"Infection, disease, poverty: these are the threats to our common security," declared Dr. Gro Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway and director general emeritus of the World Health Organization. She spoke yesterday in Kennedy Hall's Call Auditorium in a talk entitled "The Global Significance of Sustainable Development." Brundtland, also a member of the United Nations High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, highlighted poverty, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation and gender inequality as the major challenges that hinder the world's progress toward sustainable development. ? Coined by Brundtland herself in the 1987 report of the World Commission on Environment and Development entitled "Our Common Future," "sustainable development" involves cooperation between nations and their citizens who "must meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the future [and needs] of the next generation."

It was the generations of the 1960s and 70s that began to recognize the need for environmental sustainability, and as Brundtland highlighted, limited resources only allow limited growth. Forced with the challenge of how to sustain and expand the world's resource base, Brundtland believes that only if we solve "social and economic problems can [we] solve environmental problems."

Global issues such as poverty, global warming and pollution are not exclusive to one part of the world's population.

"Nobody, not even the richest, can hide from these global trends," Brundtland said. A logical solution seems to lie in the distribution of the benefits of economic growth. 60 percent of the ecosystem's resources are used unsustainably by the world's underdeveloped nations. Brundtland said that citizens of these nations are forced to exploit their resources by overusing land for economic growth. In order to alleviate this, Brundtland emphasized the need for improved rules for global trade.

"The very future of our planet will be in danger," she said, if we don't worry about poverty.