This year marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859), the intrepid explorer of the Andes and other regions in the world, and the most famous scientist of his time. Alexander von Humboldt is perhaps best known for his radical new vision of nature as a complex and interconnected global force, thereby becoming the founder of the field of biogeography and laying the ground for modern Earth-System Science approaches. It seems fitting to pay tribute to Alexander von Humboldt’s legacy by reviewing the state of the art in studies of the coupled lithosphere – atmosphere – hydrosphere – biosphere system with a focus on the Andean mountain belt. The Andes have become one of the main natural laboratories in the world to explore these questions and many recent studies have addressed its tectonic and geodynamic evolution, but also the two-way couplings between surface uplift, climatic evolution and biodiversity in the Andes and its foreland. This Union Session will bring together world-leading specialists on these questions with the aim to shed light on both suspected and unexpected couplings in the system.