Mr Rob Sarib (left), Mr Jens Kruger (middle) and Dr John Dawson (right).

Report on the Pacific Surveyors Meeting and Pacific GIS / RS Users Conference 24 - 28 November 2014, Suva, Fiji

Geospatial Specialists and Surveyors from the Pacific Island Countries (PICs) met in Suva, Fiji to further the objective of improving coordination of Geospatial and Surveying activities in the Pacific. It was recognised that Geospatial and Surveying Information when applied to real world problems can help reduce persistent poverty and create opportunities to support social and economic development. It was subsequently resolved that an interim group known as the Pacific Geospatial and Surveying Council (PGSC) be formed so as to finalise a Charter, and Strategy, that will adhere to the FIG Suva Statement on Spatially Responsible Governance.

News in 2014

Report on the Pacific Surveyors Meeting and Pacific GIS / RS Users Conference

24 - 28 November 2014, Suva, Fiji

On 24 and 28 November 2014 Geospatial Specialists and Surveyors from the Pacific Island Countries (PICs) met in Suva, Fiji to further the objective of improving coordination of Geospatial and Surveying activities in the Pacific. It was recognised that Geospatial and Surveying Information when applied to real world problems can help reduce persistent poverty and create opportunities to support social and economic development.

With support from the Australian Aid funded Climate and Oceans Support Program in the Pacific (COSPPac), and the Geoscience Division - Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), the meeting was attended by representatives from the Cook Islands, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Niue, Palau, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Vanuatu, Republic of Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, Samoa as well as Australia, and New Zealand.

The facilitators of this meeting were the United Nations Global Geospatial Information Management for Asia and the Pacific (UN-GGIM-AP) – Dr John Dawson and the International Federation of Surveyors (FIG) – Mr Rob Sarib. Mr Jens Kruger, Manager of the Ocean and Coastal Geoscience Sector in SPC’s Geoscience Division was the host of this strategic meeting.


Mr Rob Sarib (left), Mr Jens Kruger (middle) and Dr John Dawson (right).

There were two days of discussions and work-shopping pertaining to the -

  • Status of geospatial infrastructure and data management
  • Building the capacity of geospatial practitioners and surveyors
  • Recognition of the importance of geospatial infrastructure
  • Analysis of existing like professional and regional organisations
  • Strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities of forming a regional body.

It was subsequently resolved that an interim group known as the Pacific Geospatial and Surveying Council (PGSC) be formed so as to finalise a Charter, and Strategy, that will adhere to the FIG Suva Statement on Spatially Responsible Governance. Please note, this statement was prepared and endorsed by participants at the FIG Pacific Small Island Developing States Symposium - “Policies and Practices for Responsible Governance” held at the Novotel Lami Bay Conference Centre, Suva, on 20th September 2013.


Hard working Pacific Island Surveyors discussing and work-shopping the issues.

The interim PGSC agreed that the Vision should be –

Sustainable development in the Pacific enabled by world class geospatial information and surveying services.

The interim PGSC agreed that the Mission should be –

The PGSC will provide a regional network and forum for the geospatial information and survey authorities of Pacific Island Countries and Territories to address regional challenges, such as building the capacity of surveyors, improving and standardising geospatial information gathering and dissemination, maximising economic growth, alleviating poverty, improving natural resource management, disaster risk management and climate change adaptation. This will be achieved by coordinating, communicating, and collaborating activities, sharing resources and applications of location information through regional and global partnerships.

