Metro-Boston cities collaborate on climate preparedness

May 21, 2015

Mayors from fourteen cities in the metropolitan Boston region signed a Metro Boston Climate Preparedness Commitment on May 13, 2015, agreeing to collaborate to prepare the region for the impacts of climate change. The fourteen municipalities will work together to coordinate actions necessary for adapting transboundary critical infrastructure systems, to develop best practices for local governments and policy recommendations for state and federal partners, and to identify funding and investment solutions to take regional action.

In announcing the Commitment, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, highlight the risks to the region from climate change and the need for a regional response in a press release.  “The Metro Boston region is a dense coastal area that is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.  Cities and towns in the Greater Boston area share environmental vulnerabilities, and a regional platform will ensure coordinated and complementary resiliency and climate action efforts.”

A newly created Metro Boston Climate Preparedness Taskforce will coordinate the cross-jurisdictional efforts and help carry out goals set in the agreement. The taskforce, which will include representatives from signatories to the Commitment and potentially additional participants. It will be responsible for identifying gaps in knowledge and climate preparedness, and opportunities for better coordinating regional climate preparedness efforts.

The new collaborative structure created by the Commitment will help the region integrate existing local efforts related to climate resilience and mitigation and coordinate future work, including advocacy efforts, to ensure that the region’s responses to the threats of climate change are cohesive and complementary. The Commitment also recognizes the region’s priority to work equitably and inclusively to ensure the protection and adaptive capacity of vulnerable populations in the face of impacts such as sea-level rise, rising temperatures, and more frequent and intense storm events.
The signatories to the Commitment include the cities of Boston, Braintree, Brookline, Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Malden, Medford, Melrose, Newton, Quincy, Revere, Somerville, and Winthrop. The Commitment was developed at the first-ever Metro Mayors Climate Preparedness Summit, hosted by the City of Boston and the Metro Mayors Coalition, an existing coalition of the same fourteen signatory municipalities housed within Boston region’s planning agency, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council. The municipalities have agreed through the Commitment to host a second Summit in 2016 and to continue meeting annually thereafter.

Staff from several of the Metro-Boston municipalities participated in a recent Leadership Academy on regional collaboration led by the Institute for Sustainable Communities, Think Resiliently, Act Regionally.  The Georgetown Climate Center is working ISC, the Local Government Commission, and five regional collaboratives in California to understand the legal and governance challenges to forming and operating regional climate adaptation collaboratives.