The Governing Council was established in accordance with General Assembly resolution 2997 (XXVII) (Institutional and financial arrangements for international environmental co-operation) of 15 December 1972. Governing Council reports to the General Assembly through the Economic and Social Council. 58 members of the Council are elected by the General Assembly, for four-year terms, taking into account the principle of equitable regional representation. Pursuant to General Assembly resolution 53/242 (Report of the Secretary-General on environment and human settlements) of 28 July 1999, the Global Ministerial Environment Forum is convened annually to review important and emerging policy issues in the field of the environment, with the Governing Council constituting the forum either in its regular sessions or special sessions. Main functions and responsibilities of the Governing Council of UNEP are provided by the General Assembly resolution 2997 (XXVII) as follows:


(a) To promote international cooperation in the field of the environment and to recommend, as appropriate, policies to this end;


(b) To provide general policy guidance for the direction and coordination of environmental programmes within the United Nations system;

(c) To receive and review the periodic reports of the Executive Director of UNEP on the implementation of environmental programmes within the United Nations system;

(d) To keep under review the world environmental situation in order to ensure that emerging environmental problems of wide international significance receive appropriate and adequate consideration by Governments;

(e) To promote the contribution of the relevant international scientific and other professional communities to the acquisition, assessment and exchange of environmental knowledge and information and, as appropriate, to the technical aspects of the formulation and implementation of environmental programmes within the United Nations system;

(f) To maintain under continuing review the impact of national and international environmental policies and measures on developing countries, as well as the problem of additional costs that may be incurred by developing countries in the implementation of environmental programmes and projects, and to ensure that such programmes and projects shall be compatible with the development plans and priorities of those countries;

(g) To review and approve the programme of utilization of resources of the Environment Fund.