FIG General Assembly

Presidents Report 2020

Prof. Dr. Rudolf Staiger, FIG President

1. Introduction

This is the first report from FIG-Council for the term 2019-2022. For easier reading, it is not following a strict chronological order. Instead, a more thematic orientated ordering was chosen. The sequence of the different topics does not reflect any grade of priority or differentiation in importance. The report covers the period from January 2019 until the end of April 2020. Under normal circumstances it would have been presented at the first General Assembly during the Working Week 2020 (10th of May, Amsterdam. NL)

The year 2019 was not only the start of my presidency; it was also the induction of two new Vice presidents namely Jixiang Zhang (China) and Diane Dumashie (UK) and at the same time the start for ten new Commission Chairs.

FIG Council; from left Jixian Zhang (China), Diane Dumashie (UK), Rudolf Staiger (Germany), Orhan Ercan (Turkey) and Mikael Lilje (Sweden)

2. Internal meetings and activities

The FIG year started in early January 2019 with a combined meeting of all ten Commission chairs together with FIG-Council and FIG-Office. During the two days in Copenhagen (DK), the Commission chairs presented internally their work plans and discussed them together with Council. Furthermore, they organized with FIG-Office the Technical Program for the upcoming working week in a very efficient way. During this meeting, the Commission chairs elected Ms. Winnie Shiu (Com1, Hong Kong, China) as ACCO-representative to Council for the years 2019 and 2020 (ACCO=Advisory Committee of Commission Officers).

Our ten technical Commissions and our three networks are playing an important role inside and outside FIG. On one hand, the Commission and network officers are providing all kinds of technical expertise, ideas, support and best practice examples in order to improve the individual and overall performance in our daily work. On the other hand, they are also acting as ambassadors for FIG and the whole profession. Here it is important to note that the cooperation and interaction between and inside our Commissions and networks is a fundamental key point for an efficient work and outcome of all their work.

Commission Chairs working on the technical programme for FIG Working Week 2019 at their meeting in Copenhagen, January 2019

From my presidential point-of-view I can state that this ACCO-meeting fulfilled all expectations regarding the team building and the effectiveness of interaction among the networks and Commissions. I am very optimistic regarding a rich and positive outcome from our Commissions and networks in the near future.

At the same time, Council met for their first official meeting. The draft work plan was discussed and further developed in detail during this face-to-face meeting. It was also the perfect moment to coordinate Council’s work plan with the work plans of all ten commissions.

In addition to this first meeting, Council met several times during the year:

  • February 2019 (via email)
  • April 2019 (1 full-day-meeting, Hanoi, Vietnam, Working Week 2019)
  • September 2019 (1 full-day-meeting, Stuttgart, Germany)
  • December 2019 (2h-skype-meeting)
  • January 2020 (2h skype-meeting)
  • February 2020 (email-meeting)
  • March 2020 (1h-skype-meeting)

On September 15 and 16, FIG Council organized and carried out a workshop with stakeholders of our federation under the headline “FIG 2028”. Tom Kennie, who was a FIG Vice President during the British bureau (1994-1998) and now one of our honorary members, facilitated this workshop in a brilliant and foresighted way. Below is the list of the participants except all Council members who also attended the workshop.

Kwabena Asiama
Paula Dijkstra
Melissa Harrington
Kabir Mansur
Hartmut Müller
Enrico Rispoli
Maria Scorza
Winnie Shiu 
Ghana, NL
Hong Kong, China
Young Surveyors
TF on SDGs, WW 2020
Young Surveyors
Large Association
Commission Chair
Large Associations, Foundation
Large Associations, Foundation
Commission Chair, ACCO representative

The strategy seminar was competently facilitated by Tom Kennie, a FIG Honorary member, and included many creative and interactive moments.

It is important to note that the topic of this workshop “FIG Strategy 2028- Shaping our Future” is only apparently colliding with the Task Force on Governance that was installed as part of the Council work plan 2019-22. FIG 2028 is a long-term think tank who should deliver ideas to how a federation like ours will look like in the future (five to ten years from now). In contrast, the Task Force on Governance should make specific proposals with a focus on the Statutes and Internal Rules for the near future.

