The Urban Development Corporation (UDC) officially launched the UDC “2010/2011 Blue Flag Programme” on Friday, December 10, at Ocho Rios Bay Beach in St. Ann. Three UDC beaches are now Blue Flag certified. These include Ocho Rios Bay in St. Ann, the first beach in the parish to receive this certification and Long Bay Beach Park 1 and Bluefields Beach, both located in Westmoreland.
Speaking at the launch Joy Douglas, General Manager of the UDC stated “The beach is an important part of the Jamaican economy. We depend on the beaches to market our tourism product as well as provide recreational facilities for our residents. The Corporation remains committed therefore to ensuring that all UDC beaches are properly maintained.”
Sara Simpson, Director of the Natural Resource Management and Environmental Planning Department (NRMEP) indicated that that UDC’s 2010/2011 Programme will result in the implementation of several activities at the three Blue Flag certified beaches. These include public education programmes, life guard training, tree planting and environmental competitions. She also expressed satisfaction with the award. “This is a very significant achievement for the Corporation and to a greater extent Jamaica, as amongst the ten beaches that were Blue Flag certified, the UDC has achieved certification for three public beaches. The other beaches which received this certification are located at resorts. This achievement will allow the general public to enjoy the quality facilities that are available at the resorts.” said Miss Simpson.
The award was presented to the UDC, by Blue Flag National Coordinator, the Negril Area Environmental Protection Trust (NEPT) on November 1, at the official start of the Blue Flag season.
Blue Flag is a prestigious international eco-label awarded to beaches and marinas. This programme is run by a non-government, non-profit organization called the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) in Denmark. The aim of Blue Flag programme is to promote sustainable development of beaches and marinas through proper environmental management. Therefore it is awarded to coastal destinations which have achieved the highest quality in water, facilities, safety, environmental education and management.
The Corporation, through its Natural Resource Management and Environmental Planning Department (NRMEP), plays an integral role in ensuring that all UDC managed attractions meet strict environmental guidelines. As a result, the Department regularly implements programmes such as Water Quality Monitoring, Ecological Assessments and Environmental Audits at all UDC facilities, in keeping with existing local and international standards.