IGS President Chungsik Yoo is responsible for setting the strategic direction of the IGS in collaboration with the Council and Members. We caught up with him fresh from attending the Soil Reinforcement and Barriers technical workshops in Barcelona, Spain, earlier this year, before the worldwide COVID-19 restrictions came into effect.
Barcelona was an opportunity for the IGS officers to meet. What did you discuss?
IGS officers meet quarterly and this was our first face-to-face meeting in 2020.
It was a very intensive and successful gathering, and an important opportunity to review our successes and challenges in 2019. We considered our priorities for 2020. This included reviewing what we could do to boost attendance at our events, increase membership and chapter involvement and add impact to our education and sustainability messages. As always, we discussed how we could add more value for our members for the year ahead.
What are your 2020 calendar highlights?
Flagship events include GeoAmericas 2020 – the 4th Pan-American conference on geosynthetics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, now postponed to October. We pride ourselves on our regional events and ensuring our members can access workshops, seminars, learning and networking events no matter where they are.
Innovation in sustainability is key as the industry develops, thanks to global challenges. What’s the focus for the IGS?
Absolutely. Sustainability is all-important. Climate change, socio-economic pressures and limited resources combined with financial pressures all contribute to the need for devising creative approaches to solving world issues. (Just take a look at our Vice President Dr Nathalie Touze’s Giroud Lecture for more on this). Geosynthetics have a huge part to play in mitigating the impact of these challenges, but we must reshape our thinking on how these materials are made, used, their potential for re-use, and perhaps most importantly, their long-term impact and legacy.
What else can the IGS do to address the sustainability issue?
I’d like to throw that question back to our members. What are their ideas, concerns and solutions to the challenge? It’s about collective efforts to solve these issues. We can’t operate in a vacuum, which is where the value of a society like the IGS comes in. I think this is the time to consider creating a technical committee on sustainability in order to provide solutions for environmental degradation, climate change, natural resources overconsumption and so on, using geosynthetics. I’d like to hear members’ views on this.
As well as sustainability, what other priorities are on the list for the IGS over the next 12 months?
Growing the IGS Foundation. Its formation last summer was a real milestone. The Foundation aims to raise funds to help grow geosynthetics education. Its goal is to raise $1 million annually to help fund educational initiatives to plug training gaps. Although the IGS Foundation is completely independent from the IGS, the IGS will closely work with the IGS Foundation in this regard. You can find out more about it here.
How are you ensuring the IGS has a global impact?
Our international events help to bring the latest thinking in geosynthetics to a wider audience. There are several important conferences planned over the next two years, namely GeoAsia 2021 in March, GeoAfrica 2021 in October, and the 12th International Conference on Geosynthetics in September 2022, which we are sure will have a significant effect in growing geosynthetics awareness globally.
How important is supporting the next generation of geosynthetics engineers, scientists and innovators?
Incredibly! The younger generation is vital. That’s why it’s important to support our young members across the globe through educational events, tailored sessions for students at our international conferences, and opportunities for them to interact with their global peers. The longevity and potential of the industry rests with the fresh ideas, optimism and creativity of the young.
How do you see the IGS develop into 2020 and beyond?
That’s up to our members. I’d strongly encourage them to get in touch, tell us what they like and what we could do better. We have a chapter survey due to be distributed soon. Please ensure your local chapter includes your comments so we can ensure we are delivering what you, our members need. But more than this, we want to hear what our members are working on, their research and projects. Share your stories with the world and help spread the word about the wonders of geosynthetics!
Any final messages before you dive into a very busy year for the IGS?
I’d just like to emphasise how important it is for members to interact with us –tell us what you think so we can continue to build a society that better serves your needs. I’d also encourage members to attend our many conferences, seminars and workshops; they are great opportunities for all ages to network, increase knowledge and have the opportunity to be at the cutting edge of geosynthetics development.
If you have any feedback for the IGS officers, please email Terry-Ann Paulo at email@example.com with your comments.