WESSA celebrates ‘People Caring for the Earth’ with 2017 Annual Awards

WESSA has paid tribute to a wide range of outstanding environmental achievements with the presentation of the organisation’s 2017 Annual Awards. The Awards were presented at the organisation’s 91st AGM, hosted by WESSA’s KwaZulu-Natal Regional Membership at the Protea Hotel Durban Edward on Saturday.

The WESSA Awards, which have been presented since 1974, enable WESSA to recognise and honour those who have made a significant contribution to the environmental conservation or environmental education sector in South Africa, in a sustainable manner.

In keeping with the organisation’s ongoing investment in developing an empowered and enthused youth sector, a new Youth Category was included in the 2017 WESSA Awards and the initial recipient was Ayanda Lipheyane from Pietermaritzburg. The WESSA Gold Medal was awarded to Dr Graham Avery from Cape Town, while the 2017 Group Award was presented to Friends of the Liesbeek in Cape Town. Individual Awards for 2017 were awarded to Jacques Tredoux from Kimberley and Sandy Camminga (in absentia) from Richards Bay. The three winners of the 2017 WESSA Corporate Award were Ford Wildlife Foundation, Eskom and Bridgestone South Africa.

The WESSA AGM was held in parallel with Sharing and Caring for Water 2017, which is an important international water conference that was co-hosted this year by WESSA, the Global Participatory Water Management Network (GPWMN – an international water management network supported by the United Nations and UNESCO) and eThekwini Municipality. The programme for the WESSA AGM was structured around the conference theme and guest speakers included Emeritus Prof. Rob O’Donoghue, former CEO of iSimagaliso Andrew Zaloumis, Jean Senogles from WESSA Highway Branch and Westville Conservancy, Crispin Hemson from Friends of Pigeon Valley and Ayanda Lipheyane from water engineering company GroundTruth.

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AWARDS WITH FULL CITATIONS

YOUTH AWARD

Ayanda Lipheyane

In recognition of his actions as a key initiator responsible for the upscaling of community-based resource monitoring through the Enviro-Champs movement. Ayanda’s actions in strengthening citizen-based water, waste and sanitation management are now being adopted across South Africa. WESSA acknowledges him as an enthusiastic and thoughtful young leader. He is an inspiration to all of us in ‘Caring for the Earth’.

 

SPECIAL GOLD MEDAL AWARD

Graham Avery
For his extensive and ongoing contribution to WESSA for over 30 years, and for promoting ‘People caring for the Earth’ through environmental and conservation science.

 

GROUP AWARD CATEGORY

Friends of the Liesbeek
Received by Phil McLean (Chair of Friends of Liesbeek), Mncekeleli Klaas (Supervisor) and Conor Estment (Project Manager)

In recognition of their progressive, community-managed local stream rehabilitation initiative, resulting in the conservation of the ecological corridor of the Liesbeek river while also creating employment for the rehabilitation of the riverine ecosystem. WESSA acknowledges their dedication to promoting public participation in being ‘People Caring for the Earth.’ They have effectively included the river community, residents and relevant stakeholders. This innovative and unifying work is an example to be up-scaled to other parts of South Africa.

 

INDIVIDUAL AWARD CATEGORY [2 recipients]

Jacques Tredoux

In recognition of his progressive and sustained environmental action through his career in teaching and as headmaster at St. Patrick’s CBC, Kimberley in the Northern Cape. WESSA salutes his dedicated support for environmental education and the Eco-Schools programme. We commend him for creating awareness and action around environmental sustainability in schools and their surrounding communities. We acknowledge his Water Saving Project and his perseverance in ‘Caring for the Earth’.

Sandy Camminga
Presented in absentia

In recognition of her tenacity and committed environmental lobbying as the founder of the Richards Bay Clean Air Association. WESSA acknowledges her sustained track-record of promoting and securing environmental well-being. We salute her enthusiasm and community-engaged contribution to ‘Caring for the Earth’.

