Twenty international science leaders (deans, directors, chief executives from six continents) assembled at SESYNC to discuss the urgent need for mainstreaming inter- and transdisciplinary research surrounding developing solutions for a sustainable future. The influential group of research leaders represented a range of research and education institutions including universities, national research organizations, international research networks, and large multi-institution long-term research activities. Each brought extensive experience in leading research activities at the institutional level. The meeting was motivated by the fact that society is calling for more solutions-based approaches and want the research enterprise to respond to and influence that demand. The participants shared many challenges and successes for implementing new forms of research enabled by integrating biophysical and social science approaches. A tangible and important outcome of the meeting was the formalization of a community of practice and the generation of an action plan for rapidly advancing inter- and transdisciplinary research approaches. Among other objectives is to cultivate and empower the next generation of leaders in overcoming current structural and institutional barriers to provide training and support for research that leads to positive sustainable futures both locally and globally.