IFMEs Historia


International Federation of Municipal Engineers


A chronology by Marcel Caseau*

The Association of Engineers of the Cities of France was founded in Lyon in 1937 by a small group of municipal engineers. After a noteworthy start, its activity was interrupted by the war until February 1947. Conforming to tradition, a National Congress of this Association has been held each year beginning in 1948 with growing success and reaching a high level in the course of the 1950’s. Thanks to our magazine, the first issue of which appeared at the end of 1952, the Association’s influence not only reaches across France, but also abroad.


1953 / 54Starting in 1953, our English and Belgian colleagues became interested in our Association, and in 1954, for the first time, our Congress was honored by the presence of a foreigner, M. DEFOURNY, Director of Highways for the City of Liege and President of the Belgian Federation of Municipal Engineers.


In the course of this Congress, our General Assembly noted with satisfaction that communications were to be maintained, not only with our Belgian friends, but with our colleagues in Great Britain, Netherlands, Switzerland and Italy, and that periodicals of the Associations were to be exchanged regularly.


1955At the beginning of 1955, through one of our colleagues in the Maritime-Alps, we established contact with a Dane, a friend of Mr. HOST-MADSEN, Engineer for the City of Nykobing, (Denmark).
Our foreign colleagues were invited to our national Congress at Vincennes in May 1955 and we had the pleasure of receiving: Messrs, de JONG, President, and BRONKHORST, Vice-President of the Association of Municipal Works of the Netherlands; Messrs. PACHE (Montreaux) and BONIFACE (Lausanne), Swiss delegates.


In a parallel direction at the request of Mr. CLITHEROE, Assistant Engineer of the City of Exeter, our English friends invited President Caseau to their Congress where he received a warm welcome and expressed the hope of receiving the British President at our 1956 Congress.


The Dutch committee, through President de JONG, proposed that for 1957 we consider the organization of an international gathering in which Belgian, British, Danish, French, Dutch, Italian and Swiss groups would participate. During its October 15, 1955 session, our Committee enthusiastically adopted this project and decided to hold a preliminary meeting to which the Presidents and Secretaries General of various Associations would be invited.


1956The Vincennes Congress of May 1956 was honored with the presence: of Mr. CLITHEROE, representing the British President, DEFOURNY (Belgium) de JONG and TREMEIJER (Netherlands). The decision was made to organize the International Congress at Brussels in 1958 on the occasion of the World’s Fair. Mr. DEFOURNEY agreed to take responsibility for the preliminary investigations.
 In June, Messrs. DEJOU and COSTE attended the Netherlands Congress, while Mr. CASEAU represented the Association at the British Congress.


1957At the Vincennes Congress in May 1957 we welcomed: Messrs. CLITHEROE(Great Britain, de JONG and TREMEIJER (Netherlands), FURTER (Switzerland), and DEFOURNY (Belgium). At the conclusion of this Congress, the five foreign delegates and the members of the Board of our Association held a meeting to fix the date for the international gathering in Brussels and to determine the program for the working sessions, visits and receptions.


1958 Permanent contacts were maintained with Mr. DEFOURNEY and on March 29, 1958, a final session is held with Belgian, Dutch and French delegates in Brussels. The World’s Fair Committee on Congresses agreed to the dates of May 29, 30, and 31 and put its meeting rooms at our disposal.
An Honorary Committee and a Committee of Patrons was formed. The program was fixed in detail and the financial arrangements were determined. Participants will be lodged in reception buildings of the fair.


The Brussels Congress: On May 29, 1958, the delegations of municipal engineers from Belgium, France, Great Britain, and the Netherlands attended the inaugural session presided over by M. VERMEULEN, Belgium’s Minister of Interior, in the Congress Palace. M. DESVIGNE, Inspector General of Bridges and Roads, Technical Advisor to the French Ministry of the Interior and M. de GRUNNE, Director of the Cities and Communes of Belgium were present along with: Messrs. CASEAU, DEFOURNY, de FONG, HOUGH, President of the British Association.


After having welcomed the delegates and underlined the importance of such an international assembly, the Minister addressed some stirring words to France. President CASEAU responded with thanks, underlined the object of the Congress and noted that due to emergency circumstances, a number of French colleagues have had to remain at their posts.


