Gro Harlem Brundtland

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Gro Harlem Brundtland
Gro Harlem Brundtland (cropped).jpg
Gro Harlem Brundtland in February 2011
Prime Minister of Norway
In office
3 November 1990 24 October 1996
Monarch Olav V
Harald V
Preceded by Jan Syse
Succeeded by Thorbjørn Jagland
In office
9 May 1986 16 October 1989
Monarch Olav V
Preceded by Kåre Willoch
Succeeded by Jan Syse
In office
4 February 1981 14 October 1981
Monarch Olav V
Preceded by Odvar Nordli
Succeeded by Kåre Willoch
Director-General of the World Health Organization
In office
13 May 1998 21 July 2003
Secretary-General Kofi Annan
Preceded by Hiroshi Nakajima
Succeeded by Lee Jong-wook
Leader of the Labour Party
In office
Preceded by Reiulf Steen
Succeeded by Thorbjørn Jagland
Minister of the Environment
In office
6 September 1974 8 October 1979
Prime Minister Trygve Bratteli
Odvar Nordli
Preceded by Tor Halvorsen
Succeeded by Rolf Arthur Hansen
Personal details
Gro Harlem

(1939-04-20) 20 April 1939 (age 80)
Bærum, Norway
Political party Labour
Spouse(s)Arne Olav Brundtland
Alma mater University of Oslo
Harvard University
Signature Gro Harlem Brundtland Signature.svg

Gro Harlem Brundtland (Norwegian pronunciation:  [ˈɡruː ˈhɑːɭɛm ˈbrʉntlɑnː] ; born Gro Harlem, 20 April 1939) is a Norwegian politician, who served three terms as Prime Minister of Norway (1981, 1986–89, and 1990–96) and as Director-General of the World Health Organization from 1998 to 2003. She is also known for having chaired the Brundtland Commission which presented the Brundtland Report on sustainable development.

Prime Minister of Norway

The Prime Minister of Norway is the head of government of Norway and the most powerful person in Norwegian politics. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the monarch, to the Storting, to their political party, and ultimately the electorate. In practice, since it is nearly impossible for a government to stay in office against the will of the Storting, the prime minister is primarily answerable to the Storting. They are almost always the leader of the majority party in the Storting, or the leader of the senior partner in the governing coalition.

World Health Organization Specialised agency of the United Nations

The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that is concerned with international public health. It was established on 7 April 1948, and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The WHO is a member of the United Nations Development Group. Its predecessor, the Health Organisation, was an agency of the League of Nations.

Formerly known as the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), the mission of the Brundtland Commission is to unite countries to pursue sustainable development together. The Chairperson of the Commission, Gro Harlem Brundtland, was appointed by United Nations Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar in December 1983. At the time, the UN General Assembly realized that there was a heavy deterioration of the human environment and natural resources. To rally countries to work and pursue sustainable development together, the UN decided to establish the Brundtland Commission. Gro Harlem Brundtland was the former Prime Minister of Norway and was chosen due to her strong background in the sciences and public health. The Brundtland Commission officially dissolved in December 1987 after releasing Our Common Future, also known as the Brundtland Report, in October 1987. The document popularized the term "Sustainable Development". Our Common Future won the University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award in 1991. The organization Center for Our Common Future was started in April 1988 to take the place of the Commission.


Educated as a physician, Brundtland joined the Labour Party and entered the government in 1974 as Minister of the Environment. She became the first female Prime Minister of Norway on 4 February 1981, but left office on 14 October 1981; she returned as Prime Minister on 9 May 1986 and served until 16 October 1989. She finally returned for her third term on 3 November 1990. From 1981 to 1992 she was leader of the Labour Party. After her surprise resignation as Prime Minister in 1996, she became an international leader in sustainable development and public health, and served as Director-General of the World Health Organization and as UN Special Envoy on Climate Change from 2007 to 2010. [1] She is also deputy chair of The Elders and a former Vice-President of the Socialist International.

Labour Party (Norway) Norwegian political party

The Labour Party, formerly the Norwegian Labour Party, is a social-democratic political party in Norway. It was the senior partner of the governing Red-Green Coalition from 2005-13, and its leader, Jens Stoltenberg, served as Prime Minister of Norway during that time. The party is currently led by Jonas Gahr Støre.

Sustainable development is the organizing principle for meeting human development goals while simultaneously sustaining the ability of natural systems to provide the natural resources and ecosystem services upon which the economy and society depend. The desired result is a state of society where living conditions and resource are use to continue to meet human needs without undermining the integrity and stability of the natural system. Sustainable development can be defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations.

Public health preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through organized efforts and informed choices of society and individuals

Public health has been defined as "the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting human health through organized efforts and informed choices of society, organizations, public and private, communities and individuals". Analyzing the health of a population and the threats it faces is the basis for public health. The public can be as small as a handful of people or as large as a village or an entire city; in the case of a pandemic it may encompass several continents. The concept of health takes into account physical, psychological and social well-being. As such, according to the World Health Organization, it is not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

Brundtland belonged to the moderate wing of her party and supported Norwegian membership in the European Union during the 1994 referendum. As Prime Minister Brundtland became widely known as the "mother of the nation." [2] Brundtland received the 1994 Charlemagne Prize, and has received many other awards and recognitions.

European Union Economic and political union of European states

The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe. It has an area of 4,475,757 km2 (1,728,099 sq mi) and an estimated population of about 513 million. The EU has developed an internal single market through a standardised system of laws that apply in all member states in those matters, and only those matters, where members have agreed to act as one. EU policies aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services and capital within the internal market, enact legislation in justice and home affairs and maintain common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries and regional development. For travel within the Schengen Area, passport controls have been abolished. A monetary union was established in 1999 and came into full force in 2002 and is composed of 19 EU member states which use the euro currency.

Charlemagne Prize

The Charlemagne Prize is a prize awarded for work done in the service of European unification. It has been awarded annually since 1950 by the German city of Aachen. It commemorates Charlemagne, ruler of the Frankish Empire and founder of what became the Holy Roman Empire, who resided and is buried at Aachen. Traditionally the award is given to the recipient on Ascension Day in a ceremony in the town hall of Aachen. In April 2008, the organisers of the Charlemagne Prize and the European Parliament jointly created a new European Charlemagne Youth Prize, which recognises contributions by young people towards the process of European integration. Patrons of the foundation are King Philippe of Belgium, King Felipe VI of Spain, and Henri, the Grand Duke of Luxembourg.

Early life

Brundtland was born in Oslo in 1939, the daughter of physician and politician Gudmund Harlem.

Oslo Place in Østlandet, Norway

Oslo is the capital and most populous city of Norway. It constitutes both a county and a municipality. Founded in the year 1040 as Ánslo, and established as a kaupstad or trading place in 1048 by Harald Hardrada, the city was elevated to a bishopric in 1070 and a capital under Haakon V of Norway around 1300. Personal unions with Denmark from 1397 to 1523 and again from 1536 to 1814 reduced its influence. After being destroyed by a fire in 1624, during the reign of King Christian IV, a new city was built closer to Akershus Fortress and named Christiania in the king's honour. It was established as a municipality (formannskapsdistrikt) on 1 January 1838. The city functioned as a co-official capital during the 1814 to 1905 Union between Sweden and Norway. In 1877, the city's name was respelled Kristiania in accordance with an official spelling reform – a change that was taken over by the municipal authorities only in 1897. In 1925 the city, after incorporating the village retaining its former name, was renamed Oslo.

Gudmund Harlem was a Norwegian physician and politician for the Labour Party. He was the Norwegian Minister of Social Affairs from 1955 to 1961 and Norwegian Minister of Defence from 1961 to 1965. As a physician he spent most of his career at Statens Attføringsinstitutt, serving as director from 1970 to 1977. He was then a professor at the Norwegian Institute of Technology and director of NTNF. He was the father of former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland and former Norwegian Minister of Justice Hanne Harlem.