Our Council started already in September 2018 with a first in official meeting for building up the team and for a first exchange of ideas regarding Council’s work plan. This was very helpful for a good and powerful start. Today, after 15 months of being active in this Council, I am happy to work as a team together with my Vice Presidents. The atmosphere and the working spirit is collaborative and harmonic and we are all driven by the mission to prepare FIG and our profession for a good future

3. The Vision, the Work Plan and the Motto for the current Term of Office

“Surveying is a modern profession acting globally for a good and better infrastructure of our society and our planet earth. FIG wants to keep and even improve its role as the premier non-governmental organisation that is representing the interests of all surveyors worldwide.” This is the vision described in the work plan of my Council.

In a direct relationship to our vision is the motto: “Volunteering for the future”. It sounds simple and trivial, but it is touching a very crucial point: Although we have an Office (in Denmark), FIG is primarily an organisation of volunteers. Our Federation needs you and your contribution now and in the future. There is a whole range of potential contributions you can make in order to strengthen our community and FIG.

4. The FIG working week 2019 in Hanoi (Vietnam)

The Vietnam Association of Geodesy Cartography and Remote Sensing together with the FIG-Office organized the working week 2019. After the Regional Conference in 2009, this was the second time that FIG convened an event in Vietnam.

The overall theme “Geospatial Information for a Smarter life and Environmental Resilience” reflected well the character of the Working Week. FIG Council presented the Vision and the Motto together with Council’s Work plan for the first time, and installed and presented two new Task Forces. The Task Force (TF) on Governance, presented above, is continuing the work of the TF on Commissions (2015-2018) and is questioning and working on our internal structures. Vice President Diane Dumashie is leading the Task Force on Governance.

The Task Force on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has two aims. First, it does investigate where and how the surveyor can contribute most to the fulfilment of the SDGs. In a second step, the Task Force should then coordinate the activities of our Commissions and networks regarding the SDGs. Paula Dijkstra (Co-Conference Director of FIG Working Week 2020) leads this Task Force.

During the Working Week 2019, Council appointed David Mitchell (Australia, representing Commission 2) and Enrico Rispoli (Italy) as new directors of the FIG-foundation. The President thanked Daniel Steudler (Switzerland) and Winnie Shiu (Hong Kong China) for their valuable contributions to the foundation. For the next two years, FIG Foundation will be in a period of transition as the long-term President of the Foundation, John Hohol (USA), will focus more and more on his new challenge, which is the Co-Conference Director of the Working Week 2023.

We want to make the Working Weeks more inclusive to the participants and introduced therefore first changes:

  • for the first time in the history of FIG, the young surveyors were invited to give a plenary presentation
  • The “Member Associations forum” was extended to also include the regional networks and the former “Regional Bodies Forum”. All participants gave a positive feedback regarding this new format.
  • The Presidents meeting was moved from the morning of the last day (8h30-10h30) to the afternoon of the second last day in order to allow an earlier start of the 2nd General Assembly on the last day. In addition, the Presidents meeting addressed specific topics for evaluation and discussion.


I had the chance to present Council’s vision and motto during the first plenary session in Hanoi. During the whole Working week, we received a lot of positive signals, reactions and feedback related to our thoughts, ideas and plans. This is very encouraging for the entire Council.

In retrospect it can be stated that the working week 2019 (held in Hanoi, 22-26 April) with almost 1000 participants was a big success. Congratulations to the organizers from the Vietnam Association of Geodesy Cartography and Remote Sensing (VGCR) and all their helpers.

5. Visit to our members

FIG has different member categories:

  • Member Associations - National associations representing one or more of the disciplines of surveying.
  • Academic Members - Organisations, institutions or agencies which promote education or research in the disciplines of surveying
  • Affiliate Members - Groups of surveyors or surveying organizations undertaking professional activities, hereunder ministries and agencies
  • Corporate Members - Organisations, institutions or agencies which provide commercial services related to the profession of surveyor
  • Correspondents - An individual may be appointed to correspondent in a country where no association or group of surveyors exists

As already mentioned before: we are an organisation of volunteers. Therefore, all members in all categories are essential for the vitality of our federation. A special role in FIG is dedicated to the member associations; they build the highest constitutional body namely the General Assembly.

Therefore, it is of high priority for my Council and me to be in a permanent contact with our member associations. We are happy to receive invitations for visits from our member association. However, and we have to apologize for this, it was impossible to accept all invitations last year.

