Metrology: a key enabler for realizing the Sustainable Development Goals

Metrology: a key enabler for realizing the Sustainable Development Goals

PARIS, 16 November 2018 - The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) joined the global metrology community at the 26th General Conference on Weights and Measures where measurement scientists from more than 60 countries came together to vote on the redefinition of the International System of Units (SI), changing the world's definition of the kilogram, the ampere, the kelvin and the mole. This is the most significant change to the SI since its creation in 1960.

The kilogram, the ampere, the kelvin and the mole, which are four of the seven  SI base units, have been redefined in terms of constants; the new definitions are based on fixed numerical values of the Planck constant (h), the elementary charge (e), the Boltzmann constant (kB), and the Avogadro constant (NA), respectively. This decision means that all of the SI units are expressed in terms of constants of physics that can be observed in the natural world, which will guarantee their stability and universality in the future.

The revision of the SI marks the end of the link between the SI and physical artefacts. For developing countries, this means that they will no longer need to rely on a physical artefact to ensure the accuracy of measurements in their countries but can replicate the unit of measurement though scientific experiment, thus become less dependent on developed countries.

During the Conference, Bernardo Calzadilla-Sarmiento, Director of UNIDO’s Department of Trade, Investment and Innovation, gave a presentation on metrology in support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), stating that metrology is essential to protect the planet, ensure dignified lives for all people, and achieve inclusive economic growth and prosperity. “Metrology is a fundamental pillar for trade, scientific comparison, innovation and emerging technologies, technical cooperation, or even simple exchange of information,” said Calzadilla-Sarmiento.

Calzadilla-Sarmiento added that there is a continuing increase in requirements for improvement measurement standards, and for the adoption of metrological concepts in new areas, such as chemistry, nanotechnology, biosciences, medicine, food and environment. Furthermore, he said, national and international trade increasingly requires demonstrated conformity to written standards and specifications, and mutual recognition of measurements and tests.

UNIDO is working in many countries across the globe to assist metrology labs to become accredited. It has supported the establishment and strengthening of metrology institutes and calibration laboratories by providing state-of-the-art equipment and by building technical capacity in Sri Lanka, Mozambique, Iraq and Nigeria, among many more countries. Furthermore, UNIDO has provided support to strengthen the Intra-African Metrology system (AFRIMETS) by developing a strategic roadmap and a sustainability plan, and to two Pan-African metrology schools, which have trained 160 participants from 37 different African countries.

For more information, please contact:

Juan Pablo Davila, Department of Trade, Investment and Innovation,