FIG President participates the 19th Session of the UN-Habitat Governing Council in Nairobi 4-9, 2003

Nearly one thousand participants attended the 19th Session of the UN-Habitat Governing Council Nairobi, Kenya, May 4-9, 2003. The session was the first one after UN-Habitat was upgraded to a UN programme. Prof. Holger Magel, FIG President represented FIG and the Habitat Professionals Forum as a NGO-representative. The UN Headquarters in Gigiri offer – both conference rooms and offices – an open atmosphere and allow several occasions for personal and very fruitful discussions. The President managed to meet all key persons at the UN-Habitat including Dr. Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director, Mr Daniel Biau, Deputy Executive Director and Mr Don Okpala, current focal point for FIG as well as Mr. Farouk Tebbal and newly appointed Dr. Clarissa Augustinus from the tenure unit and Dr. Sylvie Lacroux previous FIG focal point who is now the head of the UN-Habitat office in Geneva. There were no other representatives from the Habitat Professionals Forum, although the Arab Urban Development Institute was listed.

The President was invited to give a keynote speech – as representative of FIG and the Professionals Forum on Friday’s parallel event “The Future of Cities”. In addition he made two contributions in the meetings of the Committee of the whole on the topic “the rural dimension of sustainable urban development”.

During the week the President had a private meeting with Prof. Klaus Töpfer, Executive Director of UNEP on the FIG/UNEP co-operation. He was very open-minded to a closer cooperation with FIG and pointed out that especially the issues of secure tenure, Cities Alliance (Agenda 21) and environmental monitoring by remote sensing are of great interest to UNEP. Daniel van Claasen, Director of the Division of Early Warning and Assessment will be the focal point for FIG. Currently joint projects are discussed. UNEP is also willing to co-sponsor the 2nd FIG Regional Conference in Marrakech in December 2003.

In his comments from the conference President Magel mentioned that it was interesting to notice the comments from non-surveyors, that “it is not always sufficient to start at once with land registration issues – before that there must be “political” discussions and conflict solutions”.

The President met further with the representatives of the Institution of Surveyors Kenya, Ibrahim N. Mwathane, new Chair of ISK and CASLE, Cyprien Riungu, Regional Voce President and Anne Kirima. They had also a meeting with Mr. Amos Kimunya, the new Minister for Lands and Settlement on May 8, 2003. The Minister is going to visit the FIG office and the Danish Mapping and Cadastre (KMS) in May in order to get more information about the need and benefits of GIS and the reference between GIS and surveying. A special interest of CASLE and ISK people of Kenya lies in the participation of the private sector if GIS and digitalizing land records in Kenya will start.

As a conclusion from his visit the President got reconfirmation to the fact that FIG is already well-known and due to the keynote presentation and discussions became even slightly more respected. He thought that FIG should take a notice of Dr. Töpfer’s comment that FIG’s image is perhaps too much connected to the daily surveying skills including competence in land administration and secure tenure but not enough with planning, management and general political skills.

15 May 2003