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Our Common Future, Annexe 2: The Commission and its Work

From A/42/427. Our Common Future: Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development

The Commissioners

The Commission's Mandate

The Commission's Work

Members of the Secretariat

Inaugural Meeting & Workplan

Public Hearings

Expert Special Advisors

Financia1 Contributions

Other Contributions

Further Activities


The World Commission on Environment and Development was created as a consequence of General Assembly resolution 38/161 adopted at the 38th Session of the United Nations in the fall of 1983. That resolution called upon the Secretary General to appoint the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Commission rind in turn directed them to jointly appoint the remaining members, at least half of whom were to be selected from the developing world. The Secretary General appointed Mrs. Gro Harlem Brundtland of Norway, then leader of the Norwegian Labour Party, as Chairman and Dr. Mansour Khalid, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs from Sudan, as Vice-Chairman. They together appointed the remaining members of the Commission.

The Commission has functioned as an independent body. All its members have served the Commission in their individual capacities, not as representatives of their governments. The Commission has thus been able to address any issues, to solicit any advice, and to formulate and present any proposals and recommendations that it considered pertinent and relevant.

In pursuing its mandate, the commission has paid careful attention to the Terms of Reference suggested by the General Assembly in Resolution 38/161 and has operated in close collaboration with the Intergovernmental Inter-sessional Preparatory Committee of the Governing Council of the UN Environment Programme, which has itself been preparing an intergovernmental report on environmental perspectives to the year 2000 and beyond.

After the Commission's report has been discussed by UNEP's Governing Council, it is to be submitted to the General Assembly of the United Nations for its consideration during its 42nd Session in the fall of 1987.

The Commissioners


Gro Harlem Brundtland, Norway. Prime Minister, Parliamentary Leader of the Labour Party 1981 86, Member of Parliament from 1977, Minister of Environment 1974-79. Associate Director Oslo school Health Services 1968-74.


Mansour Khalid, Sudan. Deputy Prime Minister 1976, Minister of Education 1975-76, President, UN Security Council 1972, Minister of Foreign Affairs 1971 75, Minister of Youth and Social Affairs 1969-71.


Susanna Agnelli, Italy. Italian Senator, writer, Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs. Member of the Independent Commission on International Humanitarian Issues. Member of the European Parliament 1979-81, Mayor of Monte Argentario 1974-84, Member of Chamber of Deputies 1976-83.

Saleh Abdulrahman Al-Athel, Saudi Arabia. President of King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology; Vice-President for Graduate Studies and Research, King Saud University 1976-64; Dean, College of Engineering, King Saud University 1975-76.

Pablo Gonzalez Casanova, Mexico. Professor of Political and social Sciences, National Autonomous University of Mexico, President of the Latin American Association of Sociology. [In August 1986, for personal reasons, Pablo Gonzalez Casanova ceased to participate in the work of the Commission.]

Bernard T. G. Chidzero, Zimbabwe. Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development; Chairman, Development Committee of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund; Member, UN Committee for Development Planning; Member, Board of the World Institute for Development Economics and Research; Director, Commodities Division, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) 1968-1977; Deputy Secretary General, UNCTAD 1977-80.

Lamine Mohamed Padika, Cote d'Ivoire. Minister of Marine Affairs, Chairman of the National Council for Environment, Secretary of State for Marine Affairs 1974-76.

Volker Hauff, Federal Republic of Germany. Member of Parliament; Vice Chairman, Social Democratic Party Parliamentary Group, Responsible for Environment; Minister for Transportation 1980-82; Minister for Research and Technology 1979-80; Parliamentary Secretary of State for Science Research and Technology 1972-78.

Istvan Lang, Hungary. Secretary General of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences; Deputy Secretary General 1970-85, and Executive secretary 1963-70, Section of Biology, Hungarian Academy of Sciences; Research Institute of Soil Science and Agricultural Chemistry, Hungarian Academy of Sciences 1955-63.

Ma Shijun, Peoples Republic of China. Director of the Research Center of Ecology, Academia Sinica, Chairman of the Commission of Environmental Sciences, President of the Ecological Society of China.

