16 Years’ Experience on the ISPRS Council (2000-2016) - 15/07/2016


Looking back, I have been able to carry out the priorities set at the beginning of my term. In 2000, when I was elected as Congress Director, my priority was to organise an excellent event that would be memorable in the minds of people for a long time and I can confess that I have achieved this goal, as I still meet many people around the world who thank me for the wonderful congress in 2004. Another interim goal that arose during my time as congress director was the request of young scientists to have their own programme at the congress, which resulted in the establishment of youth sessions and, after the congress, a summer school for more than 80 students. This became a sustained tradition at many ISPRS events and congresses and led to the establishment of a student consortium. The path from Congress director to secretary general (2004-2008) was a very different one, but past experiences as manager at different governmental and private organisations made my task to fulfill my duties easy.  Then came my term as the president of the Society (2008-2012). When I look back at the last days of my term as president, I realize that the priorities are reflected in the preamble of the Strategic Plan of the Society, which was approved in Vienna at the Centenary Celebrations of the ISPRS in 2010: “as the mission of ISPRS… to advance the photogrammetry, remote sensing and spatial information sciences through international cooperation in research, development and education for the benefit of society and for environmental sustainability;… Implementation of the strategy will produce an efficient, professional organisation, ready to meet the challenges of changes to the environment…”. In the Strategy Definition we say: “use core disciplines in applications such as disaster management, health, cultural heritage and maintenance of a sustainable environment” and “develop interest in key international issues such as working towards the Millennium Development Goals and climate change”. We work closely with members of the Joint Board of Spatial Information Societies (JBGIS), the ICSU GeoUnions, UNOOSA, COPUOS, GEO and the UN initiative on Global Geospatial Information Management (GGIM). We have established especially close contacts with ICA, IAA, URSI and IUGG, among others; this is reflected in the Scientific Programme of the Melbourne Congress. Within the ICSU GeoUnions, we work closely with related organisations on common projects. We have already completed 2 high class ICSU sponsored Projects; within GEO we worked in different bodies and have contributed to the Strategic Plan. In UNOOSA and COPUOS, we are one of the very active Societies and have finished a common project together with UNOOSA and JBGIS and published Best Practices Booklet on Disaster and Risk Management. Another common project was the publication of The Value of Geo-Information for Disaster and Risk Management (VALID). ISPRS organised, together with UNOOSA, a conference series on Space Technology Applications for Socio-Economic Benefits.   

A major step, in the last years, was my election to the Executive Board of the International Council for Science (ICSU) at its 30th General Assembly, in 2011, in Rome and my reelection, in 2014, in Auckland. I was nominated by the Geo-Union cluster of ICSU. It is the first time that an ISPRS officer has been elected as a member of ICSU Executive Board. ISPRS has become one of the leading international institutions in geospatial sciences. We have achieved this through the continued support of many people from different regions. On behalf of the ISPRS, I would like to thank them all for their continued support. I hope that they continue to participate in all the activities of the ISPRS as they have done in the past. At the end of my term I must say that the ISPRS Council was a good team , together with the Technical Commission presidents, and I am confident that they will maintain this  in the future. 

Orhan Altan

Last updated: 27/02/2018