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The 8th FIG Regional Conference titled "Surveying towards Sustainable Development" was held in Montevideo, Uruguay 26-29 November 2012. It was a pleasure for FIG that the Regional Conference took place in South America, and it was the first bigger FIG event in this region. In 2007 the Regional Conference was held in Costa Rica and not many FIG activities have until now taken place in Latin America. The successful Regional Conference in Uruguay proved that Latin America is a very interesting area both for the Surveying society and for hosting a conference.

The local host of the Regional Conference was Asociación de Agrimensores del Uruguay (AAU) who organised the conference in cooperation with FIG. The conference was co-sponsored by UN-HABITAT, OAS, and the World Bank.

The 8th FIG Regional conference in Montevideo, Uruguay, was a successful event with more than 250 participants from all over the Latin America and all other continents, altogether 33 countries. The relative small scale of the event and its perfect organisation by the AAU (the Asociación de Agrimensores del Uruguay) was a solid base for colleagues to get acquainted with each other and to share ideas, knowledge and ambitions.

Opening Ceremony

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At the opening Ceremony - Vice Minister of Transportation and Public Works, Ing. Pablo Genta, Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment Architect Francisco Beltrame, FIG President CheeHai Teo and President of AAU Nelma Benia

After the Uruguayan Anthem and the FIG Fanfare, FIG President CheeHai Teo and President of AAU Ing. Agrim Nelma Bénia officially opened the conference opened the conference and Nelma Bénia encouraged all participants to enjoy the Uruguayan hospitality. The next speaker of the opening ceremony was the Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment Architect Francisco Beltrame, who gave an interesting insight in the housing policy in Uruguay. Hereafter the Vice Minister of Transportation and Public Works, Ing. Pablo Genta, gave the audience the greetings of the Minister. The Ministry of Transportation and Public Works has created an impressive film/documentary showing Uruguay’s fight for independence, and Mr. Genta presented the 45 minute film "La Redota" which was hereafter shown for the audience.

“La Redota” which was a very interesting and well made film is also called “El Exodo del Pueblo Oriental” or in English “Exodus of the Uruguayan People”. The name of Uruguay was earlier "Banda Oriental", and the territory was bigger than Uruguay is today. The Exodo was led by Artigas. José Gervasio Artigas is the Uruguayan hero. He fought for the independence of Banda Oriental (Uruguay). The film shows how Artigas and the people behind Artigas lived their life in those days and how they built the roads through the country. The film shows a lot of documents of this history are investigated by Historians and Surveyors Engineers.

They investigated the road of Exodus, drew a map and then went to the field to measure those places.

Plenary sessions

The Keynotes were organised in three plenary sessions:

  • Relevance and Contribution of Surveying and Spatial Information, with keynotes from John Biehl del Rio, Uruguay and Victoria Stanley, Worldbank, about activities, impacts and benefits of various (world bank) initiatives in Latin America, Jorge Franco, Uruguay, on the challenges of Surveying and from Solomon Abebe Haile, UN Habitat, on participatory and inclusive land readjustment,
     
  • Technological and Educational, Regional and Youth Initiatives for Sustainable Development, with keynotes from Andrés Diez Galilea, Spain, on impact of initiatives as INSPIRE and the Regional Geodetic Reference Frame on education, Claudio Brunini, Argentina, on the reference system for the Americas, Hector Cancela, Uruguay, curricula in Uruguay, Toril Iren Pedersen, Norway, on youth responsiveness in the land sector,
     
  • Professional and Technological Trends and Horizons of Surveying, Spatial Technologies with keynotes from Brent A. Jones, ESRI, USA on current, upcoming and future trends and technologies, Roberto Perez Rodino, Uruguay, on the role and new paradigm of the survey engineer and Fausto Savoldi, Italy, on the future agenda, vision and opportunities for the profession towards sustainable development.

