Regional Association for Surveyors in Latin America under discussion

Pedro Cavero attends the X International Congress on Surveying, Cadastre, Geodesy and Geomatics

San José, Costa Rica, 18–20 September 2008

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Ms. Eugenia Flores Vindas, Minister of Science and Technology, Costa Rica making her welcome address at the opening ceremony. Other speakers were Prof. Pedro Cavero, Eng. Jorge Badilla Pérez and Eng. Juan Manuel Castro Alfaro

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Audience at the X International Congress on Surveying, Cadastre, Geodesy and Geomatics in Costa Rica.

Prof. Pedro Cavero, FIG Ambassador for Latin America, attended the X International Congress on Surveying, Cadastre, Geodesy and Geomatics that was held in San José, Costa Rica, 18-20 September 2008. The conference was organised by the Colegio de Ingenieros Topógrafos de Costa Rica CIT/CFIA and co-sponsored by FIG. 360 participants from Costa Rica and several neighbouring countries attended this bi-annual congress.

The X International Congress on Surveying, Cadastre, Geodesy and Geomatics

In the technical programme there were 25 papers, four on geodesy, four on surveying, six on cadastre, three on valuation, three on urban planning, three on coastal surveying, and one on geomatics and on gender issues (“Female Colleagues in the 21st Century”). The congress included also a commercial exhibition with major companies in surveying business.

A specific focus in the congress was given to gender issues. Today there are 150 female surveyors in Costa Rica and their professional role is increasing every day. At the congress there were two specific events dedicated for them, one technical session and presentation at the closing ceremony.

The Opening Ceremony on the 18th September started with the National Anthem followed by welcome address of the President of the Colegio de Ingenieros Topógrafos, Eng. Juan Manuel Castro Alfaro. He expressed his thanks to FIG for its support to the profession and in particular to the Latin American associations, where much has been done but still much should be done in the near future. Special thanks were addressed to the FIG President, whose absence was regretted but understood, and to Prof. Cavero as the FIG representative, whose involvement in working for the Latin American countries is well-known and appreciated within the region.

A welcome greeting was given by the President of the Colegio de Ingenieros y Arquitectos de Costa Rica, Eng. Jorge Badilla Pérez, who underlined the importance of this congress for the surveying profession and for other engineering disciplines as well.

Prof. Cavero congratulated the organisers in his speech, bringing greetings from President Stig Enemark underlining the importance of this congress for all Latin-American countries as a starting point for establishing a regional association for the Latin American surveyors. The aims for such an association should be to work for the profession and professionals and for the whole society in Latin America. He also congratulated CIT and CFIA for organising the FIG Regional Conference in 2007 and for producing the Costa Rica Declaration Integrated Coastal Zone Management.

Finally Ms. Eugenia Flores Vindas, Minister of Science and Technology, gave a short speech congratulating the Colegio, emphasizing the importance of this international congress. She also offered all support from the government for developing the final conclusions of the congress, mainly to projects or needs related to the coastal zone development. She pointed out the relevant role of the coastal areas in the future and expressed her thanks to and congratulated FIG, the Colegio and the surveying profession for the most important Costa Rica Declaration, a document that should be given to the governments to work with.

On the 19th September there was the hand over of the Spanish version of the Costa Rica Declaration from FIG to the Colegio by Prof. Cavero, who underlined the big concern of FIG in strengthening all human rights and promoting welfare and emphasising the continuous work of FIG with the United Nations and its agencies including the World Bank. Mr. Castro Alfaro thanked FIG for the valuable work in making the report and confirmed delivering it to the different governmental departments in Costa Rica and further offered it to the foreign delegates of the congress to bring it to their government.

On the 20th September at the closing ceremony the congress conclusions were presented. The closing remarks were given by Eng. Olman Vargas Zeledón, General Manager of the Colegio Federado de Ingenieros y Arquitectos de Costa Rica, CFIA, followed by a typical “parrillada” (barbecue) where the participants had the opportunity to taste excellent food, listen to very nice music and see very beautiful national dances.

Regional Surveyors’ association for Latin America

On the 19th September there was a meeting for the international delegates, representatives from Costa Rica and the FIG representative to talk about the establishment of a surveyors’ association for Latin America. This Latin American surveyors association would link professionals of the whole continent in all fields of common interest whether they are professional, educative or related to free movement of labour, etc.

