Local people walking on Axim Beach, Ghana. Photographer: Dave Primov, Shutterstock
'To continue to provide leadership in society, we must be ready to innovate, to adapt and to lead the response to change.' So Diane Dumashie told GIM International in May as she outlined her manifesto for the presidency of FIG – International Federation of Surveyors.
Change and adaptation to achieve sustainability and resilience are the main themes of her candidacy, which has been endorsed by RICS. Dr Dumashie believes that to build professional relevance, all surveying professionals have a part to play in rising to the challenges ranging from climate change and resource use to urbanisation, technological development and demographic shifts.
To navigate what she describes as a 'decade of transformation', she is certain that the profession must act together. Her overall goal is for FIG to advocate surveyors' professional relevance by responding to the global challenges by promoting professional development, influencing institutional policy to assist its national member associations.
FIG was founded in 1878 and is an UN-recognised NGO representing surveying organisations, national professional institutions and universities from more than 120 countries.
Its remit covers land management, cadastre and administration, spatial planning, valuation, construction cost management, geospatial information – including geodesy and engineering – education and training, research, hydrography, standards and technology.
It encourages surveyors to work sustainably, and maintains close links with the UN and World Bank as well as supporting the Young Surveyors Network, including the important Volunteer Community Surveyor Program.
A new president and two new vice-presidents will be elected at the 27th FIG Congress in Warsaw, Poland on 11–15 September, and serve a four-year term from January 2023 to December 2026. Each national body represents its own membership base, and will vote online for their chosen candidate.
If elected to the presidency, Dumashie's main goals for the four-year term are:
tackling climate change and helping achieve the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
engaging the profession more closely in the development of digital infrastructure
ensuring greater diversity and inclusion in the surveying professions
maintaining good land governance and professional standards.
Sustainable development is, she argues, central to achieving net-zero emissions and resilience to climate change. But to accomplish this, the profession must collaborate on immediate action. This is key to planetary sustainability: the 2030 deadline for achieving the SDGs will soon be on us. Meeting the SDGs will demand ambition, leadership and a clear, pragmatic plan. The environmental, social and governance agenda could offer an operational framework for a sustainable approach alongside the goals themselves; further Dumashie points out that innovative technology is providing exciting possibilities to support this effort.
Successful collaboration will depend on making the best use of that technology. When it comes to digital transformation, Dumashie remarked: 'Our profession has been in transition for some time; but we can't stand still, we must be prepared for the future by adapting now.'
Given 'increasing convergence between our sector and tech', surveyors should be advancing the role of geospatial knowledge infrastructure in society and the economy, and providing user-friendly, low-cost systems for land and property administration. This way, the profession will be able to stake its claim to continued relevance.
Likewise crucial to the profession's relevance will be ensuring a more diverse, representative and inclusive community. Surveying needs to attract new recruits, encourage succession plans and upskill all generations. As Dumashie observed in GIM International, 'Our profession crosses four generations,' adding that 'those of us already in the workforce are now employed in ways we could have hardly imagined.'
Importantly, all four generations will shape professionals' approach to the skills needed to thrive after the pandemic. But surveying needs to appeal to young talent in particular, so they can serve as ambassadors for the profession and take up leadership roles in the future.
Underpinning this all, Dumashie aims to maintain a high standard of governance in FIG as an organisation, strengthening communication and collaboration with members. It is imperative that FIG leadership not only steers the organisation with purpose but also benefits society.
Having chaired a 2021 Task Force on FIG Governance, she has heard directly from members and understands the need for resilience and sustainability in the profession. If surveying remains an influential voice at all levels, Dumashie contends it can then continue to benefit society.
FIG represents the range of surveying disciplines and, as a skilled advocate for change, Dumashie maintains that her own experience in senior roles at the organisation – including vice-president, member of the Advisory Committee of Commission Chairs, and roles on other commissions and task forces – puts her in an excellent position to listen, collaborate and take action as its president.
'In the face of global forces, we must be trusted by our stakeholders and society as a sustainable, 21st-century professional body,' she told GIM International. Her campaign video elaborates that, as a profession, 'We reflect the world – and to talk effectively to that world, we need to take on technical skills and leadership skills.'
Her professional experience shows she has practised what she preaches, developing her own skills through practice and research alike. As a chartered surveyor for more than 30 years, she has worked across the public, private and NGO sectors, including strategic and property development for Allied Lyons, Marks & Spencer, regional development agencies and the NHS. She has also worked with international donor agencies, including as an adviser to the UN on securing gender equality in land tenure.
Since 1999 she has also been the director of her own firm, Dumashie Ltd. She focuses on strategic projects in the UK and internationally with a clear social and economic agenda linked to land. As an accredited mediator, Dumashie is adept at bringing stakeholders and resources together to complete projects. She leads and innovates to resolve complex issues in land management, land administration, gender rights, and land and coastal property regeneration.
Specialising in coastal policy and business for her PhD, she has provided consultancy to businesses such as port and paper mill operators. She has also followed her passion to advise on protecting access rights for coastal communities in Africa, where the cross-cultural experience of her British–Ghanian heritage has stood her in good stead.
She is a former RICS Governing Council member and presently sits on the organisation's Standards and Regulation Board and the Global Land and Resources Board, as well as being a trustee of LionHeart, the charity for RICS members and their families. As vice-president of FIG, she has also been the head of RICS' delegation to the federation.
Altogether, this organisational experience makes her an excellent candidate for FIG president.
Dr Dumashie believes that, above all, the profession needs to remain relevant, serve the public interest and leave no one behind. To continue to provide leadership in society, she will ensure FIG is ready to innovate, adapt and lead the response to change. As president, she promises to foster:
clarity and collaboration: listening to members and taking an active leadership approach
purpose and reliability: advocating for the continued relevance of surveying to ensure a benefit to society.
Serving as a steady hand to move FIG forward, she pledges to be accessible and action-oriented to inform leadership decision-making.
No FIG president has been an RICS member since 1996, and Dumashie would be honoured to represent RICS at this global level – bringing the worldwide surveying community together to make a strong statement for the future of the profession.
Prof. Sara Wilkinson FRICS, Dr Gill Armstrong, Dr Kusal Nanayakkara, Mark Willers FRICS, Prof. Jua Cilliers and Dr Robert Fleck 08 December 2023