The lack of freshwater-specific environmental information at sufficiently fine spatial grain hampers broad-scale analyses in aquatic biology, biogeography, conservation, and ecology. Here we present a near-global, spatially continuous, and freshwater-specific set of environmental variables in a standardized 1 km grid. We delineate the sub-catchment for each grid cell along the HydroSHEDS river network and summarize the upstream climate, topography, land cover, surface geology and soil to each grid cell using various metrics (average, minimum, maximum, range, sum, inverse distance-weighted average and sum). All variables were subsequently averaged across single lakes and reservoirs of the Global lakes and Wetlands Database that are connected to the river network. Monthly climate variables were summarized into 19 long-term climatic variables following the ‘bioclim’ framework. This new set of variables provides a basis for spatial ecological and biodiversity analyses in freshwater ecosystems at near global extent, yet fine spatial grain. To facilitate the generation of freshwater variables for custom study areas and spatial grains, we provide the ‘r.stream.watersheds’ and ‘r.stream.variables’ add-ons for the GRASS GIS software.