On 20 May 1875, 17 States became the founding Members of the Metre Convention. The Convention is the second oldest intergovernmental treaty arrangement
and set the scene for what is now 130 years of achievement and success in the establishment of a
global infrastructure for precise, accurate and traceable measurement. Today there are 51 Members of the Convention and 17 Associate States and Economies of the General Conference on Weights and Measures. The first members of the Convention and the staff of the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures (BIPM) started with the metre and the kilogram as reference standards. However the work of the Convention now extends to a much greater number of international measurement standards and is making its presence felt in fields as diverse as biological standards and nanotechnologies.
We celebrate the 20th May as a day on which metrologists can be proud of their quiet, largely unseen, but influential achievements. They can look back on a successful past, and look forward to another 130 or more years of service to the scientific, technical, commercial, and social applications of precise, traceable measurements within the International System of units (SI).
This message from the BIPM, which is at the heart of world metrology, is a challenge to, as well as recognition of, the immense contributions of many thousands of metrologists throughout the world. It also aims at drawing the attention of Governments from our Member States and others, as well as international bodies, to the benefits of good metrology and the very large economic benefits which come from their investments. Many studies have shown a clear and very large techno-economic benefit from public investments in metrology. One recent UK study put the return from their £40 million national investment at over £5000 million! Similar figures apply to economies of all sizes and stages of economic development. The benefits of metrology touch us all, wherever we live and whatever we do.