On May 30 and 31, participants studied the following questions, which had been the subject of national reports, followed by general reports:


– Functions of municipal engineers;

– Treatment of sewage;

– Public illumination.

There are technical tours to:

Brussels: Center of the city: Urban works;

North station: Tunnel for streetcars; World’s Fair

Antwerp: Urban works; Port;


Turnhont: Phillips factory


The Congress ended with an official dinner at the Metropole restaurant in the heart of the fair. Speeches were made by Messrs. CASEAU, DEFOURNY, de JONG, HOUGH and three other persons, M. JOTTHIER (Belgium) on behalf of the organization committee; Mr. Van WALRAVEN (Netherlands) representing Mr. BRONKHORST, new President, and Mr. HOST-MADSEN, delegate from Denmark. Before leaving, the delegates adopted a resolution recommending the early creation of an International Federation of Municipal Engineers and the organization of a new assembly two or three years hence.


Preparatory Work for the Creation of the Federation

Referring to the resolution adopted May 31, 1958, a meeting was held in Brussels on November 26, 1958 in the presence of Mr. de GRUNNE, Director of the Belgian Union of Cities and Communes.
The delegates of four national associations were present:



France: Messrs. CASEAU and DEJOU

Great Britain: Mr. BECKETT

Netherlands: Mr. de JONG


The group decided to set up a provisional International Committee of Municipal Engineers, composed of the Presidents and General Secretaries of the four national Association.
The Committee was to prepare by-laws which would be submitted to each of the Associations for consideration and adoption at the time of the first General Assembly which might possibly be held in London in November 1960.


Mr. CASEAU was elected President of the Provisional Committee, Messrs. JANSSENS and JOTTHIER are elected Secretaries.
The Committee adopted working procedures and decided to publish an international chronicle in each of our magazines.


1959On the occasion of the French Congress at Vincennes of April 25, 1959,the International Provisional Committee met.



Excused: Messrs. BECKETT, Van WALRAVEN, de JONG, and JOTTHIER

Attending the meeting: Messrs. AUREL, BERTRAND, GUIGNON, MOLINARI, PRAT, and TRASTOUR from the French Association Committee


President CASEAU presented the draft by-laws drawn up through his good offices and notes that this text has been sent to the Presidents of the Associations in Great Britain and the Netherlands who are absent from the meeting.


Mr. HOST-MADSEN, in the name of the Danish Association, emphasized that in order to prosper an Association ought to interest all the members of the Associations in its regular work. He thought that periodic international Congresses are not sufficient and that the Federation should facilitate the exchange of young municipal engineers between the cities of different countries. He believed the decision taken and put in practice concerning journals and the inclusion of an international chronology in each of them, to be an excellent one. The President stated his agreement with these propositions which were in conformance with Article 2 of the By-laws then in preparation. The Committee decided to hold its next meeting in the fall in the Netherlands to get the opinions of the different associations on the proposed By-laws.


On December 14, 1959 the provisional International Committee met in Amsterdam. Present were:


For France: Messrs. DEFOURNY, and DEJOU

For Denmark: 

For Great Britain: Mr. BECKETT

For Netherlands: Messrs. Van WALRAVEN, de JONG and PENNOCK.


Mr. Van Walraven, new President of the Netherlands Association, welcomed the delegates who have responded to his invitation and laid out the day’s program. Mr. CASEAU assumed the chairmanship of the meeting and opened the discussion on various comments and proposals relative to the proposed By-laws presented by the Belgian, Dutch and French Associations. Unanimous agreement was reached on a text which was turned over to Messrs. CASEAU and DEJOU for definitive editing.


The delegates decided that the constituent Assembly of the International Federation of Municipal Engineers would sit in Paris during April 1960 on the occasion of the French National Congress. Mr. Beckett, delegate from the Institute of Municipal Engineers, agreed to assume the Presidency for the first period of activity, the first Congress of the Federation, to take place in Great Britain in 1961.


