training of staff and general awareness-raising.
  • It is based in Copenhagen, Denmark


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