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We Aim to Enhance the Global Standing of the Surveying profession

Prof. Stig Enemark

President of the International Federation of Surveyors (FIG)

Q: What visions do you have as the President of FIG during current tenure and what goals have been set by FIG?

A: You need to have a work plan to achieve your goals. In May this year in Hong Kong, during the FIG Working Week, we prepared all the policies, the work plans and got ready for the next four years period. As an international organization, we aim to enhance the global standing of the surveying profession, and help eradicate poverty, promote democratization, and facilitate economic, social and environmental sustainability.

We aim to explain to the world, how surveyors contribute in achieving these goals. I am saying this because surveyors provide the foundation to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in eradicating poverty. We constantly interact with the United Nations (UN) agencies and the World Bank to achieve this. Our goal of flying high also include cooperation with UN Habitat in Nairobi and with FAO. We also work with UNA and assist organisations like ISPRS and ICSO.

For developing countries, capacity building is a prerequisite to meet the challenges arising out of poverty and also developing a basis for a sustainable future. This would also be needed for developed countries to meet the challenges in institutional and organizational evolution in the areas of surveying and land administration.

We would also like to ensure that FIG becomes a true global organization. This will be done through representation in the council, and make it really distributed. We also represent ourselves through regional commissions that ensure regional strength and addresses cultural and language issues.

Q: Do you have any specific plan for India?

A: One of the reasons for my visit to India was to seek the idea that India becomes the member of FIG.

In India, the professional level is very high and the level of technology is probably high as well but India is not a member of FIG. I think it’s because this technology has never been promoted well here and the reason could be allocation of surveying tasks in the hands of government or with the Surveyor General. So, I want to meet these people and try to convince them and try to organise a regional conference in 2009, if India becomes a FIG’s member. With this conference we would also be able to show to the world the advancements in the field of Surveying, made in the country.

Q: What about the other Asian countries? Are they becoming member of FIG? What is their status?

A: In Asia, the status is quite good. China has two member associations. Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand also have members. It’s mainly India, Pakistan and Bangladesh and central Asia, where we have not reached yet. So, we would like to expand our membership net to include these countries as this region is not really part of global surveying community.

Q: Can you enumerate some of the benefits that you will be offering once India becomes a member?

A: The FIG is structured in such a way that we have been sending professionals on commissions, some for professional practice, and some for education, for spaces in infrastructures and cadastre alignments and professionals are commissioned in the whole range of engineering surveys and cartography. These commissions have a work plan, have working groups so that the key issues remain within that professional area and try to develop the area. A country can appoint delegates to these commissions and then be part of this professional development in individual conferences.

We provide regional conferences, where we have specific focus to that region. For India, we will be providing yearly conferences that present an opportunity to network in this area with other countries through paper presentations and proceedings. When we come to India in 2009, we would then layout what is suitable for your region, what are your problems in areas of surveying, mapping and land administration and management. We would try to bring in key people from FIG to address the key issues here.

Q: Do you also set up a kind of Advisory Board to support the member organizations or countries?

A: Based on the demand, we can provide what can be called Institutional support. We’ll try to address any issue you may have. In case you didn’t have a university education in the area or may be in specific field, we could address that by explaining and convincing the government the benefits of addressing the issue. This kind of advice can be very important for the organisation to get support from an international community to convince the government.

Q: What kind of proposals FIG wants to put before the government. Are there any solutions that you have which could eradicate land issues in India?

A: Addressing the land issues is quite often turned to the technology, in case of the new projects that are registered for new parcels or properties. The whole approach to this is about using latest technology. I would advise to look more at institutional issues and make sustainable institutions. This is because registrations will not work if the institution is not well in place and trusted by the citizens.

When I talk about capacity building, I mean institutional development and then education and training. But education and training doesn’t take you anywhere if the institution is not well in place. Hence, my advice would be to have more holistic approach to land administration and understand the role of land policies, the role of institutions while dealing with land use or development.

Q: In India, it becomes difficult to have consensus between federal and local government. How do we then address issues related to land administration?

A: Laying out some overall policies, which can be applied to various regions diverse in terms of culture or geography are primarily important. Besides this, I would also call for land policies. There are a lot of issues there for instance who can own land? Can women own land? Can farmers own land or not? What is the difference between private and state owned land and what is actually the use of state owned land? What is the state of responsibility between federal state and local government? These kinds of issues must be addressed in order to build sustainable land administration systems.

Q: How does FIG influence policy making?

A: Sri Lanka did not have a bachelor’s degree at university level in the area of surveying. They wanted us to convince the government of having that. We are going to talk to them and explain them the benefits of having such an education.

One issue in Latin America, that may arise in Asia as well, is the issue of getting better tax from cadastre, and establishing the status of land owners through better topographic mapping. In Latin America there is a big gap here because despite of the fact that the topographic data is magnificent, cadastre is mainly focused upon taxation.

So, we set up a conference in Mexico in cooperation with the United Nations to address these issues and came out with a policy statement on that which has been taken on by national government. So this way FIG helps in policy making at national level. By having these international conferences, similar issues could be addressed in Asia.

Q: How can we take surveying and mapping to grassroots level?

A: We should work towards making surveyors proud of their profession. They have progressed on finding technical solutions but they should also be made aware that it is necessary to talk to politicians and make them aware about the benefits to society of their work, so that the area can be better supported in society. They should be encouraged to address political level to ensure or optimize recommendations for surveying and mapping in the country.