In what is considered to be the first agreement of its kind, MIT, Harvard University, and the City of Cambridge have entered into a compact to work collaboratively to address issues related to climate change on a local basis.
The Community Compact for a Sustainable Future lays out a framework for the signatories — and other organizations that choose to join — to work in a more coordinated and robust fashion to tackle local sustainability challenges. The compact aims to leverage the different organizations’ core skills and competencies in research, best practices, and governance to generate new solutions in the areas of waste reduction, energy efficiency, climate mitigation and adaptation, water management, renewable energy, and green tech incubation.
MIT President L. Rafael Reif joined Cambridge Mayor Henrietta Davis, City Manager Bob Healy, Harvard President Drew Faust, and Akamai CEO Tom Leighton at the signing, which was the opening event of the Symposium on Sustainable Urban Design, hosted by Associate Professor of Architecture Christoph Reinhart and MIT’s Sustainable Design Lab.
In his remarks, Reif observed that MIT and the City of Cambridge are already collaborating on many sustainability-focused projects, including the Hubway bike-sharing system and mapping of local solar-power potential. “By working together — through this compact — we will greatly increase our ability to understand the true nature of the challenge. And we will improve our ability to make the progress that our shared future depends on.”
Going forward, the compact hopes to attract new signatories from the corporate and nonprofit sectors in Cambridge. A steering committee will oversee the collaborative effort by identifying priorities, coordinating work, collecting data, evaluating progress, and creating a forum for annual reporting. Akamai is the first business to join the compact; Reif remarked that Akamai’s innovative and entrepreneurial culture revolutionized the Internet, and that those same qualities will be a tremendous asset to the collaboration.
Davis, who spearheaded the initiative, said: “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. I am thrilled to partner with Harvard and MIT.”