Margarita Marino do Botero, Colombia. Chairman, Fundacion El Colegio de Villa de Leyva (The Green College); Director General, National Institute of Renewable Natural Resources and the Environment (INDERENA) 1983-86; Director, Office of International Affairs, INDERENA 1978-83; Regional Consultant, United Nations Environment Programme 1973-77.

Nagendra Singh, India. President of the International Court of Justice, President of IMO Assembly 1969, President of ILO Maritime Session 1971, President of the Indian Academy of Environmental Law and Research, President of the National Labour Law Association of India, Life Member of the Board of Governors of the International Council for Environmental Law, Member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration; Deputy Chairman of CEPLA (IUCN); Chancellor of the University of Goa; Fellow of the British Academy.

Paulo Nogueira-Neto, Brazil. Federal District Secretary of Environment, Science and Technology, National Council of Environment; Federal Secretary of the Environment 1974-86; Associate Professor, Department of Ecology, University of Sao Paulo; President, Association for the Defence of the Environment 1954-83; President, Sao Paulo State Forest Council 1967-74.

Saburo Okita, Japan. President, International University; Advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Advisor to the Environment Agency; Executive Committee Member of the Club of Rome; Chairman, World Wildlife Fund Japan; Chairman, Advisory Committee for External Economic Issues 1984-85; Government Representative for External Economic Relations 1980-81; Foreign Minister 1979-80; Member of the Pearson Commission 1968-69.

Shridath S. Ramphal, Guyana. Secretary General of the Commonwealth of Nations, Minister for Foreign Affairs 1972-75, Minister of Justice 1973-75, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs 1967-72, Attorney General 1966-72.

William Doyle Ruckelshaus, United States. Attorney, Perkins, Coie; Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 1970-73, 1983-84; Senior Vice President for Law and Corporate Affairs, Weyerhaeuser company 1976-83; Acting Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation 1973; Deputy Attorney General, US Department of Justice 1973.

Mohamed Sahnoun, Algeria. Algerian Ambassador to the United States; Chief of Algerian Permanent Mission to the United Nations 1982-84; Algerian Ambassador, Paris 1979-82; Algerian Ambassador, Bonn 1975-79; Deputy Secretary General, Arab League 1973-74; Deputy Secretary General, Organization of African Unity 1964-73.

Emil Salim, Indonesia. Minister of State for Population and the Environment; Minister of State for Development Supervision and the Environment 1978-83; Member People's Consultative Assembly 1977-32; Minister of Communications 1973-78; Minister of State for Administrative Reform; Deputy Chairman, National Planning Board 1971-81.

Bukar Shaib, Nigeria. Minister of Agriculture, Water Resources and Rural Development 1983-86, Special Advisor to the President of Nigeria 1980-83, Nigerian Ambassador to Rome 1979, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources 1968-78.

Vladimir Sokolov, USSR. Director, Institute of Evolutionary Animal Morphology and Ecology, USSR Academy of Sciences; Professor and Head of Department oh Vertebrate Zoology, Faculty of biology, Moscow State University; Deputy Chairman, Section of Chemical and Technological and Biological Sciences, Presidium, USSR Academy of Sciences.

Janez Stanovnik, Yugoslavia. Member, Presidium of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia; Professor, University of Ljubljana; Executive Secretary, UN Economic Commission for Europe 1967-83: Member of the Federal Cabinet and Federal Executive Council 1966-67.

Maurice Strong, Canada. President, American Water Development, Inc.: former Under-Secretary General and Special Advisor to the Secretary-General of the United Nations; Executive Director of the United Nations Office for Emergency Operations in Africa 1985-86; Chairman of the Board, Petro-Canada 1976-78; Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme 1973-75; Secretary-General, United Nations Conference on the Human Environment 1970-72.

Jim MacNeill, Canada. Secretary-General of the Commission and ex officio member; Director of Environment, OECD 1978-84; Secretary (Deputy Minister), Canadian Ministry of State for Urban Affaire 1974-76; Canadian Commissioner General, UN Conference on Human Settlements 1975-76; Assistant Secretary, Canadian Ministry of State for Urban Affairs 1972-74.

