The Blue Flag is an environental award given to those municipalities, who make a special effort in the management of their coastal environment, its internal waters and beaches in a way that respects the environment and nature. For this Blue Flag, the local community and beaches have to meet certain criteria, wich refer to the quality of bathing water, information and environmental education and the services and facilities.
A blue flag on the beach is a recognition and incentivates the effort done by some local communities to achieve the legal criterion of accessibility, health, cleanliness and security as well as an adequate information and environmental management.
The Blue Flag campaign is developed in more than 40 countries around five continents every year. That includes almost all countries of the "enlarged" EU. More than 2000 coastal municipalities take part in the campaign independently. With the support of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Tourism Organization (WTO) non European countries have been incorporated since 2001 in the campaigns and pilot projects.
Since 2004-2005, the Blue Flag is awarded in some of these countries which has caused a doubling of the International Jury for the Nothern Hemisphere (in spring) and the Southern Hemisphere (in autumn). In 2009, 41 countries in Europe, Marocco, Tunisia, South Africa, Brazil, Canada, New Zealand, and in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Repulic, Bahamas and Jamaika enjoy already the Blue Flags.