The GURME project arose in response to the requests for assistance by many NMHSs dealing with urban issues, and in recognition that the management of urban environments requires special attention. The genesis of the project began in the Twelfth World Meteorological Congress (1995) where it was determined that meteorological and climatological aspects of urban environments should receive increased attention within WMO programmes. In response, the Executive Council added the field of the urban atmospheric environment to the terms of reference of the EC Panel of Experts/CAS Working Group on Environmental Pollution and Atmospheric Chemistry. A meeting of Experts on Atmospheric Urban Pollution and the Role of the National Meteorological Services was convened in Geneva in October 1996 to help define issues and needs and to plan for future WMO activities related to urban environments. This meeting confirmed that many NMSs have important roles to play and that capabilities in this area need to be strengthened (GAW Report No. 115). Internal discussions on this subject at WMO led to the preparation of the WMO Fact Sheet entitled The Global Atmospheric Watch: Urban Environments - An Emerging Focus (No. 14 September 1997). The findings of the meeting of Experts and the issues articulated in the WMO Fact Sheet were reported at the Commission for Atmospheric Sciences (CAS) meeting in Skopje Macedonia (February 1998). CAS made a recommendation, which was subsequently endorsed by the WMO Executive Council, to establish and develop an urban environment meteorological research programme within GAW. To help define this project a WMO GAW Workshop on Urban Environments was convened (Paris, November 1998). The issue was also raised at a series of workshops, conferences and meetings on air pollution held in Europe, Africa and Asia. The GURME project builds upon these discussions. To initiate GURME, WMO intends to hold regional workshops to review existing relevant activities and facilities in specific regions and to prepare action plans for further development of GURME.