FIG Commission 1 - Professional Standards and Practice

Term 2015-2018

Highlights Commission Chair
Through its Work Plan for this quadrennium, Commission 1 was originally structured in 5 Working Groups (WGs) with a Vice Chair allocated to each. After the first 12 months and following the Working Week (WW) in Christchurch in 2016 WG 1.4 Engaging Private Practice was disbanded through lack of support and interest. This was despite the WG being established at the suggestion of a number of delegates and individuals at the WW in Kuala Lumpur in 2014.    Mr. Brian Coutts,
New Zealand
This, therefore, was somewhat disappointing but without the commitment of people to structure a Working Group it was expedient to disestablish the WG and concentrate on those where support was forthcoming.

Nevertheless, the other 4 WGs have performed well and have all have produced, or are producing, produced some outcomes, though in some cases their task may not be completed within the term of this 2015-18 period. In these cases, the topics will roll over into the next quadrennium under the direction of the new Commission Chair.

Working groups

WG 1.1 International Ethics and Standards (Gary Strong)

Gary Strong has represented FIG as a Trustee on the International Ethics Standards Coalition (IESC) with Brian Coutts as his substitute. FIG is fortunate that this is also a part of Gary’s regular work at the RICS and as a result no costs have been incurred. The IESC has produced a 10-point international ethical standard. Quite a number of FIG Member Associations have already adopted this new ethical statement for themselves. Commission 1 recommends that FIG also replace its current statement on ethics with this international standard, and this recommendation has been placed on the Agenda of the General Assembly in Istanbul.

WG 1.2 Women in Surveying (Robyn McCutcheon and Winnie Shiu)

The question that the Commission 1 WG 1.2 asked in the 2015 /18 plan for was - are women still underrepresented in the surveying industry? It also asked if there was a need for a Women in Surveying Network (WiSN), to ‘spin-off’ from Commission 1 in the same way the YSN was created. The WG is now attempting to find out if anything has changed from the results of earlier studies that indicated low numbers of women in the industry. Statistics have been gathered over the years to monitor the number of women and their work in the surveying and spatial industry in Australia and New Zealand. The current study includes data collected through a survey of FIG member organisations. The aim was to use social networking and online communications to analyse the status of women in the surveying workforce across the FIG community. Using this data, the WG has been investigating if the situation is similar across the international FIG community. The latest results indicate that there is little difference in the relative numbers of women across the Member Associations but that there is a positive climate for change. It is anticipated that the WG will recommend that a Women in Surveying Network be created and will provide recommendations on ways to actively promote women in the surveying industry resulting from discussions at the Congress in Istanbul.

WG 1.3 International Boundary Settlement and Demarcation (Don Grant)

Don Grant and his Working Group members have been preparing a follow-up publication to FIG Publication 59 International Boundary Marking edited by Hiam Srebro, which was produced through Commission 1 in 2013. This new volume is an addendum to # 59 and will consequently be considerably smaller than the original. It is expected to be published before the end of 2018.

WG 1.4 Forum on Engagement of Private Practitioners

This Working Group was disbanded following the Working Week in Christchurch in 2016 through lack of interest and support.

WG 1.5 Forum on Mutual Recognition (Kate Fairlie)

A successful series of workshops were held during the WW in Helsinki in 2017. Significant interest was generated in the topic and there were good attendances and much discussion at each of the sessions. A core outcome from the sessions was agreement on the need for a platform to assist in the sharing of information and guiding documents between professional associations. There was also considerable discussion around support for assessing international qualifications (such as academic), as the prerequisite step for jurisdictional registration. The next steps for the Working Group will be to update the current FIG Publication No. 27 Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications and to undertake a preliminary scoping for the development of a information sharing platform. Necessary on-going work in this area may be outside the ambit of Commission 1.

Work Plan

Terms of reference

  • Management of spatial information on land, property and hydrographical facts (including related processes, procedures and resources);
  • Spatial data infrastructure – data models, standards, availability and legal aspects;
  • Management and transfer of knowledge and skills needed for SIM;
  • Impacts on organizational structure, business models, professional practice and administration;
  • Management of spatial information supporting environment protection, sustainable development and poverty reduction.

