New Technology for a New Century
International Conference 
FIG Working Week 2001, Seoul, Korea 6–11 May 2001

Plenary Session - FIG Co-operation with the United Nations and Other International Agencies

Co-operation between FIG and the United Nations Agencies

Prof. Ian Williamson, Director, United Nations Liaison, International Federation of Surveyors

Key words


The following abstract is based on the report on recent activities given to the FIG General Assembly by the Director, FIG / UN Liaison in Seoul, May 2001.

The General Assembly confirmed the FIG policy with the United Nations and its agencies at its meeting in Prague, 2000. The main joint projects and activities were discussed previously with the different UN partners at a round table during the UN/FIG Conference in Melbourne in 1999. They are also recorded in the FIG publication "Co-operation between FIG and the UN Agencies 2000–2003". This co-operation includes a close relationship to UN/DESA, UNCHS (Habitat), UNFAO, WTO, UNESCO and The World Bank. It further covers co-operation with regional offices like the Economic Commission for Africa, the Economic Commission for Europe (especially its Working Party on Land Administration, WPLA) and UNCHS Branch offices and activities like UN Regional Cartographic Conferences.

The co-operation is coordinated through Prof. Ian Williamson, Director, FIG/UN Liaison, but the responsibilities are shared between several actors, especially input from the Commissions has increased remarkably during the past two years. In the following only the highlights of the many activities after the General Assembly in Prague are listed.

2. The World Bank

Prof. Ian Williamson spent 14 weeks in the World Bank during 2000 as research fellow on study leave from the University of Melbourne. The objectives of the visit were to interact with World Bank officers involved in the Bank’s Thematic Land Policy Group with regard to trends and developments in land administration, investigate land administration "best practice", investigate the relationship between land administration and sustainable development; and to investigate capacity building in land administration projects.

During the period at the World Bank Prof. Williamson undertook a range of activities in the land administration area. All these have direct relevance to the work of FIG and the World Bank in land administration. He attended and presented e.g. a paper on "Land administration best practice in developing countries" at the World Bank sponsored International Conference on Land Policy Reform in Jakarta, Indonesia in July 2000. Paper is also published on the World Bank’s Thematic Land Policy Group. He further attended and presented a paper on "The UN-FIG Bathurst Declaration on Land Administration for Sustainable Development" at the 22nd Urban and Regional Data Management Symposium at the Technical University of Delft, The Netherlands, September 2000.

The visit to the World Bank resulted in closer contacts between FIG and the World Bank and during the visit Professor Williamson managed in establishing links between the FIG and relevant World Bank officers. With the support of the President of The World Bank, Mr Ian Johnson, Vice President for Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development, has agreed to make one of the keynote presentations at the FIG Congress in Washington, 2002.

The contacts to the World Bank resulted in the FIG contributing to the World Bank–USAID workshop on capacity building in land administration in El Salvador 27–28 November 2000. At this workshop FIG was represented by Professor John Parker, Chair of FIG Commission 1. His visit was also the first direct contact between FIG and the new affiliate members in El Salvador and Guatemala.

3. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FAO

FIG has been working for some years to establish formal relationship to UNFAO. This work is now closing to its end and the Memorandum of Understanding will be discussed during the visit of Professor Holger Magel, Vice President of FIG to UNFAO in Rome in March/April 2001. Hopefully the MoU could be signed by the General Assembly in Seoul.

UNFAO has shown interest for several projects with FIG including best practices and a joint publication on women’s access to land based on the FIG Commission 7 task force work. The English version of the UNFAO thesaurus was also completed in 2000.

Dr. Fritz Rembold represented FAO at the FIG working week in Prague giving his and Dr Jim Riddell’s paper "Farm Land Rationalisation and Land Consolidation: Strategies for Multifunctional Use of Rural Space in Eastern and Central Europe".

Dr. Paul Munro-Faure, Chair of FIG Commission 7 was appointed as the Director of the UNFAO Land Tenure Service in November 2000 after Dr. Riddell’s retirement.

