The Brundtland Report Summary - Sustainable Development

The Brundtland Report Summary – Sustainable Development



The commission was created by the UN in 1983 to formulate new proposal to deal with the important issues of environmental development facing the world.

In 1983,the United Nation’s Secretary Javier Perez de Cue’llar invited Norwegian prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland to chair a World Commission on Environmentaland Development: WCED: which is also referred to as The BrundtlandCommission concern with the acute pressure of population growth, modern technology and consumer demand on the natural resources.

The world’s natural resources were being rapidly depleted, often in the name of development but the poverty this development was supposed to correct was as widespread as ever.

Population growth was no longer seen as the major threat to the environment by the time The Brundtland Commission delivered its report on Our Common Future in 1987.


It was not the population growth of the developing world that were consuming the natural resources, polluting the environment and depleting its ozone layer with Chlorofluorocarbon, CFC or causing ecological havoc with their oil spills.

In fact the consumption of the world’s resources was minute compared to that of the industrialized world.

Gro Harlem Brundtland declared that poverty in the developing world was less cause than effects of contemporary environmental degradation, outcome of insensitive technology transfer that impoverishes people and natural systems.

Only sustainable development could blend the fulfillment of human nedds with the protection of air, soil, water and all forms of life-form which, ultimately, planetary stability was inseparable.

From the above,the concept of sustainability development was launched. Social and economic advance to assume human beings as a healthy and productive life but one that did not compromise the ability of the future generation to meet their own needs.

Thus taking into consideration:

Ø  Social Equality

Ø  Economic Growth

Ø  Environmental Protection

Sustainable development brought environmentalism into poverty reduction and poverty reduction into environmentalism in a single and simple formula.

Environmentalism also known as environmental rights is a broad philosophy, ideology and social movement regarding concerns for environmental protection and improvement of health of the environment, particularly as the measure for this health seeks to incorporate the concerns of non-human elements.

At its crux, environmentalism is an attempt to balance relations between humans and the various natural systems on which they depend in such a way that all the components are accorded a proper degree of sustainability.

This led to the first EARTH SUMMIT the UN Conference on Environment and Development at Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and the formulation of Agenda 21.

Agenda 21 is a non-binding, voluntarily implemented action plan of the United Nations with regard to sustainable development.


The “21” in the Agenda 21 refers to the 21st century. It has been affirmed and modified at subsequent UN Conferences. Agenda 21 is a 300-page document divided into chapters that have been grouped into 4 sections.

  1. Social and Economic Dimensions is directed towards combating poverty
  2. Conservation and Management of Resources for Development

III.        Strengthening the role of major groups including roles of children and youth, women, NGO’S and local authorities.

  1. Means of implementation, thus, Science, Technology transfer and education.


The Brundtland Report is also known as Our Common Future.It is called The Brundtland Report in recognition of the former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland’s role as chair the World Commission On Environmental and Development.



Formally known as the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), The Brundtland commission’s mandate were 3 objectives:

Ø  Re-examine the critical issues of environment and development and to formulate innovative, concrete and realistic action proposals to deal with them.

Ø  Strengthening international cooperation on environment and development, assess and propose new forms of cooperation that can break out of existing patterns and influence policies and events in the direction of needed change.

Ø  Raise level of understanding and committed to action on the part of individual, voluntary organizations, businesses, institutes and governments.

The commission solicits the views of these individuals, scientific institute, NGO’s, specialized agencies and other bodies of the United Nation and development issues.

It requested their support and facilitated their participation in the work of the commission especially the views of the youth.

In fulfillment its tasks, the commission paid careful attention to the terms of reference suggested by the General Assembly of the United Nation in Resolution 38/161,in which the General Assembly welcomed the establishment of the commission.





Gro Harlem Brundtland




Prime Minister

Parliament Leader of the Labour Party 1981-86
Member of the Parliament from 1977
Minister of environment 1974-79
Associate Director Oslo School of Health Services 1968-74


She was chosen because of her much education on Public Health.


Mansour Khalid


Deputy Prime Minister


President, UN Security Council 1972
Minister of Foreign Affairs 1971-75
Minister of youth and Social Affairs 1969-71


21 members from all over the world holding higher governmental positions, scholars, scientists and experts, research institutes, industrialists, representatives of Non-governmental organization and general public.

These 21 members were appointed by Gro Harlem Brundtland-Chairman and Mansour Khalid-Vice chairman.

The BrundtlandCommision has been the most successful in forming international ties between governments and multinational corporations. This report included the shared ideas of council government and business leaders internationally.

The 1992 and 2002 Earth Summit were the direct result of the Brundtland Commission.


Sustainability is how biological systems remain diverse and productive or the ability to continue a defined behavior indefinitely.Sustainability development on the other hand as defined by The Brundtland Report is;

“ the development that meets the needs the present without compromising the ability of the future  generation to meet their own needs.”

v  The concept of needs: in particular the essential needs of the world’s poo, th   which overriding priority should be given

v  The idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment’s ability to meet present and future needs.


The Brundtland Commission Report alerted the world to the urgency of making progress toward economic development that could be sustained without harming the environment.

The Brundtland Report focused primarily on the needs and interest of humans and was concerned with securing a global equity for future generations by redistributing resources towards poorer nations to encourage their economic growth.


It was the wish of the report that all human should be able to achieve their basic needs.


The Brundtland Report also suggested that social equity, economic growth and environmental protection/maintenance are simultaneously possible and that each nation is capable of achieving its full economic potential whilst at the same time enhancing its resource base.


However, it recognized that achieving this equity and sustainable growth would require technological and social change.


The     Brundtland Report highlighted the 3 fundamental components/pillars of sustainable development:

Ø  The Environment Protection

Ø  The Economic G            rowth

Ø  Social Equality



We should conserve and enhance our resource base by gradually changing the ways in which we develop and use technologies.



Can also be said social equity developing nations must be allowed to meet their basic needs of employment, food, energy, water and sanitation. If this is to be done in a sustainable manner, then there is a definite need for a sustainable level of population.


                           ECONOMIC GROWTH

Economic growth should be revived and developing nations should be allowed a growth of equal quality to the developed nations.


Ø  It was unable to identify the modes of production that are responsible for degradation of the environment.

Ø  Actually the Brundtland Report confused sustainability with sustainable development. The problem occurred whiles the world’s problem solvers redefined sustainability as a sustainable development. Sustainable development is a solution but not the problem at hand to solve. The problem is sustainability.


It recognized that;

Ø  Human Resources development in the form of poverty reduction, gender equity and wealth redistribution was crucial to formulating strategies for environmental conservations.

Ø  Environmental limits to economic growth in industrialized and industrializing societies existed.


For this, the report offered the analysis, the broad remedies and the recommendations for a sustainable course of development within such societies.



Ø Wikipedia

Ø The Association For Global New Thought

Ø United Nation [Our Common Future]


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