Our planet is a complex and sensitive system regulated by physical, chemical and biological processes - and is influenced, as never before, by human factors. A new system of global environmental science is required to compile the essential knowledge base and develop sustainable strategies for our Earth in the face of global change.
In 2001 at the first Global Change Open Science Conference in Amsterdam the 1400 participants (from more than 100 countries) signed the Amsterdam Declaration on Global Change. The declaration called for strengthening the cooperation amongst the global environmental research programmes, for greater integration across disciplines, environment and development issues and the natural and social sciences. It also called for greater collaboration across national boundaries and for intensified efforts to enable the full involvement of scientists from developing countries.
In response to the declaration, the four international global environmental change research programmes: DIVERSITAS, IGBP, IHDP, and WCRP joined together to form the Earth System Science Partnership (ESSP). The ESSP brings together researchers from diverse fields, and from across the globe, to undertake an integrated study of the Earth System:
- its structure and functioning;
- the changes occurring to the System;
- the implications of those changes for global and regional sustainability.
The interactions and feedbacks between the component parts of the Earth System exhibit multi-scale temporal and spatial variability. Understanding of the System's natural dynamics has advanced greatly in recent years, and now provides a sound basis for evaluating the effects and consequences of human-driven change. ESSP contributes to this endeavour through a number of activities: