FIG PUBLICATION NO. 22
Co-operation between FIG and the UN Agencies
2000 - 2003-
Report of the FIG/UN Roundtable
Melbourne, Australia 1999
1. WELCOME TO PARTICIPANTS
2. AIMS OF THE FIG ROUNDTABLE
3. BACKGROUND PRESENTATIONS
3.2 UNCHS (Habitat)
3.3 UN FAO
3.4 UN Commission for
3.5 The World Bank
3.6 UNECE Meeting of Officials on Land Administration
3.8 UN Economic Commission for
Permanent Committee on GIS Infrastructure for Americas
3.10 German Agency for
Technical Cooperation (GTZ)
4. GENERAL OBSERVATIONS
5. GUIDELINES FOR
FUTURE FIG/UN COOPERATION
6. PROMOTION AND DISSEMINATION OF
THE BATHURST DECLARATION ON LAND ADMINISTRATION FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
7. CLOSE OF ROUNDTABLE
2. List of Participants
3. FIG Justification
for UN/FIG Relationship
The Bathurst Declaration, the position papers prepared as
background reading for the Bathurst Workshop then presented at the International
Conference in Melbourne and the full program, summaries and proceedings of the
Melbourne Conference are available on the WWW at:
The joint United Nations – International Federation of Surveyors (FIG)
International Conference on Land Tenure and Cadastral Infrastructures for
Sustainable Development, jointly organised by Professor Ian Williamson,
Director, FIG-UN Liaison, Department of Geomatics, The University of
Melbourne and Professor Don Grant, Australian Delegate, Commission 7, FIG,
Surveyor General of New South Wales, was held in Melbourne on 24-27 October,
1999. The Roundtable between FIG and several UN agencies and other partners
was held at the University of Melbourne on 27 October, 1999.
The aim of the Conference was to explore humankind-land relationships in
the next millennium in the context of Agenda 21, a product of the UN’s 1991
Rio de Janeiro conference, and the emerging global village. It determined a
broad vision and a set of guidelines for legal, technical and institutional
cadastral infrastructures and systems to support land management and in
particular land administration to ensure sustainable development. It clearly
showed that appropriate land administration systems are essential to
sustainable development, and that without them sustainable development is
simply rhetoric. Land administration has a clear role and this was stressed
in the Bathurst Declaration on Land Administration for Sustainable
Development. The role of land administration in supporting sustainable
development has significant implications for the administrative structure of
government, private sector activities and individual
The joint UN-FIG Bathurst Declaration on Land Administration for
Sustainable Development was launched in Melbourne on 25 October 1999. The
Declaration was prepared the previous week at a workshop in Bathurst, New
South Wales, involving 40 leading experts from around the world representing
five UN agencies and the World Bank, and a host of international experts on
land, water, tenure reform, indigenous rights, women’s rights, the
information revolution and government/institutional reform. The Declaration
is published as publication no 21 in the FIG publication series.
The Conference was sponsored by the United Nations Department of Economic
and Social Affairs (Statistics Division), New York; International Federation
of Surveyors (FIG); Land Victoria, Department of Natural Resources and
Environment, Victoria; Land Information Centre, New South Wales; The
Institution of Surveyors, Australia Inc.; and the Department of Geomatics,
The University of Melbourne, Australia. Support was also provided by a large
number of private companies and institutions concerned with land
administration and related technologies.
A Roundtable on the future co-operation between FIG and several UN
agencies took place on 27th October to discuss the implementation
of the Bathurst Declaration and to prepare the action plans between FIG and
UN for 2000 - 2003. The final agreements and MoUs will be finalised and
approved formally on bilateral basis.
All material from the Melbourne Conference, the Bathurst Workshop
including the Bathurst Declaration and from the Melbourne Roundtable is
available on the FIG home page: http://www.FIG.net.
On behalf of FIG we wish to thank the University of Melbourne for hosting
the Roundtable and for its financial support and especially all the
participants of the Roundtable for their contribution to promote sustainable
development and land administration through the co-operation with FIG. The
FIG Bureau and its ten technical commissions have committed to implement the
recommendations of the Bathurst Declaration and the Roundtable. FIG will
also encourage its the member associations to participate in this work.
Robert W. Foster
Ian P. Williamson
President of FIG Director
Co-operation between FIG and the UN Agencies 2000 - 2003
- Report of the FIG/UN Roundtable
27th October 1999, Melbourne, Australia
Participants in the Roundtable were welcomed by Professor Kwong Lee Dow,
Acting Vice Chancellor of the University of Melbourne; Professor Peter Dale,
President of FIG; and Professor Ian Williamson, Director FIG/UN Liaison.
2. Aims of the FIG/UN Roundtable (Professor
Ian Williamson, Director, FIG/UN Liaison)
The agreed Terms of Reference for the Roundtable were:
- to establish a program of FIG/UN activities for the period 2000–2003.
- to provide the opportunity where FIG can attain a better understanding
of the roles of UN agencies and the World Bank, and for those agencies in
turn to have a better understanding of the capabilities of FIG.
- to identify key issues and initiatives on which FIG, the UN and the
World Bank can collaborate.
- to provide the opportunity for FIG to progress the current joint Work
Plans between the FIG and UN agencies.
- to determine how the joint UN-FIG Bathurst Declaration on Land
Administration for Sustainable Development can be promoted and
Professor Williamson also outlined some of the other issues which could be
- the mechanisms whereby the UN can leverage off joint initiatives
between the FIG and the UN through "seed funding" with the UN-FIG Bathurst
Workshop and Melbourne Conference being excellent examples.
- the mechanisms whereby the FIG and UN agencies can work in tripartite
relationships with third parties such as national development assistance
- the importance of FIG being a facilitator in encouraging networking
between UN agencies and other interested parties or NGOs.
3.1 FIG (Professor Peter Dale, President, FIG)
- FIG is an accredited UN NGO which consists of member associations
rather than individuals, however there are many professionals in those
associations who are interested in international affairs.
- While FIG has only small financial resources, it has large human
resources representing many professional disciplines.
- FIG strongly believes in building links with organisations that share
common interests such as sustainable development. FIG is currently
exploring a range of bilateral and multilateral agreements.
- FIG is primarily interested in developing action plans and identifying
deliverable products through such agreements.
- An unresolved dilemma for FIG, however, is how it works with
regionally decentralised organisations given that FIG itself does not have
a regional structure.
- Recognising the need to strengthen professional institutions in
developing countries, the FIG can play an active role in establishing
codes of ethics, licensing cadastral surveyors and establishing
public/private partnerships in land administration.
- FIG and UNCHS (Habitat) have had a partnership for the past four
- This arrangement commenced in 1995 prior to the Global Conference on
Human Settlement held in Istanbul in 1996 (HABITAT II).
- UNCHS (Habitat) welcomes the opportunity to strengthen its
relationships with NGOs such as FIG, as well as with other UN
- FIG has shown how it and other NGOs could contribute to UN
initiatives, and entered into a 2-year MoU with UNCHS (Habitat) in January
1997 with respect to how it could contribute to the Habitat Agenda.
- An assessment of the MoU was made in May 1999 to review its progress
and to set the basis for future collaboration.
- A positive initiative of the collaboration is that FIG has established
the position of Director, FIG/UN Liaison.
- Another positive initiative is that FIG strongly desires to involve
all of its Commissions in the work of UNCHS (Habitat).
- As for UNCHS (Habitat), it sees its work priority as being to deal
with issues of security of tenure.
- UNCHS (Habitat) regional offices have a full mandate to develop
regional plans to implement the Habitat Agenda.
- UNCHS (Habitat) will continue to participate in joint activities with
FIG as appropriate.
- UNCHS (Habitat) will participate in the special meeting of the UN
General Assembly in June 2001 where UNCHS (Habitat) and its partners will
report on "Istanbul + 5" - the progress made 5 years on from the HABITAT
3.3 UN FAO (Dr James Riddell)
- FAO has had a long-standing interest in land tenure issues, and has
participated in several initiatives over the past two decades with FIG
- FAO and FIG now participate in continual consultation with each other.
- Issue #1: With regional and country program directors now having a
bigger role in aid delivery, it is becoming more difficult for FIG to
liaise with them since it does not have a regional structure.
- Issue #2: The changing nature of aid projects is that individual
governments and ministers increasingly decide what project components are
funded and implemented.
- Issue #3: Interest in cadastral and land registration issue is not
new, given the history of these projects over the past 50 years, but many
of those early projects have failed and are no longer functional. While
there are now several hundred projects under way in the field of
cadastre/land registration, we need to strongly consider what action is
required to ensure their medium-term and long-term success.
