Mapping the World a Better Place:
The FIG's Volunteer Community Surveyor Programme - VCSP

FIG Young Surveyors Network and UN-Habitat/GLTN


Roshni Sharma & David Elegbede
Darion Mahadeo, Israel Taiwo, Chethna Ben, Angela Anyakora


This publication as a .pdf-file (68 pages - 6 Mb)


Foreword by FIG President Diane Dumashie:

Young Surveyors Network activities. This publication presents the program’s purpose, impact, and the global collaborative cooperative efforts between the FIG Young Surveyors Network and FIG strategic partner, the Global Land Tool Network (UN Habitat – GLTN). The VCSP is designed to encourage young surveyors to volunteer their time and skills to humanitarian and environmental causes to “Map the World a Better Place”. The program facilitates the deployment of young surveyors who volunteer to support land administration in Africa and Asia.

The program exemplifies the current vision of FIG, to ‘Serve society for the benefit of people and planet’. Outlined is the very idea of establishing sustainable development through a humanitarian surveyor lens. Young surveyors participating in this program have the opportunity to make a lasting and positive impact for people. The global to local impact resonates across the surveyor’s working for people in their local places.

The VCSP has built upon FIG’s partnership agenda. Notably, it collaborates not only with the important global partner GLTN but also with FIG corporate member Trimble, both organisations have provided incredible support. Additionally, it has also outreached to 12 other partners that includes government ministries, academics, and civic society organizations.

The results of the VCSP empowers surveyors of all ages. While passion and adventure are expected from FIG young surveyors, the program has also highlighted their qualifications, skills, and professional maturity. Further the VCSP chair leadership, all have since risen into professional leadership positions.

The Journey of VCSP has been impressively led. Since its inception in 2017, the VCSP has achieved remarkable milestones. Initially deploying 12 Volunteer Community Surveyors (VCSs) across 7 countries, it has now expanded to an additional 30 VCSs with contributions in 9 countries. But, the impact extends beyond borders. Through cocreated platforms, such as Wisdom Workshops and e-Volunteering mapathons, participants from over 45 countries have come together to learn and share knowledge and drive change.

Behind this success lies a network of passionate young surveyors. They collaborate, innovate, and co-create, leaving their mark on the world. There were so many who, working together with partners, became the architects of change and are rightly acknowledge. FIG community thanks them all.

The VCSP stands as a testament to the collaborative spirit that binds us professionally together. At its core, this program is about capacity building – equipping young surveyors with the skills, professional networks, and opportunities to make a positive impact on our world. As they volunteer their time and expertise, they not only map physical landscapes but also shape a better future for humanity.

We would like to acknowledge the efforts of the authors in providing this publication and the contributions from the wider YSN community whether through their tireless work, unwavering support, and creative ideas. Seeking to address issues such as land equality in tenure security, climate action and ultimately poverty alleviation, with the aim articulated by the UN Habitat agenda – to “leave no one behind”.

The VCSP has shown that, together, we continue to map not just land but also hope,
opportunity, and a brighter future for generations to come.

Diane A Dumashie,
FIG President (2023–2026)

Foreword by Secretary to the Global Land Tool Network, Robert Lewis-Lettington,

THE INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF SURVEYORS (FIG) has been a central partner in the Global Land Tool Network (GLTN) from the Network’s very earliest days, and continues in that role today. Its
membership and activities emphasise applied skills and practical solutions to challenges in the land management and administration professions. This emphasis is also a defining characteristic of GLTN. The Network was founded on, and still lives by, a clear set of objectives and principles. Our central premise is that inclusive land tenure security advances a number of, if not most, sustainable development objectives. Much of the world’s population does not enjoy tenure security, frequently because the administrative and technical tools to provide it are not available or are not effective and sometimes because the relevant legal and policy frameworks do not provide for those tools.

