Walking the Path of Hope

The BI-Fudan MBA program celebrated its fifteenth anniversary on June 4, 2011. In attendance was former Norwegian prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, who delivered an extensive keynote speech about environment, politics, economy and social affairs.

Brundtland, a member of the Norwegian Labor Party, served as prime minister of Norway in 1981, from 1986-1989, and then finally from 1990-1996. After her final term as prime minister, she went on to become Director General of the WHO and later special envoy on climate change for UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon. Since her retirement, Brundtland has stayed involved in international diplomacy and remains a well-known and respected figure around the world.

While serving as prime minister of Norway, Brundtland opened the Nordic Centre at Fudan University in 1995, a year which also saw the signing of a bilateral agreement on environmental cooperation between Norway and China.

On June 4, Brundtland held a keynote speech at Fudan University for the 15th anniversary of the joint BI-Fudan MBA program. The program, established in 1996, has a total of 1700 alumni and is currently the largest Sino-Norwegian intercollegiate program. The two-year program offers comprehensive training in international management. Other speakers at the event included Dag Morten Dalen, Senior Vice President of BI, Lu Xiongwen, Dean of the Fudan School of Management, Professor Torger Reve, and Paul Utvik, an alumni of the BI-Fudan MBA Program. The festivities concluded with a fashion show featuring a collection specially designed for BI, and an anniversary party.

In her speech, Brundtland recognized China’s importance as a collaborator in the global fight against climate change, and the challenges faced by the country in its efforts to balance economic growth with sustainable development. Citing former World Bank economist David Wheeler, she stated that China is one of the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, like extreme weather. Brundtland said that the question is not if China should grow, but rather how it should grow, and that the advances made by China in green technology put it on the right track for making sustainable prosperity a reality.

As a former Director General of the WHO, public health is an area of great interest to Brundtland, and a topic which took up much of her speech. She expressed that the health authorities of Norway and China have established close ties, and that the countries have much to learn from each other in this respect. Brundtland also congratulated the Chinese government on their implementation of a smoking ban in public areas, put into effect May 1 this year.

While globalization has brought with it strong economic growth, said Brundtland, it has also increased economic inequality within and between nations and regions. She expressed that responsible and effective public institutions are needed to meet social and environmental challenges, like equal opportunity for women. Noting that Norway’s economic rise came just a few short years before China’s, Brundtland went on to describe the complementary nature of China and Norway’s industries. As Norway’s third largest trading partner, said Brundtland, the two countries have a firm commercial relationship as collaborators and competitors, manifesting itself in the trading of resources, technology and services across a range of different sectors.

At the end of her speech, Brundtland expressed faith that China and Norway will continue to find common ground in cooperation across different sectors, but stressed that sustainability and responsible development must always be prioritized in the search for economic growth. She ended with a quotation by Chinese author Lu Xun, saying that “hope is like a path across the land – it is not there to begin with, but when lots of people go the same way, it comes into being”.

On June 3, Brundtland visited the Polar Research Institute of China (PRIC), where she attended a meeting with senior researchers and conducted a tour of the PRIC facilities. At the meeting, she was greeted by PRIC Director Yang Huigen. Brundtland expressed her admiration for the Chinese efforts in advancing polar science, and the importance of Sino-Norwegian collaboration in this field. Brundtland also brought up the North-Eastern Passage, noting the potential reduction in emissions.

The parties agreed that Sino-Norwegian cooperation in Arctic research is and remains important to both countries, and raised a series of suggestions for further areas of cooperation.

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