The Scientific Planning Committee of the Earth System Governance initiative presented a first draft of the Earth System Governance Science Plan at an official side-event of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali – Indonesia. The side event with the title ´Earth System Governance and the Earth System Science Partnership: Theories and Strategies´ was organised by the Earth System Science Partnership (ESSP) and called upon social scientists to develop strategies for earth system governance and to find effective and coherent approaches to address global environmental change and its various phenomena.