We can trace our roots back to 1977 and the first “International Conference on the use of Fabrics in Geotechnics” in Paris, now known as the first International Conference on Geotextiles. It was here that Dr J. P. Giroud first coined the terms “geotextiles” and “geomembranes.”
Six years later, the International Geotextile Society (IGS) was founded in Paris on 10 November 1983, with the adoption of by-laws and the formation of the first IGS Council. In 1994 the Society changed its name to the International Geosynthetics Society, and at the same time extended membership privileges to students.
The two-year period 2010-2011 saw significant change and recognition of IGS. We defined a core purpose; established Technical Committees covering barrier systems, soil reinforcement, and filtration (now part of TC-Hydraulics), and established several Council Task Forces.
Also during this time, IGS achieved external recognition in the form of liaison status to the Technical Committee 189 “Geosynthetics” of the European Committee for Standardization (CEN), and liaison status to the Technical Committee 221 “Geosynthetics” of the International Standards Organization (ISO), and admission to the Federation of Geo-engineering Societies (FedIGS).
The IGS has supported regional conferences since 1995. The first of these in each region were Europe (Maastricht, Netherlands, 1995); Asia (Bangalore, India 1997); 2008 Americas (Cancun, Mexico, 2008) and Africa (Cape Town, South Africa, 2009). Every four years IGS holds a global International Conference on Geosynthetics (ICG). To date there have been 12 ICGs, with the 13th due to take place in Montreal in 2026.
Approval to form the first IGS Chapter (Japan) was given in 1985, followed by Chapters in the United States in 1986 (later combining with Canada to form the North American Geosynthetics Society), UK in 1987, India in 1988 and China in 1990. The early 1990s saw further chapter growth in Asia and Europe, and the first African chapter (South Africa) in 1994. The formation of the Brazilian Chapter in 1997 and the Russian chapter in 2008 completed IGS representation in the BRICS economies. Today there are 45 IGS Chapters worldwide.
Since the first three Technical Committees were approved at the IGS Council Meeting in Guarujá, Brazil in May 2010, a fourth Technical Committee, TC-Hydraulics, was formed in 2015, followed by a fifth in October 2017 – TC Stabilization. In 2018, the original TC-Filtration group was combined with TC-Hydraulics to capitalize on crossover research and market development interests. Today IGS has four Technical Committees: Barrier Systems, Soil Reinforcement, Hydraulics, and Stabilization.