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Plenary session 26 November 2012

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Plenary session 27 November 2012

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Part of the speakers from Plenary session 28 November 2012

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All plenary speakers at the Closing


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Participants at the plenary sessions


 

This last session was closed with an impressive keynote from CheeHai Teo, Malaysia, President of FIG. The President introduced FIG as a global society with a membership from over 120 countries. FIG draws membership from professionals working in both the public and private sectors, in the scientific, research and academic community, as well as from the spatial and geospatial technologies community.

FIG functions with the goodwill, resources and contributions of its members and a corps of volunteers from around the world. It’s a two way, mutually beneficial flow, between the global and the local. There are now ten technical commissions that demonstrate the breath and diversity of our competence within the land, natural and built environment. There is a lot of co-operation with sister organizations within the Joint Board of Geospatial Information Sciences. FIG also has collaborative arrangements with the Pan American Institute of Geography and History, International Cost Engineering Council and the Pacific Association of Quantity Surveyors and tracks the activities of the International Valuation Standards Committee.

As a United Nations and the World Bank Group recognized non-governmental organization, FIG is seeking to collaborate and to ensure that the disciplines of surveying and all who practise them are relevant and meeting the needs of both the places and the people we serve. Some highlights are:

  • the outcome of the UN Conference in June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro. In the document titled “The Future We Want” importance of comprehensive hazard and risk assessments, and knowledge and information sharing, including reliable geospatial information is recognized,
  • the UN Voluntary Guidelines endorsed by the United Nations Committee on World Food Security. The guidelines outline the principles and practices that governments can refer to when making laws and administering land, fisheries and forest rights. FIG has to move to the implementation phase and to demonstrate how FIG and its membership can support the implementation of this voluntary guidelines,
  • the key message at the 2012 World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty: the recognition that we are in an era of competing demands on existing resources and where there is the continued need to ensure the efficient and effective deployment of solutions, approaches and tools to achieve the desired outcomes,
  • the affirmation of the continuum of land rights by UN HABITATs Governing Council, which include rights that are documented as well as undocumented, from individuals and groups, from pastoralist and informal settlers, that are legal as well as extra-legal and informal. This range of rights generally cannot be described relative to a parcel, and therefore new forms of spatial units are needed. The Social Tenure Domain Model (STDM) has been constructed to accommodate this requirement.
     
  • Hand outs of the final presentation of FIG President Teo

Technical Sessions

Altogether 31 sessions were held over the three days of the conference with attendance from presenters. 73 papers were presented covering themes from all 10 FIG Commissions.

Two special sessions were organised jointly between UN-HABITAT and FIG on Land Readjustment for Latin America and a special thanks goes to Abebe Haile Solomon (Kenya) and Christiaan Lemmen (Netherlands) for the organisation of the sessions. Also Young Surveyors had two special sessions in cooperation with UN-HABITAT on Youth Responsiveness in the Land Sector. Furthermore, FIG Task Force on Property and Housing had a special session which was organised jointly with the local association AAU focusing on the specific challenges in Latin America.

In the exhibition area 9 posters were furthermore presented.

All sessions were well visited and there was a lively debate in some of the sessions.

FIG Meetings

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Commission Chairs and Chairs Elects

Prior to the conference FIG Council held a council meeting, and all present Commission Chairs as well as Chair Elects had 1½ productive days together. The Chair Elects were introduced to their future work as Commission Chairs and the many activities of the 10 FIG commissions were described and commented. The commissions are highly involved in the design of the technical programme of FIG Conferences and many of the commissions have also had an annual meeting earlier in 2012. All commission chairs/chairs elects prepared an introduction on the work of their commission at one of their technical sessions during the Regional Council.

FIG Council had among other items the pleasure to accept six new members of FIG:

One Corporate Member:
 

and the following five Academic Members:

Sponsorship and Exhibition

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Platinum sponsors were Trimble and ESRI that have been the major conference partners at all FIG conferences lately.
Gold Sponsor were Leica Geosystems and MTOP Direccion Nacional de Topografia.
Further sponsors were Orosur Mining, Radisson, Montes del Plata and CSI Ingineros.
Exhibitors were: Junta Departemental de Montevideo, Intergraph, Cementos Artigas, Geosys, and South Surveying & Mapping Instrument Co., Ltd.
Trimble was furthermore sponsor of the Uruguayan evening.

