Article of the Month - January 2011

The Evolution of FIG during the Last 20 Years

Dr. Juha TALVITIE, FIG Honorary President, Finland

This article in .pdf-format (14 pages,  85 KB)

1) This paper is an extended version of the keynote presentation that Dr. Juha Talvitie gave at the FIG Handover Ceremony in Copenhagen, Denmark 27th November 2010. Dr. Talvitie was FIG President 1988-1991 and has been appointed FIG Honorary President for his contributions to the Federation. 


The evolution of FIG during the last 20 years could be described by saying that FIG has developed during those years from a modest international federation to a strong and esteemed global actor in the wide field of surveying and mapping. I believe that nowadays the FIG representatives have no need to explain what kind of organisation they represent when visiting UN agencies and other international or national surveying and mapping organisations.

In the following I am trying to draw your attention to some main elements from my point of view which have shaped FIG to its current form.

The Bureaux and Councils of the period to be discussed

  • Finnish Bureau, President Juha Talvitie
  • Australian Bureau, President Earl James
  • British Bureau, President Peter Dale
  • US Bureau, President Robert W. Foster
  • German Council, President Holger Magel and
  • The First Elected Council, President Stig Enemark

The term of the US Bureau was shortened to three years because of the administrative reform.


The development of FIG over the last 20 years, as for memberships, resources, organisation and activities, has been much greater than changes during the presiding FIG history from 1878 to 1987. This latter period has been described in the FIG History 1878-1987 written by Herbert H. Ahrens.


Originally FIG has had only one type of members, namely national associations of surveyors with certain educational criteria. In addition since 1967 there have been individual correspondents from countries in which there have not been eligible associations or associations willing to join the FIG.

Many developing countries have had problems with joining FIG because of lack of funding to pay the membership fees. Because of this FIG has introduced a policy to decide membership fees according to the economic situation in a country. Despite this the problem has not disappeared.

The Beijing Extra ordinary GA meeting in1991 accepted the proposal to establish a new membership category “Sponsors”. The proposal originated from the meeting with exhibiters in the Helsinki Congress. The GA in Seoul 2001 decided to change the name FIG Sponsors into a new one, namely Corporate Membership. There are a number of benefits FIG can offer to these members. The role of corporate members, especially Platinum members has had a great impact in resources allowing FIG to develop to the international player that is today.

The GA in the Brighton Congress in 1998 introduced two new categories of membership. Affiliate members, which are groups of surveyors, who do not meet the membership criteria. Affiliate members may also be national surveying and mapping authorities. The second new category was the Academic members to give university departments the opportunity to become more involved in the work of FIG. It is interesting to note, that the same idea about Affiliate Membership had been proposed to the Budapest PC meeting in 1989, but it was rejected. The PC did not like to have governmental organisations involved in FIG activities. Times change.

The Affiliate members are mostly national agencies dealing with surveying and mapping matters. This category helps FIG to get good contacts also with the authorities concerned. I believe that this is for mutual benefit. We invited all the director generals of these organizations to the Helsinki Congress and organised a special meeting for them. A possible affiliate membership of their agencies was not discussed in this meeting. The Director General Forum is now a permanent component of all working weeks and congresses.

The Academic membership category is also an excellent idea. This is a way for FIG to contribute to the education of surveyors and also disseminate the results of the findings of different seminars and studies organised by FIG. The FIG Surveying Education Database, SEDB, is probably the best benefit an Academic Member can get from FIG membership.

In general these new categories will give FIG a larger audience and also the possibility to get new resources.





































The development of FIG memberships in different categories.

These figures indicate that the opening of the doors for FIG membership has been well received by new actors and thus been a right policy. The geographical coverage is also good. FIG is now present in one way or another in 120 countries. New members are coming on board.


New members and the rise of membership fees have given FIG new resources and there is no longer the need to ask for grants from governmental and other external sources.

