Gro Harlem Brundtland has been a member of The Elders since its founding in 2007, bringing to the group her decades of experience as a global leader in public health and sustainable development. She has served as Deputy Chair since May 2013 and assumed the role of Acting Chair in August 2018.
As part of The Elders’ peace-building agenda, Prime Minister Brundtland joined The Elders’ first delegation to Israel and the West Bank in August 2009 to support efforts to advance Middle East peace – paying particular attention to the impact of the conflict on ordinary Israelis and Palestinians - and to lend their support to the Egyptian democratic transition. Gro Harlem Brundtland joined The Elders’ delegations to Israel and Palestine again in October 2012 and May 2015. During both trips, The Elders continued to support the need for a two-state solution, Palestinian reconciliation and improving the humanitarian situation in Gaza.
Deeply engaged in conflict resolution, she also travelled to Greece, Turkey and Cyprus to encourage reconciliation between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities in February 2011. Similarly, a few months later in April 2011, she joined Mary Robinson, Jimmy Carter and Martti Ahtisaari on a visit to the Korean Peninsula and China in an effort to improve relations between North and South Korea.
A staunch advocate of gender equality as a prerequisite for development, Prime Minister Brundtland travelled to Ethiopia in June 2011 to meet communities affected by child marriage and bring together experts and activists working to end this harmful practice. At the UN General Assembly in New York in September 2011, Gro Harlem Brundtland together with Desmond Tutu, Mary Robinson, Mary Robinson, Lakhdar Brahimi and Martti Ahtisaari launched The Elders’ initiative on child marriage and Girls not Brides campaign. Moreover, in February 2012 she travelled to India, where the Elders lent their support to youth activists tackling early marriage at the local level.
Dubbed the “godmother of sustainable development”, she was also part of Elders+Youngers, an intergenerational dialogue between four Elders and four young change-makers during the Rio+20 summit in June 2012.
Since September 2013, Gro Harlem Brundtland has been an active part of The Elders’ Myanmar initiative. She visited the country in September 2013meeting political and military leaders and civil society representatives involved in supporting the peace process with ethnic minority armed groups and addressed ongoing violence in Rakhine state. In March 2014 she returned with Martti Ahtisaari where they visited Mae La refugee camp and Mae Tao Clinic, on the Thailand-Myanmar border and saw the resilience of those living in exile. In December 2014, she led the Elders’ delegation to Myanmar where they met with representatives from the government, the military and civil society including ethnic women’s groups.
In September 2014 she participated to the UN General Assembly in New York with Martti Ahtisaari, Graça Machel and Mary Robinson as a strong advocate for climate change and sustainable development, taking part in that year’s Climate Summit and New York Climate Change March.
Gro Brundtland joined The Elders’ delegation to Moscow in April 2015. Together with Kofi Annan, Martti Ahtisaari, Lakhdar Brahimi, Jimmy Carter and Ernesto Zedillo, she met with President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, as well as former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.
In September 2015, Gro Harlem Brundtland travelled to New York with Hina Jilani, Graça Machel and Ernesto Zedillo to celebrate the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals. During the trip, Prime Minister Brundtland participated in two events as part of The Elders’ A UN Fit for purpose initiative and the Social Good Summit, hosted by the UN Foundation and Mashable.
In May 2016 Gro Harlem Brundtland together with Hina Jilani, Graca Machel and Mary Robinson launched The Elders’ new initiative on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) at the Women Deliver conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. The initiative calls for universal access to health care as a way of saving lives, tackling poverty, empowering women and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.