 

CORPORATE AWARD CATEGORY [3 recipients]

Ford Wildlife Foundation
Received by Neale Hill – Director: Marketing, Sales & Service

Presented with gratitude and in recognition of their continued support of conservation and environmental education programmes over the past 26 years. WESSA acknowledges their pioneering approach including the recent establishment of the Ford Wildlife Foundation. Through this work, they are helping ensure the protection and preservation of our rich and irreplaceable heritage. We salute Ford in the knowledge that they will continue in their dedication to ‘Caring for the Earth.’

Eskom
Received by Mrs Kerseri Pather – General Manager: Sustainability Systems (Eskom Risk and Sustainability Division) and Warren Funston – Manager: Biodiversity and Waste Centre of Excellence (Eskom Sustainability Division)

Presented in recognition of Eskom’s Biodiversity Centre of Excellence, a cutting-edge facility for integrating biodiversity considerations with legislative compliance. WESSA gratefully acknowledges the sustained support Eskom provided to the WESSA Energy and Sustainability project for over 25 years. WESSA further acknowledges their commitment and responsibility to manage and mitigate the impact of Eskom’s activities on biodiversity and ecosystems.

Bridgestone South Africa
Received by Kelly Fester – Public Relations Officer at Bridgestone South Africa

In recognition of their ‘Wildlife and Roads Project’ (WRP), which, in partnership with the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), is reducing wildlife deaths on South African roads. Through this work, Bridgestone is promoting a greater understanding of the impact of road infrastructure on wildlife. Bridgestone and EWT are especially acknowledged for this unique and effective approach to people ‘Caring for the Earth’.

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IMAGES WITH CAPTIONS

All the award winners
Back row L – R: Neale Hill (Ford Wildlife Foundation), Conor Estment (Friends of the Liesbeek), Warren Funston (Eskom), Kelly Fester (Bridgestone South Africa), Prof Michael Kidd (WESSA Chairman)

Front row L – R: Ayanda Lipheyane, Mncekeleli Klaas and Phil McLean (Friends of the Liesbeek), Jacques Tredoux, Kerseri Pather (Eskom), Dr Graham Avery, Dr Thommie Burger (WESSA CEO)

Ayanda Lipheyane
Ayanda Lipheyane (centre) with WESSA Chairman Prof Michael Kidd (left) and WESSA CEO Dr Thommie Burger (right)

Graham Avery
Dr Graham Avery (centre) with WESSA Chairman Prof Michael Kidd (left) and WESSA CEO Dr Thommie Burger (right)

Friends of the Liesbeek
From L – R: WESSA Chairman Prof Michael Kidd; Phil McLean, Mncekeleli Klaas, Conor Estment (Friends of the Liesbeek); and WESSA CEO Dr Thommie Burger

Jacques Tredoux
Jacques Tredoux (centre) with WESSA Chairman Prof Michael Kidd (left) and WESSA CEO Dr Thommie Burger (right)

Sandy Camminga
Sandy Camminga from the Richards Bay Clean Air Association

Ford Wildlife Foundation
Neale Hill from Ford Wildlife Foundation (centre) with WESSA Chairman Prof Michael Kidd (left) and WESSA CEO Dr Thommie Burger (right)

Eskom
Kerseri Pather (second from left) and Warren Funston (second from right) from Eskom with WESSA Chairman Prof Michael Kidd (left) and WESSA CEO Dr Thommie Burger (right)

Bridgestone South Africa
Kelly Fester from Bridgestone South Africa (centre) with WESSA Chairman Prof Michael Kidd (left) and WESSA CEO Dr Thommie Burger (right)

 

NOTES TO EDITORS

Interviews:
All award recipients are available for interviews on request.

Hashtags:
#2017WESSAAwards #WessaAGM #PeopleCaringForTheEarth

About WESSA:
WESSA implements effective environmental, ecotourism, education and youth development programmes throughout South Africa. We improve the school curriculum through education for sustainable development and provide critical work skills training, which creates job opportunities and sustainable livelihoods in local communities. Our environmental initiatives contribute towards the restoration of ecosystems, while our ecolabels support tourism growth and development by encouraging responsible tourism practices and the improved management of our coastline.

International Coastal Cleanup 2017

We’re excited to be part of #TheBigCleanUp2017 on Saturday 16 September, in partnership with Let’s Do It! Africa, Plastics|SA and 20 other participating partners.