The meeting was attended by colleagues from Costa Rica, Panamá, México, Colombia, Venezuela and USA. It was chaired by the Mr. Castro Alfaro, President of the Costa Rican Colegio, CIT, who talked about the need of tightening links of friendship and collaboration among the different national associations and expressed his full support to the FIG proposal of creating such an association for Latin America.

Prof. Cavero, the FIG ambassador for the region, gave a short overview of the latest experiences of developing such regional organisations and highlighted some of the reasons to create such a body:

  • The asymmetry of the countries in the region in surveying profession. This creates a big challenge for the development of the profession for colleagues in countries where surveyor's profession and associations exists. In some countries in Latin America, such as El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Perú, Ecuador, the surveying profession and association do not exist; while in others, such as Paraguay, Bolivia, even if the association exists, it has a very poor or no active at all; and in some others, such as Chile, although there are universities teaching surveying courses, the profession does not exist as such, as there is no professional association and it seems to be difficult to create one.
  • The regional association, strongly supported by FIG, with the help, when needed, from the United Nations, the World Bank etc., could work as a first step to come into these countries. It could show the stakeholders the relevant role and importance and need of surveying professionals for a harmonic development of their country; to offer them a possibility of educating young students of their country at universities established in neighbouring countries - such is the case in Central America, where we can find faculties teaching surveying profession in Costa Rica (three universities), Panamá (two universities), Puerto Rico (two universities). These countries should not spend money for the moment in creating new faculties but instead they could give scholarships for students to go abroad, to countries with the same language, similar idiosyncrasy, not that far from their home and with an excellent educational level. Once these new professionals return to their home countries, they could together with those who are now members of the civil engineering associations could create their own professional association. This is not an easy task to implement, but when done with enthusiasm and effort, could pay an enormous gratification for everybody. This proposal should be sold to politicians and other stakeholders in these countries. This proposal has been generated with the full support from FIG at its highest level. The implementation can include other international bodies whose participation will be considered beneficial.
  • Establishment of this association should be considered as a project whose development and leadership belongs to the professional associations; regional here meaning all Latin American countries. FIG will always be there to help them, to advise them and to support them whenever needed.
  • Another target for the association will be to facilitate mobility of professionals in the whole continent, mainly by recognising university degrees by all countries in the region and by promoting mutual recognition of surveying profession until it becomes a truth.

At the meeting several speeches from representatives from different countries were presented, all of them being very interesting and showing in many cases national characteristics. This was e.g. the case presented by Eng. Leoncio Olvera, former President of CITAC (México, now a member association of FIG), who told that in his country there are more than 300,000 surveying professionals, most of them not belonging to any association, and the province ones without any link between them and with a big need for some kind of a union and co-operation. Although he was very pessimistic about any success in this field, he emphasised the need for the universities in Mexico to teach something more than “pressing a button” courses and to give integrated education in fields such as land management, rural and urban planning, valuation, etc. This is what he understands is the future of the profession and to make the students excellent “thinkers” instead of simply “makers”.

The representative from Colombia, a Civil Engineer very much related to surveying, was very enthusiastic with the proposal and offered to work for it. The same happened with the representative of Venezuela (for almost the first time Venezuela was present at an FIG event) The situation in Venezuela is very similar to México regarding the difficulties in bringing professionals to any association. In this case is not clear if there is more than one faculty offering surveying curricula. The colleagues from Panamá, who were present also at the meeting last year, were ready to work and support the project with all their efforts.

As a result of the meeting a committee was created to bring the project further. The members of the committee are:

  • Coordinator: Eng. Daniel Acuña, Costa Rica
  • Members:
    • Eng. Rolando Cerrud Ballesteros, Panamá
    • Eng. César Augusto Ruiz, Colombia
    • Eng. Linda Vélez, Puerto Rico
  • Advisors:
    • Eng. Arturo Palencia, México
    • Eng. Francisco Ortega, USA
    • Eng. Santiago Borrero, Colombia (to be invited)
  • Consultant and support: Prof. Pedro J. Cavero, FIG

It was agreed that there will be close communication between the committee members and reporting system.

More to read:

Prof. Pedro J. Cavero
30 September 2008

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Audience at the congress.

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Pedro Cavero making his welcome address.