Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland- known as the “mother” of sustainable development, has been an advocate of public health, environment and political activism. From treating patients to running the government as a prime minister, Brundtland has done it all.
Educated as a physician and Mastered Public Health at Harvard, Brundtland worked in hospitals and became the Director of Health Services for Oslo’s school children. She represented Norway in international conferences and at the same time built up her own family with 4 kids.
Brundtland’s commitment and hard work brought a change in her career. She was appointed as Norway’s Environment Minister from 1974 to 1979. Brundtland was the first woman and youngest prime minister of Norway, she served almost 10 years as a prime minister. She began to realize her vision to extend health beyond medical treatment into environmental issues and human development.
She was the chair of the World Commission on Environment and Development in 1983. The Brundtland’s commission is known for developing a political concept of sustainable development. The commission studied and analyzed major development challenges around the globe. The commission reported on linking environment and developmental issues in Our Common Future.
She put sustainable development on the international agenda with the Commission’s landmark report, Our Common Future in 1987. The report emphasized three fundamental concepts of sustainable development: environmental protection, economic improvement, and social equity.
“Sustainable development is a development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” – Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland.
According to Brundtland, sustainability can change the patterns of development that have threatened the environment.
In 1998, Brundtland was elected as Director-General of the World Health Organisation in Geneva. Currently, Brundtland is serving her purpose by being a member of the Council of Women World Leaders, an international network of women political leaders. She is the chair of The Elders, an organization started by Nelson Mandela in 2007.
As a woman with power, she faced a lot of problems including life-threatening situations. But she kept contributing to a better environment and public health. A mother of four, mother of the nation and the mother of sustainability – Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland is an inspiration for all women.