XXIII FIG Congress in Munich, Germany
October 8-13, 2006

Shaping the Change - Biggest FIG Congress in History

The XXIII FIG Congress was organised in Munich, Germany 8-13 October 2006. The congress was attended by 1,300 delegates from about 100 countries. Together with the INTERGEO conference and other simultaneous events the congress was attended by 3,000 participants. The INTERGEO trade fair attracted about 19,500. These were the biggest numbers to any FIG event in the history. Also many of the individual events had record attendance - e.g. the opening ceremony attracted a full hall of 1,400 participants and the joint INTERGEO-Treff and FIG Foundation Dinner sold out the hall at the Löwenbräukeller with more than 1,800 delegates. Also the memorable Farewell Dinner at Hofbräuhaus was sold out allowing 600 delegates to enjoy Bavarian hospitality.

Opening Ceremony

At the opening ceremony the welcome address was given by Dr. Edmund Stoiber, Bavarian Minister President. Prof. Holger Magel, FIG President gave the Presidential Address "Shaping the Change 2002 to 2006 – The German Period of FIG" focussing on the policies and achievements of FIG during the German presidency. The keynote address at the opening ceremony was given by Dr. Klaus Töpfer, long-time Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

In his welcome greeting Dr. Stoiber highlighted that the surveyors contribution is essential for the development of a country. An important message when it comes from a high level politician.

In the keynote address Dr. Töpfer focussed on "For a More Just World – the Surveyors’ Role for Achieving Sustainable Development" which was considered as the highlight of the congress and many participants ranked it among the top speeches over many years. In his presentation he linked measuring with the perception of ideologies. This in a world today with unprecedented changes. In a world with big differences in income, in a world where 2 of 3 babies are born in cities. In Germany, and in Europe, the difference in prosperity between ‘east’ and ‘west’ had to be managed – the difference worldwide is much bigger. It is not only charity, it is obligation and investment which are relevant. The Millennium Development Goals are about decreasing poverty: the western world throws away daily more food then needed by all people without food. Access to water is an issue. There is no doubt that there is a lot of progress but there are many pockets of remaining problems. There is a lot of work to be done in the implementation of rule based systems on property right registration and secure tenure: “if you want a conflict then destroy the cadastre”. Clear and accepted property situations are a basis for freedom and a basis for (peace) investment; this is the highest priority on the development agenda. Slum upgrading is not successful without secure tenure. Forced evictions… Surveyors knowledge is needed: FIG is a premium partner of UN because of the needs for surveyors knowledge. We need better land management systems with better data; governments should make money available for that as they do for other infrastructures. The price of globalisation can not be that people loose their identity.

The presentations included also a welcome address by Mr. Hagen Graeff, President of German DVW that has hosted FIG Council for the past four years. The two congress directors Thomas Gollwitzer for FIG 2006 and Walter Henninger for INTERGEO shared the responsibility to chair the opening ceremony which was a joint event for FIG and INTERGEO. This joint activity resulted in record attendance to the opening ceremony where the doors need to be closed after 1,400 participants had filled in the main hall at ICM.

The FIG Congress Prize was awarded to Ms. Nsame Nsemiwe from Zambia forher two papers:  "Gender Dimensions of Land Customary Inheritance under Customary Tenure in Zambia" which has also been published as the FIG article of the month. The other awareded paper is "Negotiating the Interface: Struggles Involved in the Upgrading of Informal Settlements -a Case Study of Nkandabwe in Kitwe, Zambia". The DVW Prize was given to Prof. Dr.-Ing. Harald Schlemmer by Rolf Richter, President of the Rural Development Office Under Franconia.

The entertainment during the opening ceremony was performed by double-bass ensemble Bassiona Amorosa that played both classical favourites and a new arrangement of the FIG fanfare with great success.

Technical programme

The technical and scientific programme of the congress consisted of four plenary sessions (three jointly with Intergeo and one also with IAG), 90 technical sessions and couple of workshops (history of surveying, quality management for geodata and hydrography as well as ESRI workshop): in the technical sessions about 500 papers were presented and in addition almost 100 displayed in the poster exhibition.

The first plenary session focussed on "Urban and Rural Inter-relationship in Land Administration" with keynote speakers Dr. Lars Reutersward, Director, UN-HABITAT, Maximilian Geierhos, Head of the Bavarian Administration for Rural Development, and Rob Mahoney presenting the FIG Marrakech Declaration and its outcome. This session was chaired by President Magel.

The second plenary session was on "Disaster und Risk Management" chaired by Peter Creuzer, President of UN ECE WPLA and Dr. Andreas Drees, FIG Vice President as rapporteur. Speakers included Dr. Lutz Cleemann, Allianz Zentrum für Technik GmbH, David B. Zilkoski, NOAA, discussing "Earth Observations: Bringing Together Critical Information for Disaster Preparedness and Response"  and Prof. Jochen Zschau, GFZ presenting the German-Indonesian Tsunami Early Warning System for the Indian Ocean. In conjunction to this session the FIG publication on "The Contribution of the Surveying Profession to Disaster Risk Management" was launched.

