Cambridge officials have begun the process of forming a sister city relationship with Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, after the passage of a City Council order last month.
“We’re just beginning the process of investigating what might be possible,” said Brian Corr, executive director of the Cambridge Peace Commission, the city organization tasked with creating sister cities.
“The City of Cambridge and the City of Reykjavik would mutually benefit from promoting contact between our governments, nonprofits, businesses and education programs as well as our youth and volunteer programs,” the resolution, which was adopted at the City Council’s January meeting, reads.
The effort was born out of established ties between the two cities according to Corr and Reykjavik’s mayor Dagur B. Eggertsson.
“We can learn a lot from Cambridge,” Eggertsson wrote in an email. “The two cities are roughly about the same size in population and in Reykjavík we have set forward a plan on how to enhance and further the cooperation between the city and the universities.”
He wrote that the two cities are not only connected via daily flights but also through their existing business and educational ties. He visited Cambridge in 2015 and met with representatives from local companies and with Councillor David P. Maher, the town mayor last year.
Cambridge is also home to Robert C. Barber ’72, the U.S. ambassador to Iceland, who was appointed by President Barack Obama to the position in 2013.
The resolution proposed by the Cambridge City Council stated that Barber has advocated for the new relationship in his capacity as a resident of both cities.
Sister cities are official relationships between two municipalities that wish to share aspects of their culture, according to Corr. They are usually built around common interests such as business and research, and help diasporic ethnic groups stay connected to their country of origin.
Cambridge has a long history of global sister city ties, including six active relationships with municipalities including San José Las Flores, El Salvador; Tsukaba, Japan; and Yerevan, Armenia. Former sister cities have included Dublin and Florence. Cambridge is also currently in the process of forming a relationship with Les Cayes, Haiti.
“Cambridge is well known, well connected internationally, obviously through institutions like Harvard and MIT, but just the city in general is very connected internationally,” Corr said.
Corr said he expects the process to take a few months to ensure that the relationship is beneficial to both sides.
“It’s still too early,” Corr said. “For these processes to be sustainable, it usually takes a while.”
Despite the lengthy timeline, Eggertsson said he was optimistic that the sister city partnership would be strong, if implemented.
“Reykjavik prides itself with culture, green energy and environmental issues, as well as gender issues and a developed and modern welfare service,” Eggertsson wrote. “I think both cities have a lot to share.”
—Staff writer Joshua Florence can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JoshuaFlorence1.
—Staff writer Samuel Vasquez can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @svasquez14.