Freshwater is the source of life. It’s what makes Earth unique in the known universe. It’s also a resource under threat. Just 3 per cent of water on the planet is freshwater, and only about 1 per cent is readily available for human use.

The one-two punch of global population growth and climate change means we must be innovative and committed when it comes to water management and conservation.

WWF is working to protect freshwater ecosystems and improve water access, efficiency, and allocation for people and the environment – an essential component of saving most of WWF's priority places and species and reducing the impact of humanity's water footprint.

The work is focused on a number of key areas:

All this work is carried out in collaboration with diverse partners, including other NGOs, governments, development agencies, businesses, and international conventions.

A few freshwater facts:
  • Since 1900, more than half the world’s wetlands have disappeared
  • Almost half the world's population will be living under severe water scarcity by 2030, if no new policies are introduced
  • We will need to double irrigation by 2050 to grow enough food to meet demand of an estimated population of 9 billion people
  • People will feel the impact of climate change most through fresh water; less water will be stored in ice and snow, more extreme events will cause droughts and floods
  • Hydropower produces more than one-fifth of the world’s electricity; nearly 500 million people have been negatively affected by dams
  • More than 5 million people die from waterborne diseases each year – 10 times the number killed in wars
  • Just under 1 billion people still do not have access to clean and safe drinking water
  • Freshwater species are declining at a faster rate than terrestrial or marine species

WWF's Global Goal for Freshwater:

Freshwater ecosystems and their services sustain people and nature

WWF works with farmers in rural Kenya to secure water for their households and their crops.

The primary threats to freshwater ecosystems are:

The primary drivers behind these threats are:
  • Poor water and river basin governance
  • Agriculture
  • Dam construction
  • Poor private sector standards, investments, and performance along the supply chain

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