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Tufts has a rich history of environmental leadership and promoting sustainability.

In 1990, Tufts President Jean Mayer paved the path for the commitment of higher educational institutions. He helped promote sustainability in academic institutions by convening 22 university presidents and chancellors for a conference in Talloires, France to sign the Talloires Declaration. Since then, over 500 university presidents and chancellors from 59 countries have signed the declaration.

The Tufts Climate Initiative was created in 1999 following Tufts' commitment to meet or beat the Kyoto Protocol. In 2006, the Tufts Climate Initiative was renamed the Tufts Office of Sustainability, and became a department under Tufts Central Administration.

In January 2012, President Tony Monaco convened the Campus Sustainability Council. The council set goals and aimed to advance actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, waste, energy and water use.