Earth System Science Partnership

The ESSP is a partnership for the integrated study of the Earth System, the ways that it is changing, and the implications for global and regional sustainability.

The urgency of the challenge is great: In the present era, global environmental changes are both accelerating and moving the earth system into a state with no analogue in previous history.  

Click here for ESSP Briefing Paper.

The Earth System is the unified set of physical, chemical, biological and social components, processes and interactions that together determine the state and dynamics of Planet Earth, including its biodata and its human occupants.

Earth System Science is the study of the Earth System, with an emphasis on observing, understanding and predicting global environmental changes involving interactions between land, atmosphere, water, ice, biosphere, societies, technologies and economies.

INCOMING! ESSP Scientific Committee Chair

As of October 2007, under a new governance structure, Professor Rik Leemans will chair the ESSP Scientific Committee. Rik is head of the Environmental Systems Analysis Group of the Environmental Sciences Department of Wageningen University, The Netherlands. He co-chaired the Response Option Working Group of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and currently leads multidisciplinary projects to develop integrated assessment models for global biodiversity and local/regional ecosystem vulnerability. Rik has also been strongly involved in all assessments of the IPCC over the past decade.

Global Carbon Project combatting deforestation addresses UNFCCC policy

Deforestation and fire of peat forest in the Mega Rice Block, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Photo credit: Susan Page.

Tropical Forests and Climate Policy

Recommendations to the UNFCCC Parties on the avoidance of deforestation for cattle production were published in the Science Policy Forum (Vol. 316). A new study was also recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science shows accelerating trends in carbon emissions in recent years. Read more on the Global Carbon Project (GCP).

International Conference on Global Environmental Change and Food Systems

31 March – 2 April 2008 (hosted by University of Oxford)


  • Present findings from conceptual and regional research supported by the ESSP Joint Project on “Global Environmental Change and Food Systems” (GECAFS).
  • Present and share related and relevant research on GEC, food security and food systems, and decision support dialogues from the broader international community.
  • Bring together scientists from diverse backgrounds to forge new partnerships.

Click here for more info.

ESSP Side Event at SBSTA 26


The ESSP aims to deliver research outputs of value to users seeking information regarding changes that are occurring to the Earth System and the implications of these changes for global sustainability. Growing observational and modelling evidence is clearly indicating that climate change induced by increased concentrations of anthropogenic greenhouse gases has the potential of having major consequences on human societies and natural ecosystems. The ESSP side event at SBSTA 26 (7 May, Bonn, Germany) strengthened the dialogue between scientists and the policy community to better incorporate scientific results in the development of policies focused on anthropogenic climate change. In particular, the event focused on further identifying relevant Earth System science research that will meet the needs and requirements of the UNFCCC. Click here for more information.

ESSP OSC Highlights

Co-Chairs Gordon McBean and Qin Dahe at the closing ceremony. Photo courtesy: CMA.

Beijing Conference on Global Environmental Change

From 9 to 12 November 2006 the ESSP Open Science Conference: Global Environmental Change – Regional Challenges convened in Beijing, China. At the closing plenary Co-chair Gordon McBean presented thestatement of the Beijing Conference which was formulated as an urgent call by the scientists to society and policy makers to collaborate in the face of an ever faster changing environment.

ESSP OSC Plenary Presentations are available in PDF format.

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