In 1963, Brundtland graduated with a medical degree, a from the University of Oslo. She took her master's degree at Harvard University in 1965, as a Master of Public Health.

University of Oslo Norwegian public research university

The University of Oslo, until 1939 named the Royal Frederick University, is the oldest university in Norway, located in the Norwegian capital of Oslo. Until 1 January 2016 it was the largest Norwegian institution of higher education in terms of size, now surpassed only by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. The Academic Ranking of World Universities has ranked it the 58th best university in the world and the third best in the Nordic countries. In 2015, the Times Higher Education World University Rankings ranked it the 135th best university in the world and the seventh best in the Nordics. While in its 2016, Top 200 Rankings of European universities, the Times Higher Education listed the University of Oslo at 63rd, making it the highest ranked Norwegian university.

Harvard University Private research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

Harvard University is a private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with about 6,700 undergraduate students and about 15,250 postgraduate students. Established in 1636 and named for its first benefactor, clergyman John Harvard, Harvard is the United States' oldest institution of higher learning. Its history, influence, and wealth have made it one of the world's most prestigious universities. The university is often cited as the world's top tertiary institution by most publishers.

From 1966 to 1969, she worked as a physician at the Directorate of Health (Helsedirektoratet), and from 1969 she worked as a doctor in Oslo's public school health service.

Norwegian Directorate for Health and Social Affairs

The Norwegian Directorate for Health and Social Affairs is a specialised directorate for health and social affairs. The Directorate is an integral part of the central administration of health and social affairs in Norway, and is organised under the joint auspices of the Ministry of Health and Care Services and the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.

Political career

She was Norwegian Minister for Environmental Affairs from 1974 to 1979.

Prime Minister of Norway

Brundtland became Norway's first female Prime Minister in 1981. [3] She served as Prime Minister from February to October. [4]

Brundtland became Norwegian Prime Minister for two further, and more durable, terms. The second ministry was from 9 May 1986 until 16 October 1989 and this cabinet became known worldwide for its high proportion of female ministers: nearly half, or eight of the total eighteen ministers, were female. The third ministry was from 3 November 1990 to 25 October 1996.

Brundtland became leader of the Labour Party in 1981 and held the office until resigning in 1992, during her third term as Prime Minister. In 1996, she resigned as Prime Minister and retired completely from Norwegian politics. Her successor as both Labour Party leader in 1992 and as Prime Minister in 1996 was Thorbjørn Jagland.

International career

In 1983, Brundtland was invited by then United Nations Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar to establish and chair the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), widely referred to as the Brundtland Commission. She developed the broad political concept of sustainable development in the course of extensive public hearings, that were distinguished by their inclusiveness. The commission, which published its report, Our Common Future , in April 1987, provided the momentum for the 1992 Earth Summit/UNCED, which was headed by Maurice Strong, who had been a prominent member of the commission. The Brundtland Commission also provided momentum for Agenda 21.

During her third ministry, the Norwegian government in 1993 took the initiative to sponsor secret peace talks between the Government of Israel led by Yitzchak Rabin – like Brundtland, leader of a Labour Party – and the PLO led by Yasser Arafat. This culminated with the signing of the Oslo Accords. For several years afterwards Norway continued to have a high-profile involvement in promoting Israeli-Palestinian peace, though increasingly displaced by the United States from its role as the mediator.

After the end of her term as PM, Brundtland was then elected Director-General of the World Health Organization in May 1998. In this capacity, Brundtland adopted a far-reaching approach to public health, establishing a Commission on Macroeconomics and Health, chaired by Jeffrey Sachs, and addressing violence as a major public health issue. Brundtland spearheaded the movement, now worldwide, to achieve the abolition of cigarette smoking by education, persuasion, and increased taxation. [5] Under her leadership, the World Health Organization was one of the first major employers to make quitting smoking a condition of employment. Under Brundtland's leadership, the World Health Organization was criticized [6] for increased drug-company influence on the agency.