The interim PGSC acknowledged that the potential benefits of a regional body are –

  • Greater recognition, visibility and linkage to national and international organization priorities, activities, and development partner’s interest and support
  • A way to connect and align national level priorities to regional incentives and development opportunities
  • Give Officials of geospatial agencies and /or Office of the Surveyor General greater recognition and visibility, and enable them to have better control of priorities and direction on capacity development for the Pacific geospatial and survey industry
  • A stronger, collaborative, unified and more coordinated regional approach to the geospatial and surveying challenges, with support from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and development partners.
  • Influence the regional academic or educational institutions and funding-partners to be aligned with the needs of the geospatial and surveying industry on the development of curriculums and scholarships

The Interim PGSC agreed to form working groups to undertake following actions –

  • Finalise the PGSC Charter by 1 February 2015.
  • Ensure the PGSC is officially endorsed by Core members and operational by 2 April 2015
  • Develop a DRAFT Strategy for adoption by October 2015

At the completion of the meeting the Interim PGSC elected Mr Faatasi Malologa (Tuvalu) as the Interim PGSC Chair and Mr Paserio Samisoni (Fiji) as the Interim Vice Chair.


Mr Faatasi (left) and Mr Samisoni (right)

The 15th Pacific GIS / RS Users Conference was convened at the University of the South Pacific (USP) Suva campus, at the Japan Pacific ICT Centre, 25-27 November 2014. The theme of the conference was “Empowering the Pacific Communities through Improved Geospatial Data”.

The conference show cased the various GIS / RS related projects being developed or undertaken and the associated applications being used in the Pacific region. There were almost 300 participants in attendance and 80 technical presentations delivered over 3 days.

From a positioning and measurement perspective, there were numerous remote sensing presentations on satellite imagery, LIDAR, and UAV projects. There were also several presentations on the use of GNSS positioning techniques for environmental data collection or analysis purposes. It was evident from these and other presentations that the Pacific region is not only experiencing on-going capacity building and resourcing challenges but also the issues of understanding, articulating and adopting a common geodetic datum and / or reference frame for the region. However, a local Fijian surveyor Mr Andrick Lal, who works for SPC in the Geoscience Division, gave a standout presentation titled “Nadi Topographic Surveys”. Mr Lal’s presentation highlighted the use of several traditional and modern surveying techniques to reference or control the topographic and remote sensing data collected. In fact, Mr Lal’s project was selected by the UN GGIM AP to be a feature article in their next UN GGIM - GGRF newsletter. To read this article please refer to the website http://ggim.un.org/UN_GGIM_wg1.html.


Mr Lal presenting on “Nadi Topographic Surveys.

FIG also supported this event through active participation in the technical proceedings. Mr Rob Sarib provided an overview of the FIG organisation and its activities. He also gave FIG Commission 5’s perceptions on a modernised geodetic reference frame and infrastructure. Mr Graeme Blick and Dr Matt Amos, who are also FIG Commission 5 Reference Frame working group members, introduced the publication Reference Frame in Practice Manual to the Pacific community, and provided technical advice on regional datums and projections at the “Pacific Projections” open discussion forum

Mr Rob Sarib (left) and Dr Matt Amos (right).

FIG’s sister organisation, the UN GGIM AP, was also well represented at this technical symposium by Dr John Dawson. Dr Dawson spoke to the delegates about a Global Geodetic Reference Frame (GGRF) and the progress of a resolution on this topic being tabled at the next UN General Assembly in 2015. Throughout the conference Dr Dawson also contributed to several open technical forums on geodetic and geospatial infrastructure. Dr Dawson also showed a promotional digital video on the GGRF, which is media that the FIG Commission 5 highly recommends to all land, survey, and geospatial decision makers to view, especially those who need to better understand reference frames and their importance to a nations social, economic and sustainability objectives. This digital video can be found at website http://ggim.un.org/GGRF.html under the heading “Supporting Material”.


Dr John Dawson speaking on the GGRF.

Dr Dawson also revealed that Fiji, on behalf of UN member countries, will put forth and talk to the GGRF resolution at the next UN General Assembly in New York.


From right to left - Mr Tevita Boseiwaqa (Permanent Secretary of the Fijian Lands and Minerals Department, Dr John Dawson, Mr Bob Twilley (Geoscience Australia) and Mr Malakai Vakautawale

Rob Sarib
Vice Chair Admin
FIG Commission 5

11 December 2014


©2017 FIG