Former Norway PM wins Tang Prize in Sustainable Development (update 1) (Focus Taiwan)

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Taipei, June 18 (CNA) Gro Harlem Brundtland, a former prime minister of Norway, was awarded the first Tang Prize in Sustainable Development on Wednesday for "concept, leadership, and implementation of sustainable development for the benefit of humanity."

Brundtland, the "godmother of sustainable development," chaired the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) from 1984-1987. The WCED, also referred to as the Brundtland Commission in recognition of her leadership, coined the term "sustainable development" in a landmark report in 1987 titled "Our Common Future."

The 75-year-old will receive a cash prize of NT$40 million (US$1.33 million) and a research grant of up to NT$10 million to be used within five years, as well as a medal and a certificate.

The 1987 "Brundtland Report" by the WCED laid the groundwork for the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which produced a global action plan for sustainable development known as Agenda 21 and initiated the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the lead-up to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

The report defined the term "sustainable development" as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." The concept supports economic and social development while also highlighting the importance of protecting the environment and natural resources.

In the foreword of the report, Brundtland wrote that the challenge of finding sustainable development paths should be the motivation for "a renewed search for multilateral solutions and a restructured international economic system of cooperation."

"These challenges cut across the divides of national sovereignty, of limited strategies for economic gain, and of separated disciplines of science," she wrote, calling for "higher expectations, for common goals pursued together, for an increased political will to address our common future."

The report compiled the views of hundreds of experts, scientists, industrialists, government and NGO representatives, and members of the general public, and it continues to have a major impact on UN conferences, including the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development and Conference of the Parties.

Born in 1939 in Oslo, Norway, Brundtland graduated with a medical degree from the University of Oslo and a Master's in public health from Harvard University.

She was Norway's Environment Minister from 1974-1979 before becoming the first female Prime Minister of Norway - and the youngest ever - in 1981.

She later served as the director-general of the World Health Organization from 1998 to 2003, during which time she was credited for helping to prevent the spread of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and gained recognition for successfully negotiating an agreement on tobacco control.

Brundtland was named a UN Special Envoy on Climate Change from 2007-2010 and was on the UN Secretary-General's High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability from 2010-2012.

She currently serves as deputy chair of The Elders, a group of world leaders brought together in 2007 by late South African president Nelson Mandela to work for peace and human rights.

The Tang Prize was established in 2012 by Taiwanese entrepreneur Samuel Yin to honor leaders in four fields: sustainable development, biopharmaceutical science, sinology and rule of law. Laureates are selected based on the originality and impact of their achievements, irrespective of nationality or ethnicity.

Winners of the award are selected by a panel of judges convened by Academia Sinica, Taiwan's top research institute. The panel comprises prominent researchers and scholars from Taiwan and abroad, including Nobel laureates.

Up to three winners in each category can share a cash prize of NT$40 million and a research grant of up to NT$10 million. An award ceremony for the winners in all four categories will take place Sept. 18 in Taipei.

The Tang Prize in Sustainable Development recognizes innovation in science and technology in such fields as engineering, energy, environment and ecology.

The biennial prize takes its name from the Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.), a period considered to be the height of classical Chinese civilization, characterized by liberal policies and robust cultural activity.

(By Christie Chen)