1960Constituent Assembly Of The Federation Of Municipal EngineersParis, April 29, 1960 in the new UNESCO Building, 7 Place de Fontenoy Presided over by Mr. FORMERY, representing Couve de Murville, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and in the presence of a large attendance, the Assembly unanimously approved the constitution of the International Federation of Municipal Engineers (IFME) and adopted the By-laws. The Charter was solemnly signed by the Presidents of the four founding Associations: Messrs. J.L. BECKETT (Great Britain), M. CASEAU (France), A. Van WALRAVEN (Netherlands) and A. Van WINGHEM (Belgium).


It is fitting to note that the IFME is made up of the national Associations of municipal engineers on the basis of one such organization per country with a view to:


– reinforce cultural ties and facilitate exchanges of documentation and information between these Associations;

– diffuse among them knowledge acquired concerning urban construction. To attain these ends, the Federation:


  1. Encourages contacts between all municipal engineers by means of distributions of journals published by the different Associations, by the communication of membership lists of the National organizations and by exchanges of engineers.
  2. Organizes meetings of the delegates of the different national Associations.
  3. Organizes a Congress every three years for all of the members of the national Associations taking part in I.F.M.E.

Article II of the By-laws called for the administration of the Federation by a Committee of Directors (Steering Committee) composed of: a President, two Vice-Presidents, a General Secretary, a Treasurer, and one member per country from those not represented on the Board.


In principle, the President, Secretary General and the Treasurer were to be those active in the Association of the country charged with the organization of the following international Congress:
The 1st Vice-President is to be the former president of the Association at the time of the preceding Congress.
The 2nd Vice-President is normally the President of the national Association charged with organizing the subsequent Congress.
In application of these arrangements, the first Steering Committee was made up as follows:


 J. L. BECKETT (Great Britain)

 DEFOURNY (Belgium)

2nd Vice-President:
 M. CASEAU (France)

General Secretary:
 H. V. OVERFIELD (Great Britain)

 A. S. HAMILTON (Great Britain)

Delegate Member: A. Van WALRAVEN (Netherlands)


In accordance with statutory regulations, the I.F.M.E. was authorized by a decree of the French Ministry of the Interior dated June 12, 1961.


1961 In keeping with the wishes of our British colleagues, the powers of the Committee elected in 1960 only lasted for one year since the first General Assembly of the I.F.M.E. met in Brighton in June 1961 on the occasion of the annual Congress of the ”Institution of Municipal Engineers.” Preceded by the National Congress of the I.V.F. at Dieppe, the first time this Congress has been held in the provinces, the meeting was to be continued in Great Britain. Thus 81 French men and women and representatives of Belgian, Dutch and Danish Associations led by J.-L.BECKETT, President of I.F.M.E. took the boat for England.
Welcomed upon arrival at the port of Newhaven by Mr. J.-M. MELVILLE- RICHARDS, President of the Institution of Municipal Engineers, Messrs. H.V. OVERFIELD and A.S. HAMILTON, Secretary General and Treasurer of the I.F.M.E., the delegation proceeded to Brighton where they joined the other participants.


In the course of their work, our colleagues presented two reports of a general character; namely,


– The Municipal Engineer and his Future

– The Art of the Municipal Engineer on the Continent and the Practical Applications made at Rotterdam.

The visits to important works of planning in Brighton and especially the implementation in the new city of Crawley particularly attracted the attention of the members of I.F.M.E.
Joining the British colleagues, the foreign delegation enthusiastically participated in the brilliant ball and the reception given on the occasion of the ”President’s Soiree,” and took part in the official and traditional banquet served in a prestigious locale.


On June 16, 1961 in the course of a General Assembly, which heard two detailed reports by President BECKETT who suggested Congresses to be held more frequently, the Steering Committee was elected. It included:


President: M. CASEAU (France)


1st Vice-President: J.-L. BECKETT (Great Britain)


2nd Vice-President: M. A. Van WALRAVEN (Netherlands)


Secretary General: P. DEJOU (France)


Treasurer: M. A. COST (France)


Delegate members: M. A. Van WINGHEM (Belgium), N. G. HOST-MADSEN




1961 – 1964  During these three years, the new Committee carried out the administration of, the Federation and to this end met five times in the following cities:


Lyon, May 4, 1962 on the occasion of the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Association of the I.V.F.;


Brussels, October 27, 1962;

Vincennes, May 12, 1963, French Congress;

Nykobing, September 7, 1963, Danish Congress;

Amsterdam, February 29, 1964


Contacts were made with non-member countries and three new member countries were enrolled: the Associations of Denmark, Israel and Sweden.