The Vice Presidents Diane Dumashie, Jixiang Chang, Mikael Lilje and Orhan Ercan represented FIG in Australia, Cameroun, China and Ghana.

FIG-Director Louise Friis-Hansen visited South-Africa and Ghana for preparatory meetings for the upcoming events (working week 2021 and Congress 2022).

As President, I was able to visit our associations in Poland, Kenya, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Russia, Austria and Nigeria. In most of the visits, there were special occasions like 50th or 100th anniversaries or National Congresses.


My last visit led me in February 2020to Nigeria. SURCON, the roof-organisation of our three Nigerian members, invited me for the festive induction of 347 newly licensed surveyors. The President of the Republic of Nigeria received for the first time in history a delegation of Nigerian surveyors, and I had the honour to give a speech on behalf of FIG and our profession. A summary of this speech was broadcasted on the national TV news in Nigeria, which was not only a very good promotion for FIG and our member associations, but at the same for our entire profession.

Wih the President Muhammadu Buhari, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (center) followed by Chief of Staff to the President Abba Kyari, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation Boss Mustapha, Minister of Information Layi Mohammed and Minister of Works Baba Tunde Fashola. To the left the President of FIG, the leader of SURCON Femi Kasim, the President of Nigeria Institution of Surveyors Alabo C. D. Charles and the Registrar of SURCON Surv. Kabir K.K.

6. Activities with our partners and stakeholders

We have diverse relationships with our partner and stakeholders. This allows us to offer our professional expertise in all kind of projects. At the same time, it gives us the opportunity to amplify not only the voice of our federation but also our entire profession.

The United Nations and World Bank officially recognize the International Federation of Surveyors (FIG) as NGO. Let me give you one example for our close relationships: the International initiative GLTN (Global Land Tools Network) who is hosted by UN-Habitat. Vice President Diane Dumashie, a long-term, highly respected expert in this field, is representing FIG as co-lead of the Professional Cluster of GLTN, and she is due to this position also part of the Steering Committee of GLTN.

Over the last 15 months, FIG was present at major events of our strategic partners. I represented our federation at the 11th session of the Working Party on Land Administration of UN-ECE in February in Geneva (Switzerland).

The World Bank organized the 20th Annual Conference on Land and Poverty from March 25 to 29, 2019 in Washington D.C. under the theme of "Catalyzing Innovation" with more than 1500 participants from all over the world. Together with the Vice Presidents Dumashie and Ercan, I could promote the FIG-approach “Fit-for-Purpose” there as an efficient contribution of the surveyor to future land administration projects, especially for those countries where until now a land registration system is non-existent.

This year, FIG experienced a very special honour: I was invited as representative of our federation to be part of the closing panel where the major results and achievements are presented to the big audience.

At the closing of World Bank Conference 2019. Read the full report

The Ninth Session of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM) was held from 7 - 9 August 2019 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. FIG is not only a member of the Geospatial societies, but furthermore building an official voice inside UN-GGIM as recognized NGO. Mikael Lilje and myself were representing FIG at this event.

7. The period March and April 2020

The period from March until now has been very special due to the global outreach of COVID-19. FIG-Office and FIG-Council were (and still are) very much occupied with the direct impact on our activities and events. Until the beginning of March we hoped together with the local organisers (LOC) from the Netherlands that the Working Week 2020 could take place in May in Amsterdam. In the middle of March, this wish became more and more unrealistic and many of our registered participants were impatiently waiting for the cancellation. A cancellation from our side would have had a very negative impact on our contractual obligations especially with the conference centre. Therefore, LOC and Council decided together that it would be much better to “wait” for an official ban for bigger gatherings from the Dutch authorities. This finally happened on March 23 and we could cancel the working week with a much smaller damage to our financial obligations.

This cancellation also had the effect that there will be no General Assembly in 2020. FIG Council has decided to postpone all agenda items to the General Assembly 2021 which also means elections.

8. Conclusions

Representing the International Federation of Surveyors as President is a demanding but very interesting task with a lot of new challenges and sights. We are all looking very much forward to the upcoming years even if the current times with COVID-19 are totally strange, unexpected and insecure.

I am convinced that we all together will be able to master the consequences of the pandemic especially in regards of a good and sustainable future of our federation FIG.


April 15th 2020
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Rudolf Staiger, FIG President