Brundtland Will Talk On Rio, Environment

Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland of Norway, a noted environmentalist, will speak at Harvard's Commencement exercises this afternoon.

Brundtland is chair of the World Commission on Environmental Development, which in 1987 released an environmental report entitled "Our Common Future." Although the United Nations chose not to adopt the measures described in the report, "Our Common Future" did stimulate interest in international cooperation concerning environmental matters.

This international attention led to a series of environmental meetings across the globe, culminating in an international Earth Summit at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Brundtland comes to Cambridge directly from the summit and is expected to address the graduates about balancing economic growth and ecological well-being.

Rotch Professor of Atmospheric Science Michael B. McElroy is Brundtland's faculty escort for today. McElroy, who chairs a newly created University-wide committee on environmental studies, first met Brundtland when both were speakers at a Canadian symposium four years ago.

He said Brundtland's United Nations report is "a far-looking document" which makes the point "that national boundaries are not respected by environmental considerations."


According to McElroy, Brundtland later implemented a specific proposal made by McElroy in his speech. "She's taking [the Harvard mencement speech] very seriously," he said."It's a potentially major speech."

Sen. Albert Gore Jr. '69 (D-Tenn.), a long-timesupporter of environmental protection, alsoexpects the speech to be significant. "I ameagerly awaiting what I expect to be a majorpolicy address," said Gore, a member of the Boardof Overseers, in a talk at Harvard last month.

Brundtland, 52, is the first woman primeminister in Norway's history and was only 42 whenfirst elected in 1981, making her the youngestperson to ever hold the position. She is nowserving her third term.

Her interest in politics began early. While shewas a student at Oslo University, Brundtlandserved as the deputy chair of the Labor PartyStudent Union.

She graduated form the Medical School of theUniversity of Oslo in 1963 and received a master'sdegree in public health from the Harvard School ofPublic Health in 1965. She then began her career,as a health official, working as a medical officerfor the Norwegian Directorate of Health from 1966to 1968. In 1969, she was appointed assistantmedical director of the city of Oslo's Board ofHealth, a position she held until 1974.

It was during this time that Brundtland beganher political and social activism. She led a presscampaign against opponents of abortion in theearly 1970s, pushing her into public view as awoman leader, as well as an active Labour members.

She was appointed to the post of Environmentminister in 1974 and was elected Deputy Leader ofher party in 1975. Six years later, in 1981, shebecame prime minister.

Brundtland has continued to be a vocal advocatefor the participation of women in politics, andhas enacted specific policies to further that aim.

In 1983, Brundtland's Labor Party adopted arule requiring that women make up no less than 40per cent and no more than 60 per cent of itsnominees. Other parties followed suit.

Of the 19 members of her current cabinet, nineare women.

Ingvard Havnen, press counselor of theNorwegian Embassy, said Brundtland has "definitelyaffected the role of women in politics. This isreflected by the number of women in the Norwegiangovernment."

Havnen added that this influx of women into thepolitical sphere "has had a considerable influenceon the national level and also the local level."

But she ahs received the most attentioninternationally for her work on environmentalissues.

"It was through her work on the [WorldCommission on Environmental Development] that sheestablished herself as an advocate ofenvironmental issues on the international level.She was recognized as doing a very efficient jobas leader of that committee," Havnen said.

He said this has created a considerable demandfor visits by Brundtland on the part of variousuniversities and "think tanks." "She is a verysought-after speaker," Havnen said.

Brundtland's other accomplishments includemembership on the Independent Commission onDisarmament and Security, which published itsreport on "Common Security" in 1982. She receivedthe Third World Prize and the Indira Gandhi Prize