Media parters were:

The exhibition took place in the lobby area of the conference center where also coffees were served. It was situated outside the plenary and two of the session rooms which gave a steady flow of participants throughout the exhibition area. The last session room was placed on another floor.

AAU Photo Contest

AAU had introduced a photo contest called "Landscape Measured", allowing participants at the conference to enjoy the beautiful images that Uruguayan colleagues had contributed with, capturing situations and moments during the long days of field work. All photos were shown in the exhibition area. Among the photographs submitted some winners were selected and called up during the Conference Dinner.
There were two themes:
“The surveyor in rural areas”.
“The surveyor in urban areas”.
There were presents to first and second prizes for those themes.

Social events

After the opening ceremony with the remarkable film on “the Exodus of the Uruguayan People”. all participants were invited to participate in a reception at “Cabildo de Montevideo”. A surprise met all participants when they came out of the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center because they were met by samba dancers and drummers who followed all participants, dancing, through the streets of Montevideo to the venue of the reception. This was a remarkable parade! The “Cabildo de Montevideo” building was also remarkable, especially inside. The reception was held in an atrium and with the wonderful Uruguayan spring evening, all participants enjoyed to be able to be outside. Click picture for bigger format
The Wednesday programme included a Uruguayan Dinner/Foundation Dinner, sponsored by Trimble which was held a Club Uruguay, a wonderful old building.

FIG Foundation has in cooperation with Young Surveyors announced 5 grants to attend the Regional Conference. From the many interesting applications the following five Young Surveyors from the region were selected:

  • Melissa Robert, Uruguay
  • Genique J. Kemp, Bahamas
  • Thobias Furlanetti, Brazil
  • Sergio Rairan Vega, Colombia
  • Leny Garcia Moraga, Mexico

During the delicious dinner real Uruguayan samba dancing was performed – in many different variations, and afterwards all participants had to practice their dance abilities. One great thing about partying with Uruguayans is that all are required on the dance floor. There was no Uruguayan sitting down after the dinner because all were dancing.

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On Thursday 29 November 2012 a technical tour was organised to Colonia del Sacramento, the very old city of Uruguay. On the way to Colonia del Sacramento about 170 km from Montevideo a stop had been organised to a very special museum, The Museum Collections Arenas. Emilio Arenas, 62, began collecting pencils at the age of 51, and has now a remarkable collection with 12,000 different pencils from 57 different countries. Emilio Arenas has the Guinness record for 2002 and 2005 and is preparing to run again. In 2002 he had 5500 pencils and since then he has more than doubled the collection. There is also a collection of 4000 ashtrays and he has also managed to collect 31,000 key chains. It was a success when FIG President gave Mr Arenas a FIG key chain, and hopefully now FIG is immortalised in this impressive collection. Mr Arenas has with his own words used “patience, perseverance and obsession” to collect that many items, and with friends all over the world, many people send him pencils and other items. A person just as international as FIG…

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Emilio Areanas and his son receive a FIG Key Ring for their collection from FIG President CheeHai Teo

Not only does Mr Arenas collect items from all over the world, he also produces jam, preserves and cheese. After a lunch prepared at the Arenas Farm Museum, all participants went to Colonia del Sacramento where interesting guides were waiting to show around all in this interesting old city influenced by both the Spanish and the Portuguese.

Conclusions

FIG thanks the local association AAU, espcially the Local Organising Committee with Nelma Benia as chair, for taking the challenge to co-organise the 8th FIG Regional Conference together with FIG. For FIG it was important to host an activity in South America and to be present in this area.

The conference days showed lively activity both in the session rooms and outside when participants from different countries got acquainted. Many participants from within the region as well as outside got many good connections and it is the hope that these connections will be further strengthened over the future years. The Technical Tour at the end of the conference also helped to connect with each other.