The II Congress, which was held in Paris and Vincennes, May 4-8, 1964, joined together more than 300 municipal engineers from eight different countries. The reports presented by the federated associations provided the subject matter for general reports and discussions in well attended working sessions.
They treated the following questions:
- Traffic and parking;
- Sports facilities for cities;
- Development and extension of cities
The Congress concluded with technical visits concerning:
- International Floralias;
- National Institute of Sports;
- Orly Airport
- Urban tour of the Paris region;
- The experimental line of the aerial Metro at Châteauneuf-sur-Loire;
- The SIMCA-INDUSTRIES plants, division of UNIC at Puteaux.
Numerous receptions took place, with the one at City Hall in Vincennes being outstanding. A banquet served at the TOUR EIFFEL restaurant closed the work of this great Congress.
In the course of the General Assembly of the I.F.M.E., the new Committee elected for three years, is made up as follows:


President: A. Van WALRAVEN (Netherlands)

1st Vice-President: M. CASEAU (France)


2nd Vice-President: A. Van WINGHEM (Belgium)

Secretary General: J. J. PENNOCK (Netherlands)

Treasurer: G. MAAS (Netherlands)

Member delegates: J. A. KENYON (Great Britain), A. ERIKSSON

(Scandinavian countries), A. AMIAZ (Israel)



1964 – 1967 Under the impetus of its President, Director of Public Works for the City of Amsterdam, the Committee met six times in the following cities:

– Brussels, November 21, 1964;

– Amsterdam, April 10, 1965;

– London, November 20, 1965;

– Vincennes, March 12, 1966;

– Louvain, October 15, 1966;

– Amsterdam, February 18, 1967.


The Steering Committee had the pleasure of welcoming three new members representing four countries, as follows:
In 1965, the Institute for Municipal Engineering, (American Public Works Association) of the U.S.A. and Canada
In 1966, the Association of the Cities and Provinces of Spain;
In 1967, the Swiss Association.
Because of the sudden death of Mr. Pennock in January 1966, the Secretariat was transferred to Mr. A. WEGENER- SLEESWI JK. From 1965, Mr. R. JOTTHIER succeeded Mr. Van WINGHEM, who had retired and Mr. C. HANSSON replaced Mr. ERIKSSON as delegate of the Scandinavian countries.


The III International Congress in Amsterdam, May 22-26, 1967, was a resounding success with 400 engineers of eleven countries in attendance. The subjects discussed were the following:
- the utilization of green spaces for recreational purposes;
- the intersections of urban arteries;
- the problem of urban renewal in historic centers.
All were the subject of serious national reports, followed by studies and discussions in well attended public sessions. Interesting technical visits in Rotterdam and Amsterdam completed the formal sessions.
At Rotterdam, delegates visited the port, the largest in the world; then the works of the Europort at the mouth of the new maritime canal; and finally, the new residential quarters, followed by a promenade along city walkways in the center of the reconstructed city..
In Amsterdam, there were visits to the Park and Woods of Amsterdam, workers’ parks and kindergartens. There were also visits to numerous development areas, the construction yard of the tunnel of the I. J. and the runways at the new airport at Schiphol.
Finally, there were tours of the trunk roads which cross the new city and the remarkable ride along the canals of the old city through which one discovers the charm of this great metropolis.
Of the numerous events and receptions which followed one after another, we recall the impressive opening of the Congress at the Palace of Congresses; the exceptional reception by the municipal magistrate in charge of the public works at the RIJKSMUSEUM and the official banquet at the Grand Hotel. In the course of the General Assembly, a modification of the By-laws proposed the possibility of giving the title of Honorary Member to a member leaving the Steering Committee in recognition of his personal merit and exceptional service to the Federation.


Acting on the proposal of the President, the General Assembly awarded this title to Mr. CASEAU, Honorary President of the I.V.F. and founding President of IFME.


