Toronto – Experts from more than 35 countries are gathering in Toronto over the next two days to showcase new research and innovative solutions to key problems facing coastal areas and beach ecosystems: climate change, health and water quality, and sustainable tourism. Hosted by Environmental Defence and the Foundation for Environmental Education (a European-based organization), the Beaches World Tour 2007 conference brings together scientists, researchers, government officials, grassroots groups and activists who are working to protect shorelines.
“Beaches and coastal areas are often the first to feel the effects of environmental problems, like climate change. There’s a lot we can learn from other countries who are tackling difficult environmental issues and coming up with new ways to protect their coastlines,” said Sarah Winterton, Programme Director, Environmental Defence. “Sharing what works is really what this conference is all about.”
 
“We’re honoured that Toronto was chosen as the host city for this tour,” said Mayor David Miller. “We take great pride in our waterfront and beaches and look forward to sharing our successes and best practices with delegates from around the globe.” Mayor David Miller is giving the keynote presentation at the conference today at 1:00 p.m.

Beaches World Tour 2007 marks the 20th Anniversary of the Blue Flag program, an international award for beaches and marinas that meet 27 strict criteria. Blue Flag, run by the Foundation for Environmental Education internationally and by Environmental Defence in Canada, certified more than 2,600 beaches around the world in 2007. In Canada, nine beaches were awarded the Blue Flag: six on Lake Ontario in Toronto; Sauble Beach and Station Beach on Lake Huron; and, Wasaga Beach on Georgian Bay. Blue Flag Canada is supported by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, an agency of the Government of Ontario.

“With 20 years of experience, the Blue Flag has shown that eco-labelling is a fantastic tool to improve the environment and raise awareness among local residents and tourists visiting beaches and marinas around that world that are flying the Blue Flag,” said Jan Eriksen, President, Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE). “The Blue Flag standards must be met by beaches and marinas every year, in keeping with our philosophy for all of our programs that we must continue the work to increase our knowledge and protection of the environment.”

Blue Flag beaches will be featured throughout the second day of Beaches World Tour 2007 with presenters showcasing best practices at world-class beaches in dozens of countries, including Morocco, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Iceland, France, the United Kingdom, South Africa and Jamaica.

Beaches World Tour 2007 is Wednesday, October 10 – Thursday, October 11, 2007 at the Toronto Marriott Downtown Eaton Centre Hotel (525 Bay Street). A full list of speakers, keynote presenters and workshops is available on the Blue Flag Canada web site at www.BlueFlag.ca.

About Environmental Defence (www.environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence protects the environment and human health. We research. We educate. We go to court when we have to. All in order to ensure clean air, safe food and thriving ecosystems. Nationwide.

About Blue Flag (www.blueflag.ca)
: The Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), based in Denmark, owns and operates the Blue Flag Program. Since 1987, Blue Flag has grown to include more than 2,600 beaches in 36 countries. Environmental Defence is the Canadian National Operator of Blue Flag. Our goal is for beaches across Canada to meet national Blue Flag standards, ensuring that Canadians enjoy clean beaches.
 
About the Ontario Trillium Foundation (www.trilliumfoundation.org): The Ontario Trillium Foundation is an agency of the Government of Ontario. 2007 marks the 25th Anniversary of the Ontario Trillium Foundation. For the past quarter century, it has supported the growth and vitality of communities across the province.  OTF continues to strengthen the capacity of the volunteer sector through investments in community-based initiatives. 
 
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For more information, or to arrange interviews, please contact;
Jennifer Foulds, Environmental Defence, (416) 323-9521 ext. 232; (647) 280-9521 (cell)