At the end of the third plenary session after the closing remarks from FIG President Teo, it is clear that much International work has already been both accomplished and initiated, however many vital challenges are still to be addressed.
This work can only be done with the help from active surveyors from all continents.

  • Hand outs of the final presentation from FIG President Teo
  • Article of the month - January 2013: gvSIG Batoví an Educational GIS by Msc. Ing. Raquel SOSA, Msc. Ing. Agrim. Rosario CASANOVA, Facultad de Ingeniería and Ing. Agrim. Jorge FRANCO, Dirección Nacional de Topografía, Uruguay.
    The paper summarises a keynote presentation given at the 8th FIG Regional Conference, Montevideo, Uruguay, 27 November 2012 and describes a comprehensive and impressive Uruguayan project called "Plan Ceibal". All school children have received a free lap top, and a software to manage geographic information has been developed, implemented and used at all Uruguayan schools. At the same time the project shows a remarkable cooperation between different Uruguayan organisations.


Louise Friis-Hansen and Christiaan Lemmen
January 2013

Opening Ceremony  
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Vice Minister of Transportation and Public Works, Ing. Pablo Genta, Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment Architect Francisco Beltrame, FIG President CheeHai Teo and President of AAU Nelma Benia
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The audience at the Opening Ceremony


 
Plenary Session 1  
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Victoria Stanley, USA
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John Biel Del Rio, Uruguay
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Jorge Franco, Uruguay
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Solomon Abebe Haile, Kenya
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Plenary Session 2  
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Andrés Diez Galilea, Spain
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Claudio Brunini, Argentina
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Hector Cancela, Uruguay
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Toril Iren Pedersen, Norway
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Plenary Session 3  
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Brent Jones, ESRI, USA
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Roberto Perez Rodino, Uruguay
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Fausto Savoldi, Italy
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FIG President Chee Hai Teo
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FIG President CheeHai Teo and President of AAU Nelma Benia
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All plenary speakers
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Participants
Technical Sessions  
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Speakers Room
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A participant with her poster in the poster area

President Teo with students

Participants at the Regional Conference
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Participants at the opening
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FIG President CheeHai Teo with the outgoing Vice President Dalal Alnaggar
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The Commission Chairs and Chairs Elect who were present at the conference
Exhibition and registraton  
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Registration area
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Registration area
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Vice President Rudolf Staiger, and representative from the Local Organising Committee, FIG Congress 2014, Siew Siew, Malaysia
Dinner reception on 27 November 2012  
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All participants walking through the streets of Montevideo guided by dansers and drummers
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Welcome to Cabildo de Montevideo
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FIG Guardians...
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Reception at the atrium
 
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Eva-Maria Unger and Kate Fairlie, Young Surveyors, with Toril Iren Pedersen, UN-HABITAT
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Uruguayan Dinner on 28 November 2012  
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The Local Organising Committe enjoying a well deserved dinner
 
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Foundation table. Four foundation grants were given to young surveyors: Melissa Robert, Genique J. Kemp, Thobias Furlanetti, Leny Garcia Moraga, and Rairan Sergio Vega
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Trimble table
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FIG Vice President Chryssy Potsiou, President Fausto Savoldi, CNGeGL, Italy with Young Surveyors Eva-Maria Unger and Kate Fairlie
 
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Chair of Commission 2 and member of the FIG Foundation Board, Steve Frank celebrated his birthday with a biirthday candle together with two of the  participants funded by FIG Foundation
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Brent Jones, ESRI, dancing Uruguayan tango
Technical Tour 29 November 2012  
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Visit at The Museum Collections Arenas. Emilio Arenas

Participation from several continents
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Mr Arenas receiving a FIG Key Chain by FIG President CheeHai Teo for his collection
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Mr Arenas with FIG President Teo and AAU President Nelma Benia
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Pencils
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Colonia del Sacramento
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