FIG Working Week - What’s Next?

FIG Working Week - What’s Next?

It is Thursday 14 May 2020, and today should have been the closing day of FIG Working Week in Amsterdam. The programme of today would have been the second General Assembly session and closing ceremony. Also a comprehensive tour, 'Dutch land and water management', was scheduled to take place today.

The intention of the tour was to give a unique insight into the Netherlands, with a focus on how water has shaped spatial planning and development in the Netherlands. It should have taken attendees on an exclusive journey using various modes of transport, starting at the historical Fort Vechten and finishing in the vibrant port city of Rotterdam. During the journey, participants would have experienced the Dutch urbanized delta and its historical and contemporary assignments in spatial planning, including the process of land readjustment. The programme combined visits to historical structures with contemporary technology (e.g. GIS and sensor technology for monitoring water levels) and impressive architecture. In other words, it would have been a unique opportunity for professionals and scientists to share inside stories of their role in land and water management. We hope to be welcoming you on board for this tour in 2021 instead!

Rotterdam skyline seen from river Meuse.

The ‘Working Week from home’

This week we gave you a front-row seat to the content of the FIG Working Week. The Local Organising Committee of FIG2020 and FIG found an alternative way to make sure you could get easy access to the proceedings. It was a way to recognize all the hard work of the authors and presenters. But it also turned out to be a way to feel connected to the FIG community, to show that we as a community continue, no matter what, reach out to each other and are interested to learn what the latest developments are. Knowledge, cooperation and improving our profession is what drives us.


During the closing ceremony, relevant conference statistics are normally presented. It is therefore seductive to include a little statistical information in this closing article! When we closed the registration in March, around 1,200 professionals had already registered for the Working Week from over 80 countries. 

FIG and LOC decided to publish the abstracts and papers in the FIG Proceedings 2020 although the papers have not been presented. In total 425 abstracts were accepted in the technical programme, of which 22 are peer review papers (in total 49 abstracts for peer review were submitted).

In total we had 80 sessions in the programme in addition to the opening and plenary sessions. These sessions were organized by FIG Council, Commissions, Networks, Task Forces and Permanent institution in cooperation with the local organizers.

  • 13 – FIG Sessions
  • 10 – Partner sessions organized with institutional partners: UN-FAO, UN-Habitat/GLTN and UNECE and the FIG Platinum Corporate members Esri, Trimble, Bentley and Leica
  • 57 – Commission sessions

To highlight the technical programme, 24 articles were specially produced and brought to you at home:

  • Official Welcome
  • 3 sub-theme articles
  • 10 Commission articles
  • 4 FIG Network and Institution articles
  • 1 partner article
  • 4 announcement articles: from FIG, GIM International, LOC and FIG YSN
  • Concluding article

Number of readers and shares:

  • Articles were shared by hundreds within the GIM International audience, while about 30,000 GIM International newsletter subscribers received the newsletters. Each day, FIG also sent this newsletter to around 14,000 professionals, of which around 50% opened the email.

The successful 5th YSC social distancing edition

FIG Young Surveyors managed in one day to organize 4 webinars, all on different continents, and all with different content. These events were competently facilitated by a dedicated group of Young Surveyors – who all deserve a very big thanks for making this happen. This shows a truly global approach and outreach!

The statistics of the 5th Young Surveyors Conference.

FIG General Assembly

FIG Council held an online Council meeting on 8 May, the day originally planned for the meeting. FIG Commission, Network and Task Force Chairs also had their “ACCO online meeting” during these days, so despite the fact that it was not possible to meet at the Working Week, FIG business is still moving onwards.

During the second General Assembly session there should have been voting for two Vice Presidents for the term 2021-2024 and also the selection of the host for FIG Working Week 2024. However, as reported earlier, FIG Council has decided that FIG Working Week 2024 will be hosted in Accra, Ghana, as the Ghanaian Local Organising Committee offered to hand over the FIG Working Week 2021 to the Netherlands.

FIG Young Surveyors Conference – Social Distancing Edition.

Election of the two Vice President positions has been postponed to the General Assembly 2021 (with the same candidates). Please note that next year there will also be elections for new Commission Chairs for the term 2023-2026 – so look out for the upcoming call for commission chairs, and start engaging in the commissions now.

And please put the future FIG Working Weeks in your diary:

  • FIG Working Week 2021: in the Netherlands (dates and venue will be announced soon)
  • FIG Congress 2022: Cape Town, South Africa, 15-22 May 2022
  • FIG Working Week 2023: Orlando, Florida, USA, 28 May – 1 June
  • FIG Working Week 2024: Accra, Ghana – dates to be decided


We hope that, through the articles, we have given you a glimpse of what was supposed to take place during the Working Week 2020. It is also our hope that the articles have inspired you and maybe given you ideas for your own daily work, which should have been part of the outcome of your actual attendance at the Working Week.

One thing that we could not give you through our articles was the networking part of the Working Week – which is a vital part of the Working Week.

The plan for future FIG Conferences presented at Intergeo in September 2019 – before COVID-19 changed plans…

What’s next?

We are living in unpredictable times. The COVID-19 pandemic is still influencing our daily lives and the way we work and interact, and will continue to do so.

As stated by FIG President Rudolf Staiger in the Sunday welcome article, this situation is unique. The challenges also bring new opportunities, including in our profession. And we, as FIG and GIM International, have the opportunity to provide a platform for this, through our newsletters and articles and also our events.

We believe that next year’s Working Week will be one of the most fruitful working weeks to come. Not only because we have not seen each other for so long, and we have not been able to use the full potential of sharing the valuable knowledge, projects results and latest research, but also because we have been challenged by a similar situation everywhere. It has confronted us in ways we could not have imagined and it has sparked and fuelled innovative approaches. These sparks, in combination with the absence of attending meetings, will be a fertile environment for the FIG community. It will provide a boost and a growth spurt to our organization.

About FIG2021: new dates, new venue, (almost) same theme

The Local Organising Committee, supported by GIN, Kadaster and ITC – Faculty of UT, is looking forward to welcoming you to the Netherlands in the spring of 2021. We all hope that a vaccine is developed and that most measures are lifted, enabling us to travel freely and to attend meetings.

What can you expect at the FIG Working Week in 2021? Your registration is automatically moved to next year. It will give you access as attendee to the event. For both FIG and LOC it is most important that we create an opportunity where our community can meet.

Our original venue, RAI, was booked 4 years in advance (in 2016!). Unfortunately, there was no opportunity to host our event at RAI next year.

We now face the challenge to find a venue that fits with the flexibility needs of a post-COVID-19 outbreak as well has options to offer a hybrid event. Options are being considered in the four largest cities in the Netherlands, all within 1-hour travel distance from Amsterdam. As soon as a venue is selected, we will announce the dates.

The theme for the event will stay the same. There will be room to focus on our experiences related to COVID-19. In autumn, a call for papers will be announced. And for those who want to present their FIG2020 paper, they will be given the opportunity to do so.

The windmills of Kinderdijk are one of the best-known Dutch tourist sites. They have been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1997.

Handover ceremony & special welcome to the Netherlands

How is it possible to hand over to yourself…? This will be the case this year, since the FIG Flag should be handed over from the local organizers 2020 to the local organizers 2021! So instead the Local Organising Committee created a message for you, in which each LOC member is symbolically handing over (from home!) to the next to welcome you next year.

Finally, we would like to extend a thank you to all who have followed us during this week. It has been different for us to present a full Working Week in 6 newsletters and 24 written articles, but we hope that you have enjoyed this journey with us from home. A very big thanks to all who have contributed to all articles, and also to the current Local Organising Committee for their preparations so far.

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