Brundtland was recognized in 2003 by Scientific American as their 'Policy Leader of the Year' for coordinating a rapid worldwide response to stem outbreaks of SARS. Brundtland was succeeded on 21 July 2003 by Jong-Wook Lee. In 1994, Brundtland was awarded the Charlemagne Prize of the city of Aachen.

In 2006 Brundtland was a member of the Panel of Eminent Persons who reviewed the work of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). In May 2007, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon named Brundtland, as well as Ricardo Lagos (the former president of Chile), and Han Seung-soo (the former foreign minister of South Korea), to serve as UN Special Envoys for Climate Change. [7]

Brundtland's hallmark political activities have been chronicled by her husband, Arne Olav Brundtland  [ no ], in his two bestsellers, Married to Gro ( ISBN   82-516-1647-6) and Still married to Gro ( ISBN   82-05-30726-1).

External video
Nuvola apps kaboodle.svg Michigan State University Commencement Address, May 2, 2008], C-SPAN

In 2007, Bruntland was working for Pepsi as a consultant. [8]

Gro Harlem Brundtland is a member of the Council of Women World Leaders, an international network of current and former women presidents and prime ministers whose mission is to mobilize collective action on issues of critical importance to women and equitable development.

Brundtland is also a member of the Club of Madrid, an independent organization of former leaders of democratic states, which works to strengthen democratic governance and leadership. [9]

Brundtland serves as Deputy Chair of The Elders, a group of world leaders convened by Nelson Mandela, Graça Machel and Desmond Tutu in order to tackle some of the world's toughest problems. [10] Mandela announced the launch of the group on 18 July 2007 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Brundtland has been active in The Elders’ work, participating in a broad range of the group's initiatives. She has travelled with Elders delegations to Cyprus, the Korean Peninsula, Ethiopia, India and the Middle East. Brundtland has also been involved in The Elders’ initiative on child marriage, including the founding of Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage. [11]

Brundtland has attended the Bilderberg meetings in 1982 and 1983. Her husband attended in 1991.

Assassination attempt

Brundtland narrowly escaped assassination by Anders Behring Breivik on 22 July 2011. She had been on the island of Utøya hours before the massacre there to give a speech to the AUF camp; Breivik stated that he originally intended Brundtland to be the main target of the attack (along with Eskil Pedersen and Jonas Gahr Støre), but he had been delayed while travelling from Oslo. [12] [13] Breivik arrived on Utøya about two hours after Brundtland had left.

During his trial in 2012, Breivik revealed detailed assassination plans for Brundtland. [14] He told the court that he had planned to handcuff her and then record himself reading out a prepared text detailing her "crimes", before decapitating her on camera using a bayonet and uploading the footage to the internet. Breivik said that while Brundtland had been his main target, he had still planned to massacre everyone else on the island. [15]

Personal life

She married Arne Olav Brundtland on 9 December 1960. They had four children; one is now deceased. They own a house in the south of France.

Health issues

Brundtland was operated on for uterine cancer in 2002 at Oslo University Hospital, Ullevål. [16] In 2008 it became known that during 2007 she had received two treatments at Ullevål, paid for by Norwegian public expenditures. Since she had previously notified the Norwegian authorities that she had changed residence to France, she was no longer entitled to Norwegian social security benefits. Following media attention surrounding the matter, Brundtland decided to change residence once more, back to Norway, and she also announced that she would be paying for the treatments herself. [17] Brundtland has claimed to suffer from electrical sensitivity which causes headaches when someone uses a mobile phone near her. [18]


Harlem Brundtland speaking at Fronteiras do Pensamento in 2014 Gro Brundtland no Fronteiras do Pensamento 2014 (15229793418).jpg
Harlem Brundtland speaking at Fronteiras do Pensamento in 2014

