The idea of the special issue “Climate change and human-environment interaction from Neolithic to historical times” arose from a session bearing the same name, which has been organized by the Commission on Environment Evolution of the International Geographical Union under the framework of the 33rd International Geographical Congress held in Beijing (PR China) in August, 2016. This volume is focused on multi-disciplinary studies of landscape evolution, climate dynamics and human activity in different regions of the world during the postglacial period. The Holocene interval (since ca. 11,700 cal yr BP) is of particularly great interest, as it covers the current interglacial when modern humans shifted from a long-standing hunter-fisher-gatherer lifestyle to mixed subsistence strategies and complex forms of food production. However, this shift demonstrates great, yet poorly understood, variability in space and time.

A number of research projects with a focus on cultural and biological transitions and human adaptations, subsistence strategies, food security and economic sustainability benefit from high-resolution archives of Quaternary vegetation and climate variability. Substantial progress has been made, not least due to achievements in Earth-system and human-population modeling, ancient DNA studies, accurate dating and quantitative reconstruction techniques. However, the list of questions did not become shorter and the gap between “what do we know and what would we like to know about our recent past” is still far from being closed.