- The depth of knowledge of the group that developed the Bathurst
Declaration regarding sustainable development was very impressive.
- Establishment of new partnerships is very important to the UN, but we
also need to consider how the UN can work better with donor countries.
- The UN Commission for Sustainable Development is not large, but has
recently gained extra technical support staff to supplement its policy
- The Commission is looking primarily at land management and agriculture
in its 2000 program.
- An outcome of the Melbourne conference should be that it is seen as an
inter-sessional activity associated with the UN Commission on Sustainable
Development to be held in 2000.
- The Division for Sustainable Development will discuss with FAO how the
Bathurst Declaration on Land Administration for Sustainable Development
can be referred to in the Secretary-General's Report to the Commission on
Sustainable Development in 2000.
- The Bathurst Declaration can be presented at the Commission on
Sustainable Development (CSD-8) in New York in April 2000, presented in
more detail at a side-event at the Commission activities and be made
available as a background paper for the Commission.
- Two thematic groups have been established in the World Bank dealing
with "Rural Land" (chaired by Cora Shaw) and "Urban Land" (chaired by Omar
Razzaz), which have budgets to commission products such as manuals and
case studies for distribution to World Bank staff.
- The Bathurst Declaration and associated background papers prepared on
CD for the Melbourne Conference could be distributed by these two thematic
- Additional useful products that could be distributed by the two
thematic groups could be compilations of the costs of various
cadastre/land registration projects and checklists on how to successfully
conduct land administration projects.
- It is suggested that the FIG is the appropriate organisation to
prepare such products.
- Issue #1: FIG needs to become a formal legal entity in order to
undertake World Bank funded contracts for such product development (N.B.
Professor Dale responded that this has already occurred with the
establishment of the permanent FIG office in Copenhagen).
- Issue #2: The FIG "Information 2000" brochure explaining FIG's goals,
structure, operation and activities, needs to be provided in alternative
electronic forms for wider dissemination.
- FIG should consider how people with interests in land administration,
such as lawyers and economists, can more easily link with FIG without
needing to become members in the national associations comprising FIG (at
present this tends to happen on an ad hoc basis).
3.6 UNECE Meeting of Officials on Land
Administration (MOLA) (Mr. Helge Onsrud)
- MOLA is not the only committee with cadastre / land administration
interests in the European Union. CERCO also has some involvement although
it concentrates on mapping, in addition to another committee dealing with
- MOLA is seeking a wider non-surveying based membership.
- MOLA is achieving very strong attendance at its seminars and
- MOLA wants to participate more in preparing guideline documentation
for dealing with land administration problems occurring in countries in
- In future, MOLA will focus more on problems associated with
condominiums and land consolidation in countries in transition.
- MOLA is examining how the quality of foreign assistance to countries
in transition can be improved.
- An activity to closely observe in the near future is the
Austrian-based "Vienna Initiative", which involves cooperation between
Austria, the World Bank, the US and European Union, to create a legal
resource database for research and coordination purposes.
3.7 PCGIAP (Dato' Abdul Majid Mohamed)
- The Permanent Committee on GIS Infrastructure for Asia and the Pacific
(PCGIAP) was formed at the UN cartographic Conference in Beijing in 1994.
- It has active Geodesy and Spatial Data Infrastructure working groups,
and is considering establishing a Cadastre working group.
- The proposed group will examine cadastral / land administration issues
and liaison between the countries involved in PCGIAP.
- The proposed working group is expected to be formed in 2000 following
discussions at a conference to be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
- The arrangements for liaison between FIG and the PCGIAP cadastre
working group are still to be developed.
- The Commission assists member states in their social and economic
activities. It is not a funding agency, but works to build awareness,
disseminate information, liaise with interested stakeholders, and promote
regional and international cooperation.
- The Commission now has a range of geoinformation activities in which
it is involved, and provides an advisory service on geoinformation issues.
- It conducts policy and strategic studies, seminars, workshops,
conferences, and needs assessments for member states.
- The Committee maintains a series of databases and is completing a
cartographic inventory atlas.
- There are many obvious areas of cooperation with FIG, and these would
include documenting successful case studies in GIS implementation and
costs and benefits.
- The Commission would like to see a distance learning centre
established in GIS in Africa. Another valuable initiative would be joint
FIG/ISPRS /ICA seminars on GIS applications
- The Commission would welcome an agreement with FIG that helped achieve
- Several recommendations for future co-operation were presented by Mr.