The development of FIG finances is shown below. The figures are not exact. The figures of 1990, 1995 and 2000 were originally presented in Swiss Francs and are now changed to Euros by using the value 1 SF is 0.68 €. This is a rough estimate.

The Finnish and Australian Bureaux were very dependent on grants mostly from governmental sources. This had been the case at least during the time of the Bulgarian and Canadian Bureaux. It is worthwhile to note that FIG has succeeded to grow its financial reserve so that it covers one year’s expenditure, which has been the target. The US Bureau was able to build this surplus and thus to stabilise FIG´s financial basis.

Year Member
Grants Corporate
1990 71 000 94 000       172 000
1995 83 000 39 000 17 000     163 000
2000 198 000   27 000 4 000 800 257 000
2005 245 000   75 000 14 000 4 800 399 000
2009 285 000   110 000 18 000 16 000 422 000

The development of FIG finances. All figures are in Euros.

The total sum includes also other sources of income than shown.

The development of FIG´s finances is a result of a purposeful policy by many actors and as such an achievement all involved should be proud of. Now we can say that FIG is a totally independent organisation.


During the period from 1988 to 2007 FIG organisation and administration have been in constant flux or under investigation as to what should be done.

The Finnish Bureau prepared to the first PC of its mandate in Wellington 1988 the FIG work plan for the whole period of office. It covered the proposed actions of the Bureau and the commissions including the OICRF. Also for that meeting the Bureau prepared a new type of agenda. It included not only items to be dealt with but also information about them and the motion of the Bureau for the decision when possible. These customs have since been normal practice, but the content of the work plans has developed all the time.

When preparing the work plan the Finnish Bureau learnt that the commission activities were focused on the preparation of the programme of the next congress and on the implementation of the resolutions of the previous congress. There were few other activities between the congresses. The main reason for this was the lack of resources and old customs. The second observation was related to the role of PC meetings. It was solely to deal with administrative issues. The professional programme if any was the responsibility of the host association.

These findings lead to three noteworthy actions. The Budapest PC decided on the qualifications which the candidates for the commission vice chairmanship should meet. There had been cases when the vice chairmanship was given only for a country who had the right to appoint the person. Also the Bureau learnt that not all the candidates proposed where committed to the task.

To get the right persons to FIG organisations is of crucial importance. As a good example I would like to mention the decisions of the Helsinki PC meeting when appointing new commission vice chairmen. Among them were Stig Enemark, Helge Onsrud, Markku Villikka and Ian Williamson. You all know their fine careers within FIG. I can be proud of the fact that I had the gavel in my hand to confirm those wise decisions.

The Helsinki PC decided to establish an Inter Commission Advisory Commission, ICAC. This was the beginning of the current ACCO. In order to have more professional programme at the time of PC meetings the Bureau proposed to the commissions to organise their own meetings and seminars during this meeting time. There was a good beginning in Beijing in 1991.

The Australian Bureau introduced a number of fundamental changes in FIG administration. The Berlin PC meeting in 1995 accepted the principle of establishing a permanent FIG office. The second principally major decision of that Berlin meeting was that FIG adopts English as the only FIG language, replacing the three language policy of English, French and German. This decision was to be implemented immediately. Also the PC agreed that the present General Assembly and Permanent Committee meetings be replaced with a new unitary body, to be known as the General Assembly, which would meet annually. At the same time the concept of the annual FIG “working week” was agreed upon, maintaining the present quadrennial FIG congress cycle. Also the role of ICAC was strengthened and renamed as the Advisory Committee of Commission Officers, ACCO.

Because of these decisions the Melbourne Congress was the last one where the resolutions of the commissions were prepared and accepted. By introducing the concept of the Working Week the special resolutions were not needed any more. It was also decided that the term of office of the commission officers will start and terminate immediately after the congress.

The formation of the FIG Education Foundation was also initiated by the Australian Bureau and further developed by the US Bureau. Now it is called The FIG Foundation with the motto” Building a Sustainable Future”. The purpose of the foundation is to finance surveying education development projects and support young surveyors. The funds shall not be used to support the normal activities of FIG. The first grants were given in 2002 and thereafter each year.

