Friday, August 21, 2009

Global survey taps water as top environmental concern

A new study indicates that water issues are the planet’s major environmental problem, ahead of air pollution, depletion of natural resources, loss of habitat and even climate change.

The independent survey, which involved 15,000 people in 15 countries, was commissioned by Circle of Blue, a Michigan-based network of journalists, scientists and communicators focused on global water issues, and conducted by GlobeScan.

Ninety-three per cent of those surveyed agreed that water pollution is a serious problem while 91% believe that a shortage of fresh water is a serious problem.

More than half of those surveyed agreed that governments are now primarily responsible for ensuring clean water but 78% said that solving drinking water problems will require significant help from companies, "indicating that partnerships are an important component to resolving the world's fresh water sustainability challenges."

When asked about eight environmental issues, Canadians consider water pollution and fresh water shortages to be among the most serious, the study found, although there were also concerns expressed about the depletion of natural resources and air pollution.

Nearly all Canadians surveyed (97%) agree that it is important for all people to have adequate, affordable drinking water and 94% worry that fresh water shortages will become an increasingly severe problem worldwide.

"This research confirms the general public's awareness and understanding of water as a critical resource, as well as the importance of conserving and protecting fresh water supplies through stewardship," says Chris Coulter, vice-president of GlobeScan. "From locale to locale, the angles of concern may vary, but the concern about water issues is pressing, virtually everywhere."

World Water Week also saw the establishment of the Global Water Roundtable, a multi-million dollar project intended to evaluate and establish a set of standards for water stewardship, with the goal of adressing the global threat of water stress, the increasing pollution of rivers and a decline in fresh water wildlife species.

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