The world must work together to battle environmental issues.
This year’s Boe Forum on Public Affairs speaker, former prime minister of Norway Gro Harlem Brundtland, has shown us the benefits of listening to others and sharing ideas. Throughout her speech at Augustana, she emphasized the importance of diversity and working together in combating environmental issues.
Brundtland was the first female prime minister of Norway and is known as the “mother of sustainability.” She earned a medical degree at the University of Oslo and a master’s degree in public health at the Harvard School of Public Health.
From 1966 to 1969, Brundtland worked as a physician at the Norwegian Directorate for Health and Social Affairs, then as a doctor for the Ministry of Health in Oslo.
Brundtland has continuously advocated for the environment’s health to other world leaders throughout her career.
She established and chaired the World Commission on Environment and Development in 1983 and led the Earth Summit in 1992. Additionally, she was the director-general of the World Health Organization from 1998-2003, served as a U.N. special envoy for climate change in 2007 and has received many awards for her work on climate change.
Brundtland’s diverse career has integrated many perspectives into sustainability issues around the globe. These experiences developed her awareness of the disconnection between public health and the environment.
During a press conference before the Boe Forum, Brundtland emphasized the need for nations to create and participate in agreements that will motivate other countries to take action. She also said young people should be at the front of these discussions.
“We have to build on young people like you taking a position about what you think is right for society and what you think is right in a broader sense across the world,” Brundtland said.
A broad range of environmental concerns around the world pose some of the biggest challenges to sustainability. Different perspectives and lifestyles make a straightforward view on sustainability unattainable on a global scale.
“You cannot deal with the whole issue of trends affecting humanity and the planet if you don’t have a holistic world view across all the sectors,” Brundtland said. “It is not possible to describe what we need to do to save the environment if we don’t explain what that means for development.”
Brundtland said she believes voices from every part of the world are crucial in order to appropriately respond to environmental health concerns. Each country’s needs should be considered.
Sustainability has developed and evolved through ideas from around the globe. We can learn much from other countries’ systems to create more sustainable societies.