The Commission's Mandate

The Commission's Mandate, officially adopted at its Inaugural Meeting in Geneva on 1-3 October 1984, states:

The World Commission on Environment and Development has been established at a time of unprecedented growth in pressures on the global environment, with grave predictions about the human future becoming commonplace.

The Commission is confident that it is possible to build a future that is more prosperous, more just, and more secure because it rests on policies and practices that serve to expand and sustain the ecological basis of development.

The Commission is convinced, however, that this will no happen without significant changes in current approaches: changes in perspectives, attitudes and life styles; changes in certain critical policies and the ways in which they are formulated and applied; changes in the nature of cooperation between governments, business, science, and people; changes in certain forms of international cooperation which have proved incapable of tackling many environment and development issues; changes, above all, in the level of understanding and commitment by people, organizations and governments.

The World Commission on Environment and Development therefore invites suggestions, participation, and support in order to assist it urgently:

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

  2. to strengthen international cooperation on environment and development and to 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; and

  3. to raise the level of understanding and commitment to action on the part of individuals, voluntary organizations, businesses, institutes, and governments.

The Commission solicits the views of those individuals, scientific institutes, non-governmental organizations, specialized agencies, and other bodies of the United Nations, and national governments concerned with environment and development issues. It requests their support and it will facilitate their participation in the work of the Commission. It wishes especially to hear the views of youth.

In fulfilling its tasks, the Commission will pay careful attention to the Terms of Reference suggested by the General Assembly of the United Nations in resolution 38/161, in which the General Assembly welcomed the establishment of the Commission.

The Commission's Work

In May of 1984, an Organizational Meeting of the Commission was held in Geneva to adopt its rules of procedure and operation and to appoint a Secretary General to guide its work. In July of 1964, a Secretariat was established in Geneva, temporarily at the Centre de Morillon and later at the Palais Wilson.

Members of the Secretariat

Members of the Secretariat have included:

Secretary General: Jim MacNeill

Senior Professional Staff:

    Nitin Desai, Senior Economic Advisor

    Vitus Fernando, Senior Programme Officer

    Branislav Gosovic, Senior Programme Officer

    Marie-Madeleine Jacquemier, Finance and Administrative Officer

    Kazu Kato, Director of Programmes

    Warren H. Lindner, Secretary of the Commission and Director of Administration

    Elisabeth Monosovski, Senior Programme Officer

    Gustavo Montero, Programme Planning Officer

    Shimwaa'i Muntemba, Senior Programme Officer

    Janos Pasztor, Senior Programme Officer

    Peter Robbs, Senior Public Information Advisor

    Vicente Sanchez, Director of Programmes

    Linda Starke, Editor

    Peter Stone, Director of Information

    Edith Surber, Finance and Administrative Officer

General Services and Support Staff:

    Brita Baker

    Elisabeth Bohler-Goodship

    Marie-Pierre Destouet

    Marian Doku

    Tamara Dunn

    Teresa Harmand

    Aud Loen

    Jelka de Marsano

    Chedra Mayhew

    Christel Ollesch

    Ellen Permato

    Guadalupe Quesado

    Mildred Raphoz

    Evelyn Salvador

    Iona D'Souza

    Kay Streit

    Vicky Underhill

    Shane Vanderwert

Inaugural Meeting & Workplan

The Commission held its first official meeting in Geneva on 1-3 October 1984. During that meeting, the Commission agreed upon its Mandate, the key issues it would address in the course of its deliberations, the strategy it would employ to achieve its objectives, and the workplan and timetable that would be used to guide its work. Immediately following that meeting, the Commission publicly released its principal working document, 'Mandate for Change'.

At its Inaugural Meeting, the Commission selected eight key issues for analysis during the course of its work:

  • Perspectives on Population, Environment, and Sustainable Development;

  • Energy: Environment and Development;

  • Industry: Environment and Development;

  • Food Security, Agriculture, Forestry, Environment, and Development;

  • Human Settlements: Environment and Development;

  • International Economic Relations, Environment, and Development;

  • Decision Support Systems for Environmental Management; and

  • International Cooperation.

