At the 15th Congress of the United Nations World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Director of Hong Kong Observatory, Mr Lam Chiu-ying, was appointed to chair some of the meetings. These were the highest-level WMO meetings ever chaired by a member of the Observatory.
"The assignment of this important task to me reflects the recognition by the international meteorological community of the achievements and ability of Hong Kong Observatory's meteorologists." Mr Lam said.
The Congress also thanked the Hong Kong Observatory for establishing and operating on behalf of WMO the website for official weather forecasts from countries all over the world in the past few years.
The Congress of WMO is held every four years in Geneva to determine the direction and the strategy of meteorological work worldwide in the coming four years. Some 600 heads of national meteorological services, ministers and senior government officials from more than 180 countries and territories participated in the Congress this year.
In his capacity as the co-chair of a Working Committee, Mr Lam shared with Vice-Presidents of WMO the chairing of working meetings of the Congress.
Working meetings are attended by all WMO Member countries and territories. They serve to harmonize the diverse views and perspectives on various subjects, so as to form a consensus. Then formal documents are prepared for approval by the plenary sessions of the Congress chaired by the WMO President.
"It is not easy to develop a consensus among Members from multiple cultures and with different degrees of development." Mr Lam said. "The meetings I was given to chair discussed sensitive issues such as the amendment of the WMO Convention and increasing transparency of WMO operations. There were enthusiastic debates. It was quite challenging to work out compromise solutions from heated discussions, careful listening and summarizing. Fortunately, all the issues were resolved to the satisfaction of all."
The WMO was established in 1950 to succeed the International Meteorological Organization (IMO). Hong Kong joined the IMO in 1948 as a Territory Member, and retained its WMO membership as "Hong Kong, China" from 1 July 1997 onwards.
The Director of the Hong Kong Observatory, Mr Lam Chiu-ying, is currently the Vice-President of Regional Association II (Asia) of the WMO and has chaired a number of WMO expert group meetings as well as planning meetings on specific programmes in recent years. Early last year he visited Sri Lanka as a WMO consultant and prepared a master development plan for the Department of Meteorology of Sri Lanka. He also co-chaired the WMO International Workshop on Tropical Cyclone towards the end of last year, a meeting held once very four years.
Hong Kong Observatory staff are highly appreciated by the WMO and have been appointed chairpersons and members of various expert groups. They are often invited to give talks at international conferences and to deliver lectures at international training workshops. They are also invited occasionally to provide consultancy services to meteorological departments of developing countries.