In this context I would like to mention that in the Paris PC 1978, when FIG celebrated its 100th anniversary, the founding member associations of FIG decided to establish the “Founders Prize” or the “Centenary Prize”. The target was that these members should donate a total of 4000 Swiss Francs for the prize. The target was achieved at the Montreux Congress. Only the associations of the Nordic countries donated later. The following Bureaux had not made any decision about the use of the collected funds. The Finnish Bureau tried to get more funds for the prize, but there were no members willing to donate for it. And we were not clever enough to find other means how to raise more money for the fund. So the Bureau noticed that the collected funds were too small to run a prize and thus the Bureau returned the donated funds back to the respective member associations.

The UK Bureau had the responsibility to implement the decision to establish a permanent secretariat to FIG. The Bureau invited offers to host the office. Five possible locations were presented to the PC meeting in Singapore in 1997. After a complicated procedure the Danish offer was accepted. The office was then located at no costs in the premises of the Danish member association Den danske Landinspektörforening, DdL. The second step in this process was to appoint the permanent secretary. After the selection process Markku Villikka was appointed to the post of FIG Director. The FIG permanent office was in operation from the beginning of 1999 but was officially opened on 3-4 February 1999 in conjunction with FIG Bureau meeting. The creation of the Permanent Office and the post of full time Director were great achievements. The whole FIG family owe much to those involved in this process.

The next step in the development was to renew the FIG governance structure. The Task Force on the Future Governance of FIG, introduced by the UK Bureau and chaired by Tom Kennie, presented its first ideas at the GA meeting in Sun City in 1999. The aim was to get to FIG a directly elected Bureau, called later a Council. This work, led by the US Bureau, was discussed in the Prague GA meeting in 2000 and the results of the finalization of the proposals were ready for the decisions at the Seoul GA meeting in 2001. This meant that the new structure would be fully operational in 2007.The German Council started the implementation of this new governance structure. Two new vice presidents were elected in Athens 2004. The new FIG President was directly elected at the Munich Congress in 2006 as well two new vice presidents.

At Munich there were real election campaigns. The candidates for the presidency as well for the posts of the vice presidents marketed themselves and the participants had a good opportunity to evaluate their competences. Stig Enemark became the first directly elected FIG President. He got the majority of votes during the first round of voting.

Now the FIG GA is in position to really decide about the elections of the council members. Earlier the FIG GA could only accept the decisions made by the host associations of the Congresses. When two of the council members are now elected after two years interval the continuity of the council activities is safeguarded with the assistance of the FIG Office.

This new election system requires qualified candidates to the open posts and real competition to meet the expectations set for the reform. This was the case at the Sydney Congress, when the FIG President was elected the second time and also in the elections of the two Vice Presidents.

FIG has currently two permanent institutions: The International Office of Cadastre and Land Records (OICRF), and the International Institution for the History of Surveying and Measurement- Permanent Institution of FIG (IIHSM). The FIG Multi –Lingual Dictionary Board was closed at the end of 2006, because the work came to an end after 35 years. The FIG Foundation is in addition an independent body within the Federation.

At the beginning of 2007 FIG had a revised organization with the permanent office and fulltime director in operation. The process dealing with fundamental organizational and administrative issues had lasted nearly 20 years.


It is not possible to give a detailed overview about the development of FIG activities within a few minutes. Therefore I will discuss only some main features concentrating on the development of the FIG UN relations.

The general observation is that the activities have diversified all the time and developed to an unbelievable level.

6.1 Congresses and Working Weeks

The nature of Congresses has remained unchanged but the content has diversified including special meetings with partners. The length is shortened from 10 to 7days. The introduction of the practise of plenary sessions seems to be a good solution. It gives a wide audience an opportunity to get information about actual topics of general interest. The latest congress has always been the biggest. I wonder when the wall will be met.

