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Tuesday, 31st May 2011

The Meaning of Work in Meteorology

In the past two weeks, I attended the World Meteorological Congress, which is held every four years, in Geneva, Switzerland. This is the first time that I attend meeting of this supreme body of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and is also the first time I attend a WMO meeting in the capacity of the Permanent Representative of Hong Kong, China with WMO.

WMO is a specialized agency of the United Nations. WMO currently has 189 members, 6 of them, including Hong Kong, China, being territorial members1.

We may ask: Hong Kong is only a territorial member, so where is our position within WMO?

In fact, Hong Kong has made a series of contributions to WMO in the past years, including development and operation of the World Weather Information Service ( and the Severe Weather Information Centre (, initiation of a number of pilot projects supporting capacity building of developing countries, and promotion of international development of aeronautical meteorology like wind shear detection. As a result, Hong Kong has some influence on WMO matters especially public weather services and aeronautical meteorological services. Every time we attend a WMO meeting, we would receive recognitions of our work from representatives of developing countries and the WMO secretariat. Our ex-Directors Dr HK Lam and Mr CY Lam serving as the vice-president of Regional Association II (Asia) of WMO and myself being elected as the president of the Commission for Aeronautical Meteorology (CAeM) are also recognitions of Hong Kong's contributions.

Some colleagues and friends might ask: should we place the limited resources of the Observatory in international matters? I think the answer is affirmative. Firstly, weather has no boundaries. If we want to forecast accurately, and with longer lead time, we would need meteorological data from places around the world. Development of meteorological services indeed depends on effective international cooperation, and this was the very reason why WMO was established in the first place. Going deeper, the mission of a good weather service are ultimately disaster prevention and mitigation and protection of public safety, with the target to minimize casualties, losses and sufferings arising from natural disasters. It is therefore our responsibility and duty, as a member of the global village, to contribute our part to the international community. If we could see for ourselves the situation in some of the least developed countries, that owing to various difficulties, their meteorological services lack the basic weather facilities like surface observing stations, and their inability to provide weather forecasts on the internet, we would better understand the meaning behind the work of Hong Kong in meteorology.

Speaking about the meaning of work, I had the opportunity to talk to colleagues in May about management. Seeing that the ideas of "compassion" and "selfless" of Buddhism, and the unselfish dedication of volunteers are so similar, I brought up the importance of "meaning", no matter it is about work or about life, if we could find the underlying meaning and recognize the goal and mission, we would naturally take positive steps forward, and gain satisfaction in the process.

We will elaborate on the outcomes of this World Meteorological Congress under HKO Side Lights.

CM Shun

Representatives attending the World Meteorological Congress
Representatives attending the World Meteorological Congress

Last revision date: <17 Jan 2013>