World Metrology Day officially recognised by UNESCO

News | 1 May 2024

Since 1999, measurement scientists across the globe have had 20 May marked in their calendars. The occasion? World Metrology Day; a commemoration of the signing of the Metre Convention, which is the second oldest intergovernmental treaty arrangement in the world.

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Initially signed by seventeen nations in 1875, the Metre Convention established the global measurement infrastructure that exists today. Metrology has wide-ranging impacts on society. Everything from economics and the environment, to food supply and healthcare, relies on accurate, reliable measurements. Despite this, few people outside the STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) and international trade sectors are familiar with the science of measurement, or know about the importance of 20 May. 

But that looks set to change. 

2024 marks the first year that World Metrology Day officially becomes a UNESCO International Day.

The United Nations designates specific days, weeks, years and decades as occasions to mark particular events or topics. Such designations provide a springboard for awareness-raising actions by UN agencies, governments, civil society, the public and private sectors, schools, universities and general citizens.

By proclaiming 20 May every year as World Metrology Day, UNESCO has recognised the importance of metrology to the global community, and wishes to highlight its role in improving quality of life, enabling international trade, and preserving the environment. This aligns with UNESCO's goal of building a better world through science and education.

The theme for World Metrology Day 2024 is sustainability.

The Measurement Standards Laboratory will be leading the celebrations here in Aotearoa New Zealand. At an all-day event held at Gracefield Innovation Quarter in Lower Hutt on Friday 24 May 2024, we’ll dive into a wide range of sustainability-related topics, and introduce attendees to some of our cutting-edge research facilities.

Amongst other things, we’ll hear about the role of metrology in our increasingly-electrified future, discuss the sustainability of leap seconds, and explore the potential and the challenges of using hydrogen in energy storage. Two exciting te reo Māori projects will be launched, and the MSA Emerging Metrologist Award presented.

We invite you to join us in person for the day, including lunch, the tours and the networking hour, or alternatively, you can view the presentations live online. The event is free but space is limited on site, so please register now to confirm your place – click on 'Get Tickets'(external link).