1990 Helsinki The Challenge of the Information Society for Surveyors
1994 Melbourne Surveying Global Changes
1998 Brighton Developing the Profession in a Developing World
2002 Washington D.C. Geomatics and Property Valuation for Global Sustainable Development.
2006 Munich Shaping the Change
2010 Sydney Facing the Challenges – Building the Capacity

The themes of the past Congresses show the interests of the Bureau/Council of that time.

The Working Week practise has changed the nature of the old Permanent Committee meeting in a very positive way. Now the meeting is not only for administrative business but mostly for professional activities. In practise a Working week is a mini Congress.

By introducing the peer review process for authors willing to use it is a way to safeguard the quality of papers to be presented. It reminds us that FIG is also a scientific organisation.

The professional and scientific programmes of these events offer a variety of possibilities to learn and hear about new practises, findings and experiences. They are also places where FIG can publish the outcomes and results of the cooperation with UN agencies. An important thing to be mentioned is, that these events offer the surveyors possibilities to learn how to prepare quality papers and present them to an audience. These are talents useful in their ordinary work.

6.2 Regional conferences

A regional conference is a newcomer within FIG activities. Current practise has been to have a regional conference every odd year. These conferences have been organised in co-operation with a UN agency. The locations of these events have been in developing countries and regions having special issues to be addressed. These conferences have been very successful. In this way FIG has been able to provide expert speakers to the conference and to deepen the cooperation with UN agencies and also to activate local and regional organisations to find solutions to their own problems.

6.3 Co-operation with sister organizations and other professional organisations

The return back to the Joint Board of Geospatial Information Societies practise is a good thing. I say this because the Finnish Bureau negotiated the IUSM (International Union of Surveying and mapping) membership in1989. It was a process which had started during the Bulgarian Bureau when FIG had promised to become a member. With the support of the PC we were able to negotiate the content of the IUSM statutes so that it could not develop to a strong, independent international organisation. Instead it was only a body for cooperation and because of that the disbanding was the right decision. I was never sure what was behind the idea of IUSM.

At the same PC it was decided that FIG should apply for the associate membership of ICSU, International Council for Science. The preparation of the application was a complicated task. FIG needed to have a letter of support at least from three international full members and four national full members. The application was sent in 1991 and accepted in 1992.

The cooperation includes nowadays also a number of other professional and regional organisations. Bilateral agreements about cooperation have been made with some of them.

6.4 Co-operation with UN agencies, a real success story

FIG has currently very close co-operation with many important UN Agencies, like UN-HABITAT, FAO, UNSD, UNEP and UN OOSA and also with the World Bank. This co-operation has lead to many joint actions, like seminars and publications, with good results. FIG representatives have also attended many UN events as speakers. All this has been possible because FIG has been able to offer real expertise and practical tools to meet the needs of those agencies. At the same time FIG has been able to promote the interest of the profession. To reach this position FIG has gone a long way, it has required a lot of work and also wisdom to build up good atmosphere and good personal contacts for the co-operation.

Before discussing further the UN relationship it is probably interesting to know how the co-operation with the UN has begun. According to the FIG history the first ties with a UN agency, namely UNESCO, were established in 1949 by the Swiss Bureau in the Lausanne Congress. UNESCO and FAO attended as observers the several following congresses. UNESCO had also assisted with the printing costs of the proceedings of the congresses in 1958 and 1962. In the London Congress 1968 UNESCO had requested information on the role it might play in promoting the professional interests of surveyors. As the response the GA resolved that already close ties between FIG and UNESCO should be strengthened.

The Finnish Bureau decided to do something in developing co-operation with the UN. In the beginning we learnt that FIG was recognised in1970 by the ECOSOC as a non-governmental organisation with consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the UN. So the doors were open for closer co-operation with UN.

Why the co-operation with the UN was considered necessary and important? The starting point was the purpose of FIG. To put it simply we can say, that the tasks of FIG are to develop the profession and to look after and to promote the interests of surveyors. The second point was that the UN agencies have been established to implement adopted UN policies. Some of these policies were related to the environment, like promotion of sustainable development and to housing and thus to land issues especially in developing countries because of rapid urbanisation. So the work of surveyors was also related to those issues.