At the end of the General Assembly, the new Steering Committee includes:


– President: R. JOTTHIER (Belgium);

– 1st Vice-President: M. A. Van WALRAVEN (Netherlands)

– 2nd Vice-President: J. KOEN (Israel);

– Secretary general: F. Van EYCKEN (Belgium);

– Delegate members: G. BERRY (Great Britain), P. DEJOU (France),
0. HANSSON(Denmark and Sweden), W. HURST (U.S.A. and Canada), J. PAZ-MAROTO (Spain),
and J. JACOB (Switzerland).



1967 – 1970 In accordance with its mission, the committee was convened five times by its new President in the course of three years and for the first time in Sweden, Switzerland and Spain as follows:


– Lucerne, October 12, 1968;

– Bergen-op-Zoom, (Netherlands), April 19, 1969;

– Madrid, October 11, 1969

– (other two)


Two new members, Norway and Finland, were admitted to the Federation thus forming with Denmark and Sweden the ethnic group of Scandinavian countries.


The IV triennial international Congress met in Antwerp, September 7- 11, 1970, with several hundred engineers from thirteen countries attending. The theme of the deliberations: the technical and esthetic aspects of the urban highway system was the subject of three separate reports presented by three general rapporteurs based on national reports:


– The conception of urban highways;

– The construction of this system of highways with a view to its care and its subsequent maintenance;

– The esthetics of the highway system.


The working sessions were very well attended and permitted each Association to draw maximum profit from the general conclusions reached.
Technical visits of the greatest interest were made in Brussels and Antwerp which complemented the theoretical aspects presented in the formal program. These were followed by a visit to Antwerp’s large port and industrial complex.


The outstanding reception given by the Mayor of Antwerp in the old city hall and the official banquet were greatly appreciated by the participants.
The statutory General Assembly unanimously decided to name Mr. A. Van WALRAVEN, stepping down as a Committee member and former President, an Honorary Member of the IFME and elected its new Steering Committee which was thus constituted:


– President:
 J. KOEN (Israel);

– 1st Vice-President:
 R. JOTTHIER (Belgium);

– 2nd Vice-President:
 0. HANSSEN (Scandinavian countries);

– Secretary-General:
 M. LAOR (Israel);

– Treasurer:
 J. KORNELUM ( Israel);

– Honorary Members: M. CASEAU (France), A. Van WALRAVEN (Netherlands), E. A. B. VIANEN (Netherlands), W. HURST (U.S.A. and Canada), D. C.BRINIS (Spain), J. JACOB, then from February 1972 on Th. Enzmann


On the proposal of President KOEN, the Steering Committee, working in London, April, 24, 1971, decided that future Steering Committee meetings would be complemented by technical study sessions, to which delegations of municipal engineers would be invited, particularly those in the country where the meeting is held.


In view of the general interest in pollution, it was anticipated that the next sessions would be devoted to the study of pollutants.
Atmospheric pollution, documents on urbanism and pollutants in general were the subject of reports at Vincennes, February 4, 1972, followed by discussions and relevant visits, such as to the AUBER Station of the regional express railway system. At Stockholm, August 26, 1972, the subject was water pollution and our Swedish colleagues showed us some remarkable wastewater treatment installations. At Madrid, April 14, 1973, it was noise which held the attention of participants. Theoretical studies were followed by a visit to the very modern university laboratories.


The V Congress, which was supposed to be held in Israel October 21-26, 1973 was postponed until the following year because of the Yom Kippur war. The decision was taken at an emergency meeting of the Steering Committee in London, October 13, 1973.Because the By-laws stipulate that the General Assembly meets every three years at a minimum, it was convened December 1, 1973 in Zurich in order to select new Committee members. At the close of the General Assembly in Zurich, the composition of the Committee, which was to be confirmed during the General Assembly at HAIFA on October 22, 1974, was as follows:


– President:
 Chr. STEEN PETERSEN (Denmark);

– 1st Vice-President:
 J. KOEN (Israel);

– 2nd Vice-President:
 J. BERGACKER (U.S.A. and Canada);

– Secretary-General:
 K. E. ERIKSSON (Sweden);

– Treasurer:
 A. LUNDELL (Sweden);

– General Coordinator: A. PAHLMANN (Sweden);

– Honorary Members: M. CASEAU (France), A. Van WALRAVEN (Netherlands);

– Members: T. R. RICHARDSON (Great Britain), P. DEJOU (France); E. A. B. VIANEN (Netherlands), R. JOTTHIER (Belgium), D. C. BRINIS (Spain), T. H. ENZMANN (Switzerland), S. S. MORRIS (South Africa).


