FIG Council

Developing the Profession in a Developing World 

Work Plan


At the end of 1995 FIG published its work plan for 1996-1999. It comprised a Bureau work plan for the whole of that period and commission work plans for the period 1994-1998. The activities listed in the latter plans concluded at the 1998 FIG Congress and General Assembly, which elected new commission officers . The General Assembly also approved new commission work plans for the period 1998-2002. These, together with the existing Bureau work plan, are reproduced in this document.

The work plan provides the framework for fulfilling FIG’s aim and objectives. The Bureau is responsible for strategic planning and for the administration of the Federation; and, where necessary, for initiating and co-ordinating activities that fall outside the terms of reference of the commissions. The commissions are responsible for pursuing FIG’s professional and technical objectives. It is, however, the Bureau which has overall responsibility for fulfilling the work plan, in its role either as an executor or, in the case of commission-led activities, as a facilitator and co-ordinator.



The International Federation of Surveyors was founded in 1878 as the Fédération Internationale des Géomètres (FIG) by seven national associations of surveyors representing Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. It is an international, non-government organisation (NGO) registered in the country in which its permanent office is domiciled, whose aim is to ensure that the disciplines of surveying and all who practise them meet the needs of the markets


  1. To provide an international forum for the exchange of information about surveying and for the development of fellowship between surveyors.
  2. To collaborate with the United Nations and other international agencies in the formulation and implementation of policies affecting the use, development and management of land and marine resources.
  3. To promote the disciplines of surveying, particularly in developing countries and countries in economic transition.
  4. To promote the role of the surveyor in the management of natural and man-made environments.
  5. To promote the development of national associations of surveyors and to promote professional standards and codes of ethics and the exchange of surveying personnel.
  6. To promote high standards of education and training for surveyors and to facilitate continuing professional development (CPD).
  7. To encourage the development and proper use of appropriate technology.
  8. To encourage research in all disciplines of surveying and to disseminate the results.


A surveyor is a professional person with the academic qualifications and technical expertise to practise the science of measurement; to assemble and assess land and geographic related information; to use that information for the purpose of planning and implementing the efficient administration of the land, the sea and structures thereon; and to instigate the advancement and development of such practices.

Practice of the surveyor’s profession may involve one or more of the following activities which may occur either on, above or below the surface of the land or the sea and may be carried out in association with other professionals.

  • The determination of the size and shape of the earth and the measurement of all data needed to define the size, position, shape and contour of any part of the earth.

  • The positioning of objects in space and the positioning and monitoring of physical features, structures and engineering works on, above or below the surface of the earth.

  • The determination of the position of the boundaries of public or private land, including national and international boundaries, and the registration of those lands with the appropriate authorities.

  • The design, establishment and administration of land and geographic information systems and the collection, storage, analysis and management of data within those systems.

  • The study of the natural and social environment, the measurement of land and marine resources and the use of the data in the planning of development in urban, rural and regional areas.

  • The planning, development and redevelopment of property, whether urban or rural and whether land or buildings.

  • The assessment of value and the management of property, whether urban or rural and whether land or buildings.

  • The planning, measurement and management of construction works, including the estimation of costs.

  • The production of plans, maps, files, charts and reports.

In the application of the foregoing activities surveyors take into account the relevant legal, economic, environmental and social aspects affecting each project.

(up-dated July 1998)

SECTION 1 "Developing the Profession in a Developing World"

1.1 During 1996-99 FIG will focus on the surveyor's response to social, economic, technological and environmental change. The Bureau will take particular interest in countries in economic transition and in those with a low gross national product (GNP). The Bureau also recognises that markets for surveyors’ services are constantly changing. The emphasis will accordingly be on strengthening professional institutions; promoting professional development; and encouraging surveyors to acquire new skills and techniques so that they may be properly equipped to meet the needs of society and the environment.

1.2 The Bureau will promote the FIG Education Foundation and the contribution which its support will make to the realisation of FIG’s objectives.

1.3 The Bureau will support FIG’s member associations and technical commissions and will strengthen and streamline FIG’s operating structures.

In particular, the Bureau will

  1. promote FIG and the full range of surveying services throughout the world;

  2. develop FIG’s contacts with international agencies and non-government organisations (NGOs) whose activities relate to those of surveyors;

  3. help associations of surveyors to gain recognition by their governments, not as trade associations or solely as learned societies but rather as regulated or self-regulating professional bodies;

  4. extend FIG's membership throughout the world and particularly in areas where it is presently under-represented;

  5. provide opportunities for continuing professional development by organising seminars and workshops, particularly in developing countries;

  6. improve communication between the Bureau and member associations and, through them, to their individual members;

  7. progress the work that has already been initiated to establish a permanent office and the FIG Education Foundation;0

  8. establish a task force to encourage women, young surveyors, linguistic groups and other under-represented groups to participate fully in the activities of national associations and FIG.

SECTION 2 Strategic and Forward Planning

2.1 The Bureau will undertake such forward planning as is needed for the development of short-, medium- and long-term strategies for FIG, to accommodate the objectives of successive Bureaux and ensure continuity of work; to accommodate FIG’s fast-changing and fast-growing membership profile; to provide the means for harnessing individual energies and initiatives; and to generate a feeling of involvement throughout FIG’s membership.