Borrero, based on a 1998 paper presented at the 3rd GSDI Conference held
in Canberra, Australia, when dealing with the GIS/SDI promotion in Latin
- Open up the doors for all relevant actors involved in the development
of GIS infrastructure for the Region.
- Encourage creation of a GIS/SDI Permanent Committee for the Americas.
- Promote a regional workshop and other educational activities, on
GIS/SDI concrete applications, showing its economic, social and
- Obtain more clear statements from multilateral organizations,
particularly from the United Nations agencies, concerning the use of
global spatial information and its relation with development efforts in
developing nations. Thus, clarifying specific confusions still existent.
- Obtain the indispensable and much needed support from the
International Geographic Organizations, and in particular FIG.
- Spatial information is critical for growth in the Americas.
- There is a strong need for closer links between all the FIG
Commissions and the Americas.
- There is currently only limited involvement between the International
Standards Organisation (ISO) and the Americas.
- There is a need to have a more formalised regional body in the
Americas dealing with Spatial Data Infrastructures (SDIs) as there is, for
example, in the Pacific and Asia region (PCGIAP).
- GTZ is a private enterprise for implementing Development Cooperation
Projects, owned by the German Government, and is now dealing with land
tenure issues in post-conflict areas such as Bosnia. GTZ is currently
working in 130 countries through 2500 projects. Land related projects
comprise 5% of its annual budget (1.6 billion DM). GTZ has many ongoing
initiatives of GTZ/UN cooperation. Priority in projects dealing with land
issues is given to land registration, land policy advice, institutions for
settling land conflicts, land tenure in post conflict countries and
- GTZ is calling for more complementary initiatives of UN-institutions,
bilateral organisations involved in development co-operation and
professional organisations like FIG.
- There is a need for agencies to move from considering projects to
programs. For example, land registration projects should be considered in
the broader context of country programs for decentralisation.
- The importance of good governance, accountability of the public sector
and democratic rules if land administration is to contribute to
- The role that FIG can play to address the challenge to transform land
administration institutions to be much more service oriented and
- The value of traditional and slowly progressing land administration
projects is doubtful in solving land-related issues given the rapidly
changing nature of areas such as peri-urban zones and coastal zones under
- Because of the pressure for rapid land issue solutions, GTZ is looking
beyond land administration for immediate answers to these pressures and is
examining broader solutions such as land regularization and land
readjustment. In response, Professor Williamson noted that the term "Land
Administration" now has a much broader definition than it had
traditionally and includes land regularization solutions.
- GTZ has produced an excellent book (with CD) providing guiding
principles and documenting successful case studies in land tenure reform,
cadastre / land registration projects titled "Land tenure in development
cooperation – Guiding Principles" GTZ 1998 and the WWW page
- GTZ gives full support to this FIG initiative.
- The Bathurst Declaration should not be the final step and the UN should
disseminate the Declaration as widely as possible to its members.
- The Declaration should feature in a special issue of an appropriate
- The UN Conference on Sustainable Development in late April - early May
2000 presents a key opportunity to present the Declaration.
- There is a need to get more developing countries as members of FIG.
- There are several cadastre/land registration documents being prepared
in time for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development.
- FIG Commission 7 should consider re-examining the FIG "Statement on
the Cadastre" to reflect European trends.
- FIG Commission 7 should consider establishing a working party dealing
with cadastre and land registration in developing countries.
- There is a need for an up-to-date list of UN and FIG regional contacts
to facilitate liaison activities.
- FIG should participate in the "Vienna Initiative" as an NGO in 2000.
- FIG Commission 2 should consider the development of "virtual
workshops" to assist with the training and education in cadastre and land
registration in developing countries (Professor Stig Enemark noted that
while this could be an expensive and resource consuming process. As such
he would bring the matter to the attention of Commission 2).
- UN agencies would find it easier to obtain seed funding if the FIG/UN
work programs could be linked at the time of development (that is, about 2
years in advance).
- It was suggested that guidelines be developed which reflect good
practice in cadastre and land registration projects.
- Another product proposed was the development of project performance
- FIG to operate in partnership with various UN agencies to progress
issues of common interest in their respective work plans.
