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Brunswick - meeting place of metrologists from all over the world


In the week from June 15 to 19, 1998, about 250 metrologists - i.e. experts in the field of measurement - from more than 80 countries will be Braunschweig's guests. At a seminar held in the Stadthalle, they will discuss the topic "The Role of Metrology in Economic and Social Development". The seminar has been organized on the initiative of the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt, in cooperation with the International Bureau of Weights and Measures, the International Organization of Legal Metrology and the International Measurement Confederation.

It is not the spectacular achievements of metrology which are the focal point of interest, such as the determination of positions, exact to the meter, using satellite navigation systems, or the development of clocks which show deviations of less than one second after an operating time of several hundred thousand years. Instead, the metrologists' attention is focused on the increasing globalization of economic activities and the challenges resulting from it for metrology. This situation is not new to the world community of metrologists. With the Metre Convention adopted in 1875, which governs the introduction of the metric system on the international level, they already provided the metrological prerequisites for world trade. Nevertheless, the complex problems we are facing today in the protection of the environment and the climate, the safe application of technology and in product quality assurance make new endeavours indispensable in order to guarantee correct and reliable measurements throughout the world. The participants will discuss how this aim is to be reached. The seminar therefore covers a very wide scope of topics.

Dr. Klaus Töpfer, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, UNEP, as well as representatives of the World Trade Organization, WTO, and the UN Conference on Trade and Development, UNCTAD, will report on global programmes of international organizations. In other sessions, international, regional and national metrology organizations will present their work programmes with which they intend to meet the global challenges. The exchange of information and experience can be deepened in special discussion groups. Donor organizations which support the establishment of metrological infrastructures will report on their programmes or present them in the form of posters. Special attention will be given to the problems of developing countries and of countries in transition to market economy. The seminar will be rounded off by visits to PTB laboratories, verification and calibration laboratories and to industrial enterprises in Braunschweig and its vicinity. Manufacturers of measuring instruments will present their products within the framework of this event.

As to the results, the seminar is expected to give clear orientations for the establishment and extension of metrological infrastructures, in particular for developing countries and for countries in transition to market economy. In addition, programmes of regional and international cooperation are to be drawn up with a view to securing worldwide uniformity of metrology.

In this connection, the PTB plays a prominent role, not only because of its status as one of the biggest national metrology institutes, but also as a result of its more than 30 years of development cooperation through which it provided support in the establishing of technical infrastructures of the measurement, standardization, testing and quality systems of developing countries. With the financial support of the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, BMZ, the PTB is at present implementing more than 30 projects in more than 20 countries. This seminar, too, has been sponsored by the BMZ.