7th FIG Regional Conference in Hanoi, Vietnam, 19-22 October 2009
Spatial Data Serving People -
Land Governance and the Environment - Building the Capacity

FIG Regional Conference focuses in Good Governance in Tenure

The 7th FIG Regional Conference titled “Spatial Data Serving People” was held in Hanoi, Vietnam 19-22 October 2009. This was the second time that the FIG regional conference was held in South East Asia. The conference was organised jointly by FIG and the Viet Nam Association of Geodesy, Cartography and Remote Sensing, VGCR. It gathered almost 400 participants from 52 countries to discuss land and surveying issues.250 participants were coming from Asia, South-East Asian region and overseas while about 150 were coming from Vietnam.

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The three themes of the conference were land governance; SDI and the environment; and capacity building. Specific focus was on good governance in tenure when this theme was strongly supported by the Regional Consultation on Voluntary Guidelines for Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land and other Natural Resources that the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) organized for the Asian countries as a fully integrated part of the regional conference. This two-day consultation attracted more than 80 people from 15 Asian countries to discuss the FAO voluntary guidelines.

Prof. Stig Enemark, FIG President addressed in his opening address that "the design and building of appropriate land administration systems is a big issue in most developing countries. Vietnam and many other countries in the South East Asian Region are currently working on projects to get these systems in place. I am very happy that we will have the opportunity during this conference to get an overview of what is going on in the region. As an outcome or legacy of this regional conference in Hanoi we intend to develop a publication in line with previous publications in the FIG series. This will focus on Land Acquisition in Emerging Economies, which is identified as the key professional issue in the region and there is a need for comprehensive guidelines to conduct these processes."

The other presentations at the opening ceremony were given by Dr. Dang Hung Vo, President of VGCR who welcomed participants after many years preparations to Hanoi to the second FIG Regional Conference in the South-East Asia region, the first was held in October 2004 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Dr. Vo considered that conference was organised very timely because of the big land related projects in the country. Also the topic of land acquisition that has been selected as the topic for the Hanoi Declaration is a crucial topic in Vietnam and in the region.

Dr. Mohamed El Sioufi, Head of Shelter Branch, UN-HABITAT and Mr. Vu Ngoc Tien, Assistant FAO Representative for Vietnam, presented their greetings to the conference. They were both very pleased on the initiative of combining the FAO consultation on voluntary guidelines to the FIG conference. The consultations were organised by FAO with strong support from Global Land Tools Network and UN-HABITAT. The formal opening address and keynote were given by Honourable Mr. Pham Khoi Nguyen, Minister of Environment, Vietnam Government.

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Speakers at the Opening Ceremony: Mohammed El Shioufi, UN-HABITA, Vu Ngoc Tien, FAO, Paul Munro-Faure, FAO, President Stig Enemark, Minister Pham Khoi Nguyen and President Dang Hung Vo, VGCR.

The Regional Conference in Hanoi was a big success, special thanks belong to sponsors and exhibitors: platinum sponsor: Trimble, gold sponsor: MONRE and silver sponsors: ESRI and Intergraph.

In the first plenary session on land administration Mr. Keith Bell from the World Bank discussed the key issues in land issues in East Asia in relation to six WB funded projects that are worth of more than 180 million USD in 2009. His conclusions included that land sector reforms are complex and cross-sectoral and thus require broadly based development strategy that addresses the wider social, economic, natural resources and environmental agenda. Land sector reforms require long-term engagement, but governments with a record of good governance and political will for reform are more likely to attract support. Keith Bell's presentation is published as the FIG Article of the Month in November 2009. The other two presentations in the first plenary session were presented by Dr. Paul Munro-Faure, Chief of the Land Tenure and Management Unit, FAO who discussed responsible governance of tenure and the FAO Voluntary Guidelines and Mr. Ton Gia Huyen, Former Director General, General Department of Land Administration who together with Mrs. Tran Thi Minh Ha, Director, International Relation Department, MONRE explained Land Administration in Vietnam, its past, recent and the future.

In the second plenary session on infrastructures for sustainable environment Ms. Jude Wallace from Australia challenged the participants to re-think how land acquisition policies should be linked to human rights and to find the right tools to do so. This plenary session included also a presentation on the climate change and its implications in Vietnam and the responses Vietnam has been creating. Vietnam and the South-East Asian region are hit with the natural disasters much more often than earlier as many unfortunate cases has proved already during this year. It was stated that SDI must be used as a tool for risk and vulnerability analysis and for preparing action plans to prevent natural disasters and for preparations for early warning and evacuation systems as well as for reconstruction and access to shelter, water and food. These are all crucial for regions like South East Asia that the strongly hit by the impacts of the climate change. This puts big demand for political will and management responsibility as well as for responsive professionals and organizations.

The last speaker in the second plenary session was Prof. Chris Rizos, President Elect of IAG who discussed the Importance of Geodetic Infrastructure. It should be mentioned that FIG Commission 5 had a strong input in the conference programme with 11 own or joint sessions. One of the objectives of Commission 5 at this regional conference was to support the Permanent Committee for GIS Infrastructure Asia-Pacific (PCGIAP) initiative known as the Asia Pacific Reference Frame project or APREF. This was one of the focus areas of the conference and preparation for the FIG Congress 2010 in Sydney in April 2010.

The theme of the third plenary session was capacity building. Prof. Holger Magel, FIG Honorary President from Technical University Munich challenged surveyors to establish a Global Academic Partnership (GAP) with six targets for sustainable development. FIG Vice President Teo CheeHai discussed the code of ethics and urged FIG to revisit its ethical guidelines in relation to the recent development in the world. The Vietnamese contribution on this topic discussed innovations in surveying and mapping training for an integrated world.

Technical programme in Hanoi included about 150 presentations in about 50 technical sessions and workshops. All FIG ten commissions contributed. The concept of the regional conference proved to be well functioning with good mixture of local and international presentations and good discussion.

The social events and visit to Ha Long Bay allowed excellent opportunities for networking. The conference was made possible by the financial support from the platinum sponsor Trimble, gold sponsor MoNRE (Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment) and silver sponsors ESRI and Intergraph and all exhibitors.

As outcome of the conference it was stated that knowledge transfer has to involve all stakeholders which GLTN and FAO provide good examples. As outcome from the conference the Hanoi Declaration on land acquisition in emerging economies will be prepared and published before FIG Congress in Sydney. This publication will identify the problems and issues related to land acquisition in Vietnam and the South East Asia region, analyzes these problems in the context of best practice, and provides guidelines and recommendations and tools for good governance and practice. The summary of the conferences is presented in the closing address of President Stig Enemark.

At the FIG Council meeting new member associations were adopted from Cyprus and Nepal and affiliate members from Afghanistan, Italy, Switzerland as well as correspondents from Ethiopia and Eritrea as well as a new corporate member from Portugal. The Council used most of the time for preparations of the FIG Congress in Sydney, Australia in April 2010. The Commission Officers meeting (ACCO) focussed on preparations of the technical programme for Sydney where already about 800 proposals for presentations have been submitted. The chairs elect discussed preliminary ideas for the commission work plans for 2011-2014 for discussions with the national delegates in Sydney.

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