4. United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat)

Of all UN agencies FIG has perhaps the closest co-operation with the UNCHS (Habitat). During the past year the co-operation included following activities:

  • Dr. Sylvie Lacroux participated in the FIG working week in Prague making two presentations: "Challenges in Rebuilding a New Land Administration System in Post-Conflict Countries" at the plenary session and a paper on "CSD-women - Position Paper on Land Management" by Diana Lee-Smith, Catalina Trujillo and Sylvie Lacroux at the session of the Task force on under-represented groups in surveying.
  • FIG has co-operated with UNCHS (Habitat) in finding experts to post-conflict areas like Kosovo and East Timor. Several FIG actives have been working on these projects during the past year.
  • Director of the FIG office represented FIG at the Urban 21 Conference in Berlin in July making an invited presentation at the Professionals Forum. The Conference was organised by the German government to assist the Istanbul+5 process. It was opened by Mr Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the UN. The number of participants exceeded 3,000.
  • FIG was invited and participated the Expert Group meeting in Västerås Sweden in November 2000 to prepare the 2nd Prep. Com for Istanbul + 5 and the Special Session itself. The main topics were the overall review of the implementation of the Habitat Agenda and preparation of the Draft Declaration on "Cities and other Human Settlements in the new Millennium".
  • Director of FIG office and Mr Martin M Baya, Honorary Secretary of the Institution of Surveyors of Kenya (ISK) attended as FIG representatives the 18th Session of the Commission on Human Settlements, 12–16 February 2001 and 2nd Substantive Session of the Preparatory Committee for the Special Session of the UN General Assembly on Istanbul + 5, 19–23 February 2001 at the UN headquarters in Gigiri, Nairobi, Kenya. The main topics at the 18th Session were the Work Plan for UNCHS (Habitat) for 2002–2003, evaluation of the two global campaigns (security of tenure and urban governance) and revitalisation of UNCHS and budget issues. The preparations for the UN Special Session Istanbul+5 were the focus of the 2nd Prep. Com. The programme at the Istanbul+5 will include plenary session, ad hoc committee of the whole and thematic committee. The professional partners will have a limited space in the special session – some slots at the plenary and committee of the whole, but mostly at the thematic committee, however these slots will be divided between other partners like local authorities. In addition there will be many parallel events organised both by UNCHS (Habitat) and NGOs etc.

Future activities with UNCHS (Habitat) will include:

  • Jan Meeuwissen from the UNCHS (Habitat) Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (Fukuoka) will represent UNCHS at the FIG working week in Seoul giving a presentation on "Re-establishing Land Administration in East Timor".
  • FIG will participate the UN Special Session Istanbul+5 in New York 6–8 June 2001 and anticipates participating in a UNCHS organised parallel events as invited partner. In addition FIG is actively involved in the three parallel events to be organised during the session together with Habitat Professionals Forum. Professor Holger Magel will be the keynote speaker at the first session on the Security of Tenure.
  • FIG will organise together with UNCHS (Habitat) and ISK, Kenya an international conference on Spatial Information for Sustainable Development at the UN Headquarters in Nairobi 2–5 October 2001. This event is chaired by Commission 3 but at least five other commissions will be involved. Dr. Anna K. Tibaijuka, the new Executive Director of UNCHS will open the conference.
  • Dr. Tibaijuka has also promised to open the FIG Congress in Washington in 2002 and make a keynote address.

Other co-operation with UNCHS (Habitat) include e.g. FIG input in the Habitat Best Practices Database provided by Commission 3 working group. Discussions on projects and publications, especially on the field of security of tenure and women’s access to land, are under preparation. The topic "the rural dimension of sustainable urban development" on the agenda of the 19th Session of the Committee on Human Settlements will offer many options for FIG.

The current MoU between UNCHS (Habitat) and FIG will be reviewed so that a new Memorandum will include the input from the new Bureau and Commission work plans. It is planned to be signed during the FIG Congress 2002.

5. United Nations Regional Cartographic Conference for the Americas

The United Nations Regional Cartographic Conferences for Asia and the Pacific and for the Americas are organised by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA). UNDESA has been a long standing supporter of FIG have supported the preparation of the UN-FIG Bogor Declaration on Cadastral Reform (1996) and the UN-FIG Bathurst Declaration on Land Administration for Sustainable Development. The key contacts are Mr Hermann Habermann and Mr Amor Laaribi.