22 registered International Coastal Cleanup events – from Melkbosstrand on the west coast to Ballito on the east coast of South Africa – are to be run or supported by our WESSA Tourism Blue Flag Beach Stewards and their partners. We invite all members of the public to join in at one of the events.

View the full list of official 2017 events here

Blue Flag strengthens its commitment to sustainable tourism through exciting new partnership

We are excited to announce that the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), the international custodian of the Blue Flag eco-label, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the World Cetacean Alliance (WCA), the world’s largest partnership working to protect the cetacean group of marine mammals which includes whales, dolphins and porpoises.

This partnership will see the two organisations work hand-in-hand towards sustainability within the cetacean-watching industry and recognises Blue Flag and WCA’s existing work and expertise in their respective fields.

Blue Flag is a voluntary eco-label that focuses on the conservation of marine and coastal habitats, and is designed to provide environmental education, raise awareness and promote sound environmental practices among tourists, local populations and beach managers. It has become an international symbol of quality for beaches, boats and marinas that meet high standards of excellence in a number of criteria.

With the ongoing growth of the marine tourism industry there is increasing pressure on popular whale and dolphin watching sites, which heightens the need to provide environmental education to marine tourists and for operators to implement sound practices to ensure that marine mammals are never at risk or stressed by the surrounding boats. Last year Blue Flag introduced new criteria for sustainable tourism boats to ensure that these goals are met. These new Blue Flag criteria complement the WCA’s recently launched Whale Heritage Site accreditation, which recognises the best global destinations for whale and dolphin watching.

As the South African implementer of the Blue Flag programme we welcome the new partnership with the WCA and see it as a further strengthening of the commitment to sustainable tourism by all of the partner organisations.

Applications from sustainable tourism boating operators, beaches and marinas for Blue Flag accreditation in the 2017/18 South African Blue Flag season are now open until Friday 28 April. Apply here

Learners get savvy about recycling vehicle oil

In September 2016 WESSA launched the Used Oil Project funded by the ROSE Foundation – a national non-profit organisation which promotes the environmentally responsible management of used vehicle oils and related waste in South Africa.

The three-year project aims to address the illegal and harmful dumping of used vehicle oil by educating learners about the importance of disposing of oil correctly, which should be done by taking it to accredited processing facilities located throughout the country.

Over the past few months the project – initially being rolled out in the Western Cape – has seen WESSA develop and distribute educational resource materials to 60 schools in the province covering the theme of used oil disposal. An informative workshop was held at Helderberg Nature Reserve to support learning about this important issue by introducing teachers to the educational resources and equipping them with lesson plans for grades 4 to 6 and 7 to 9.

Learning has been further incentivised at the participating schools through the introduction of a poster competition that focuses on responsible used oil disposal, with evaluation criteria linked to the curriculum.  Learners stand to win an educational trip to a local used oil recycling facility.

The ROSE Foundation has been an active supporter of WESSA for many years and has been a WESSA business member since 2013. In 2015 they received WESSA’s Corporate Award in recognition of their ongoing commitment to the environment through their promotion of the environmentally responsible management of used lubricating oils and related waste in South Africa, as well as for their commitment to environmental education at schools.

Schools and teachers interested in the programme can contact WESSA for details, including particulars of the poster competition. Email lorraine@wessa.co.za

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NOTES FOR EDITORS

 

Images and captions

ROSE_Foundation_WESSA_1: Learners from Hillwood Primary School in Lavender Hill with some of the resources which are helping them to learn about correct used oil disposal.

ROSE_Foundation_WESSA_2:  Lotus Secondary School (Lotus River) learners Bradey Lee Jaftha and Curtley Fortune with the schools’ Environmental Educator Mr Shafiek Isaacs

 

About WESSA

WESSA (the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa) is a leading implementer of high-impact environmental and conservation initiatives in southern Africa. We are a trusted and effective project partner with a proud, 90 year history of enabling individuals and organisations to use natural resources sustainably. The priority areas of our work include the international eco-labels of Eco-Schools, Blue Flag and Green Key; environmental education and skills development training; the conservation of life-supporting biodiversity and water resources; climate change mitigation and adaptation; and environmental governance.  www.wessa.org.za

 