The third plenary session was about "Geoinformation on Demand" with Prof. Josef Frankenberger, Head of the Bavarian Land Survey Administration, Prof. Joseph Salukvadze, Tbilisi State University and Berik Davies, Shell International Exploration & Production B.V. as main speakers. This session was chaired by Dr. Drees with Dr. Chryssy Potsiou as rapporteur.

GIS and SDI were also key topic for some invited sessions introducing international experts like Jack Dangermond, President of ESRI, Jarmo Ratia, President Elect of GSDI, Prof. Milan Konecny, President of ICA etc. Also many other sister organisations were present at the congress including Prof. Ian Dowman, President of ISPRS, Prof. Gerhard Beutler, President of IHO and representatives of IHO, Eurogeomatics, IFHP, IFHS, ISM, CLGE, GE, FGF etc. The Joint Board of Geospatial Information Societies had two meeting during the congress on disaster management and on capacity building.

The last plenary session on "Global Change" focussed on new technologies with speakers Prof. Reiner Rummel, Permanent Secretary of the German Geodetic Commission, Prof. Hermann Drewes, President of IAG Commission 1 and Prof. Hans Haubold, United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UN-OOSA). This session organised jointly with IAG and the Geodetic Week was chaired by Prof. Gerhard Beutler, President of IAG with Prof. Rudolf Staiger as the rapporteur.

The general opinion on the technical sessions seemed to be that the quality of papers was in general higher than at some previous events and that attendance in many sessions was surprisingly good. This applies especially to commissions 8, 9 and 10. Naturally there were also comments that there were too many papers in the sessions allowing not enough time for presentation and for discussion. There was also some last minute drop-outs based on different reasons, most financial and visa problems. The organisers were pleased also to the joint sessions organised together with the World Bank and FAO and also with partners like GSDI and IAG.

All commissions had also several internal meetings during the week to discuss their work plans and future projects.

As normally several technical tours offered good opportunities to learn about German surveying and technology.

Social Events

The Congress week was also full of social highlights starting with the welcome reception at the Holiday Inn after the General Assembly. About 700 delegates arrived in time to attend this successful get together party - tasteful food and drinks made people to enjoy the reception long beyond the closing time.

On Monday heads of national delegations were invited to lunch reception at the City Hall of Munich,, hosted by the mayor of Munich. The reception allowed participants to admire this central point of Munich.

The Bavarian State Reception was organised in the famous Kaisersaal of the Residenz castle. These royal rooms gave an impression of the great history of Bavaria. Almost 700 guests crowded in these impressive rooms.

In the evening of the opening of FIG 2006 and INTERGEO the traditional INTERGEO-Treff was organised in the Löwenbräukeller, one of the most famous breweries in Munich. This time the "geodätentreff" was also an FIG Foundation event. The evening with Bavarian music, food and beer fulfilled expectations of more than 1,800 participants. Because of the FIG presence the Treff was this time even more impressive than normally.

The congress was concluded with the Farewell Dinner at the famous Hofbräuhaus. About 600 participants followed the invitation to enjoy the Bavarian hospitality once more, discuss the experiences of the week and make friends with new surveyors from all over the world.

The very final social event was organised by FIG 2010. This reception at the Holiday Inn after the closing ceremony gave a taste of "aussie" hospitality and food and allowed to meet with the Australian team with young ambassadors - young surveyors were in focus during the whole FIG 2006 - and the nature represented by a grown-up koala.


The exhibition of the FIG Congress was this time combined to the annual INTERGEO Trade Show. The exhibition attracted more than 19,500 visitors to the exhibition that expanded to three hall at the ICM covering 30,000 sqm of exhibition space and introducing 550 exhibitors.

The conference part of INTERGEO collected 1,800 participants to its technical sessions and forums. The conference was open to all FIG participants but because of the fully packed FIG programme the time did not allow many delegates to attend many of these interesting sessions.

General Assembly

The FIG General Assembly met in two sessions on Sunday 8 October and on Friday 13 October 2006 at the Holiday Inn. Major decisions of the General Assembly include: Prof. Stig Enemark from Denmark was elected as the new President of FIG 2007-2010. In the election Stig Enemark won over Ken Allred from Canada and TN Wong from Hong Kong. Mr. Matt Higgins (Australia) and Dr. Dalal S. Alnaggar (Egypt) were elected as Vice Presidents for 2007-2010. Prof. Paul van der Molen was elected as Vice President for the two years term of office (2007-2008) that became open after Stig Enemark was elected as the new President. The fourth Vice President is Mr. Ken Allred who will continue in the new Council for next two years. Dr. Chryssy Potsiou has been appointed as the ACCO representative in the Council for 2007-2008. The new Council will start its work 1.1.2007.