2.2 The Bureau will seek contributions to the evolution of FIG and to its planning processes, inter alia from the advisory committee of commission officers, the membership, and break-out sessions during congresses and working weeks.

SECTION 3 Marketing and Promotion

3.1 Marketing FIG

The Bureau will prepare and implement an FIG marketing strategy to determine targets, methods and materials for promoting FIG externally (including to potential sponsor members) and internally (to individual members of member associations).

3.2 Developing Countries

The Bureau will encourage greater participation in FIG by developing countries and will

  1. act as the focal point for FIG initiatives in developing countries;

  2. encourage each commission to hold at least one meeting, with an accompanying CPD programme, in a developing country;

  3. promote twinning arrangements between member associations to facilitate professional development, the exchange of appropriate technology and personnel, and general support;

  4. co-operate with other bodies with interests in developing countries;

  5. encourage the development of networks between commissions and within specific geographical zones, to enable good educational practice to be communicated and for the establishment of mutual support systems.

3.3 Promotion of National Associations

The Bureau will assist countries which do not yet have professional associations and those in which the associations are in a formative stage. In particular it will

  1. establish a task force to prepare guidelines for constituting professional associations, covering, inter alia, suitable structures, educational standards, ethical standards and a list of functions a professional association might undertake;

  2. make contact with those who can form the nuclei of new professional associations or help existing associations through the provision of material and governmental support;

  3. make contact with government departments whose support (through the enactment of legislation where necessary) is needed for the establishment and effective functioning of professional associations.

3.4 Promotion of under-represented groups in surveying

The Bureau will appoint a task force to investigate problems of under-represented groups in surveying and to initiate activities to promote their interests.

SECTION 4 Liaison with International Agencies and NGOs

4.1 The Bureau will appoint a task force on FIG’s relations with UN agencies and other international or regional NGOs whose activities relate to those of the surveyor. Wherever possible personal contact will be established with key members of these organisations.

4.2 Aid Agencies: Generally

The Bureau will

  1. build a database of agencies which fund or sponsor projects in which surveyors should be involved;

  2. operate and develop the protocol for the identification of surveying consultants;

  3. keep member associations informed of opportunities for working with aid agencies and encourage surveyors to make contributions at seminars and workshops organised by key agencies.

4.3 UN Agencies

The Bureau will

  1. ensure on-going FIG/FAO and FIG/UNCHS collaboration, including the undertaking of joint activities envisaged in the FIG/UNCHS memorandum of understanding signed in January 1997;

  2. develop contacts between FIG and UNEP;

  3. participate in the HABITAT II world conference in Istanbul in June 1996;

  4. develop contacts with UN departments responsible for policies and activities which affect surveyors or to which surveyors contribute, and ensure FIG input to and participation in such policies and activities (including UN regional cartographic conferences);

  5. develop contacts with UNESCO, the UN Statistical Office and any other organisations responsible for international educational and occupational classifications and endeavour to ensure that surveying and surveying activities are correctly represented within the professional sections of all such classifications;

  6. keep under review FIG’s contacts with the UN Department of Public Information (NGO section);

  7. develop contacts with any other UN agencies whose activities are concerned in any way with the practice of the surveying profession;

  8. establish a task force to co-ordinate FIG’s response to sustainable development, Agenda 21 and the Global Plan of Action.

4.4 World Trade Organisation

The Bureau will

  1. develop links with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and maintain FIG’s input, including input via the OECD, to the development of the general agreement on trade in services;

  2. establish a task force on mutual recognition of qualifications/reciprocity to facilitate FIG’s response to the world wide move to liberalise trade in services.

Other Non-Government Organisations (NGOs)

4.5 In respect of international and regional organisations the Bureau will

  1. build a database of organisations whose activities relate to those of surveyors;

  2. encourage a reciprocal exchange of articles between FIG and each such organisation, for publication in their respective newsletters;

  3. invite members of each such organisation to attend FIG events, including appropriate seminars and workshops;

  4. consider organising a session for NGOs at FIG’98;

  5. administer the programme of co-operation between FIG and the International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI), signed in November 1997, and seek opportunities for agreeing similar programmes with other organisations whose interests complement those of FIG.

4.6 The Bureau will nominate two members to attend each meeting of the Executive Board of the International Union for Surveys and Mapping (IUSM). It will nominate four additional delegates, from amongst participants in FIG’98, to attend IUSM’s Council meeting in 1998.

4.7 The Bureau will co-ordinate FIG’s activities as a Scientific Associate of the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU).

4.8 The Bureau will establish a task force on standards to co-ordinate all FIG activity related to standards, in particular liaison with the International Standards Organisation (ISO).

SECTION 5 Technical Commissions; Permanent Institutions

5.1 The Bureau will ensure that FIG’s strategic plan (2.1 above) enables it to respond rapidly to changing circumstances - for example, through the creation of commissions with finite life spans.