It agreed that it would examine these issues from the perspective of the year 2000 and beyond and from the perspective of their common sources in economic, social, and sectoral policies.

At its Inaugural Meeting, the Commission also decided that its processes would be open, visible, and participatory and that in conducting its work, strategies would be employed to ensure it of receiving the broadest range of views and advice on the key issues it was addressing.

Public Hearings

The Commission therefore decided that it would hold deliberative meetings in all regions of the world and that it would take the occasion of those meetings to get a first hand view of environment and development issues in those regions. It also decided to use these visits to hold open Public Hearings where senior government representatives, scientists and experts, research institutes, industrialists, representatives of non-governmental organizations, and the general public could openly express their concerns to the Commission and submit their views and advice on issues of common concern.

These Public Hearings, which are a unique feature of the Commission, have become its 'trademark', demonstrating both to the Commissioners and the participants that the issues addressed by the Commission are indeed of global concern and do transcend national boundaries and disparate cultures. Hundreds of organizations and individuals gave testimony during the Public Hearings and over 800 written submissions constituting more than 10,000 pages of material were received by the Commission in connection with them. The Public Hearings have been of immeasurable benefit to the Commissioners and the Secretariat, and the gratitude of the Commission is extended to all who contributed to their success.

Deliberative meetings, site visits, and/or Public Hearings of the Commission were held in Jakarta, Indonesia, 27-31 March 1985: Oslo, Norway, 21-28 June 1985; Sao Paulo and Brasilia, Brazil, 25 October-4 November 1985; Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa, Halifax, and quebec City, Canada, 21-31 May 1986; Harare, Zimbabwe, 15-19 September, Nairobi, Kenya, 20-23 September 1986; Moscow, USSR, 6-12 December 1986; and Tokyo, Japan, 23-28 February 1987. Special working group meetings of the Commission were also held in Geneva, Moscow, and Berlin (West).

Expert Special Advisors

To further widen its base of information and advice, the Commission appointed a group of expert Special Advisors to assist it and the Secretariat in the analysis of the key issues. These included Edward S. Ayensu on Food Security and Forestry, Gamani Corea on International Economic Relations, Gordon T. Goodman on Energy. Ashok Khosla on Decision Support Systems for Environmental Management, Robert D. Munro on International Cooperation and Legal Regimes, Michael Royston on Industry, Johan Jorgen Hoist on Environment and Security, and Guy-Olivier Segond on Youth. The Chairman was also advised by Hans Christian Bugge and Morten Wetland. Later in its work, the Commission appointed Lloyd Timberlake as Special Editorial Advisor.

To assist it in its work in three of the key issue areas - Energy, Industry, and Food Security - the Commission constituted Advisory Panels of leading experts to advise it on the recommendations and conclusions it should consider making. The chairmen and members of the Commission's Advisory Panels were:

Advisory Panel on Energy


    Enrique Iglesias, Foreign Minister of Uruguay


    Abdlatif Y. Al-Hamad (Kuwait)

    Toyoaki Ikuta (Japan)

    Gu Jian (China)

    Al Noor Kassum (Tanzania)

    Ulf Lantzke (deceased) (Federal Republic of Germany)

    Wangari Maathai (Kenya)

    David J. Rose (deceased) (United States)

    Prero Shankar Jha (India)

    Carl Tham (Sweden)

    Gyorgy Vajda (Hungary)

Advisory Panel on Industry

Chairman: Umberto Colombo (Italy), President of ENfcA


    Betsy Ancker-Johnson (United States)

    M.J. Flux (United Kingdom)

    Arnoldo Jose Gabaldon (Venezuela)

    Alexander C. Helfrich (Netherlands)

    Charles Levinson (Canada)

    Finn Lied (Norway)

    George P. Livanos (Greece)

    Mohamed Mazouni (Algeria)

    Thomas McCarthy (United States)

    Jose E. Mind]in (Brazil)

    Keichi Oshima (Japan)

    Roger Strelow (United States)

    Naval Tata (India)

    Erna Witoelar (Indonesia)