About ROSE Foundation

The ROSE Foundation (Recycling Oil Saves the Environment), is a national non-profit organization established to promote and encourage the environmentally responsible management of used oils and related waste in South Africa. The unique collaboration initiated by the Foundation has seen cooperation between many of the key players in the industry to voluntarily form and finance an organisation to solve an important environmental problem. This approach has been an inspirational model for lubricant industries in many other countries.  www.rosefoundation.org.za

 

WESSA hosts international environmental education event in South Africa

This week WESSA (the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa) played host to the 2016 international FEE Eco-Schools conference – also known as the National Operators’ Meeting (NOM) – in Johannesburg.  The three day event saw 85 delegates from over 50 countries around the world come together for an exchange of knowledge and best practices around environmental education at school level, and culminated with a traditional African gala dinner held at Moyo Zoo Lake on Wednesday evening.

The focus of this year’s conference was the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the critical role that the Eco-Schools programme plays throughout the world in supporting these goals by providing education for sustainable development. The Eco-Schools programme aims to create awareness and action around environmental sustainability in schools and their surrounding communities, as well as to support Education for Sustainable Development in national curriculum.

Eco-Schools is a programme of FEE (the international Foundation for Environmental Education) – a non-profit organisation based in Denmark – and is active at 49 000 schools in 64 countries around the world. One organisation is elected as the local Eco-Schools programme representative in each country and WESSA has been the South African implementation partner since the programme was launched in the country in 2003.  Through the Eco-Schools programme WESSA has reached over 400 000 learners and 16 000 teachers in the country, providing dedicated support to schools through the Eco-Schools principles of environmental education, teacher training, transformative learning, empowerment and behavioural change.

This is the first time that the annual international Eco-Schools conference has been hosted in Africa and the Johannesburg event has been hailed the most well attended Eco-Schools conference to date.

The gala dinner – sponsored by Coca-Cola African Beverages, Woolworths, PlasticsSA and the National Recycling Forum – was a celebration of the world-wide Eco-Schools programme. It also gave WESSA the opportunity to recognise and thank the many local partners, funders and teachers who have contributed to the success of the programme locally and who understand the important role that Eco-Schools plays in addressing the education challenges in our country.

Key corporate partners present at the event included Nampak who have been loyal supporters and funders of the programme for over 10 years.  Also present were some of WESSA’s government partners in the Eco-Schools programme, who include the Department of Basic Education; the Department of Environmental Affairs; the Northern Cape Department of Environmental and Nature Conservation; the Free State Department of Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs; and the Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation, who together with WESSA Eco-Schools fund the joint Water Action project that has won multiple awards over the past five years.

The keynote address at the gala dinner was delivered by 50|50 television producer, presenter and writer Ntokozo Mbuli, who inspired the audience by sharing the story of her own journey to becoming a passionate advocate for environmental education. She has been a vocal activist for environmental causes in South Africa through her the coverage of environmental issues in numerous television documentaries, and has engaged with schools and corporate organisations in her role as a public figure. In 2015, WESSA honoured Ntokozo with their National Award for Individuals for her contribution to conservation and environmental education and for inspiring a community of people from very diverse backgrounds.

WESSA is proud to be part of the international environmental education community, and its hosting of the 2016 international Eco-Schools conference forms part of the organisation’s programme of special activities to mark its milestone 90th birthday this year.

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NOTES TO EDITORS

WESSA (the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa) is a leading implementer of high-impact environmental and conservation initiatives in southern Africa. With a remarkable history of 90 years WESSA is an NGO with a proud track record of enabling individuals and organisations to use natural resources sustainably, and is a trusted and effective project partner. The organisation is driven by the critical focus areas of its work which include the international eco-labels of Eco-Schools and Blue Flag, environmental education and training, the conservation of life-supporting biodiversity and water resources, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and environmental governance.