- FIG and UN agencies to increasingly work in a tripartite relationship
with other bodies, such as aid or development assistance agencies of
- To recognise that FIG is in a unique position to bring together
various UN agencies interested in land administration and spatial
information management as a group to discuss issues of common concern. In
this regard FIG can act as a facilitator in encouraging networking between
UN institutions and bilateral institutions.
- To recognise that FIG is a non-profit organisation whose great
strength is its access to a large pool of experienced professionals, who
in general contribute their services voluntarily to FIG activities.
- To recognise that in order for UN agencies to access these
professional resources for joint UN/FIG activities, "seed funding" is
required from a UN agency which may be supplemented by a third party such
as a national aid or development assistance organisation.
- To recognise that with the commitment of an UN agency to a joint
UN/FIG initiative, the FIG is often in a position to leverage off the UN
support to generate further financial support from other government and
private sector organisations.
- To recognise that while FIG will coordinate UN/FIG activities through
its Bureau and the permanent FIG Office, FIG seeks to utilise the
experience and resources of all individual Commissions.
- To recognise that UN agencies are becoming more regionally
decentralised, such as UNCHS (Habitat) and UN FAO, and also through such
regional groups as UN/ECE MOLA and PCGIAP. In turn FIG will endeavour to
seek the support and involvement of its member associations and regional
delegates of individual Commissions to participate in regional activities.
- FIG and UN participation at events should be funded if possible by
their respective organisations, recognising that FIG as a non-profit
organisation has no access to financial resource and as such relies on its
individual members raising external funding for their involvement or
having participation funded by a UN agency or a third party.
- FIG will endeavour to develop MoUs with individual UN agencies to
develop common work plans of mutual interest. At the same time, FIG will
endeavour to continue to work in the widest sense within the UN family to
ensure the FIG interacts with all interested UN parties.
- FIG will endeavour to get its member associations more involved with
regional UN activities.
- There is considerable benefit in partnerships linking FIG and UN
agencies, recognising that at least two years lead time is required to
introduce initiatives of common interest to UN work plans.
6. Promotion and Dissemination
of the Bathurst Declaration on Land Administration for Sustainable Development
- The FIG Bureau should overview the implementation of the Declaration
with the support of the Director, FIG/UN Liaison.
- All documentation should be placed on the FIG website and distributed
as widely as possible.
- Presentation of the Declaration to the UN RCC for Asia and the Pacific
in Kuala Lumpur in April 2000.
- Presentations to the UN Commission on Sustainable Development in New
York in April 2000 as well as being provided as a background document to
all participating member states.
- Presentation of the Bathurst Declaration to the FIG General Assembly
in Prague in May 2000.
- Recognition of the Bathurst Workshop and Melbourne Conference and
resulting Declaration and proceedings by the UN Commission on Sustainable
Development as an inter-sessional activity.
- Send the Declaration to the World Bank rural and urban land thematic
groups for placement on their websites.
- Send the Declaration to individual countries, relevant politicians and
senior government officials.
- FIG to encourage and support implementation of specific
recommendations such as the global map of land tenure and land
administration, the thesaurus on land tenure, and good practice and
- Presentation of the Declaration to UN at the UN Special Session on
Istanbul + 5 in New York in June 2001, and integration with UNCHS
(Habitat) work plan 2000-2003 and global campaign on secure tenure.
- Seek support from FIG member associations and/or other organisations
to translate the Declaration into other languages.
- FIG to organise the printing and distribution of the Bathurst
Declaration (either by the FIG or through the support of other
- FIG Commission 2 to consider the desirability of developing a virtual
land administration training program.
- Distribute the PowerPoint presentations and a digital version of the
Bathurst Declaration to all Roundtable delegates and other partners.
7. Close of Roundtable
Professor Dale thanked participants for their contribution to the
Roundtable, particularly Professor Williamson and Mr John Parker for
organising of the event and for the Department of Geomatics at the
University of Melbourne in hosting the event. Mr Robert Foster,
Vice-President of FIG, formally closed the meeting.
The FIG wishes to acknowledge the support of the Department of Geomatics,
University of Melbourne in hosting the Roundtable and Dr Gary Hunter in
preparing the draft report.
APPENDIX 1 - AGENDA
FIG/UN ROUNDTABLE – 27 OCTOBER 1999
Upper East Dining Room, University House
The University of Melbourne
9.00 a.m. – 4.00 p.m.