Advisory Panel of Food Security


    M.S. Swarainathan (India), Director General of the International Rice Research Institute


    Nyle Brady (United States)

    Robert Chambers (United Kingdom)

    K. Chowdhry (India)

    Gilberto Gallopin (Argentina)

    Joe Hulse (Canada)

    Kenneth King (Guyana)

    V. Malima (Tanzania)

    Samir Radwan (Egypt)

    Lu Liang Shu (China)

Advisory Panel Reports

The reports of the three Advisory Panels were submitted to the Commission for its consideration during its meeting in Canada in May of 1986 and have since been published under the titled Energy 2000, Industry 2000, and Food 2000.

The Commission was also assisted in its review of legal rights and principles by a group of international legal experts chaired by Robert Munro (Canada) with Johan G. Lammers (Netherlands) as Rapporteur. The members of the group included Andronico Adede (Kenya), Francoise Burhenne (Federal Republic of Germany), Alexandre-Charles Kiss (France), Stephen McCaffrey (United States), Akio Morishima (Japan), Zaki Mustafa (Sudan), Henri Smets (Belgium), Robert Stein (United States), Alberto Szekely (Mexico), Alexandre Timoehenko (USSR), and Amado Tolentino (Philippines) Their report was submitted to and considered by the Commission during its meeting in Harare in September 1986. It will be published under the title Legal Principles for Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development.

During the course of its work, the Commission also engaged experts, research institutes, and academic centres of excellence from around the globe to prepare more than 75 studies and reports relating to the eight key issues for the Commission's review and consideration. These studies and reports provided an invaluable resource base for the final reports of the Commission's Advisory Panels and for the final chapters of this report.

Financia1 Contributions

Initial funding to permit the Commission to commence its work came from the governments of Canada, Denmark, Finland, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland. Each of these 'sponsoring' governments had been instrumental in the creation of the Commission and during the course of the Commibeion'r work, each of them increased their contribution beyond their original pledge.

In addition to the 'sponsoring' group of countries, the Commission has also received untied financial contributions from the governments of Cameroon, Chile, the Federal Republir of Germany, Hungary, Oman, Portugal, and Saudi Arabia. Significant contributions have also been received from the Kord Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, as well as from NOPAD and SIDA.

Other Contributions

The City and Canton of Geneva restored and furnished one wing of the Palais Wilson and provided that to the Commission's Secretariat free of rent and utilities. The local costs of the Commission's meetings in Indonesia, Brazil, Zimbabwe, and the USSR were covered by the host governments. The costs of the Commission's working group meeting in Moscow were also covered by the Soviet Government. The costs of the working group meeting in Berlin (West) were covered by the Federal Republic of Germany. The Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development hosted and covered all of the costs of a meeting in Kuwait of the Advisory Panel on Energy. The accounts of the Commission have been audited by Hunzikei and Associates of Geneva.

The Commission's sincere appreciation is extended to all the governments, foundations, and institutes that provided the financial and other support necessary for it to complete its work, including thoBe that contributed funds too late to be acknowledged here.

Further Activities

Between the issuance of this report and its consideration by the UN General Assembly during its 42nd Session in the fall of 1987, the Commission will be meeting during a series of regional presentational meetings with senior governmental representatives, the business and scientific communities, non-governmental organizations, and the press to discuss this report and, it is hoped, to build a body of public and governmental support for the recommendations and conclusions.

There are no plans for the Commission to continue after its report has been considered by the General Assembly, and it will officially cease its operations on 31 December 1987.


Since its creation in late 1963, the Commission has received advice and support from thousands of individuals, institutes, and organizations the world over, many of whom are listed here. Many laboured long hours in preparing submissions for the Public Hearings, reports for the Advisory Panels, and studies for submission to the Commission. Without their dedication, cooperation, and advice as well as that of the Special Advisors and the chairmen and members of the Advisory Panels and Legal Experts Group, this report would not have been possible. The Commission's sincerest appreciation is extended to them all. (Affiliations and titles are as of the date of communication with the Commission. Verification of all the following names and titles was not possible, and the Commission apologizes for any inaccuracies.)