International Federation of Surveyor (FIG)


Associate Member since 2005
Official Website (external link):


The International Federation of Surveyors is an international, non-government organisation whose purpose is to support international collaboration for the progress of surveying in all fields and applications.
FIG is the premier international organization representing the interests of surveyors worldwide. It is a federation of the national member associations and covers the whole range of professional fields within the global surveying community. It provides an international forum for discussion and development aiming to promote professional practice and standards.
FIG was founded in 1878 in Paris and was known as the Fédération Internationale des Géomètres. This has become anglicized to the International Federation of Surveyors. It is an UN-recognized non-government organization (NGO), representing more than 120 countries throughout the world, and its aim is to ensure that the disciplines of surveying and all who practise them meet the needs of the markets and communities that they serve.
The FIG vision is A Profession, armed with knowledge and best practices, extending the usefulness of surveying for the benefit of society, environment and economy, increasingly positioned in significance and relevance, next door to everywhere.
FIG's activities are governed by a work plan, which is approved by the General Assembly and reviewed by Council as its tenure progresses. The current work plan, titled as "Engaging the Challenge: Enhancing the Relevance" guides Council, Commissions, Networks and Task Forces activities, focuses the surveyors response to the challenges faced by humanity at these times. FIG recognizes that surveying sciences and technologies, surveying knowledge and practices pursue common good. The present Council continues building on past efforts and work on extending the progress, achievements and global standing towards the betterment of society, environment and economy and thus enhancing the significance, role and relevance of the profession. This thrust is to be addressed through its activities at all levels, the Council, its Commissions, Task Forces, Networks as well as the FIG Foundation and Permanent Institutions.
FIG draws its membership from practitioners working in communities with both the public and private sectors, from the scientific, research and academic community, as well as from the spatial technologies and services community. FIG functions with the goodwill, resources and contribution of its memberships and their corp of volunteers from around the world.
  • Commission 1 - Professional Practice
  • Commission 2 - Professional Education
  • Commission 3 - Spatial Information Management
  • Commission 4 - Hydrography
  • Commission 5 - Positioning and Measurement
  • Commission 6 - Engineering Surveys
  • Commission 7 - Cadastre and Land Management
  • Commission 8 - Spatial Planning and Development
  • Commission 9 - Valuation and the Management of Real Estate
  • Commission 10 - Construction Economics and Management
The current networks are;
  • Standards Network
  • Young Surveyors Network
The Permanent Institutions are;
  • International Institution for the History of Surveying & Measurement (IIHSM)
  • The International Office for Cadastre and Land Records (OICRF)
  • The FIG Foundation
The commissions prepare and conduct the programme for FIG's international congresses, held every four years, and annual working weeks, held in the intervening years. The last congress was held in Sydney (Australia) in 2010; and the next congress will be held in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) on 16-21 June 2014. Congresses attract several thousand participants from all over the world and are the most important events in the FIG calendar. The technical programme, which marks the culmination of each commission's four-year programme of work, is complemented by a major international exhibition.
Working Weeks combine meetings of FIG's administrative bodies with technical conferences organized by the commissions and the host member association and as such provide the opportunity for commissions to implement and develop their work programmes and for FIG to network at a more regional level. Working Weeks are held in Abuja, Nigeria (6-10 May 2013), Sofia, Bulgaria (17-21 May 2015) and Christchurch, New Zealand (2016).
To increase regional activities FIG also organizes regional conferences, the most recent of which was held in Uruguay in November 2012. In addition to their involvement with FIG congresses and working weeks, commissions and their working groups organize or co-sponsor a wide range of seminars and workshops, usually in collaboration with member associations or other international professional bodies.
A key element to the success of a commissions work is the appointment of national delegates, providing a unique opportunity for professional development. Member associations, affiliates, corporate members and academic members are all entitled to appoint delegates to the commissions; and commission chairs often co-opt additional experts to assist with particular aspects of their work programmes.
By its General Assembly which meets annually during the FIG working week or the FIG congress. The General Assembly comprises of delegates of the member associations and, as non-voting members, the Council, commission chairs and representatives of affiliates, corporate members and academic members. The General Assembly debates and approves policies. Policies are implemented by the Council, which meets several times a year.
The Council is elected by the General Assembly. The Council consists of the President (elected for four year term of office) and four Vice Presidents (term of office is four years) with two of the Vice Presidents being elected every second year, and coming from different countries throughout the world. In addition commission chairs appoint their representative to the Council.
The work of the General Assembly and the Council is assisted by an Advisory Committee of Commission Officers (ACCO); ad hoc task forces appointed from time to time to review existing work plans; two networks; and two permanent institutions.
The FIG Office is located in Copenhagen, Denmark.
FIG is financed through Members' annual membership fees that largely finance operating costs. Rates of membership fees payable by member associations are approved annually by the General Assembly. The Council sets rates of membership fees payable by affiliates, corporate members and academic members.
Other activities, including congresses, technical seminars and administrative meetings, are mostly self-financing. In the case of meetings, income is raised from registration fees, which may be supplemented by income from an accompanying technical exhibition, by subventions from the host government or association, or by grants from aid agencies.
FIG international co-operations include:
  • UN agencies, notably the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the United Nations Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UN OOSA) and the World Bank, as well as United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN-ECE), United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the UN sponsored Permanent Committee on GIS Infrastructure for Asia and the Pacific (PCGIAP) and Permanent Committee on SDI for the Americas (PC IDEA, and United Nations Regional Cartographic Conferences (UNRCC). Joint workshops and other collaborative projects help to identify and develop practical solutions to problems associated with the ownership and management of land. FIG is officially recognised by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
  • International professional organizations in surveying disciplines through the Joint Board of Spatial Information Societies that includes organizations such as the International Association of Geodesy (IAG), the International Cartographic Association (ICA), the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), the International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS), and the Global Spatial Data Infrastructure Association (GSDI). Furthermore, FIG has formal co-operation with the International Society for Mine Surveying (ISM), Pan-American Institute of Geography and History (PAIGH) and the International Federation of Hydrographic Societies (IFHS). FIG is also an international scientific associate of the International Council for Science (ICSU).

