Gro Harlem Brundtland

Gro Harlem Brundtland

Prime Minister of Norway 1981, 1986–1989, and 1990–1996; and Director-General of the World Health Organization from 1998 to 2003

Date and place of birth:

20 Apri 1939, in Oslo, Norway


Medical doctor, University of Oslo, and Master of Public Health (MPH) from Harvard University.

Professional experience and political career:

Spent 10 years as a physician and scientist in the Norwegian public health system. In 1965, she joined the Ministry of Health where she worked on children's health issues, including breastfeeding, cancer prevention and other diseases. She worked in the children's department of the National Hospital and Oslo City Hospital and became Director of Health Services for Oslo's school children.

At the age of seven, she was enrolled as a member of the Norwegian Labour Movement in its children's section and has been a member ever since, leading the Labour Party to election victory three times.

In 1974, Dr Brundtland was offered the job of Minister of the Environment. During the 1970s she acquired international recognition in environmental circles and a political reputation at home. In 1981, at the age of 41, she was appointed Prime Minister for the first time. Gro Harlem Brundtland was the youngest person and the first woman ever to hold the office of Prime Minister in Norway. With two other periods as Prime Minister from 1986-1989 and 1990-1996, Dr. Brundtland was Head of Government for more than 10 years.

Throughout her political career, Dr. Brundtland developed a growing concern for issues of global significance. In 1983 the then United Nations Secretary-General invited her to establish and chair the World Commission on Environment and Development (the Brundtland Commission). The Commission, which is best known for developing the broad political concept of sustainable development, published its report Our Common Future in April 1987. The Commission's recommendations led to the Earth Summit - the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

Dr Brundtland stepped down as Prime Minister in October 1996 and went on to become Director-General of the World Health Organisation from July 1998 to July 2003.

From 2007 through 2009 she was the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Change.

Dr Brundtland serves on the board of the United Nations Foundation and she is a member of The Elders.

Dr Brundtland is a member of the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Global Sustainability since its launch in August 2010.