News in 2017

Paul Munro-Faure, FAO, appointed FIG Honorary Ambassador

30 May 2017, Helsinki, Finland

New appointed FIG Honorary Ambassador

In his acceptance speech Paul Munro-Faure mentioned that his very first FIG event took place also in Helsinki, Finland

In 2015 the Honorary Ambassador title was introduced by FIG Council with the appointment of Clarissa Augustinus, UN-Habitat/GLTN. On 29 May 2017, FIG Council brought to the General Assembly the appointment of Paul Munro-Faure as the second appointed FIG Honorary Ambassador. During the Opening Ceremony of the Working Week on 30 May the certificate was presented to Mr Paul Munro-Faure.

Paul Munro-Faure has for many years had an active role within FIG, both in commission 7 and by linking close ties between FIG and FAO, especially in the work on the Voluntary Guidelines, VGGT. Paul Munro-Faure stepped down from his position as deputy director of FAO in Spring 2017.

FIG President Chryssy Potsiou hands over the certificate of appreciation
to Paul Munro-Faure during the Opening Ceremony of the FIG Working Week 2017

The acceptance speech by Mr Paul Munro-Faure

Madame President; Dear Members of FIG Council and General Assembly; Dear colleagues and friends.

2017 is thirty years from the date when I was appointed as United Kingdom delegate of Commission 7 by my member association, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, RICS.

It is twenty seven years from the date of the first FIG Congress I attended; Here in Helsinki under President Juha Talvitie. It was a remarkable Congress; A transformative event.

The FAO and FIG relationship was formalised in 2002 when President Bob Foster joined me in Rome for the signing of the Memorandum of agreement between our two organizations.

My wife Judith and I arrived in Helsinki over the weekend. Without even thinking I checked my i-pad for directions and the myriad of other spatially-related details that so ease our travel those days and dramatically reduce the friction of distance.

Twenty-seven short years have transformed the world, have transformed how we live, have transformed how we relate to space and how we make decisions. Surveyors, working creatively with an increasingly diverse range of partners, have been at the heart of these transformative changes. And FIG has been and continuous to be the heading light as a forum in this accelerating global transition. This technological transformation has of course heralded and is helping to enable profound political and social transformation, including in relation to tenure and property rights.

FAO’s proudest achievement in this field has been its involvement with partners, including especially surveyors, in the development of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure. This unprecedented global agreement was identified in FAO’S 70TH Anniversary publication two years ago as among the 10 greatest achievements of the organization in its first 70 years of existence.

This, dear colleagues and friends, is no mean achievement!

I and FAO would like to thank FIG, particularly my friends and colleagues from the Commissions – especially Commission 7, together with my formative member association, the RICS, and all of FIG member associations for their farsighted support and commitment to the Voluntary Guidelines.

It was no coincidence that among the first of the major regional consultations on the Voluntary Guidelines was the FIG and UN-HABITAT partnered consultation at the FIG Regional Conference in November 2009 in Hanoi, Vietnam. Surveyors are very much at the meeting point between what is happening in spatial technology and what is happening around tenure and property right. They are closely linked, with the former being increasingly a powerful enabler for the latter. It is precisely these technological spatial transformations all around us that are slowly enabling the achievement of the politics and social agendas of properly recognising, recording and safeguarding peoples’ legitimate tenure rights using the strength of the Voluntary Guidelines. Such transformative agendas will never be quick or easy, but with guidance stakeholders like FIG and its member associations, your strong ethical positioning, and working with many key partners including FAO and UN Habitat, this agenda will surely be driven forward.

It is indeed a crowning honour to be awarded this distinguished appellation as an honorary ambassador of the federation! But I confess to feeling a bit of a fraud.

Dear colleagues and friends, it is after all you, every single one of you, who are the honorary ambassadors of the Voluntary Guidelines. It is you who are lynchpins of the global partnership that nurtured them and gave them life who have the responsibility of continuing ambassadorial duty. The Voluntary Guidelines are and always revising our Guideline, a true public good.

I wish you all FIG, and the member associations, continued success in this, as in all of you important endeavours.

Madame President, ladies and gentlemen of the FIG council and General Assembly, may I offer you my salute and my deepest thanks. I am more touched than I can say.


14 June 2017