For more information about WESSA visit www.wessa.org.za

For more information about Eco-Schools visit www.ecoschools.global

For more information about FEE visit www.fee.global

Image hyperlinks and captions:

Image 1
Eco-Schools conference delegates from over 50 different countries around the world at the conference held at the Holiday Inn Johannesburg Airport

Image 2
Back: Trust Ndlovu, Judy van Schalkwyk and Cathy Dzerefos (all WESSA), Clive Mhlane (Department of Water and Sanitation)

Front: Mukhetwa Ntsieni (Department of Basic Education), Jennifer Sithole (Department of Environmental Affairs) and Phakama Ncnanga (Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation)

Image 3
Tshepo Maphutsi (Anglo American) with Yvette Nowell (Rand Merchant Bank)

Image 4
(Left to right) Justine Cohen, Lynne Kidd, Fezekile Tshiqi, Zanele Salman and Nomsa Bengani from Nampak (front) with Donavan Fullard and Thommie Burger from WESSA (back)

Image 5
Tsholofelo Mqhayi, Nolundi Mzimba, Nnana Mamatshele, Lebogang Tlomatsane, Nombuso Hlatshwayo and Gau Mothoagae (all Coca-Cola African Beverages)

Image 6
WESSA CEO Thommie Burger with Ntokozo Mbuli and Donavan Fullard (WESSA Schools Programme Manager)

Image 7
Cathy Dzerefos, Jennifer Sithole (Department of Environmental Affairs), Clive Mhlane (Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation), Thommie Burger (WESSA), Curtis Mabena (Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation), Phakama Ncnanga (Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation), Howard Hendricks (SANParks, and WESSA Board), Jim Taylor (WESSA)

Image 8
Tisetso Kholumo (WESSA) with Nozi Nkoe (Free State Department of Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs)

Image 9
Douw Steyn and Jacques Lightfoot (both PlasticsSA)

Image 10
Thommie Burger and Donavan Fullard (both WESSA) with Didi Chokwe from Woolworths

Image 11
Laura Hickey from the US and Brid Conneely from Denmark (both FEE) with Thommie Burger (WESSA)

WESSA introduces Green Key in South Africa

WESSA is excited to announce that it is introducing the international Green Key eco-label in South Africa and is inviting the local tourism industry to join them in piloting the programme in the Western Cape!

Green Key is a leading standard of excellence in the field of environmental responsibility and sustainable operations within the tourism industry. The Green Key programme helps establishments reduce their environmental footprint without compromising on comfort or quality.

Awarded to more than 2,400 establishments in more than 50 countries around the world, the Green Keyaward has been in existence for longer than 20 years and is the largest global eco-label for accommodation. It is recognised and supported by the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.

This prestigious eco-label represents a commitment from tourism establishments to maintain high environmental standards, and an assurance to guests that their support of such an establishment helps to make a difference on an environmental and sustainability level. Green Key is able to help tourism establishments strive for sustainability in a structured way and receive accreditation for these efforts. Participation in the programme also contributes to reducing running costs for establishments through lower energy and water consumption, for example.

Green Key is a programme of the international Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) based in Denmark. They have appointed WESSA to operate the programme in South Africa, recognising the organisation as a leading implementer of environmental and conservation initiatives for more than 90 years, and a trusted and effective NGO project partner, which has successfully implemented FEE’s Eco-Schools and Blue Flag eco-labels in the country for more than 15 years.

WESSA is looking to partner with five properties in the tourism industry to help them pilot Green Key in the Western Cape over the next four months, before launching the international eco-label throughout South Africa.

With the United Nations having declared 2017 as the year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, this is an ideal opportunity for tourism establishments to meet the increasing expectations of consumers that establishments should actively work towards achieving sustainability.

If you would like to participate in the piloting of Green Key and see how this eco-label can benefit your property please contact WESSA’s Ecotourism Unit Manager Vince Shacks on 082 337 1273 or email vincent@wessa.co.za

For more information about the Green Key award download our e-brochure or visit www.greenkey.global

2016/17 Blue Flag status for SA’s top beaches, boats and marinas

Fifty-eight Blue Flags will be proudly flown at coastal sites around South Africa over the forthcoming 2016/17 South African Blue Flag season, which opens officially on 1 November. This was announced by the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) at the national Blue Flag launch event that was held at Marina Beach on KZN’s South Coast today.

Earlier this year applications for the prestigious Blue Flag eco-label were reviewed by a rigorous multi-stage approval process involving both national and international assessments.  The announcement of the 2016 International Blue Flag Jury results revealed that a total of 45 South African beaches have been awarded Blue Flag status this year, along with five marinas and eight sustainable tourism boats.

