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City of Cambridge, Harvard and M.I.T. ink Compact for Sustainable Future

City of Cambridge, Harvard and M.I.T. ink Compact for Sustainable Future
From left: Harvard President Drew G. Faust, MIT President L. Rafael Reif, Cambridge Mayor Henrietta Davis and Cambridge City Manager Robert W. Healy. (Photo from the City of Cambridge website)

A tripartite agreement among a city and universities is setting a new trend in addressing climate change at a local level.

The City of Cambridge, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University have entered a compact that aims to leverage the intellectual and entrepreneurial capacity of businesses, non-profit groups, the academe, and municipal sectors in Cambridge to espouse a healthy, liveable and sustainable future.

The “Community Compact for a Sustainable Future” provides a framework for the signatories - as well as other organizations who wish to participate - to tackle environmental challenges through nine key areas of collaboration, including energy efficiency, renewable energy, waste reduction, water management, climate mitigation and adaptation, and green tech incubation.

The three signatories have also recruited an initial group of major business partners namely Akamai Technologies, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research and Whole Foods.

“Climate change is a crisis that requires a comprehensive and collaborative response,” said Cambridge Mayor Henrietta Davis, who spearheaded the initiative.

“Cambridge is uniquely positioned to serve as a leader in this response: We have unmatched intellectual capital and a culture of innovation and commitment to the environment,” she added.

The signatories will work closely to develop and share new and innovative strategies, technologies, services, products and best practices that can be replicated by others considering cost-effective solutions. Similarly, they will explore more opportunities to link researchers with community needs and initiatives and to better connect students with local entrepreneurs and social enterprises.

“Harvard is honored to be among the first signatories of the Community Compact,” said Harvard President Drew G. Faust. “We have much to gain from continuing to work together to confront climate change, and I hope other leaders across the city are inspired to join us—and our partners in the private sector—in creating a healthier and more sustainable Cambridge.”

The idea behind the Compact builds on ongoing discussion and collaboration among Cambridge, M.I.T. and Harvard, who have individually set aggressive goals and initiatives focused on climate change and sustainability, with targets for greener transportation, efficient buildings and greenhouse gas emissions and energy use reductions.

“Climate change is a global challenge. But momentum for action begins with strong local collaborations," said M.I.T. President L. Rafael Reif. “Cambridge has helped to pioneer the idea of urban environmentalism. Building on that commitment, and drawing on the scientific, technological and policy expertise of M.I.T. and Harvard, together we can make a difference for our local community and perhaps extract lessons with global value as well.”

The Compact seeks to attract more signatories both from the corporate and non-profit sectors in Cambridge. A steering committee is established to oversee the joint effort, by identifying priorities, coordinating work, collecting data, tracking progress, and creating a forum for annual reporting. – EcoSeed Staff

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