NAIROBI, March 14 (Xinhua) -- UN General Assembly has approved the establishment of the UN Environment Assembly as part of efforts to support the strengthening and upgrade of the Nairobi- based UN Environment Program (UNEP).
The UNEP said in a statement that the move reflects the full and future participation of all 193 UN member states in the UNEP's governing body. Prior to 2012, membership had been limited to 58 countries only.
"In its resolution, the General Assembly stated that the new designation does not change the functions of UNEP's governing body, or the overall mandate, aims and purposes of UNEP," the statement said.
The UNEP Governing Council, which is home to the world's largest annual gathering of environment ministers, will now in future be known as the United Nations Environment Assembly of the UNEP.
The re-designation endorses a decision by governments at the first Universal Session of the UNEP Governing Council, held last month under the theme Rio+20: From Outcome to Implementation, to rename the UNEP's governing following the recent strengthening and upgrading of the organization to universal membership.
The East African nation which hosts several UN agencies has been lobbying the international community for the transformation of the UNEP into a UN Environment Organization, with several key countries pledging their support.
At Rio+20, Heads of State and governments decided to strengthen and upgrade the UNEP, a move which represented the first institutional reform of the environment program of the UN since the Stockholm UN Conference on the Human Environment established the UNEP in 1972.
The upgrading to universal membership implemented commitments made by world leaders at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) to strengthen the ability and role of the UNEP to deliver the environmental dimension of sustainable development.
Member states at the Governing Council in February stressed the key role of the UNEP in providing the international community with comprehensive, science-based, environmental assessments, such as the Global Environment Outlook (GEO) series.
Countries also formally backed the roll-out of a decade-long initiative to "decouple" economic growth from the unsustainable use of natural resources, known as the 10 Year Framework of Programs for Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns (10YFP for SCP).
The UNEP-hosted initiative will promote sustainable public procurement, buildings and construction, and ecotourism, among other areas.