5.2 The Bureau will review arrangements for financing commissions and permanent institutions.

5.3 The Bureau will review the findings of the Commission 9 working group on construction economics and, if appropriate, establish a separate commission for this discipline.

5.4 The Bureau will review and make recommendations for giving the history of surveying permanent status within FIG.

SECTION 6 Communications

6.1 The Figtree

The Bureau will maintain and develop the Figtree, currently comprising

  1. names, addresses and contact details of

  • Bureau members

  • commission officers

  • member associations

  • sponsor organisations

  • correspondents

  • permanent institutions

  • honorary presidents, honorary members

  1. Bureau and commission work plans;

  2. commission terms of reference;

  3. commission delegates;

  4. FIG publication list;

  5. forthcoming events;

  6. FIG statutes and internal rules.

6.2 Communications (General)

The Bureau will ensure that all FIG publications, whether these are published by the Bureau, the member associations or the commissions, are properly recorded within international standard classification systems.

Communications (Internal)

6.3 The Bureau will

  1. make maximum use of e-mail, Internet and other developments in information technology (IT) in maintaining and improving communications with member associations, sponsor organisations, correspondents, commissions and permanent institutions, and, through them, with individual members of the surveying profession worldwide;

  2. issue a quarterly newsletter (the Bulletin);

  3. encourage member associations, sponsors and publishers of all other appropriate journals to make complementary copies available to the Bureau so that their contents can be abstracted, as appropriate, and included in the FIG Bulletin;

  4. encourage the commissions to provide regular reports on their activities for inclusion in the Bulletin;

  5. encourage member associations to disseminate the Bulletin, or information contained in it, as widely as possible amongst their memberships.

6.4 The Bureau will

  1. ensure that documents relating to arrangements for congresses, technical seminars and administrative meetings are issued to members;

  2. investigate the possibility of issuing one set of technical papers from selected seminars to members.

6.5 The Bureau will arrange for its members and other representatives of FIG to visit member associations whenever possible and will encourage visits to the Bureau offices by individuals or delegations from member associations.

Communications (External)

6.6 The Bureau will publish an Annual Review which will serve as FIG’s main medium of external communication and its principal marketing tool.

6.7 The Bureau will implement a system for holding FIG publications in computer format and for distributing or otherwise making these available in selected formats.

6.8 The Bureau will promote FIG publications to other outlets - for example, reference and university libraries - that are able to hold, advertise, abstract and disseminate their contents.

Communications (Ad Hoc Publications)

6.9 The Bureau will develop the FIG publication series, reviewing and up-dating existing publications and adding new ones as appropriate. Additions to the series will include FIG policy statements and selected reports from task forces and commissions.

SECTION 7 Operating Structures

7.1 Administrative Structures

In accordance with the decisions of the 62nd Permanent Committee on the recommendations of the task force on the secretariat the Bureau will

  1. integrate the Permanent Committee and the General Assembly and prepare terms of reference and operating procedures for this new integrated body (the General Assembly);

  2. introduce the FIG working week.

7.2 Permanent Office

The Bureau will progress the decisions of the 62nd Permanent Committee meeting on the recommendations of the task force on the secretariat as these relate to the establishment of an FIG permanent office.

7.3 FIG Education Foundation

The Bureau will work closely with the trustees of the FIG Education Foundation and in particular will

  1. assist in canvassing for deposits to the capital fund;

  2. identify projects which qualify for Foundation support and apply for funding;

  3. ensure that future work plans (commission and Bureau) take full account of the support which the Foundation is able to give to FIG’s work.

7.4 FIG Languages

The Bureau will implement the decision of the 62nd Permanent Committee on the recommendations of the task force on FIG languages.

SECTION 8 Administration


8.1 The Bureau will monitor and control its own finances and those of the commissions and the permanent institutions. It will consider likely financial requirements; produce annual budgets and cash flow statements; and publish accounts. It will collect subscriptions, sponsorship fees and other income.

8.2 With a view to augmenting FIG’s income, the Bureau will introduce a policy for marketing selected FIG publications.

8.3 The Bureau will develop a long-term financial strategy for FIG which will, inter alia, examine the present strategy for structuring annual subscriptions and the existing plateau applying to member associations.


8.4 In progressing the recommendations of the task force on membership extension the Bureau will undertake a comprehensive review of categories of and criteria for obtaining membership of FIG.

Amendments to the Statutes and Internal Rules

8.5 The Bureau will draft amendments to the Statutes and Internal Rules to implement statutory changes approved since the 1994 General Assembly.

Meetings of the Bureau

8.6 The Bureau will meet at least twice a year, once during the FIG working week and once at a venue in the UK. Additional meetings may be convened if required.

8.7 The proposed dates and venues are

Date Venue
April 1996 Argentina (Buenos Aires)
October 1996 UK (Coventry)
May 1997 Singapore
November 1997 UK (Manchester)
July 1998 UK (Brighton)
January 1999 Denmark (permanent office, Copenhagen)
Summer 1999 South Africa
Autumn 1999 USA
XXI Congress 1998

8.8 The Bureau will progress arrangements for the XXI congress (FIG’98) in Brighton, on 19-25 July 1998.