By being involved in some UN programmes surveyors can not only contribute to the UN work but can also benefit from it many ways. By offering surveyors´ expertise to wider use it would be possible to raise the profile of surveying and to find new tasks where surveying could help. This can give also new impetus to develop current working habits and education. Also this awareness means that surveyors can contribute to these global goals not only via the UN programmes but in their normal everyday work.

Keeping this type of deliberations in mind we thought, that the activities of the current UN-HABITAT and UNEP were closest to the work of the surveying profession and thus good targets to start with. I knew some people in those agencies because of my own work and I also had had some UN speakers in the commission 8 sessions at the Montreux Congress in 1981. To get contacts for a visit was an easy task. In discussions the representatives of both agencies were interested in developing closer co-operation. There were some ideas about the content of co-operation, but no decisions were made.

The main question for FIG was this: what could we offer this co-operation, being only an organisation not well aware of global programmes and with no practical means and tools at hand except the work of the commissions. We also lacked any recorded experiences on how to act. For this reason we organised the preparations of the statements on sustainable development and land management in order to show to those UN agencies, that FIG was aware of some key current global concerns and that surveyors have also practical tools to address these issues. Niels Östergård was in charge of the preparation of the environmental statement and J.L.G. Henssen of the land management statement.

That was the beginning of the practical co-operation. Both UN- HABITAT and UNEP assisted the printing costs of those statements and disseminated them to their partners. UNEP inscribed FIG as an international non-governmental organisation enjoying official observer status with UNEP Governing Council. At the Helsinki Congress we had prominent speakers from these organisations. We had discussions also with FAO and World Bank without any concrete results. We also discussed the need to modify some different international classifications, like ISCO regarding occupations with ILO, ISCED regarding education with UNESCO and ISIC regarding industries with UN Statistical Office. We also made concrete proposals for the amendments of these classifications. All this work was a waste of time and money. FIG can operate very well despite the contents of these classifications.

Since the time of the Finnish Bureau the FIG UN co-operation has developed and got new dimensions in the work of each following office of the Bureaux and Councils. This cooperation has got also more formal content by signing a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, with some of the UN agencies. Peter Dale was the person who negotiated the first MoU. These agreements identify the specific area of cooperation and give a framework for the collaboration.

FIG has signed the following Memorandum of Understanding:

  • 1997 With UNCHS/HABITAT, signed by Peter Dale
  • 1999 MoU 1997 with HABITAT was evaluated and extended, signed by Robert W. Foster
  • 2000 New MoU with HABITAT, signed by Markku Villikka
  • 2002 New MoU with HABITAT, signed by Robert W. Foster
  • 2002 MoU with FAO, signed by Robert W. Foster
  • 2004 MoU with OOSA, the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs, signed by Holger Magel
  • 2007 MoU with the Wold Bank, signed by Stig Enemark
  • 2010 The reviewing and renewal the MoU with World Bank was discussed by Stig Enemark and CheeHai Teo.

In most cases the MoU is considered as a permanent agreement and only the plan of action is revised periodically. These MoUs indicate that FIG is taken seriously as a partner with those agencies.

Despite these agreements FIG has close cooperation also with the following UN agencies (most of them do not have a tradition of MoUs and co-operation is based on the general accreditation through ECOSOC).

