Over 50% of the world's population live within 3 km of rivers and lakes highlighting the on-going importance of freshwater resources to human health and societal well-being.Whilst covering c. 3.5% of the Earth's non-glaciated land mass, trends in the environmental quality of the world's standing waters (natural lakes and reservoirs) are poorly understood, at least in comparison with rivers, and so evaluation of their current condition and sensitivity to change are global priorities. Here it is argued that a geospatial approach harnessing existing global datasets, along with new generation remote sensing products, offers the basis to characterise trajectories of change in lake properties e.g., water quality, physical structure, hydrological regime and ecological behaviour. This approach furthermore provides the evidence base to understand the relative importance of climatic forcing
and/or changing catchment processes, e.g. land cover and soil moisture data, which coupled with climate data provide the basis to model regional water balance and runoff estimates over time. Using examples derived primarily from the Danube Basin but also other parts of the World, we demonstrate the power of the approach
and its utility to assess the sensitivity of lake systems to environmental change, and hence better manage these key resources in the future.