Gro Harlem Brundtland, a medical doctor, became Norway’s first woman Prime Minister in 1981, serving a total of ten years as head of government. She chaired the World Commission on Environment and Development (1983-1987) – known as the Brundtland Commission – which articulated the principle of sustainable development for the first time at a global level.

She was Director-General of the World Health Organization from 1998-2003, UN Special Envoy for Climate Change from 2007-2010 and, in 2011, was appointed member of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Global Sustainability Panel, which delivered its report in January 2012.

She has been a member of The Elders since the group’s foundation by Nelson Mandela in 2007, and has taken a leading role in the group’s work on equality for girls and women, particularly child marriage. With fellow Elders, she has travelled to Ethiopia (in June 2011) and India (in February 2012) to hear first-hand from victims of child marriage and give support to grassroots initiatives aiming to end the practice.

She has championed the work of Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage (, a coalition of over 200 organisations committed to end child marriage, founded by The Elders in September 2011.

As an Elder she has also promoted reconciliation in Cyprus; travelled to Pyongyang and Seoul to encourage dialogue in the Korean Peninsula; twice visited Israel and the West Bank to support the peace process; and led the Elders’ work on sustainable development, most recently at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012.