FIG's role and the value gained in the ICG

FIG has been an Associate Member of the ICG since its formation and has been represented at every ICG meeting. FIG has also held the position of one of the Co-Chairs of Working Group D since it was established.
The following are areas where FIG sees value in participation in the ICG:
  • Keeping up to date with the latest GNSS developments through direct contact with System Providers;
  • Explaining to System Providers the requirements of Surveyors (FIG Members) for precise positioning applications, given current GNSS and discussing how those requirements may evolve with future system developments;
  • Encouraging System Providers to publish system information that is important to users, e.g. templates describing the Geodetic and Timing References;
  • Influencing certain aspects of system design, e.g. inclusion of retro-reflectors on future satellites;
  • Contributing to discussions about the role of ground infrastructure operated by various organisations, including not only System Providers but organisations aligned to the surveying industry, in both the public and private sectors, that provide GNSS augmentation services;
  • Networking with other Associate Members on GNSS issues of mutual interest;
  • Working with UN OOSA on specialised workshops of interest to FIG and OOSA, e.g. Technical Seminars on Reference Frame held in developing countries.

Presentations made in the ICG annual meetings

Year Title and Speaker (link to the presentaion material)
2013 (ICG-8) FIG Technical Seminar on Reference Frame in Practice - M. Lilje
2012 (ICG-7) The role of GNSS ground infrastructure elements - How integrated can they become? - M. Higgins
2012 (ICG-7) A Framework for Understanding and Specifying GNSS Positioning Requirements for Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems - M. Higgins
2011 (ICG-6) Trends in Precise Positioning and the Implications for Agriculture, Construction, Mining and Infrastructure Development in Australia - M. Higgins
2010 (ICG-5) What do Surveyors and Other Spatial Professionals need from an Interoperable GNSS System of Systems - M. Higgins
2009 (ICG-4) The Role of Positioning Infrastructure in Supporting the Millennium Development Goals - M. Higgins
2008 (ICG-3) The economic benefits of precise positioning in agriculture, construction and mining - M. Higgins
2007 (ICG-2) Geocentric Datum of Australia: An Example Implementation of ITRF - M. Higgins

Publications and reports related to the ICG activities and GNSS applications

FIG organise conferences every year and GNSS/CORS applications are very attractive to discuss and present. FIG has created a Surveyors Reference Library that can be found at: Articles and presentations are available here and can be found using keyword search.
FIG and IAG have organised joint seminars on Reference Frame in Practice. These can be found at
  • FIG Commission 5 Technical Seminar - Reference Frame in Practice, 21-22 June 2013, Manila, Philippines
  • FIG Commission 5 and 6 Technical Seminar "Reference Frame In Practice" - 4-5 May 2012, Rome, Italy

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