Gro Harlem Brundtland
Special Envoy on Climate Change, U.N.
02:19

Why is the U.S. Afraid of China?

Why is the U.S. Afraid of China?

“This being so afraid about competitiveness, I have never understood. Even as a Prime Minister, unless you have products or services to sell to others outside your own country, then you better look for other things that you can do better.”

Gro Harlem Brundtland

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 to 1989 and 1990 to 1996, Dr. Brundtland was head of government for more than 10 years.

Throughout her political career, Dr. Brundtland has 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 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 finally stepped down as prime minister in October 1996. In her successful bid to become director-general of the World Health Organization her many skills as doctor, politician, activist and manager have come together.

Dr. Brundtland was nominated as director-general of the World Health Organization by the executive board of WHO in January 1998. The World Health Assembly elected her for the position on May 13, 1998.

Transcript

Question: What is the incentive for U.S. and Europe to help China work towards sustainable development? 

Gro Harlem Brundtland: I think there is already a lot of collaboration going on between European countries and China and between U.S. and China. And this is necessary from so many different perspectives. China is part of the WTO, it is the major economy, gradually will be. And in the sustainable and climate area, it is essential for the global future. So, no doubt there has to be collaboration. And China is going to develop. They have ambitions and we have to realize that those ambitions are not different from the ambitions that dominated in our own countries when our countries were being developed and new technologies were being put into function. So, the best thing we can do is be collaborative and see to it that the patterns that are being used are inspired by future looking technologies, and it will benefit all of us. 

You know, this being so afraid about competitiveness, I have never understood. Even as a Prime Minister, I mean, unless you have products or services to sell to other outside your own country, then you better look for other things that you can do better. We live in a world where we all benefit from doing what we are best at doing and use our minds and our efforts to promote a development taciturn that benefits all of us. So, this drama about being so scared about everybody else, I have never really taken onboard. 

 Recorded on February 26, 2010
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