Mr. Jürg Kaufmann (Switzerland) and Prof. Kazimierz Czarnecki (posthumously) were appointed as Honorary Members of FIG.

The FIG Working Week 2011 was admitted to ONIGT from Morocco to be held in Marrakech in April/May 2011. Marrakech won Rome, Puerto Rico and Nigeria in the toughest competition ever for an FIG event. The decision must have been difficult to the member associations. The 6th FIG Regional Conference will be organised in San Jose, Costa Rica, 11-15 November 2007.

During the General Assembly four new FIG publications were launched.

Several new members were adopted and endorsed during the General Assembly. After the meetings in Munich number of member associations has increased to 102 from 85 countries. The new member associations approved in Munich are: Institution of Surveyors of Tanzania, Syndicat National des Géomètres-Topographes et Assimilés du Bénin, Iranian Society of Surveyors, Federation des Ingenieurs Géomètres-Topographes (Congo D. R.), Mongolian Association of Geodesy and Cartography, Society of Professionals of Land Information Technologies (Georgia), China Institute of Real Estate Appraisers and Agents and FENEA – Federação Nacional dos Engenheiros Agrimensores from Brazil. After a tight vote also the Hong Kong Institution of Engineering Surveyors was adopted as a new member association.

New affiliates members were endorsed from Iceland, Macedonia FYROM, Mongolia and Romania, in addition ANZLIC from Australia and New Zealand was adopted as a new affiliate member. Totally 7 new corporate members were approved raising the number of corporate members to 34, this includes also the first member from Sudan. 13 universities and institutions were endorsed as academic members.

The General Assembly also endorsed the final report from ACCO and ten technical commissions and noted the draft work plans of new commission  chairs for 2007-2010, these work plans will be endorsed in Hong Kong in May 2007.

Closing ceremony

At the closing ceremony President Magel presented the Conference Summary. Apart from the impressive number of participants he could report that many young professionals attended the congress and that FIG has now a plan to integrate a students'/young surveyors' forum now. The relations with sister organisations and international partner organisations are and will be strong. Many new delegates from several countries were welcomed during the congress. The President reminded the audience on a statement by Kofi Annan: fundamental…: Freedom from Poverty, Freedom from Fear, Freedom to live in Human Dignity and the importance for the profession to take initiative and responsibility on this topic. FIG has already acted by producing a broadly recognised and accepted set of publications and a broad co-operation with the United Nations, the World Bank, NGOs and sister organisations. FIG needs task forces to further develop this co-operation based on professional engagement. Of specific importance is the FIG statement on Disaster Risk Management (to be endorsed in Hong Kong). A lot has been achieved and a lot has to be done. The changes surveyors are facing are: global economy, financial and new business paradigms; climatic risks and environmental disasters, social patterns of poverty and migration. The challenges are: re-balancing economic aspirations across regions, leaving a liveable planet to our children, creating a peaceful and just world and engaging with mass information portals. According to President Magel following actions will shape the future: Energised Leadership; Effective Policies and Organisations; Ethical Cultures and Values; Equitable Models for Cooperation; and Expert Knowledge to Share and Influence.

President Magel reminded the surveyors to contribute to Millennium Development Goals (appropriate engagement and tool creation), design and implementation (accurate reference systems and creation of virtual infrastructures), upgrading settlements and slum, eServices, engagement with Urban-Rural, and awareness: increasing knowledge of spatial solutions for other client-groups and customers and the relevance of both geoinformation acquisition and use of data from ‘Mash Ups’ to high quality data.

As final conclusion President Magel summarised: "Surveyors can shape the change by collaboration, communication and cooperation. Surveyors can shape the change with Passion, energy and enthusiasm by working in many dimensions. Surveyors need wings for flying in the air and boots for walking on the rough ground”.

Links to documents and reports of the FIG Congress in Munich

Main addresses

  • Shaping the Change 2002-2006 – The German Period of FIG. FIG President’s Address by Prof. Holger Magel, FIG President at the Opening Ceremony of the XXIII FIG Congress in Munich on 10 October 2006.
  • Eröffnungsansprache des Bayerischen Ministerpräsidenten Dr. Edmund Stoiber anlässlich des 23. Internationalen FIG Kongresses am 10. Oktober 2006 in München
  • For a More Just World – the Surveyors’ Role for Achieving Sustainable Development. Keynote Address at the Opening Ceremony by Dr. Klaus Töpfer
  • Shaping the Change - Congress Summary. Closing Address by Prof. Holger Magel, FIG President at the Closing Ceremony of the XXIII FIG Congress in Munich on 13 October 2006.
  • Conference proceedings