The global environmental change community declared its commitment to meet the challenge of a changing
Earth in the Amsterdam Declaration in 2001. This declaration, which launched the Earth System Science
Partnership (ESSP), is even more valid today than seven years ago. There is a clear need for an internationally
coordinated and holistic approach to Earth system science that integrates natural and social sciences from regional
to the global scale. In principle, the ESSP should be able to assume this role.
The International Council for Science (ICSU) Strategic Plan 2006–2011 calls for reviews of the Global
Environmental Change (GEC) programmes—DIVERSITAS, IGBP, IHDP and WCRP—with special attention to the
ESSP. The timing of this Review, which was commissioned in 2007 by ICSU and the International Group of
Funding Agencies for Global Change Research (IGFA), was motivated by a request from the GEC community in
2006 to assess the partnership as soon as possible. The purpose of the Review was to assess ESSP’s science,
governance, engagement with the wider community, capacity building, and resources in a forwarding-looking
manner. The primary question the Review Panel addressed was: what do scientists, sponsors, and end-users get
out of participating in and supporting the ESSP? For this Review, the Panel took a consultative, evidence-based
approach. Dialogue with the ESSP, as well as input from ICSU, IGFA, and the wider community through questionnaires,
interviews, a source Review, and comments on the draft report, informed the analysis of the Panel.
The final report aims to provide ICSU and IGFA, as well as the ESSP, with guidance on options for the future.