FIG has close cooperation with:

  • United Nations Division for Sustainable Development
  • United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs/Statistics Division
  • United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP)
  • United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN-ECE), Committee on Human Settlements, Working Party on Land Administration
  • United Nations Economic Commission for Africa
  • Global Land Tool Network (under auspices of UN-HABITAT)
  • Habitat Professionals Forum (civil society partner to UN-HABITAT)

The FIG connections with UN agencies are now so many that it is difficult to give an overview of this co-operation. As always evolution has taken place step by step. The concrete co-operation started by having discussions with some agencies and attending some of their events as speakers and organizers. One of the first attempts was the involvement in the preparations for the Second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements, HABITAT II which was held in Istanbul 1996. At least Peter Burne, Peter Dale and Ian Williamson were persons involved in these preparations. The target of the Conference was to prepare the Global Plan of Action. There was a continuation of this work in preparations for Istanbul +5, where FIG was also involved with Holger Magel and Markku Villikka. The second major event at that time was the Rio Summit for sustainable development in 1992, where Agenda 21 was adopted. Peter Burne presented the papers at that meeting.

The Global Plan of Action and Agenda 21 were taken into account in the work of FIG. The outcome was the publication of “FIG Agenda 21” in 2001. This report was prepared by Niels Östergård. At same time also land management issues were discussed with UN agencies. The Bogor Declaration was a result from an international meeting of cadastral experts in 1996. It sets out desirable requirements and options for cadastral systems of developing countries and countries in economic transition. The Bathurst Declaration on Land Tenure and Cadastral Infrastructure for Sustainable Development in 1999 was based on the results of an international workshop and was a continuation of the Bogor Declaration. Ian Williamson was a key person behind both declarations.

FIG is also a founding member of the Habitat Professionals Forum, which was established in 1999. Its purpose is to strengthen the cooperation of voluntary professional organizations with HABITAT in promoting sustainable urban development. FIG representatives have been active participants in this work; Presidents Holger Magel and Stig Enemark have been acting also as chairs of the Forum.
The co-operation with OOSA, (The UN Office for Outer Space Affairs), initiated by the German Council, started when FIG became interested in disaster and risk management because of severe earthquakes and big tsunamis. The MoU with OOSA, prepared from FIG side by Matt Higgins, was signed in 2004.A FIG publication “The Contribution of Surveying Profession to Disaster Risk Management” was issued in 2006.

Global Land Tool Network, GLTN; established by UN-HABITAT in 2006 is one important coalition, which has affected FIG activities. Its purpose is to contribute to poverty alleviation and the Millennium Development Goals, MDG, through land reform, improved land management and security of tenure. The FIG representatives have attended several GLTN meetings as speakers. FIG has also organized some seminars related to GLTN. President Stig Enemark has played a key role in the International Advisory Board of GLTN.

The co-operation with FAO is also an important part of the FIG UN relations. As examples can be mentioned the commission 9 seminar in Helsinki in 2007 titled “Compulsory purchase and compensation in land acquisition and taking” supported by FAO, commission 7 Annual Meeting and International seminar on State and Public Land Management jointly with FAO in Verona in 2008 and as an integrated part of the Hanoi, Vietnam Regional Conference in 2009 FAO organized for Asian countries “Regional Consultation on Voluntary Guidelines for Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land and other Natural Resources”.

After many previous attempts Stig Enemark was the person who was able to open the door of the World Bank for closer cooperation. The MoU with the bank was signed in 2007. A result of this cooperation there was a joint conference in 2009. The outcome is summarized in the publication “Land Governance in Support of the Millennium Development Goals. A New Agenda for Land Professionals”.
The main leading target related to UN activities of the current council has been to address and promote the implementation of The Millennium Development Goals adopted in 2000 by UN General Assembly. I understand that Stig Enemark has been worried about whether the FIG family really understands the needs of the global actions FIG has been involved in. In the Greeting from the President in the Annual Review 2008 he explains why global actions are necessary and beneficial also for all FIG members and individual surveyors. He sees it as basis for developing the capacity and societal status of surveyors at national and local levels. This concern is real. I think that it is the responsibility of the commissions and their national delegates also to spread the message and explain why these actions are important and how all surveyors can benefit from this involvement. To this discussion I would like to add, that the representatives of a respected profession, like surveying, have also a moral duty to be involved in the implementations of actual global goals. Therefore surveyors should be aware of global societal concerns related to their profession.

