Abstract: The 2007 edition of the Global Change Research Workshops brought over 50 researchers from all over the world to Wengen, Switzerland to review the state of the art with respect to desertification, particularly in the light of climate change. They set out to identify critical knowledge gaps and make recommendations for further research from a wide range of perspectives in both the natural and social sciences. Recent achievements both within discipline and new inter-disciplinary areas were highlighted. Effective communication between the researchers and high-level users of synthetic environmental information, such as international agencies, development programmes and concerned organizations operating in the field was emphasised. This introductory paper provides background to the workshop and highlights the key findings and outcomes of the conference. The findings that emerged from those discussions are summarized, and some further thoughts about recommended next steps are provided. (C) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.