The U.N. General Assembly has elected Norway's former environment minister Erik Solheim to head the U.N. environment agency.

Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft banged his gavel Friday, signifying the 193-member world body's approval by consensus of Solheim's nomination for a four-year term starting June 15 to lead the agency known as UNEP. He succeeds Achim Steiner of Brazil.

Solheim, 61, currently heads the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's committee on development assistance based in Paris, and serves as UNEP's special envoy for environment, conflict and disaster.

Nairobi-based UNEP calls itself "the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda" and advocates for environmental protection.

Solheim has said he wants UNEP to relate more to the average person and further engage the private sector to achieve global environmental goals.