Professor Williamson attended the UNRCC for the Americas 22-26 January 2001 in his capacity as the Director, UN/FIG Liaison and presented a paper titled "Land administration, spatial data infrastructures and sustainable development"(which highlighted the UN-FIG Bathurst Declaration n Land Administration for Sustainable Development). Also in attendance were Mr Robert Foster, President of FIG, Professor John Parker, Chair of Commission 1 and Professor Stig Enemark, the former Chair of Commission 2. All three presented papers.

While the conference focussed on the Americas, and particularly Latin America, there were representatives globally from both developed as well as developing countries. In total 35 countries attended as well as ISPRS, IUGG and IAC. Several specialised agencies also attended. The Permanent Committee on SDI for the Americas (PC-IDEA) had a high profile and was very active. Overall the FIG had the highest profile of any NGO.

The most important outcome for FIG was the passing of the following resolution under the heading "Land administration and Spatial Data Infrastructures": "..further noting the generous offer of the Government of Mexico to host a special workshop on the integration of Spatial Data Infrastructure initiatives and cadastral activities, along with the 4th PI-IDEA Meeting and requests United Nations Secretariat, within available resources and with the support of the Permanent Committee on SDI for the Americas (PC-IDEA) and the International Federation of Surveyors, to provide support on the program of the inter-regional workshop to be hosted by Mexico to determine policies and programs for educational, training and professional capacity building that will ensure the development of appropriate land administration systems and associated infrastructures".

It has been agreed that FIG would be responsible for arranging this workshop in conjunction with the PC IDEA and the UN (including the World Bank). It has been agreed that Professor John Parker, Chair of FIG Commission 1 for Professional Standards and Practice, would take the leading role in ensuring the workshop happened. He will be assisted by Professor Stig Enemark and Professor Ian Williamson, Director, FIG/UN Liaison. Initial thoughts are to invite Government Ministers and senior bureaucrats to participate. It is proposed to hold the conference at the headquarters of the INEGI in Aguascalientes, in central Mexico 10-12 September 2002. John Parker and Stig Enemark will visit Mexico during July 2001 to prepare the workshop.

6. Permanent Committee for Geospatial Infrastructure for Asia and the Pacific (PCGIAP)

The PCGIAP is constituted under and reports to the four yearly UN Cartographic Conference for Asia and the Pacific. At the 15th UNRCC for Asia and the Pacific and the PCGIAP in Kuala Lumpur in April, 2000, Commission 7 agreed to support the establishment of Working Group 3 – Cadastre. Professor Williamson represented the FIG at the conference. The workplan of the WG3 focusses on marine cadastres, benchmarking cadastral systems and supporting the development of a global land tenure map. The Chair of WG3 is Dato Majid Mohammed, the Malaysian delegate to Commission 7. The activities of the Working Group are continuing with input from Professor Williamson and Professor Don Grant (Australian delegate to Commission 7). Working Group 3 will meet in Penang, Malaysia in 11-12 September, 2001 and FIG will be represented by Professors Williamson and Grant.

7. Others activities or relevant developments

  • Vice President Jerome Ives will participate the GSDI5 in Bogota, Colombia, May 2001.
  • FIG will send a representative to the second CODI meeting in Addis Ababa in September 2001.
  • FIG will be actively involved in the preparations and the UN Special Session on Rio+10 to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa in August 2002.
  • Professor Williamson, Professor Stig Enemark and Ms Sylvie Lacroux participated in the FIG sponsored Workshop on Capacity Building in Land Administration held at ITC in 13-15 November 2000. Professor Williamson made two presentations titled "World Bank Seminar on Capacity Building for Land Administration" and "UN-FIG Bathurst Declaration on Land Administration for Sustainable Development – the relevance for land administration capacity building" (with Grant, D.M.)
  • A long standing supporter and active participant of FIG activities, Dr Dozie Ezigbalike, has been appointed a Senior Land Information Officer to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) based in Addis Adaba, Ethiopia. Due to the excellent conference and support facilities at UNECA in Addis Adaba, FIG could consider this location for a future joint FIG-UN initiative in Africa.


Prof. Ian Williamson
Director, United Nations Liaison, International Federation of Surveyors
Professor of Surveying and Land Information
The University of Melbourne
Department of Geomatics
Victoria 3052
Tel. + 61 3 9344 4431
Fax + 61 3 9347 4128

28 March 2001

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