MIT researchers calculate river networks’ movement across a landscape.
President Charles M. Vest and a delegation of 23 professors,
researchers and staff from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
will be in Japan January 17-19 for a major meeting of the Alliance for
Global Sustainability. The Alliance, announced last October, is a joint
effort of three university partners, MIT, the Swiss Federal Institutes
of Technology (ETH) and the University of Tokyo (UT) to pool resources
and work with industry and government to address the issues surrounding
global sustainability through research collaborations, education and
The Tokyo meeting is the first in which principal investigators
from all three universities will come together to develop their
collaborative research projects.
The first day of meetings, January 17, will be open to the public
and will feature the presidents of the three universities-Charles Vest
of MIT, Jakob Nuesch of ETH, and Hiroyuki Yoshikawa of UT-in a
discussion of the role of universities in promotion of sustainability.
Two additional university presidents, Heitor Gurgulino de Souza of
United Nations University and Wang Dazhong of Tsinghua (China)
University, will also make presentations. The afternoon will feature a
panel discussion on the role of industry and government in the promotion
of sustainability. Members of those two sectors will participate.
"The formation of the Alliance is symbolic of the commitment that
all of our institutions have made to working on some of the most urgent
problems that the world community now faces," said President Vest.
He cited the global ban on CFCs as a complex sustainability issue
that required cooperative work from many sides to succeed: scientific
evidence, research to reduce economic and scientific uncertainties,
industry's cooperation, research and development of new technologies,
and an equitable phase-out of the chemicals.
"These challenges (of sustainability) share certain
characteristics: they are large, they are complex, and they lie at the
intersection of economic and environmental goals. They transcend
borders. No single country can address them alone and no institution,
whether industrial, public or academic, can provide complete solutions.
Yet the strength of each can be enhanced by working together," Vest
The Thursday and Friday sessions, on January 18 and 19, will be
working meetings for Alliance participants. Ten Alliance research groups
will meet in individual planning and discussion workshops on the
following topics: global climate changes, sustainable management of
environmental resources, mobility, future cities/land use planning,
industrial ecology/life cycle assessment/inverse manufacturing, energy,
agriculture, framing sustainability and institutional harmonization,
cleaner technology and human health.
"We are looking to build solid critical mass interactions on
sustainability on an international level," said David H. Marks,
professor of civil and environmental engineering, director of the
Program in Environmental Engineering Education and Research and
coordinator of the Alliance.
Group reporting of workshop results and a plenary session on
environmental problems in Asia will round out the meetings.
Following the Alliance meetings will be a January 20 meeting to
explore expanding research efforts in the environment and sustainable
development in China, as a follow-up to the July 1995 Beijing conference
on that topic. The meeting is sponsored by the MIT Science and
Technology Initiative (MISTI)/China Program and will be co-chaired by
MIT professor of Political Science Suzanne Berger, head of MISTI, and