Brundtland has received many awards and honours, including

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  2. Gro Harlem Brundtland
  3. Worth, William E., ed. (4 February 1981). "Norway picks prime minister". The Journal Herald. 174 (40). Dayton, Ohio. p. 8 via
  4. Kelly, Thomas A., ed. (14 October 1981). "Socialist Government Resigns in Norway". The Post. 73 (175). West Palm Beach, Florida: Daniel J. Mahoney. p. A13 via
  5. Claire Doole (21 October 1998). "WHO declares war on tobacco firms". BBC news. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
  6. Wilson, Duff (26 June 2005). "New blood-pressure guidelines pay off — for drug companies". Seattle Times (26 June 2005). Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  7. Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press (10 May 2007). "U.N. Envoys Seek Input on Climate Change". Time . Retrieved 23 February 2013.
  8. Morten Ulekleiv; Gunn Kari Hegvik; Lars Kristian Tranøy (12 December 2007). "Pepsi-Gro slår tilbake: - Latterlig". Verdens Gang . Retrieved 23 February 2013.
  9. "Brundtland, Gro Harlem". Club de Madrid. Retrieved 23 February 2013.
  10. "Kofi Annan appointed Chair of The Elders". The Elders. 10 May 2013. Retrieved 23 May 2013.
  11. "Gro Harlem Brundtland". The Elders. Archived from the original on 6 March 2013. Retrieved 23 February 2013.
  12. "Norway shooting: killer 'confirms Gro Harlem Brundtland was main target'". The Telegraph . 25 July 2011. Retrieved 23 February 2013.
  13. Line Brustad (18 November 2011). "Breiviks hovedmål: Gro, Jonas og Eskil". Dagbladet (in Norwegian). Retrieved 23 February 2013.
  14. Haroon Siddique; Helen Pidd (19 April 2012). "News blog: Anders Behring Breivik trial, day four - Thursday 19 April". The Guardian . Retrieved 23 February 2013.
  15. "Breivik trial: Phone delay 'caused more deaths'". BBC news. 23 April 2012. Retrieved 23 February 2013.
  16. Alf Bjarne Johnsen (10 January 2008). "Betalte operasjon i 2002". Verdens Gang (in Norwegian).
  17. Alf Bjarne Johnsen (7 January 2008). "Gro flytter hjem". Verdens Gang (in Norwegian). Retrieved 23 February 2013.
  18. Aud Dalsegg (9 March 2002). "Får hodesmerter av mobilstråling". Dagbladet (in Norwegian). Retrieved 23 February 2013.
  19. "International Leader in Environmental Issues to Receive 2008 Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Architecture, Law, Citizen Leadership, and Global Innovation". University of Virginia. 15 February 2008. Archived from the original on 15 December 2012.
  20. "La nena pakistanesa Malala Yousafzai i l'ex primera ministra noruega Gro Harlem Brundtland, XXV Premi Internacional Catalunya" (in Catalan). Ara. 24 May 2013.
  21. 2014 Tang Prize in Sustainable Development Archived 6 October 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  22. Tang Prize laureate calls for more sustainable development efforts
  23. "Gro Harlem Brundtland utnevnt til æresmedlem av Norsk Kvinnesaksforening". Norwegian Association for Women's Rights. 21 May 2016. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
  24. "Gruppe 7: Medisinske fag" (in Norwegian). Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters . Retrieved 28 October 2009.
  25. The National German Sustainability Award Archived 20 October 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  26. Moscow Society of Naturalists official site (in Russian)

Further reading

Political offices
Preceded by
Tor Halvorsen
Minister of the Environment
Succeeded by
Rolf Arthur Hansen
Preceded by
Odvar Nordli
Prime Minister of Norway
Succeeded by
Kåre Willoch
Preceded by
Kåre Willoch
Prime Minister of Norway
Succeeded by
Jan Syse
Preceded by
Jan Syse
Prime Minister of Norway
Succeeded by
Thorbjørn Jagland
Party political offices
Preceded by
Reiulf Steen
Leader of the Labour Party
Succeeded by
Thorbjørn Jagland
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Hiroshi Nakajima
Director-General of the World Health Organization
Succeeded by
Lee Jong-wook