Mission Statement

  • Bringing awareness to successful SIM approaches in the “Information Age” by showing good practice like reliable spatial information for better decision making. Decision makers on all levels expect reliable spatial information and not only maps.
  • Supporting the use of SIM-tools for decision makers and citizens to support the goals of participatory democracy
  • Share good practice on managerial processes and infrastructure needed for handling data, using information and distributing knowledge.
  • Encouraging decision-makers for a more extensive use of spatial information also within good e-government and e-commerce.
  • Criterion of success: to initiate and provide activities so interesting that colleagues will regard the commission as one base on their professional lives.
  • Progress activities mainly through working groups (WGs) and Joint-WGs, which will participate in the planning of workshops and short seminars held during and outside FIG working weeks; submit progress reports about these events.
  • Present the final outcomes of Commission work as reports, statements and/or publications accessible also through the web.


Work Plan

Key Documents


Working Groups

Working Group 1.1 - International Ethics Standards

Policy issue
  • To review the current FIG Ethical standards in the light of FIG being a member of the worldwide coalition being formed to develop International Standards in Ethics;
  • To review the definitions of ethics in land, property and construction;
  • To study ethics within the surveying profession and prepare proposals how to respond to the competition to market the profession as ethical for current & future generations;
  • Surveying professionals practice in a variety of work environments increasingly internationally and are required to respond to constant changes ethically in how they deliver services. This creates challenges to them in how they practice and challenges on how to adapt to change. Identifying and sharing;
  • new ethical ways of working from around the world will provide practical examples of ways others have successfully adapted and will build a set of case studies of change.

Gary Strong
Director of Practice and Standards, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors

Working Group  1.2  Women in Surveying


The WG plan for 2015 – 2018 is to continue the work of the Working group - Under represented groups in Surveying with a focus on gender issues. The proposal is to setup an international network of women in surveying to further investigate the issues and promote the participation of women in the surveying industry.    Using the power of social networking and Internet communications the WG will endeavour to analyse the status of women in the surveying workforce across the FIG community.  In Australia the SSSI Women in Spatial (WIS) group was created some years ago in an effort to raise the numbers of women in the spatial industry. This number was extremely low and remains low. Statistics have been gathered over the years to monitor the number of women in the Surveying and spatial industry in Australia and New Zealand. As we have heard during recent FIG working weeks presentations and workshops, the situation is similar across the international FIG community. The WG plans to apply the experiences gathered in the Australia and New Zealand studies to the international surveying community.

Policy issue

To reference the previous work focusing on women in surveying by the FIG underrepresented groups in surveying.

  • To build an international group focusing on women’s involvement in Surveying;
  • To use social networking to build the WG and create effective communications amongst the group;
  • To gather statistics on an international scale to illustrate women’s involvement in surveying.

Robyn McCutcheon
ECM Implementation Manager, Information Services Division, Corporate Services


Winnie Shiu
Chief Land Surveyor, Civil Engineering and Development Department, The HKSAR Government

Working Group 1.3  International Boundary Settlement and Demarcation


Working Group 1.3 will continue the work of Working Group 1.4 in the 2011-14 Work Plan, led by Haim Srebo and Bill Robertson, which led to the comprehensive FIG Publication 59: "International Boundary Making". 

Policy issue
  • To deal with theoretical, methodological, legal aspects and analysis of practical cases in international and national boundaries;
  • To investigate and report on the long-term definition, demarcation, maintenance, recovery & stability of international land and maritime boundaries;
  • To liaise with FIG Commissions 4, 5 and 7 on matters of common interest.

Don Grant
Associate Professor, School of Mathematical & Geospatial Sciences

Working Group 1.5  Forum on Mutual Recognition

Policy issue

A Task Force on the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications was hosted by the FIG from 1998 – 2002 and resulted in FIG Publication No. 27 Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications. Since then there has been little formal reflection on the progress made, in light of the European Community and other agreements, and there are further developments to be reviewed and supported, such as the ASEAN Mutual Recognition Framework Agreement on Surveying Services. Many barriers to the mutual recognition of surveying professionals remain, and new barriers are emerging.

This WG has the particular aim to review and revise the existing FIG Publication. Additional activities will include a review of the existing mutual recognition frameworks and agreements in place and the updating and promotion of the FIG Mutual Recognition webpage.  


Kate Fairlie
Land Equity International