In 1983, the Secretary General of the United Nations asked Gro Harlem Brundtland, then-President of Norway, to head up the World Commission on Environment and Development, charged with identifying the obstacles standing in the way of the nations of the world in pursuing sustainable development and recommending solutions. After four years of research, the Commission released "Our Common Future," also known as "The Brundtland Report," which laid the groundwork for much of the sustainable development efforts of the past quarter-century. Among other landmark elements, the Brundtland Report put forth what remains the most commonly cited definition of sustainable development, "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."
In this series of interview excerpts, Brundtland, now an Honorary B Leader, explains the triumphs and setbacks in the decades since the report was issued, focusing on how important it is that, for its own sake, business adopt sustainable development goals of its own. Brundtland is optimistic, citing the formation of the Business Council for Sustainable Development and statements by a number of major business leaders who understand the importance of adjusting their business models to a more sustainable path for the sake of their own long-term profitability.