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New ‘IGS Nordics’ Chapter

A regional powerhouse is set to launch this month with the creation of a brand new IGS chapter.

It is due to be formed by the amalgamation of IGS Finland and IGS Norway, with the addition of individual IGS members from Sweden, Iceland, Denmark and one member from Estonia. The chapter’s official name and officers are due to be confirmed at the group’s inaugural meeting on October 26.

The President of ‘IGS Nordic’ is due to be Minna Leppännen, one of the founders of the Finnish chapter.

The region’s members were keen to build on the nations’ strong history of collaboration and cooperation on geosynthetic matters and decided to create a unified chapter to pool resources and further their ambitions.

IGS Norway President Arnstein Watn explained: “There have been two national chapters of the IGS in the Nordic countries, Finland and Norway. They are relatively small and have limited resources. While we have arranged national meetings and seminars, and operated a common system for specification and certifications of geotextiles (NorGeoSpec) among our five countries for nearly 20 years, we have not been in a position to develop larger initiatives.

“The creation of IGS Nordics is a game-changer and will allow us to better collaborate and improve the education, knowledge and use of geosynthetics in the region, as well as better serve our members.”

Ambitions for a unified regional chapter have been in the pipeline for several years.

An interim group was established in 2019 with members from the five nations. Further development was planned at a gathering in conjunction with the Nordic Geotechnical meeting in Finland in May 2020 but this had to be cancelled due to Covid-19. However, members met virtually throughout 2020 and were able to prepare a proposal for bylaws for the Nordic Chapter, which have now been approved by the IGS Council. The new chapter is set to be officially established at the meeting in October.

The Finnish and Norwegian chapters will no longer exist after the creation of the Nordic chapter and existing members will be transferred over. The new chapter is expected to have about 50 members.

Mr Watn added: “We’re really excited about the creation of our new chapter, and members can be assured country-specific activities will also still take place. We have a great relationship with the respective national geotechnical societies, for example in Norway we will still keep a geosynthetic committee in the Norwegian Geotechnical Society that will co-operate with us. 

“However, this is a fantastic opportunity to pool our resources and ideas, allow a more robust organization of initiatives, and have better capability to take on larger events including international conferences, all for the benefit of our members.

“We look forward to sharing our initiatives in the months to come.”

Ms Leppännen added: “The new chapter will be a great opportunity to connect with other geosynthetic enthusiasts in Nordic countries and build cooperation to create a better and common culture for the use of geosynthetics and to promote their technically, economically and environmentally justified use in all Nordic countries.

“We will spread knowledge and experience, plus compile guidelines to support design, quality control and construction.”