Montreal was recently revealed as the chosen city to host the International Conference on Geosynthetics (ICG) in 2026. Here, the bid team at IGS North America reflect on their triumph and look forward to what they say will be the ‘best ICG yet’.
Last August the IGS invited bids from chapters and organizations to host the 13th ICG, a four-yearly event supported by the IGS since 1986. The deadline for submissions was January this year and the winner finally revealed in April: IGS North America (IGS-NA) and host city Montreal.
The conference is themed ‘Legacy, Evolution & Revolution in Geosynthetics’ and will take place on September 13-17, 2026, at the Palais des congres de Montréal, also known as Montreal Convention Center.
John Allen, President of IGS North America, paid tribute to his hard-working team.
“I could not be more pleased with how far our board has come in a short amount of time. It has worked really hard to build a diverse cross-section of individuals that includes all aspects of the geosynthetics industry over the past few years. By bringing this diverse group together globally in Montreal we will be able to look back on what we as an industry have done and reflect on how we will be able to move the industry forward,” he said.
And he was clear on why people should attend in 2026.
“This conference allows for the sharing of knowledge of best practices, new products, and new ideas about how to use geosynthetics, regardless of how long an individual has been in the industry. We all have something to contribute,” he said.
13th ICG co-chair Ben Leshchinsky, who becomes IGS-NA President in January 2023, said: “We all feel so honored to have the privilege to host this conference, and this could not have been possible without the hard work from our membership. We look forward to working with our dedicated membership and equally important fellow IGS members around the globe to make this conference a fun and enriching experience.”
He added: “This won’t be the first major event of my presidency – we will be hosting the GeoAmericas conference in Toronto before the ICG so it will be an exceptionally exciting few years for geosynthetics in Canada.”
Kristin Sample-Lord, IGS-NA Vice-President and 13th ICG co-chair, is the first woman to co-chair an ICG. She said: “Serving as the first woman co-chair is an immense and very humbling honor. The 13th ICG’s theme of ‘Legacy, Evolution, and Revolution’ extends beyond the technical progress and scientific future of the field. It is also about diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice within our professional communities and for those we serve, and integrating those important conversations throughout the conference programming.
“For our future engineers, social and environmental justice impacts will be important considerations for every infrastructure project, in addition to sustainability and resilience. The IGS recognizes and embraces this future, and I am thrilled to be co-chairing such a major, high-quality event for IGS members and the geosynthetics community.”
Former IGS President Richard Bathurst, who is an IGS-NA Advisory co-chair, has attended all ICGs since the IGS was officially founded in 1983.
He said: “From this perspective I can appreciate the evolution of the conference format, technical content and related activities over many years. There is no doubt in my mind that the 13th ICG will be the best yet. I am also particularly proud as a Canadian that the venue will be in Montreal which will offer all attendees good dining and additional cultural attractions.”
The win was also personal to fellow Canadian Eric Blond, IGS-NA Secretary, who said he first suggested the idea of Montreal as a conference location in his role as vice-chairman of the geosynthetics division of the Canadian Geotechnical Society (CGS).
He added: “This enthusiasm from the members of the geosynthetics division of the CGS is excellent news as there is already a large pool of volunteers ready to contribute and make this conference the best ever.”
And visitors to the city in the fall are in for a treat according to Mr Blond.
He said: “Montreal is a really fantastic city in September. The weather is perfect and the spirit of the people is as good and open-minded as can be after a warm summer. Montreal is among the safest cities in North America. I am sure the ICG2026 attendees will keep an unforgettable memory of their stay in this wonderful city.”
There’s also a whole host of initiatives for IGS Young Members including scholarships to attend, a Student/Mentors mixer, and a technical papers competition. Dawie Marx, IGS Young Members Committee Lead, said ensuring the conference was accessible and inclusive was key.
John Kraus, IGS Executive Director and chairman of the IGS Bid Evaluation Committee, which reviewed the submissions, said: “I was privileged to see all the bids at an early stage. It was especially encouraging to see that while the guidelines we published made it easier to compare proposals, each team had plenty of scope to develop distinctive propositions and presented them creatively. Congratulations to IGS North America, we look forward to supporting their ambitions for 2026.”
Further details about the 13th ICG will be announced in due course. But you don’t have to wait till 2026 to attend an ICG – the next and 12th ICG will take place in Rome, Italy, on September 17-21, 2023. Find out more about IGS Italy’s packed program here.