Would you eat a fish out of your local river? How would you rate the health of your region's rivers? Who is most responsible for polluting (and protecting) rivers?

These are just a few of the questions that Rivers are Life, in partnership with Louisiana State University (LSU), sought to answer in the inaugural multinational, multicultural, and cross-generational “State of Rivers Around the World” survey. The global survey gathered insights from 6,645 people throughout 14 countries and four continents, including North America, South America, Europe, and Southeast Asia.

These results showed that, despite regional and cultural differences, people around the world agree that climate health and rivers are inseparable and vitally important. 91% of people around the world believe that climate change needs to be acted on in 2024, and nine in 10 report that rivers are important to climate change mitigation. Moreover, 80% globally agree that rivers have an impact on their lives.

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86% of respondents agree that river pollution greatly affects human health, but more than half (57%) have little to no knowledge about how to clean it up.

Despite 81% of people considering rivers to be a vital part of the food system - and 94% agreeing that rivers are important to agriculture - the majority of people around the world would not eat a fish out of their local river.

“Education is a key component to addressing issues like river pollution and we at LSU contribute both academic expertise and on-the-ground support to Rivers are Life. This research reiterates the importance of educating and encouraging younger generations globally to advocate for the vitality of waterways."
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Clint Willson

Interim Dean of LSU’s College of the Coast & Environment.

Greater Education is Needed

Across findings, respondents agreed that there is a need for greater education around the environment, river systems, and how they can help.


of people around the world would like to know more about environmental issues.


of participants believe more public awareness will improve the health of rivers.


say lack of attention to the issue is a major obstacle to reducing water pollution.

“What’s most shocking about this data is that we found something that more than 90% of the world agrees on: climate change needs to be addressed, and rivers play a vital role in mitigating those issues. Despite that alignment, there are still gaps in knowledge about rivers, and how people can take action to make a difference.”
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Katie Horning

BeAlive, Head of Rivers are Life Brand

Multi-national, Multi-cultural & Cross-generational Findings

Around the world, and across generations, there are key differentiators about what individuals want to learn and how they take action.

Environmental Issues

People in South America and Asia (69%) are twice as likely to be interested in learning about environmental issues facing rivers than those in North America and Europe (30%).○ Globally, Gen Z (56%) and Millennials (57%) are much more interested in learning about environmental issues than the Baby Boomers (33%).

Limiting Pollution

Limiting pollution in rivers is a higher concern for people in South America and Asia (80%) when compared to North America and Europe (68%).

Taking Responsibility

When asked to rank who was most responsible for polluting rivers, people in Asia (42%) and those in South America (36%) felt that individuals were most at fault, while those in North America (41%) and Europe (42%) were most likely to select corporations.

Taking Action

In terms of taking action, 75% of individuals from Asia have helped to clean their local river, compared to only 46% in South America, 27% in North America and just 18% in Europe.

More Urgent Action is Required

While most survey respondents agree that some action is required, the findings show differing responses when it comes to how this problem is addressed.


Conducted by SAVANTA, a market research consultancy. Dates of fielding: October 3, 2023 to October 18, 2023. This survey was conducted in: U.S., Europe (UK, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain), South America (Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, and Peru), and Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand).

The sample populations were: U.S. (n=1,590), Europe (n=1,925), South America (n=1,487), and SE Asia (n=1,643). The survey was in an online format and was conducted in English, German, Spanish, French, Portuguese (BR), Italian, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Thai, and Indonesian.


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