Gunilla Carlsson

Gunilla Carlsson
Minister for International Development Cooperation
In office
6 October 2006  17 September 2013
Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt
Preceded by Carin Jämtin
Succeeded by Hillevi Engström
Personal details
Born (1963-05-11) 11 May 1963
Lund, Sweden
Political party Moderate Party
Website Official website
Party website

Anna Gunilla Carlsson (born 11 May 1963) is a Swedish politician and a member of the Moderate Party. She served as Minister for International Development Cooperation from 2006 to 2013, member of the Swedish Riksdag from 2002 to 2013 and deputy chairman of her party from 2003 to 2015.

Early life

She was born and raised in Lund in Skåne. She was at one time chairperson of the Moderate Youth League district in that county. At the Battle of Lycksele, when current party leader Fredrik Reinfeldt was elected chairman of the Youth League, Carlsson was elected vice chairman.

Political career

Member of the European Parliament, 1995-2002

After working as an auditor, she joined the Moderate Party office in 1994. In 1995 she was elected to the European Parliament and served until 2002. In parliament, she served on the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and Industrial Policy (1995-1999) and on the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Common Security and Defence Policy (1999-2002). In addition to her committee assignments, she was vice-chair of the parliament’s delegation to the European Economic Area Joint Parliamentary Committee (EEA) from 1995 until 1997.

During her time in parliament, Carlsson unsuccessfully ran for the leadership of her Moderate Party in 1999. Instead she was elected deput chairowman, under the leadership of chairman Bo Lundgren.

Career in national politics

In the 2002 national elections, Carlsson was elected to the Riksdag for Stockholm. In 1999, she was elected vice chairman of the Moderate Party.

With the growing co-operation between the Swedish opposition parties, she was appointed to head the group co-ordinating foreign policy. This has led to speculation about her being a possible candidate to the office of Minister for Foreign Affairs after Alliance for Sweden's victory in the 2006 election. With a number of the Moderate Party Riksdag members from Östergötland resigning, she has decided to stand in her home county in 2006. While she won the internal primaries, she was only placed second on the list after Gunnar Axén, but comfortably reached re-election as the party went from three to four seats from the county.[1] She continues to make her home in Tyresö outside Stockholm.

From 2007, Carlsson was a member of the World Bank Group’s High Level Advisory Council on Women's Economic Empowerment, which was chaired by Danny Leipziger and Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul.[2]

In her capacity as minister, Carlsson also chaired the Stockholm-based Commission on Climate Change and Development (CCCD), a body made up of 13 international experts and established by the Swedish government in 2007 with the aim of looking at how countries can adapt to climate change. In its final report, the commission recommended in 2009 that poor countries already suffering from the impact of climate change urgently need up to $2 billion to help adjust and cope.[3]

In September 2009 Carlsson led, together with Karel De Gucht, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection, a delegation to Zimbabwe for discussions with President Robert Mugabe. This was to discuss the lifting of targeted EU sanctions against him and more than 200 of his political allies and related businesses. He and his Zanu-PF party have for years loudly argued that these measures are directly responsible for Zimbabwe's economic collapse. The EU team did not buy that argument, and would not even put the sanctions issue on the negotiating table at that time, according to a BBC report.[4][5]

As the Swedish Riksdag convened after the summer on 17 September 2013, Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt announced that Carlsson had submitted her resignation and he had accepted the resignation earlier that morning.[6] Subsequently, she resigned her seat in the Swedish Riksdag.[7]

Life after politics

From 2012 to 2013, Carlsson served – alongside Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, David Cameron and others – on the High-level Panel on Post-2015 Development Agenda, an advisory board established by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to develop the global development agenda beyond 2015, the target date for the Millennium Development Goals.[8] Alongside Tertius Zongo and Callisto Madavo, she also served on the African Development Bank’s three-member High Level Panel on Fragile States between 2013 and 2014, where she advised on strategies related to the Horn of Africa.[9] Between 2013 and 2015, she was a member of the UNAIDSLancet Commission on Defeating AIDS, chaired by Joyce Banda, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and Peter Piot.[10]

In addition, Carlsson has held a variety of paid and unpaid positions, including the following:

In 2017, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres appointed Gunilla as the UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director, Management and Governance, and Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations.[14]


Party political offices
Preceded by
Gun Hellsvik
Second Deputy Chairperson of the Moderate Party
Succeeded by
Kristina Axén Olin
Preceded by
Chris Heister
First Deputy Chairperson of the Moderate Party
Succeeded by
Peter Danielsson
Political offices
Preceded by
Carin Jämtin
Minister for International Development Cooperation
Succeeded by
Hillevi Engström
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