The list of the UN events where FIG representatives have contributed to the UN work and attended as speakers and actors is endless. To mention some more, FIG representatives have regularly attended UN Cartographic Conferences both for the Americas and Asia & the Pacific as well as the World Urban Forums organized by UN-HABITAT and its Governing Council Meetings.

The attendances in UN events and joint seminars have also led to a number of declarations and statements. The Marrakech Declaration on “Urban-Rural Inter-relationship for Sustainable development” in 2004 was a result of the FIG regional Conference held in Marrakech in 2003. The Aguascalientes Statement on “Development of Land Information Policies in the Americas” in 2005 was the outcome from a forum of UN/FIG/and Mexican authorities. An important role as the outcome of UN relationships is played by different types of publications which help to spread the message to larger audience of the role and services surveyors can offer in different fields of land management.

The content of UN related FIG activities have now reached a level difficult to imagine. I have highlighted some of them. Many important issues have not been mentioned. As a result of these UN related activities FIG and surveyors are now considered respected professionals in land management in its wide meaning and therefore sought-after partners and speakers at international forums.

Stig Enemark has personally made a big job in developing the FIG UN and World Bank relations. His involvements and activities are remarkable. I know from my own modest experience that this has been also very hard work, a lot thinking, reading, writing, speeches, discussions and building contacts and a lot of traveling. I can only admire his activities in these fields. Well done.

6.5 Communication

Real evolution has taken place in the field of communication and information. It is hard to imagine the time some 20 years ago. FIG was three lingual. The main communication channels were postal services, the telephone and to some extent for short messages fax. The main information was published in the printed Bulletin twice a year. All the meeting documents had to be translated and copied at home, to be sure that they were correct, and carried to meeting places. Representatives got their copies when they arrived at their hotels. Some advance information about important topics was sent by post to the member associations.

The Internet, email and mobile phones have made it easier to communicate and disseminate information. The FIG Office is the key provider of the information. I am not going to list what all is available. One only has to visit the FIG web site and see its contents.

Also printed material has been produced. The FIG annual review and the FIG publications series have published important documents of declarations, policy statements and guidelines of different technical, educational and ethical guidelines. The FIG publications series was, by the way started by the Finnish Bureau. It published seven documents. Now the series has 56 documents.

Nobody can claim that there is not enough information about FIG and its work. FIG has succeeded very well in using modern communication tools.

6.6 The FIG Office plays an important role in management of the FIG activities

We all know the work of the FIG office as the communication centre. It is responsible for all administrative work like records. It is also in charge of organizing all major FIG events and coordinating the professional programmes. The Office takes care of the day-to-day business of the federation and of the administration on a continuous basis. One can assume that the Office also helps the members of the council and the commissions in their activities.

For FIG as an International federation the permanent office is an important body. It indicates that FIG is a strong actor having continuity and an address to contact. FIG is not lacking a person to call. FIG was fortunate in having Markku Villikka as the first FIG Director. As a Finn I can be proud of his activities. I also congratulate Stig for stabilizing the office structure. The office now consists of three full time persons. Earlier the Den danske Landinspektörförening provided the office space at no cost. Now FIG pays also rent for the premises and thus FIG is fully independent also in this respect. The contribution from DdL has been and will still be indispensable.

6.7 Commissions are the professional backbone of the whole organisation

The FIG commissions form the professional backbone of the whole organisation. It is therefore good to notice that the activities of the commissions have developed at the same pace with FIG. The federation has also got a new commission, number 10 Construction Economics and Management, when the task force on this topic was transformed to a commission.

When reading the annual reports of FIG one can only be surprised how active the current commissions are. The diversified actions do not include only the preparations of the programmes for the congresses and working weeks but also organisation of their annual meetings and publication of the results of their work. They have many working groups either of their own or in co-operation with other commissions or other partners. The representatives of the commissions also attend different professional events, including UN related, as speakers or cosponsors etc.

FIG has been fortunate to have active officers in the commissions. I believe that, this has been possible because the work offers good playing ground not only within FIG but also within one’s own carreer. FIG can now give more financial support than earlier, which helps to carry out planned actions.

