Understanding earth materials is critical to creating a sustainable, carbon-neutral society due to their involvement in many vital processes. Earth materials control the feasibility of subsurface energy storage, geothermal energy extraction, and are a source of critical elements for future-proof battery technologies. However, perturbations to geological systems can also result in hazards, such as human-induced earthquakes. If we want to tackle the current, pressing scientific questions related to sustainable development for a circular economy, there is an urgent need to make multi-scale, multi-dimensional characterisations of earth materials available to a broad spectrum of earth-science disciplines. In addition to the society-relevant topics, the properties of earth materials determine how the Earth works on the most fundamental level. To overcome this challenge, 15 European facilities for electron and X-ray microscopy join forces to establish EXCITE (Electron and X-ray microscopy community for structural and chemical imaging techniques for earth materials). The collective aim of the EXCITE starting community is to enable access to high-end microscopy facilities and to join the knowledge and experience from the different institutions. By doing so, EXCITE will develop community-driven technological imaging advancements that will strengthen and extend the current implementation of leading-edge microscopy for earth-materials research. In particular, the EXCITE strategy is to integrate joint research programmes with networking, training, and trans-national access activities, to enable both academia and industry to answer critical questions in earth-materials science and technology. As such, EXCITE builds a community of highly qualified earth scientists, develops correlative imaging technologies and provides access to world-class facilities to particularly new and non-expert users that are often hindered from engaging in problem-solving microscopy of earth-materials.