Improving systematic observations of land cover, as an Essential Climate Variable, should contribute to a better understanding of the global climate system and thus improve our ability to predict climatic change. The aim of this paper is to bring global land cover observations closer to meeting the needs of climate science. First, consultation mechanisms were established with the climate modeling community to identify its specific requirements in terms of satellite-based global land cover products. This assessment highlighted specific needs in terms of land cover characterization, accuracy of products, as well as stability and consistency needs that are currently not met or even addressed. The current land cover representation and mapping techniques were then called into question to specifically focus on the critical need of stable products expressed by climate users. Decoupling the stable and dynamic components of the land cover characterization and using a multi-year dataset were proposed as two key approaches to allow generating consistent suites of global land cover products over time.