The ACCO is an important team to coordinate commission activities and to discuss actual professional issues. It is considered a good think thank for professional development. It has also its own representative in the council.

6.8 The Council as the engine of work of FIG

It is natural that the councils have been in the key position to guide and initiate the FIG activities during the years of transition. FIG has undergone a great transformation in the past 20 years both administratively as well as professionally. The outgoing council has been able to very successfully concentrate mostly on the professional work in Building the Capacity as they promised in their work plan in 2007.

When the activities have diversified all council members now have their own specific duties. The role of the president as the figurehead has become more important to lead and to represent the whole organization. This requires that the president should be well aware about the societal development related to land management in the whole world and is also professionally qualified to understand when and how FIG should respond to the changing situation. Our current president Stig Enemark has fulfilled these requirements in an outstanding way.


As I mentioned at the beginning FIG has developed during the last 20 years from a modest international federation to a strong and esteemed global actor in the wide field of surveying and mapping. The FIG administration under Stig Enemark´s leadership has played an important role to reach this position and leaves FIG in a very good shape for the incoming administration.

When paying tribute to Stig Enemark´s work as the FIG President there is one thing I still want to mention and that is the changing role of surveyors. Stig has discussed this theme in his Greeting of the President in the Annual Reviews, in many speeches, latest in the INTERGEO 2010, and in written articles. He has stressed that the role is changing. I quote “The change means that surveyors are increasingly contributing to building sustainable societies as experts in managing land”.

According to my understanding the surveyors role as land professionals has now been well argued and defined as well as widely recognized. FIG has gone a long way to reach this position for surveyors. One starting point for this road was the statement of Dr. Arcot Ramachandran, Executive Director of Habitat, at the Helsinki Congress, when he began his key note address by saying “Land is the starting point for all development and, at beginning of this process stand the surveyors”. It is good to remember that the basic tasks of our profession evolve from the relationship man has with land and sea and these tasks develop along the societal progress and are thus on the move all the time. So this work is an ongoing process and needs also the attention of the incoming administration. No technological black box can substitute surveyors. The human actor in land management is always important.

I congratulate and thank the outgoing administration for the work well done and wish all the success for the incoming administration and it’s President CheeHai Teo.


Juha Talvitie
Born 1935, in Lapua, Finland


  • 1960, Dipl. Engineer (MA in Engineering), Department of Surveying, Helsinki University of Technology,
  • 1969, Licentiate of Science (Tech), Department of Surveying, Helsinki University of Technology,
  • 2003, My dissertation “Tieto- ja viestintäteknologiasta uusi näkökulma kaavoitukseen” , (name in English “Information and communication technology: A New Aspect in Urban and
  • Regional Planning”) will be presented for public examination and debate on the 28th of March, 2003 at the Helsinki University of Technology.

Employment record

  • 1960-1961 Planning Engineer in a State Rural Development Authority in Lapland
  • 1961-1964 Managing Director of the Regional Planning Association of Lapland
  • 1964-1967 Managing Director of the Regional Planning Association of South Bothnia
  • 1967-1993 Managing Director of the Association of Finnish Regional Councils
  • 1993-1998 Director, Structural Policy and EU-Affairs, Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities
  • 1998 Retirement
  • 1998- TALVITIE CONSULTING as a free lance activity and hobby


  • 1960- The Finnish Association of Geodetic and Land Surveyors, Chairman 1979-82
  • 1960- The Finnish Association of Graduate Engineers TEK
  • 1993- World Future Society


  • 1976- 78, Vice Chairman of the Commission 8
  • 1978- 81, Chairman of the Commission 8
  • 1985- 87, Vice President of the Federation
  • 1988- 91, President of the Federation

Dr. Juha Talvitie
Tykistökapteenintie 2 A 3
FIN-00340 Helsinki
Tel. + 358 9 481 829
Fax + 358 50 888 64 829

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