The Western Cape has achieved the highest number of Blue Flag sites, with 29 of the beaches, all eight boats and four of the five Blue Flag marinas falling in the province. KZN has nine Blue Flag beaches for the 2016/17 season. Seven beaches and one marina have been awarded this eco-label in the Eastern Cape.  An additional 22 beaches across the three provinces have been given Pilot Blue Flag status – an important developmental stage for potential Blue Flag sites, during which WESSA works with beach managers towards the longer term goal of achieving Full Status.  Internationally, almost 4,300 beaches, boats and marinas have been awarded Blue Flag status for the 2016/17 season.

The annual Blue Flag Awards also celebrate the sustained partnerships that WESSA has built with key municipalities around the country, who have recognised the value of Blue Flag not just to environmental management and education, but also to tourism, economic development and job creation. Their commitment to the programme is evident in the fact that 26 beaches have been on the programme for five or more consecutive years, while nine beaches have achieved Blue Flag status for more than 10 consecutive years. Marina Beach, which provided the idyllic backdrop for the launch event, celebrates a remarkable 15 consecutive years on the programme this year. Humewood Beach in Port Elizabeth along with Grotto Beach in Hermanus has participated for all sixteen years that the Blue Flag programme has been running locally.

The launch event was hosted by the Ray Nkonyeni Municipality (formerly Hibiscus Coast Municipality), which has seven Full Status Blue Flag beaches.  The regular attendance of Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom, is a confirmation of government’s ongoing support for the Programme, and speaking at this year’s launch event he said that we have an incredible diversity of marine life along our country’s 3,000km of coastline. We need to double our Blue Flag coverage to protect our natural heritage as this creates tourism and tourism creates jobs. He added that he really values the partnership the National Department of Tourism has entered into with WESSA. The project is about looking after our precious coastal resources and marks the beginning of the Working for Tourism programme.  The Mayor of Ray Nkonyeni Municipality, Nomusa Mqwebu, who delivered the opening address at the event said: “Blue Flag is the ideal catalyst to improve tourism.”

This year’s event also marked the launch of an exciting new coastal tourism project to be managed and implemented by WESSA in partnership with the National Department of Tourism. The Tourism Blue Flag Project aims to improve tourism facilities and services offered at Blue Flag beaches across South Africa, while also providing youth employment opportunities. Through this project, 200 participants will be employed in the role of “Beach Stewards” and hosted by local coastal municipalities at Blue Flag sites. The participants will also receive accredited training in environmental education and practical work experience, with the ultimate aim of developing them for further employment in the coastal tourism sector (the “Blue Economy”).

Says Mandy Noffke, Tourism Blue Flag Project Manager: “Blue Flag International and WESSA representing Blue Flag in South Africa are excited by this opportunity to partner with national government and to contribute both to the social upliftment of local communities as well as to the quality of our beaches.”

An exciting development in the Blue Flag programme internationally has also been the expansion of Blue Flag accreditation programme to acknowledge sustainable boating operators in the tourism industry.  In the past, sustainable boating operators have simply signed a code-of-conduct with Blue Flag around operating sustainably, but now operators offering boating activities – such as bird, seal and whale watching, cage diving, recreational diving and recreational fishing – can be awarded formal accreditation if they comply with Blue Flag’s newly defined set of strict boating criteria.  South Africa is at the forefront of this new development as one of only three Blue Flag member countries to have received accreditation for sustainable boating operators in the 2016/17 Season.

Since its launch in 1987 in France, the Blue Flag programme has continued to grow, not only with regard to the number of member countries and sites involved, but also in its range of expertise within marine and freshwater environments.  WESSA is proud to be the national implementing partner for Blue Flag in South Africa.

View all the 2016/7 International Blue Flag Jury results for South Africa

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Top image caption: Tamara Josephs from the City of Cape Town with Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom and WESSA CEO Dr Thommie Burger

NOTES TO EDITORS

Interviews:

Mandy Noffke – WESSA Senior Project Manager: Tourism Blue Flag

Radio broadcasters please note that other WESSA senior staff members and project managers are available for interviews.

