This special issue describes research arising from the megadelta project of the Asia-Pacific-Networks (APN), undertaken between 2004 and 2009 (www.megadelta.ecnu.edu.cn). Numerous delta-coast scientists from more than 20 countries were involved in the project concerned with developing our knowledge of land–estuarine–coastal interactions in megadeltas, and with fusing this knowledge with societal development and management. Project workshops were held in Bangkok (2004), Ho Chi Minh City (2005), Dhaka (2007) and Shanghai (2008) with over 500 participants. The main objectives of the project were: (1) development of regional databases; (2) understanding of delta formation and associated fluxes between land and sea; (3) knowledge transfer and building research capacity; and (4) understanding how better social management might follow. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.