International Relations
Online ISSN : 1883-9916
Print ISSN : 0454-2215
ISSN-L : 0454-2215
Gender Studies and International Politics
The Norwegian Innovation of Global Environment and Gender Politics: The Brundtland Magic?
Ariyoshi Ogawa
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2010 Volume 2010 Issue 161 Pages 161_54-67


As Kari Norgaard and Richard York suggests, dual development of environmental politics and gender politics. Since the 1970s, Norway has shown remarkable achievements in both environmental and gender equality policies. Gro Harlem Brundtland (prime minister 1981, 86–89, 90–96) was a female political leader who drove forward this dual development in the national and international arenas, through the introduction of gender quota in all public boards in the government, the launch of the Strategy for Women and Gender Equality in Development Cooperation, and not least the chairmanship of the WCED (the World Commission on Environment and Development) that proliferated the idea of “sustainable development.” Brundtland was both a successor and an outsider in the Norwegian democratic political culture. Historically, the Norwegian democracy had developed in the Scandinavian “state-friendly” society (Per Selle). The conventional social democratic politics depended on “planning” and centralized corporatist organizations which were unequivocally male-dominated. But it was wildered by changing political culture in the wake of the national debate on the European Community membership in early 1970s. The EC debate contrasted “hierarchical” and “centralized” Europe versus “equal” and “dispersed” Norway. The Norwegian government froze the EC accession as a result of the referendum in 1972 with more “no” votes than “yes” ones. The Brundtland politics turned out much more open to the new post-material and feminist movements than the traditional labor party and unions. In the global environmental politics, Brundtland organized the final report of the WCED (the Brundtland Report), which deliberately linked the environmental concern in the North with the problem of underdevelopment and poverty in the South (“the Brundtland Link”). Later, the idea of “sustainable development” was viewed more critically in more complicated and acute contexts of the global environment and development. In sum, Brundtland cut out an active-inclusive (John S. Dryzek) path of politics, in both the national and international dimensions, to prevent “organized irresponsibility” in the global risk society (Ulrich Beck), where uncertainty and “subpolitics” circumscribe the conventional public politics—a path which is now controversial but still innovative.

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© 2010 The Japan Association of International Relations
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