Former Norway PM Gro H. Brundtland: It would be “very strange” if Catalonia were to leave the EU
The winner of the 25th Premi Internacional Catalunya, Gro Harlem Brundtland has explained how receiving the award with Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai is “special as both are fighting for women’s rights”. The former Prime Minister of Norway and ex Secretary General of the World Health Organisation also stated how it would be “very strange” if Catalonia were to leave the EU in the event of a hypothetical independence from Spain. Brundtland also encourages Catalonia to invest and establish renewable energy systems as well as gender equality quotas in both politics and business.
Barcelona (ACN).- The award ceremony of the 25th Premi International Catalunya will take place this Friday. This year both Norwegian politician Gro Harlem Brundtland and Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai have been awarded Catalonia’s most prestigious prize, which recognises “their determination and courage in the defence of human rights”. Brundtland was the first female Prime Minster of Norway and the first Female Secretary General of the World Health Organisation (WHO). Yousafzai is the Pakistani teenager who was shot in October 2012 by the Taliban for defending women’s right for education in her country. In an interview with CNA, Brundtland considered it “special” to share the award with the young activist as they both struggle for women’s rights. The former Norwegian Prime Minister also noted how it would be “very strange” if Catalonia were to leave the EU in the event of a hypothetical independence from Spain. She also encouraged Catalonia to invest and establish renewable energy systems as well as gender equality quotas in both politics and business. 166 candidates from 54 different countries had been put forward for this year’s award. Previous winners of the prestigious prize include: former president of Brazil, Lula da Silva; Burmese opposition politician, Aung San Suu Kyi; former US President, Jimmy Carter; British philosopher, Karl Popper; Former European Commission President, Jacques Delors and French anthropologist, Claude Lévi-Strauss.
Brundtland was Norwegian Prime Minister on three occasions: 1981, 1986-89, and 1990-96. This Friday at 7pm she will receive the 25th Catalunya International Prize, shared with Malala Yousafzai. Both have survived attacks on their lives: Brundtland escaped the 2011 massacre in Utoya carried out by Anders Brevik, while Yousafzai survived an assassination attempt on her by the Taliban.
The Catalunya International Prize is awarded annually and is decided by an independent jury formed of intellectuals from Catalonia and abroad. It recognises individuals who have greatly contributed to the cultural, social, scientific and political development of humankind. This year, the jury wanted to recognise “the determination and courage in defence of human rights” that both winners have shown.
A life dedicated fighting for sustainable development
Doctor by profession and a member the Labour Party since a child, Brundtland coined the term “sustainable development” and has devoted her life struggling to eradicate poverty as well as to promote gender equality. She was author of the famous Brundtland report, entitled “Our Common Future”, incorporated into the United Nations framework in 1987, which has since been a guide on how to achieve sustainable development. Brundtland recognises that progress has been slow since the report was written over a quarter of a century ago. However, she does note that it has improved the awareness of the need to care for the environment. The Norwegian politician has received numerous awards in recognition of her work, she stated how “it is nice to be appreciated for what you try to achieve in your life”.
Catalonia’s role in Europe
When asked about the growing call for independence amongst the Catalan population Brundtland replied, “It is a very complicated constitutional issue and you have to look at it from different perspectives. So far I have only listened to the opinions of some Catalans, so I cannot enter this debate”. However, the former Norwegian Prime Minister does admit that it would be “very strange” if Catalonia were to leave the EU even though the population would prefer to remain part of the project. Brundtland was behind the referendum held in Norway in 1994 to be part of the European Union and she was supporting the accession option. However, the Norwegian people opted to remain out of the EU.
Strengthening gender equality and renewable energies
She advisedCatalonia to place a firm commitment on renewable energy and sustainable development, and to explore “new forms of energy”, such as gas. In addition, Brundtland recommended strengthening gender equality by setting up a quota system for politics and companies, as has been done in Norway. She also proposed to create a system fully combining maternity and paternity leaves, ensuring that both the mother and the father can spend “a large amount of time” with their newborn children.