Partnering with FIG, and in particular the FIG Young Surveyors’ Network, to establish the Volunteer Community Surveyor Programme has been a rich and rewarding experience for GLTN. From the earliest pilots in 2017 through to fuller implementation in support of GLTN’s Phase 3 Programme from 2020 to 2023, we have improved skills, shared knowledge and built professional experience for thirty five young surveyors, as well as for tens, if not hundreds, of GLTN implementing and community partners in seven countries. In most of these countries, community level work on land administration has fed directly into national level legal and policy reform processes, amplifying direct benefits for hundreds into improved frameworks that benefit millions. Through the skills and knowledge that the young surveyors bring with them, GLTN partners have access to the latest developments and thinking in land administration. By applying their skills and knowledge in some of the most challenging contexts and with very practical objectives, young surveyors are able to adapt and refine them and to deepen their understanding of the importance and role of their profession. The development of ‘wisdom workshops’ and ‘e-volunteering’ as supporting components to the central in country deployments has provided a more holistic project that has allowed us to navigate disasters such as the COVID pandemic, as well as to respond even when facing conflict or insecurity. These supporting components have also naturally led to the development of the knowledge portal, which we hope to launch in the course of 2024.

The various chapters presented here provide a diverse and detailed source of information on the development and implementation of the Volunteer Community Surveyor Programme. This has provided FIG and GLTN with the opportunity to reflect on their combined experience. Without hesitation, we will work to continue and expand the Programme and to use it for all of the existing objectives but also to further the integration of, and connections among, the global land management and administration community. That common cause will support the further development of a progressive and inclusive land management and administration profession that contributes to an improved and fit for purpose legal and policy framework. Whether the challenge is climate adaptation, food security, poverty, inequality or human security, inclusive and effective land administration providing tenure security and that implements good land governance and management is an essential prerequisite. Today’s young professionals are tomorrow’s leaders. We are pleased to support and encourage them and to play a part in enabling them to help those most in need.

Robert Lewis-Lettington
Secretary to the Global Land Tool Network,
Land, Housing and Shelter Section, UN-Habitat 

Foreword by initiator and the first Chair of VCSP Eva-Maria Unger

AS THE INITIATOR OF THE VCSP and the former chair of the FIG Young Surveyors Network (YSN), it is with a deep sense of pride and gratitude to read this publication detailing the journey and successes of the Volunteer Community Surveyor Programme (VCSP). And with this – big time congrats to the whole team who have been working so hard on the VCSP! This programme, a collaborative initiative of the FIG, FIG Young Surveyors Network, FIG Foundation and the UN-Habitat Global Land Tool Network (GLTN), stands as a testament to what can be achieved when passion, expertise, and a shared vision come together to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges in land administration.

I remember that in one of my reports to the FIG General Assembly I called each Young Surveyor a ‘Star in the Sky’ and this is also how this journey began with ‘stars’ who participated in the STDM Training of Trainers (ToT). This ground-breaking initiative left us wanting to do more – to take the rich experiences and knowledge each Young Surveyor, each star, has gained to the actual ground, where it matters most. With support of great mentors such as Teo CheeHai (FIG President at the time), John Hohol (FIG Foundation director at the time), Louise Friis-Hansen and Claudia Stormoen
Pedersen (FIG Office) together with a dedicated team of UN-Habitat GLTN (Clarissa Augustinus, Oumar Sylla, Danilo Antonio and John Gitau) we could make these stars even shine brighter.

31.05.2017 – this was the starting point to the VCSP, a volunteer program designed to connect the skills, talents, and education of young surveyors with the needs of communities worldwide, through GLTN’s country-level implementation plans and partnerships. The VCSP is more than just a volunteer program-It is a platform for societal impact, professional development, and, most importantly, mpowering young surveyors to contribute their skills towards significant global challenges.

I remember how nervous we all have been when the first volunteer was sent off but as
soon as we got the first feedback from both the volunteer and the receiving organisation
we knew we are on the right path.

The pilot phase of the VCSP, initiated in mid-2017, was definitely a leap of faith but the successful deployment of 11 young surveyors across various GLTN projects worldwide the pilot was successfully completed. This initial group of volunteers not only met but exceeded our expectations, demonstrating the profound impact that skilled and motivated young professionals can have on community development projects.

