FIG Working Week - What's next?

It is Thursday 14 May 2020, and today should have been the closing day of FIG Working Week in Amsterdam. The programme of today would be the second General Assembly session and closing ceremony. Also a comprehensive tour: Dutch land- and water management was offered to take place today.

The intentions of the tour was to give a unique insight in the Netherlands, and would have focused on how water shaped spatial planning and development in the Netherlands. It should have embarked attendees on an exclusive journey using various modes of transportation starting at the historical Fort Vechten and finishing in the vibrant port city of Rotterdam. During the journey, participants should have experienced the Dutch urbanised delta and its historical and contemporary assignments in spatial planning including the process of land readjustment. The programme combined visits to historical structures with contemporary technology (e.g. GIS and sensor technology for monitoring water levels) and high style architecture. In other words a unique opportunity where professionals and scientists would have shared inside stories of their role in land and water management. We hope to be welcoming you on board of this tour in 2021!

Water landscape in the Netherlands

The ‘Working Week from home’

This week we gave you a front row seat to the content of the FIG Working Week. The Local Organising Committee of FIG2020 and FIG found an alternative way to make sure you could get easy access to the proceedings. It was a way to recognise all the hard work of the authors and presenters. But it also turned out to be a way to feel connected to the FIG community, to show that we as community continue, not matter what, reach out to each other and are interested to learn what the latest developments are. Knowledge, cooperation and improving our profession is what drives us.


During the closing ceremony, normally, relevant conference statistics are presented. It is therefore seductive to include a little statistical information in this closing article! As we closed the registration in March, already around 1,200 had registered for the Working Week from over 80 countries. 

FIG and LOC decided to publish the abstracts and papers in the FIG Proceedings 2020 although the papers have not been presented. In total 425 abstracts were accepted in the technical programme of which 22 are peer review papers (in total 49 abstracts for peer review were submitted).

In total we had 80 sessions in the programme apart from the opening and plenary sessions. These sessions were organised by FIG Council, Commissions, Networks, Task Forces and Permanent institution in cooperation with the local organisers.

  • 13 – FIG Sessions
  • 10 – partner sessions organised with institutional partners: UN-FAO, UN-Habitat/GLTN and UNECE and the FIG Platinum Corporate members ESRI, Trimble, Bentley and Leica
  • 57 – Commission sessions

To highlight the technical programme 24 articles were specially produced and brought home to you:

  • Official Welcome
  • 3 subtheme articles
  • 10 commission articles
  • 4 FIG Network and Institution articles
  • 1 partner article
  •  4 announcement articles: from FIG, GIM, LOC and FIG YSN
  • Concluding article

Number of readers and shares:

  • Articles were shared by hundreds within the GIM International audience, while about 30,000 GIM International newsletter subscribers received the newsletters. Each day, FIG also sent this newsletter to around 14,000 professionals, of which around 50% opened the email.

Each day, FIG has sent this newsletter to around 14,000 persons of which around 50% have opened the email.

The successful 5YSC social distance version
FIG Young Surveyors managed in one day to organise 4 webinars, all on different continents, and all with different content. These events were competently facilitated by a dedicated group of Young Surveyors – who all need a very big thanks for making this happen. This shows a truly global approach and outreach!

The impressive statistics speak for themselves:

30 Presenters    
2,572 Registrations    
1,197 Live Attendees    
4 Sessions across 4 different time zones:
  Continent: Registered Attendees
  Asia and Pacific: UTC+8 523 251 (48% Attendance Rate) 
  Europe/Africa: UTC+1 797 354 (44% Attendance Rate)
North America: UTC-3 226 92 (41% Attendance Rate)
  Latin America: UTC-6 (in Spanish) 1026 502 (49% Attendance Rate)

View the sessions here:

The European/African webinar is about to kick off.

FIG General Assembly

FIG Council held an online Council meeting on 8 May, the day originally planned for the meeting. FIG Commission, Network and Task Force Chairs also had their “ACCO on-line meeting” during these days, so despite the fact that it is not possible to meet at the Working Week, FIG business is still moving onwards.