Chair: Prof. Peter Dale, President, FIG
- Acting Vice Chancellor, The University of Melbourne, Prof. Kwong Lee
- President FIG, Peter Dale
- Director FIG-UN Liaison, Ian Williamson
Background Presentations (10 minutes)
- FIG, Peter Dale
- UNCHS (Habitat), Sylvie Lacroux
- UN FAO 10 mins (James Riddell)
- UN Department of Economic & Social Affairs, JoAnne DiSano
- World Bank, Gershon Feder
- Meeting of Officials on Land Administration UN Economic Commission
for Europe, Helge Onsrud
- Permanent Committee on GIS Infrastructure for Asia and Pacific,
- UN Economic Commission for Africa, Orlando Nino Fluck
- Permanent Committee on GIS Infrastructure for Americas, Santiago
- German Agency for Technical Cooperation, Willi Zimmermann
Options for collaboration (inc. funding option),
UN/FIG Bathurst Declaration, Ian Williamson
||Brainstorming ideas on future collaboration, All
|| Collaboration strategy, All
Publication of Roundtable discussion, implementation
strategy and media release, All
|| Future FIG/UN Relationship – The way forward, Robert
|| Closing, Robert Foster)
|Mr. Santiago Borrero
||Chair, Permanent Committee on GIS Infrastructure for
|Mr. Peter Holland
||for the Secretary, Permanent Committee on GIS
Infrastructure for Asia and the Pacific
|Professor Peter Dale
||President, International Federation of Surveyors
Ms JoAnne DiSano
|| Director, Division for Sustainable Development,
Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations
|Professor Stig Enemark
|| Former Chair, FIG Commission 2
Dr. Gershon Feder
||Research Manager - Rural Development, Development
Research Group, The World Bank
Mr. Robert Foster
|| President-Elect, International Federation of Surveyors
|Professor Don Grant
|| Australian Delegate, FIG Commission 7
|Mr. Matt Higgins
||Vice-Chair, FIG Commission 5
|Dr. Gary Hunter
||Former Secretary, FIG Commission 7 (rapporteur)
|Dr Sylvie Lacroux
||Coordinator, Land & Tenure Unit, United Nations Centre
for Human Settlements (Habitat)
|Dato' Abdul Majid Mohamed
||Chair, Permanent Committee on GIS Infrastructure for
Asia and the Pacific
Dr. Paul Munro-Faure
||Chair, FIG Commission 7
Mr. Orlando Nino-Fluck
|| Senior Cartographic Officer, Development Information
Services Division, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa
|Mr. Helge Onsrud
|| Chair, Meeting of Officials on Land Administration
(MOLA), UN Economic Commission for Europe
|Professor John Parker
Chair, FIG Commission 1
Dr. James C. Riddell Chief
||Land Tenure Service, UN Food & Agriculture Organisation
|Mr. Markku Villikka
|| Director, FIG Permanent Office, Copenhagen
|Professor Ian Williamson
||Director, FIG-UN Liaison
|Professor Kai Yang
||Deputy Chair, Permanent Committee on GIS Infrastructure
for Asia and the Pacific
|Mr. Willi Zimmermann
||German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ)
Surveying is a discipline which is increasingly recognised by United
Nations agencies as being critically important to economic development,
social stability and environmental management, or in short sustainable
development. The professional skills of surveyors in land administration,
land management, planning, valuation, environmental management, cadastral
systems, land information systems and construction economics are essential
to sustainable development of both developing and developed countries. In
particular UN agencies are focussing on issues of access to land, security
of tenure, the establishment of professional associations and the
development of land markets as critical areas where surveyors can make a
very important contribution. As a result UN agencies have increasingly
looked towards non- government organisations such as FIG to develop
partnerships to address these issues.
