On September 21, two Indian beaches, Puducherry's Eden beach (Chinna Veerampattinam) and Tamil Nadu's Kovalam (also known as Covelong) beach near Chennai made their way to the list of Blue Flag certified beaches in the world, a global initiative by Foundation for Environmental Education based in Denmark.

Announcing the news, Bhupendra Yadav, Union Cabinet Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change wrote:

It was only in October 2020 that India made its way into the list of countries that have its beaches 'Blue Flag' certified. The eight Indian beaches that initially received the blue tag (implying clean, green, and sustainable in the marine context) were Shivrajpur at Dwarka, Gujarat, Ghoghla in Diu, Kasarkod and Padubidri in Karnataka, Kappad in Kerala, Rushikonda in Andhra Pradesh, Golden Beach at Puri, Odisha and Radhanagar at Havelock in Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

Shivrajpur beach in Dwaraka, Gujarat
Shivrajpur beach in Dwaraka, GujaratSocial Media

Apart from making an entry into the coveted Blue Flag beaches list, in 2020, India received 3rd place recognition for integrated beach pollution facilities for waste and water management.

According to the Blue Flag official website,  all the eight beaches were developed based on a "Zero Waste and Zero Pollution" concept, and have been known to be conducting "I am saving my beach" awareness campaigns for the last few years.

What is the Blue Flag certification?

The Blue Flag Programme for beaches and marinas is run by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), an international, non-governmental and non-profit organization. What began in 1985 as a French initiative to develop and certify sustainable, green and clean beaches, spread to the European continent in 1987, later taking on the global shores.

Blue Flag by FEE

Today, nearly 47 countries and more than 4,500 beaches are a part of FEE's Blue Flag program promoting sustainability in the tourism sector through environmental education, environmental protection and other sustainable development practices. FEE Denmark conducts regular monitoring and audits for strict compliance with the 33 criteria at all times. A waving "Blue Flag" is an indication of 100 percent compliance to these 33 stringent criteria and sound health of the beach.

Europe, home to most Blue Flag beaches

Apart from beaches, FEE's Blue Flag program also certifies marinas and boats that meet its sustainable and clean energy criteria. According to the blue flag sites map available on its website, while most blue flag beaches are in the European continent, with the highest number in Spain (614), France has the highest number of blue flag marinas (115). However, only 81 boats in the world have been certified so far by FEE's flagship program, most of them in the Mexican waters.