During the second General Assembly session there should have been votings for two Vice Presidents for the term 2021-2024 and also the selection of the host for FIG Working Week 2024. However, as reported earlier, FIG Council has decided that FIG Working Week 2024 will be hosted in Accra, Ghana as the Ghanaian Local Organising Committee offered to hand over the FIG Working Week 2021 to the Netherlands.

Election of the two Vice President positions has been postponed to the General Assembly 2021 (with the same candidates). Please note that next year there will also be elections for new Commission Chairs for the term 2023-2026 – so look out for the upcoming call for commission chairs, and engage in the commissions already now.

And please put in your calendar already now the future FIG Working Weeks:

  • FIG Working Week 2021: in the Netherlands (dates and venue will be announced soon)
  • FIG Congress 2022: Cape Town, South Africa, 15-22 May 2022
  • FIG Working Week 2023: Orlando, Florida, USA, 28 May – 1 June
  • FIG Working Week 2024: Accra, Ghana – dates to be decided

The plan for future FIG Conferences presented at Intergeo in September 2019 – before COVID-19 changed plans…


We hope that through the articles we have given you a glimpse of what was supposed to take place during the Working Week 2020. It is also our hope that the articles have inspired you and maybe given ideas to your own daily work, which should have been part of the outcome of your actual attendance at the Working Week.

What we could not give you through this week and through our articles was the networking part of the Working Week – which is a vital part of the Working Week.

What’s next?

We are living in unpredictable times. The pandemic of COVID-19 is and will be influencing our daily lives and the way we work and interact.

As stated by FIG President Rudolf Staiger in the Sunday welcome article, this situation is unique. The challenges bring also new opportunities, also in our profession. And we as FIG and GIM have the opportunity to provide a platform for this, through our newsletter and articles and also our events.

We believe that next year’s Working Week will be one of the most fruitful working weeks to come. Not only because we have not seen each other for so long, and we have not been able to use the full potential of sharing the valuable knowledge, projects results and latest research. But also because we have been challenged by a similar situation everywhere, it has confronted us in ways we could not have imagined and it has sparked and fuelled innovative approaches. These sparks in combination with the abstinence of attending meetings will be a fertile environment for the FIG community. It will give a boost and a grow spurt to our organisation.

About FIG2021: new dates, new venue, (almost) same theme

The Local Organising Committee, supported by GIN, Kadaster and ITC – Faculty of UTwente, is looking forward to welcoming you to the Netherlands in the spring of 2021. We all hope that a vaccine is developed and that most measurements are lifted enabling us to travel freely and to attend meetings.

What can you expect at the FIG Working Week in 2021? Your registration is automatically moved to next year. It will give you access as attendee to the event. For both FIG and LOC it is most important that we create an opportunity where our community can meet.

Our original venue, RAI, was booked 4 years in advance (in 2016!). Unfortunately there was no opportunity to host our event at RAI.

We have now the advantage to find a venue that fits with the flexibility needs of a post COVID-19 outbreak as well has options to offer a hybrid event. Options are considered in the 4 largest cities in the Netherlands, all within 1 hour travel distance from Amsterdam. As soon as a venue is selected we can announce the dates.

The theme for the event will stay the same. There will be room to focus on our experiences related to COVID-19. In autumn a call for papers will be announced. And for those who want to present their FIG2020 paper, they will be given the opportunity to do so.

Hand over ceremony & special welcome to the Netherlands

How is it possible to hand over to yourself… This will be the case this year since the FIG Flag should be handed over from the local organisers 2020 to the local organisers 2021! So instead the Local Organising Committee created a message for you, where each LOC member is symbolically handing over (from home!) to the next to welcoming you next year.

Finally, we would like to extend a thank you to all who have followed us during this week. It has been different for us to present a full Working Week in 6 Newsletters and 24 written articles, but we hope that you have enjoyed this journey with us from home. A very big thanks to all who have contributed to all articles, and also to the current Local Organising Committee for their preparations so far.

Paula Dijkstra, Co-Conference Director, Rudolf Staiger FIG President, Louise Friis-Hansen Co-Conference Director FIG