About Blue Flag:

Blue Flag is the prestigious, voluntary eco-label for beaches, boats and marinas that is recognised as a trusted symbol of quality and is regarded by the World Tourism Organisation as the most well-known global eco-label.

The Blue Flag Programme, which has been running internationally since 1987, is focused on the conservation of marine and coastal habitats, and is designed to raise environmental education and awareness, and increase sound environmental practices among tourists, local populations and beach management. To achieve Blue Flag status, as many as 33 different criteria spanning over four aspects of coastal management have to be met:  water quality, environmental education and information, environmental management, and safety and services.  The criteria are set by the international coordinators of the Blue Flag campaign in Europe, the FEE (Foundation for Environmental Education). Each Blue Flag site is compelled to conduct several environmental education activities during the year, and to practise effective and efficient conservation management. The detailed criteria and award process is available on Blue Flag’s international website www.blueflag.global

In South Africa the Blue Flag programme is managed by WESSA and participating coastal municipalities. In the Southern Hemisphere, the Blue Flag season runs from 1 November to 31 October each year. Beaches are required to apply for Blue Flag status each year and the Blue Flag standards are only enforced at the beaches over the participating beach’s stated season, which varies from just 2 months of the year to the full 12 months.

Links to images and captions:

Image 1: Tamara Josephs from the City of Cape Town with Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom and WESSA CEO Dr Thommie Burger

Image 2: Lauren Rainbird from Overstrand Municipality with Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom and WESSA CEO Dr Thommie Burger

Image 3: Mayor of Ray Nkonyeni Municipality Nomusa Mqwebu with Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom and WESSA CEO Dr Thommie Burger

Image 4: Gina Oosthuysen from Thesen Islands Marina with Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom and WESSA CEO Dr Thommie Burger

Image 5: Monica Taylor from sustainable boating operator Offshore Adventures with Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom and WESSA CEO Dr Thommie Burger

Image 6: Flags raised by Minister of Tourism and CEO of WESSA Dr Thommie Burger

Image 7: The Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom with the Beach Stewards from the newly launched Tourism Blue Flag Project

Join us on our virtual coastal roadtrip

Our #MyBlueFlagSummer Virtual Roadtrip for 2016/2017 kicked off in December and you are invited to come on a virtual summer holiday with us along South Africa’s beautiful coastline. Over the next 10 months we’ll be stopping at each of our country’s Blue Flag beaches, boats and marinas – from Silverstroom Beach Melkbos (Cape Town) to Westbrook Beach (Durban North)! We’ll share interesting insights about our 50 check-in sites en route, with fun ‘virtual pocket guides’, videos, photos and much more, to help you plan your year-round #BlueFlagSA summer!

Be sure to follow us on our official Facebook page or as @WESSA_za on Twitter and Instagram. So, get on board the yellow WESSA kombi using the campaign hashtag #MyBlueFlagSummer

Tourism Blue Flag project set to enhance beach-goers experience this summer

This summer the newly launched Tourism Blue Flag project will see the deployment of 200 beach stewards at Blue Flag sites around the country, with the aim of improving the experience of both local visitors and domestic and international tourists at our beaches.

The Tourism Blue Flag project will benefit fifty beaches along the South African coastline by providing improved tourism facilities and services, while the beach stewards themselves will receive accredited training in environmental education with the ultimate goal of developing them for further employment in the coastal tourism sector.

This exciting new three year coastal tourism and youth development project is being implemented by WESSA (the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa) in partnership with the National Department of Tourism.

The beach stewards are being hosted by local coastal municipalities and will be easily recognisable to beach-goers in their project-branded apparel. They have completed their induction training and are looking forward to interacting with visitors to our Blue Flag beaches over the coming months.

Activities you can expect to see them rolling out at participating Blue Flag beaches include fun and interactive environmental education activities for school-going children; monitoring of beach activities; conducting of visitor surveys as well as other data gathering; providing updates on weather and general beach-conditions via Twitter; assisting lifeguards by helping to improve water safety at the beach; and helping beach managers to maintain the high Blue Flag standards relating to safety, environmental management, water quality and environmental education at their beaches.

For a list of all the beaches where the Tourism Blue Flag Beach Stewards will be active along our coastline from November onwards visit www.wessa.org.za/TBF