Water – Number 1 Environmental Concern Worldwide

By / Magazine / September 15th, 2009 / Like

A global public opinion survey on attitudes about fresh water sustainability, management and conservation finds that people around the world view water issues as the planet’s top environmental problem, greater than air pollution, depletion of natural resources, loss of habitat and climate change.

This research study was huge, encompassing people from many countries across the globe. The poll surveyed 1,000 people in each of 15 countries. In addition to those 15, the researchers also approached 500 people in Canada, China, India, Mexico, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States asking them more specific questions. This was an independent survey commissioned by Circle of Blue, a Michigan-based international network of leading journalists, scientists and communicators focused on global water issues. Molson Coors Brewing Company also supported the research.

A close look at the results shows that people around the world view water pollution as the most important facet of the fresh water crisis, and that shortages of fresh water are very close behind. Here are the results from the 15 countries surveyed.

• 93 percent say water pollution is a very serious concern

• 91 percent believe that a shortage of fresh water is a very serious issue

• 78 percent say, “solving drinking water problems will require significant help from companies.”

While people around the world agree on the importance of the issue, some key differences between the countries surveyed suggest that solutions will have to be carefully tailored to local conditions.

• Across the seven countries surveyed, people in Mexico are the most concerned about “lack of water for agriculture.”

• People in India are most concerned about “the high cost of water.”

• People in Mexico are worried about the severity of the pollution and water scarcity issues they face. But Mexicans are also the most optimistic about their ability to solve these problems.

In all countries, more than half of those surveyed agree that government is responsible for ensuring clean water. When asked whether individual citizens are responsible, however, responses vary widely by country, from a high of 76 percent in Mexico to a low of 30 percent in China. “This research shows that across the globe, … water is the axis issue that intersects the world’s greatest challenges, from health, poverty and security to climate, immigration and environment, even financial and commodities markets.”

More than five million people die each year due to a lack of safe drinking water, and the United Nations estimates that 5.5 billion people will lack adequate access to fresh water in the next 20 years.

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