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NZ Joins International Environmental Organisation

New Zealand Joins International Environmental Organisation

Unanimous vote give New Zealand membership of prestigious, international environmental organisation

Marrakesh, Morocco – June 14, 2004 – New Zealand has been unanimously welcomed into one of the world’s major environmental education organisations, the European-based Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE). Although FEE is perhaps best known for its Blue Flag beach programme it was the sand of the Sahara Desert rather than any beach that the official sign-off occurred.

The signing ceremony occurred at the FEE annual General Assembly in Marrakesh, Morocco attended by the members of the Moroccan royal family, who hosted the the New Zealand FEE representative and founding-chairman, Mr Robert Acton and his wife, to a function after the signing.

FEE was founded in Denmark in 1981 to promote environmental awareness through education. It is now established in 33 countries in Europe, Africa and America. It includes a variety of high profile education programmes and has 34 national non-governmental and non-profit organisations around the world that belong to it. New Zealand becomes the first country in the South Pacific region to belong to FEE and only the second, after Chile, in the Pacific Rim. South Africa was the first non-European country to belong to FEE, having joined in 2001. Kenya also joined FEE at the General Assembly.

The organisation is partnered with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), along with several other UN and European environmental organisations.

“Membership of a prestigious organisation like FEE is a major opportunity for New Zealand to play a more active role not only in our own environmental education programmes, but also in international programmes,” Mr Acton said.

“We’re excited by the possibilities and resources now available to New Zealand to introduce these dynamic and comprehensive programmes, like Blue Flag,” he said.

The Blue Flag programme is a major beach protection programme which monitors environmental issues relating to beaches. “Increasingly, overseas visitors are used to ‘Blue Flag’ beaches, lakes and marinas. People increasingly expect beaches, lakes and waterways to be unpolluted and properly managed and the Blue Flag programme provides international standards for them. We’re looking forward to being able to establish these programmes and to playing a role in issues like protection of nature and bio-diversity, both of which are key components of FEE programmes internationally.”

FEE runs various programmes, including the well known “Blue Flag” beach protection programme, which monitors beach environments in terms of safety and environmental issues and the “eco-schools” programme which promotes environmental awareness to primary age children, along with other significant environmental education programmes.

Mr Acton said membership represented a significant step for New Zealand’s growing reputation as an environmentally-aware and advanced country. “European members of the organisation were impressed with what New Zealand has delivered in terms of environmental policy and education. We believe we can build on that and play a significant role within the FEE organisation worldwide to help with these issues internationally.”

FEE - Foundation for Environmental Education is a network of 34 national non-governmental and non-profit organisations promoting environmental education. Each national member organisation is responsible for undertaking the FEE campaigns (Blue Flag, Eco-Schools, Young Reporters for the Environment, Learning about Forests and Green Key) on the national level. More information about FEE and the FEE programmes can be found at http://www.fee-international.org.

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