Water is the lifeblood of humanity, our planet, and our future. It sustains life. An adult male generally needs 3 liters of water daily, while an adult female requires about 2.2 liters to survive.

In line with this, the world’s supply of fresh and potable water is in dearth as rivers, lakes, wetlands, and aquifers undergo degradation, mainly due to flooding, drought, and mismanagement. In turn, this drives pollution, which directly impacts easy access to organic food sources, such as freshwater fisheries. This global water crisis not only hampers access to clean water and sanitation but also inevitably endangers its economic value.

Concurrently, the first-ever annual estimate reportedly shows that the economic value of water and freshwater ecosystems is $58 trillion. This figure is equivalent to 60% of the global gross domestic product (GDP).

Unfortunately, what was once available freely (and abundantly) or at an economically fair price is gradually becoming scarce or being sold for hefty prices. The World Wildlife Fund accentuates the need to confront the root cause of the water crisis, which undeniably needs widespread awareness. With this, the online survey app Real Research has initiated a review to amplify awareness and gauge public opinion on the global water crisis.


  • Nearly 85% see a correlation between human activities and the global water crisis.
  • Over 56% expressed concerns that it could worsen the situation.
  • 77% expressed their readiness to participate in the Freshwater Challenge.

The World’s Awareness Levels

According to the WWF, the world has lost one-third of its remaining wetlands since 1970, while freshwater wildlife populations have generally decreased by 83%. This catastrophic movement has sadly contributed to the rising numbers of individuals facing water shortages and food insecurity and, in extension, aggravated economic pressures and sabotaged global efforts to reverse nature loss.

Notably, this study revealed that 48.28% of the surveyed respondents were well aware of this environmental crisis, while 37.07% of them were vaguely aware. The remaining 14.65% were previously unaware.

Do Human Activities Impact Water Resources?

The 6,000 polled participants were then asked about their viewpoints on the correlation between human activities and the destruction of free-flowing ecosystems. An aggregate of 84.70% of interviewed individuals recognized the (45.42%) significance or (39.28%) reasonable importance of human activities in the degradation of free-flowing ecosystems.

The remaining 9.12% believe it’s somewhat insignificant, while the final 6.18% of the interviewees find the correlations very unimportant.

Fig. 1: The people’s view on the correlation of human activities and the destruction of free-flowing ecosystems.

Similarly, reports from the Food and Agriculture Organization revealed that two liters of water could suffice a person’s daily drinking needs. Yet, a person requires an average of 3,000 liters to meet their daily food needs.

With the clear imbalance between water supply and solid food requirements, Real Research asked the public for their viewpoint on the water-intensive nature of food production. When asked about it, a total of 93.44% of the participants (38.68% were slightly concerned, 34.33% were moderately concerned, and 20.43% understood the danger) expressed their concern about the potential risk of famine due to excessive water usage.

Public Sentiments: Privatization in the Water Sector

In the 1980s and 1990s, the United Kingdom’s Conservative governments, then led by Margaret Thatcher and John Major, saw the privatization of state-owned water management companies. Since then, this matter has ignited debate.

This online research survey found that there are still nuanced opinions on the matter. 43.72% believe privatization may help combat the water crisis, while 56.28% expressed concerns that it could worsen the situation.

Fig. 2: The public’s opinion on water privatization

While water privatization can significantly improve infrastructure and deliver safe drinking water, there are also caveats to this. It has left those unable to pay for this basic need deprived of access to clean and potable water. Additionally, privatization necessitates a government relinquishing control of a good that is fundamental to life, which could lead to accountability issues.

With this, respondents expressed their sentiments about the possibility of political gains at the expense of natural resources. 33.55% of the interviewed people believe it often occurs, 28.50% almost always, 22.85% sometimes, 6.77% seldom, and 8.33% never.

The Significance of the Freshwater Challenge

Finally, WWF calls for governments and key institutions to urgently increase investment in sustainable water infrastructure. They caution against sticking to outdated thinking that solely focuses on built infrastructure and overlooks the root of the problem. This is where the Freshwater Challenge—an international initiative to restore 300,000 km of degraded rivers and 350 million hectares of degraded wetlands globally by 2030—is essential.

Fig. 3: The mass’ willingness to participate in the Freshwater Challenge.

So when asked if they would join in this endeavor to combat the global water crisis, 33.92% voiced their strong willingness to participate. Meanwhile, 43.08% are still considering the invitation to join the drive, and 15.50% said they would not consider it so much. Unfortunately, 7.50% of the general public would definitely not consider contributing to this restoration effort.

Combating the Global Water Crisis

It’s necessary to remember that the water you enjoy doesn’t come from water bottles or from a tap; it’s from nature. So unless the global water crisis is swiftly and properly addressed, this issue will indomitably lead to catastrophic consequences.

Thankfully, there’s a silver lining to all this. The total of 77% of the individuals asked in this poll who expressed their readiness to participate in the Freshwater Challenge signifies a shared desire for positive change. Now, those who rally behind this cause just need to amplify their voices to reverse the ongoing loss of freshwater ecosystems and enrich collective efforts to make river basins more resilient.


Survey TitlePublic Opinion on the Global Water Crisis
DurationOctober 30 – November 6, 2023
Number of Participants6,000
DemographicsMales and females, aged 21 to 99
Participating Countries Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, China (Hong Kong) China (Macao), China (Taiwan), Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Greanada, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Lithuania, Malaysia, Maldives, Maluritania, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar [Burma], Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.