- The Blue Lakes in an ecolabel program that provides a template for action and education. Specifically, it is an ecolabel that is given to award stewardship excellence, and the label, when provided, comes with a portfolio of tools, resources, and activities that can be tailored to your lake’s needs. For instance, the program provides educational opportunities, forums, and funding for naturalization and lake-wide projects to improve lake health. The program also provides access to a comprehensive database and app that tracks lake health.
- The program is voluntary, and the label is awarded annually for achieving advancements with the Performance Areas (Code of Conduct) which are scalable and adaptable to be feasible and meaningful for your lake community. Annual self-assessments or score cards are submitted in order to maintain the label.
- To enroll, you simply need to gather an informal management group and make a commitment to encourage good stewardship practices. There is no minimum threshold to participate.
- The program is overseen by two neutral charities that cannot be influenced by local or financial interests.
What is an ecolabel?
- An ecolabel is a voluntary method of environmental certification that recognizes the adoption of stewardship principles or practices. Typically, it is a “seal” that assists the public or the market to identify products or services as being better to the environment than others. Ecolabels help consumers make environmentally responsible choices. They encourage improvements and set standards.
- Examples of environmental or eco-labels are the ISO 9000 or 14000 series, the FSC (Forest Stewardship Certification) label for lumber, Non GMO or Organic labelling on food, and the Blue Flag label for marinas and beaches. The Five Star rating system for hotels and resorts is also form of quality labeling but instead of environmental quality, they speak to quality of business.
The Blue Flag Program
The Blue Lakes Program takes cues from the Blue Flag Program.
The Blue Flag program is an ecolabel for international marinas and beaches. The program was established in 1987 with key Objectives:
- To improve understanding of the coastal environment, incorporate environmental issues in decision making of local authorities,
- To “work towards sustainable development”, and
- To unite stakeholders in sustainable management and development
The label is awarded annually to marinas and beaches that adopt key behaviours and criteria. However, criteria can be tailored to be appropriate for each location. The Label is delivered through an independent organization, the Foundation for Environmental Education. Delivery through a third party charity ensures that the awarding of the label cannot be influenced by local or financial interests. The program was so successful that within 20 years, by 2007, 3312 beaches and marinas adopted the label in 36 countries. In fact, 28 flags are flying across Canada, including at Toronto Island and Toronto Beaches.