The Mitteleuropäische Gradmessung (Central European Arc Measurement) was created in 1862 as the first international scientific organization of significance. In 1867 it expanded to the Europäische Gradmessung (European Arc Measurement), and in 1886 to the Internationale Erdmessung (International Association of Geodesy, Association Géodésique Internationale). At the first General Assembly of IUGG (Rome, 2-10 May 1922) it became one of the five constituent sections of the Union. It took its present name at the Stockholm General Assembly of IUGG (1930).
The Mission of IAG is the advancement of geodesy. It is implemented by furthering geodetic theory through research and teaching, by collecting, analyzing, modelling and interpreting observational data, by stimulating technological development and by providing a consistent representation of the figure, rotation, and gravity field of the Earth and planets, and their temporal variations. The objectives cover the study of all geodetic problems related to Earth observation and global change. This comprises the establishment of reference systems, monitoring the gravity field and rotation of the Earth, the deformation of the Earth surface including ocean and ice, and positioning for interdisciplinary use.
IAG shall initiate, coordinate, and promote international cooperation and knowledge exchange through symposia, workshops, summer schools, publications, and other means of communication. The goal is to foster the development of geodetic activities and infrastructure in all regions of the world, taking into consideration the specific situation of developing countries.