Blue Rivers Flag

We seek to reverse the loss of river biodiversity by promoting a voluntary environmental certification scheme

The Blue Rivers Flag

The need for BLUE RIVERS
Europe has some of the most heavily modified rivers in the world, and also the aquatic fauna that has suffered some of the steepest declines. Only 39% of rivers are in good ecological conditions, due in part to the impact of artificial instream structures, embankments, and other hydro-morphological pressures that interrupt the continuity of natural river processes. Encroachment of the floodplain, coupled with climate change, has increased the frequency and severity of extreme flooding in many places in Europe, while overexploitation of aquifers and more persistent droughts have put many citizens under water and heat stress, particularly in cities.

The BLUE RIVERS Foundation seeks to reverse the loss of river biodiversity by promoting a voluntary environmental certification scheme (the Blue Rivers Flag award) to incentivise river restoration and begin to heal Europe’s broken rivers, making them better for people and Nature.

How does the Blue Rivers Flag award work?
The emphasis of the scheme is on rewarding documented improvements in river quality– not all rivers can be pristine, but we believe all rivers can get better. The scheme considers three main criteria (1) Water quality, (2) Environmental flow and (3) Naturalness. It considers five different river types and conditions that map into different usages, provide different ecosystem services to society and require different Nature based Solutions (NbS).

The criteria used for the award vary depending on the river type, but make in every case use of criteria used in the Water Framework Directive respect to water quality and quality indicators. Measures of resilience, integrity, connectivity and ecosystem services are also taken into account, depending on river type.

Examples of actions and NbS that can be used for river restoration as part of the Blue Flag for Rivers certification.

The initial pre-evaluation audit is free, confidential and non-binding. This sets the targets and outlines the timeline and costs of the audit. The award is renewed every 3 years against clearly defined targets that are part of the audit.