Sediments are the ultimate repository of many environmental pollutants discharged into surface waters. Protecting sediment habitats from pollution and remediating pollution where it occurs is a substantial challenge. Persistent organic pollutants released from sediment can bioaccumulate in the aquatic food-chain and affect humans or top predators. The comprehensive quantitative modeling of pollutant fate and availability in sediment requires a high number of parameters to properly describe the linkage between the chemical properties of pollutants, the sediment geochemistry and biology. Individual investigations have looked into various aspects of this matter, deconstructing over the past decade what used to be standard assumptions (such as the Koc paradigm). Yet no comprehensive and widely accepted new models have evolved. A compilation of existing interdisciplinary data in a shared database and identification of the gaps in these data are important next steps towards an efficient, full calibration and testing of improved mechanistic models which underpin environmental assessment and sediment remediation decisions. To meet these challenges, a group of eight universities across six countries have formed an International Network for Sediment Research (INSR), funded for two years by The Leverhulme Trust and led by Newcastle University.