Due to this increasing interaction between the FIG and UN agencies, the
FIG appointed a Director, FIG-UN Liaison at the Brighton Congress in 1998
for the remainder of the UK Bureau and for the period of the USA Bureau
1999-2003. The primary functions of the Director are:
- To promote the profile of FIG in the UN
- To liaise between FIG and appropriate UN agencies
- To expand and implement FIG’s strategy for liaison between FIG and
appropriate UN agencies
- To advise the FIG Bureau on possible opportunities and initiatives
which will further FIG’s links with UN agencies
The strengthening relationship between the FIG and the United Nations
over the last decade was described by FIG President Peter Dale at the
General Assembly in South Africa in 1999 in his paper titled "FIG and the
United Nations" (Website:
www.ddl.org/FIGtree). Also at the General Assembly Vice President Robert
Foster (President-elect, FIG), Director FIG-UN Liaison, Ian Williamson and
Director of the FIG Office, Markku Villikka, addressed delegates on FIG-UN
liaison. They brought the General Assembly up to date on a recent successful
visit by these FIG officers to the United Nations (UNCHS (Habitat) and UNEP)
in Nairobi just prior to the Working Week in Sun City. Ian Williamson also
updated the General Assembly on the plans for the UN-FIG International
Conference on Land Tenure and Cadastral Infrastructures for Sustainable
Development in Australia (24-27 October 1999 Website:
http://www.sli.unimelb.edu.au/UNConf99) and on the FIG home page
As noted by President Peter Dale in his address to the General Assembly,
previous FIG Bureaux have been committed to developing a strong relationship
with UN agencies. This started with the Finnish Bureau where FIG gained NGO
status with the Economic and Social Council of the UN (ECOSOC). The
Australian and UK Bureaux furthered and strengthened the relationship with
UN agencies and particularly with UNCHS (Habitat), UNFAO and UNDESA
(formerly DDSMS). The focus with UNCHS (Habitat) has been on urban issues
while UNFAO has been on rural issues. The relationship with UNDESA has been
focussed on the UN Regional Cartographic Conferences and a number of global
events such as the development of the joint UN-FIG Bogor Declaration on
Cadastral Reform (see Commission 7 WWW page at
The relationship between the FIG and UN agencies is now maturing. This
has resulted in the USA Bureau including a commitment to strengthen the
relationship with UN agencies in its Work Plan for 2000-2003. It recognises
the role FIG has to promote the betterment of humanity and its environs in a
similar manner to the UN. The Work Plan recognises that this must be done
collaboratively between the FIG Bureau, the commissions and the member
The benefits of a close working relationship between the FIG and the UN
are summarised below:
Benefits to FIG
FIG is recognised as an influential and well organised NGO that has
something to offer the UN. This gives the FIG access to UN agencies,
personnel and processes.
Raises the profile of surveying on the world stage by showing that the
profession is more than making maps but is about land and property
management. The liaison promotes the skills of the profession.
Allows the FIG to better achieve its mission, which includes making a
contribution to the betterment of society in general. The profession is
enhanced by members furthering the aims of the UN.
Allows the FIG to leverage off the UN by running joint meetings,
workshop and conferences, and undertaking joint projects, to the benefit
of both organisations. This is of particular benefit to the activities of
commissions and member associations.
Provides a framework for FIG to access UN resources and networks.
Ensures that FIG projects, policies and statements take account of
international trends, protocols and developments.
Facilitates the FIG posting its activities on UN WWW pages (and vice
Benefits to member associations
- Many FIG member associations subscribe to the belief that what is good
for the FIG is good for member associations! Undoubtedly a strengthening
of the relationship with the UN is good for the FIG.
- The UN liaison has brought a sense of achievement to member
- UN liaison allows member associations to recognise and promote that
they are part of the international community.
- Provides a mechanism for member associations to have access to the UN
through the FIG to promote or support a specific issue.
- Joint initiatives with the UN raise the profile of the member
associations in their respective countries, particularly with governments.
This is particularly important as the UN focuses more on regional
activities being administered through regional offices (such as UNCHS
(Habitat) and UNFAO).
- Ensures that FIG member associations are not operating in isolation to
world trends and influences outside the profession of surveying.
Benefits to individual member surveyors
- Again many people subscribe to the belief that what is good for FIG
member associations is good for individual member surveyors!
- The relationship with the UN allows practising surveyors to see that
their work is fundamental to economic development, social stability and
environmental management and that the profession is the backbone of any
society. The work of surveyors in supporting these objectives is very
clearly highlighted in developing countries but often forgotten or
devalued in well established systems in developed countries. This in turn
promotes a pride in the profession.
- Facilitates members visiting and having contacts within the UN.
- Allows individual surveyors to have access to UN information and
contacts and to spend periods of study leave in UN agencies. This ensures
appropriate surveying research is relevant.
- Links surveyors into a wider network to open up possible work and
contract opportunities (UN member state aid bureaus, UN projects, World
Director, FIG/UN Liaison