This has laid the groundwork for scaling up the initiative and with this also my term as FIG YSN chair ended and I happily handed over the programme with the idea of not interfering in the further development.

Now, 6 years later, the success of the VCSP pilot and its subsequent phases fills us (and now I write on behalf of the whole initiator team) with immense pride – not just in the program itself but in every young surveyor who has contributed their time, skills, and passion to this cause. Their dedication is a reminder of the power of volunteerism and the impact that skilled professionals can have on the world.

With deepest gratitude and respect,

Eva-Maria Unger
Developer and Coordinator during Pilot Phase,
Volunteer Community Surveyor Programme (VCSP)
Former Chair, FIG Young Surveyors Network (2014–2018)

Foreword by VCSP Lead 2019-2021 Claire Buxton

IT IS NOT OFTEN ONE CAN CLAIM to have traveled the world from the comfort of their desk chair. And while the COVID-19 pandemic was a strange, uncertain, and devastating time, I was lucky enough to find fulfillment and comfort in the company of my VCSP team. This is a record of the efforts of many volunteers who share a vision. One that gives young surveyors hope that they can do more good in the world while using, and building on, their own skillset.

Being an ‘action’ person, from a private consulting background, the written word can sometimes be too academic for my attention-span. This publication is a refreshing change for me, and I hope you find the same refreshment. One of the greatest lessons that I got from Hartmut Mueller who was my FIG mentor while I led this program, was recognising the importance of recording the experiences of the Volunteer Community Surveyors, partners, which in term, honours the efforts our VCSP team who dedicated hours of their lives to make the program thrive. As you will read here, this program has improved the careers of a growing number of young surveyors and improved the lives of the communities they have volunteered within: either from afar or on the ground.

I urge you to support the growth of this program so that when the VCSP is still going in a decades’ time or more, we can collectively look back and remember that we did something that was beyond our own status quo and that effort causes a great wave of positive influence, all starting from the FIG Young Surveyors.

Claire Buxton (BSurv, CLS, LCS),
VCSP Lead 2019–2021


Embark on a transformative journey with the Volunteer Community Surveyor Program (VCSP) and witness how young surveyors are mapping a better world. Supported by GLTN, VCSP has deployed 42 surveyors to 9 countries, making a tangible impact on global dynamics that lead to insecure tenure, from supporting post-earthquake reconstruction efforts in Nepal to facilitating land registration initiatives across Africa and the Asia Pacific. Young surveyors have gained hands-on experience in fieldwork, data collection and community engagement, shaping their careers and perspectives.

These experiences have not only influenced their career paths but also instilled in them a deeper sense of purpose and commitment to humanitarian surveying.


1 What is the VCSP
2 Overview of VCSP in-country deployments
3 The experience of volunteer community surveyors
4 Looking to the future: Humanitarian surveying as an opportunity for young surveyors

Read the full FIG Publication 82 in pdf

Copyright © The International Federation of Surveyors (FIG),  May 2024.

All rights reserved.

International Federation of Surveyors (FIG)
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DK-1780 Copenhagen V
Tel. + 45 38 86 10 81

Published in English
Copenhagen, Denmark
ISSN 2311-8423 (pdf)
ISBN 978-87-93914-10-0 (print)
ISBN 978-87-93914-11-7 (pdf)

Published by
International Federation of Surveyors (FIG)
Layout: Lagarto


Mapping the World a Better Place: FIG Volunteer Community Surveyor Program - VCSP
Authors: Roshni Sharma & David Elegbede
Contributors: Darion Mahadeo, Israel Taiwo, Chethna Ben, Angela Anyakora

Published in English
Published by The International Federation of Surveyors (FIG), May 2024
ISSN 1018-6530 (print)
ISSN 2311-8423 (pdf)
ISBN 978-87-93914-10-0 (print)
ISBN 978-87-93914-11-7 (pdf)