A year later, the V Congress met October 20-24, 1974 in Jerusalem, Israel, with 14 delegations of national members present.
The inaugural session was held in the theater of Jerusalem with important officials present, including the Israeli Minister of the Interior. The working sessions of the General Assembly were held at Haifa.
The theme, ”The Role of the Municipal Engineer in Urban Development and Construction:, called for the study of three important questions:
1. Preparation of an urban development plan-works program.
2. Financing and budgeting for the plan of urban development.
3. Execution of an urban plan.
Each of these questions was the subject of national reports, the synthesis of which was presented by rapporteurs for the purpose of stimulating animated discussion Unanimously adopted resolutions were sent to each participant at the close of the working sessions.
Several interesting technical visits completed the work of the Congress which was embellished with receptions, lectures and folklore spectacles at Jerusalem, Haifa, Acre, Jaffa and Tel Aviv. At the end there was a banquet presided over by the Minister of Transport at the Hilton Hotel.



1974 – 1976 In addition to the meeting of the Steering Committee at Jerusalem, October 20, 1974, three meetings were held before the Stockholm Congress:


– Amsterdam, May 3, 1975;

– Stavanger, October 25, 1975;

– Stockholm, May 30, 1976.


All were for the preparation of the Congress, with marked attention to researching the means for increasing the number of participants and to make the action of IFME even more effective, both for all municipal engineers and the authorities of each country concerned.


The VI Congress took place May 31st to June 4, 1976 in Stockholm. The theme was ”The Role of the Municipal Engineer in the Field of Environmental Protection.”


The French Association magazine gave a detailed review of the Vth Congress in its issues of October 1976 and 1977.
The General Assembly decided on May 31, 1976 to name Mr. R. JOTTHIER, former President, an Honorary Member and unanimously adopted the proposals relative to the composition of the Steering Committee.


– President: J. BERGACKER (U.S.A. and Canada)

– 1st Vice-President: Chr. STEEN PETERSEN (Scandinavian    countries)

– 2nd Vice-President: C. BRINIS (Spain)

– Secretary General: W. F. HENSON (U.S.A.)

– Treasurer: R. BUGHER (U.S.A.)

– Honorary Members: M. CASEAU, A. Van WALRAVEN, R. JOTTHIER

– Members: V. FORSHAW (Great Britain), P. DEJOU (France), E. A. B. VIANEN (Netherlands), CH. ROCHMANS (Belgium),
J. DOEN (Israel), TH. ENZMANN (Switzerland),
S. S. MORRIS (South Africa).


The Future

The VII Congress
is to be held in Florida at Miami from May 8th to 13th**. A new Committee was appointed to pursue the action undertaken in the 1960’s in seeking to improve the functioning and effectiveness of the IFME. No one could deny the importance of our relations and our counseling to- gether, first, on the human plane and then on the plane of urban construction where the conceptions, the methods and the techniques can be compared, discussed and improved for the greatest benefit to our cities, and in a word, for the happiness of man.
For all these reasons, it is to be regretted that certain European countries, and not the smallest, remain apart in spite of numerous individual contacts taken with our colleagues on the occasion of international Congresses, study or private visits. This situation arises from the fact that under its constitution our Federation can only bring Associations of municipal engineers together. Such Associations do not exist in all countries and individual members are excluded.
May 1977 give us the pleasure of welcoming several new members among our closest neighbors!


Done at Dieppe in November 1976


Founding President IFME


*Honorary President, Association of Engineers of the Cities of France and Founding President and Honorary Member, International Federation of Municipal Engineers.


**Editor’s note – The location for the 1977 Congress was subsequently changed to New York City, Washington, DC and Walt Disney World, Florida, May 9-15, 1977.


Additional copies of this Chronology may be obtained from William F. Henson, Secretary General, International Federation of Municipal Engineers, c/o American Public Works Assn., 1776 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Washington, DC