Former Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) and Prime Minister of Norway—the first woman and youngest person to serve in that role, Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland has provided leadership on issues of global significance for over four decades. She has served as one of three UN Special Envoys for Climate Change, having been named to that position in May of 2007 by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. In 2007, she also became a member of The Elders, a group founded by Nelson Mandela, and led by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, from 2013 by Kofi Annan. Recently, Dr. Brundtland has also served on the UN Secretary General’s Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change. She is member of the Board of the United Nations Foundation.
In the 1980s she chaired the World Commission on the Environment and Development, the Brundtland Commission, which coined the concept of sustainable development in its landmark report, Our Common Future. Its recommendations provided the momentum for the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
During her tenure as Director-General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Brundtland’s rapid response to the global threat of the SARS virus is largely credited with helping prevent the widespread growth of the disease. She also succeeded in garnering support for the first negotiated agreement on a major public health issue, The Tobacco Convention, and was recognized that same year as Scientific American’s “Policy Leader of the Year.” The recipient of many honors, perhaps her most prized award is the unofficial title she holds in her native Norway, where she is affectionately known as “Landsmoderen” or “mother of the nation.” Dr. Brundtland is a graduate of Oslo University and the Harvard School of Public Health. She is co-chair of The Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, an independent body set up by the World Bank and WHO.