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AquaConSoil has long been at the forefront of addressing critical environmental challenges related to soil, water and sediment management. With the chairmanship of Frederic Coulon, the content of the conference continues to evolve, incorporating cutting-edge technologies and fostering a vibrant community of experts. Frederic shares insights into AquaConSoil’s mission, its transformative journey over the past 40 years, and how this is translated in the upcoming edition and the future trajectory of the conference.

Transformation of 40 years

Frederic Coulon, chairman of AquaConSoil, sums up the conference’s mission in five words: "Promoting sustainable soil-water management solutions." Elaborating on this, he says, “AquaConSoil aims to be the leading conference in the EU for advancing sustainable solutions in soil, water, and sediment management through collaboration, innovation, and knowledge exchange.”

Reflecting on AquaConSoil's 40-year journey, Frederic highlights significant transformations. "Initially, AquaConSoil (formely named “ConSoil”) focused solely on soil management," he says. "But we’ve expanded to include water management, recognizing the interconnectedness of these systems. This expansion has allowed the conference to address the broader scope of sustainable resource management."

The conference has also embraced the concepts of circular economy and sustainability. "We've put a strong emphasis on minimizing waste and maximizing resource efficiency," Frederic explains. AquaConSoil now covers a range of strategies for sustainable resource use, waste reduction, and circular approaches to soil and water management.

Another significant transformation is the focus on innovative remediation technologies and decision support tools. "These tools play a crucial role in guiding decision-making processes and optimizing environmental outcomes". The conference has also expanded its coverage to include new approaches in risk management and policy development, particularly in collaboration with key European networks.

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"AquaConSoil aims to be the leading conference in the EU for advancing sustainable solutions in soil, water, and sediment management through collaboration, innovation, and knowledge exchange. Over 40 years, we've expanded from solely focusing on soil to include water management, recognizing the interconnectedness of these systems."

Future trajectory

Looking ahead, Frederic envisions AquaConSoil continuing its trajectory of growth, innovation, and impact. "We aim to foster inter- and trans-disciplinary collaboration, connecting soil science, hydrology, ecology, engineering and more" he says. The conference will incorporate emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and remote sensing to improve environmental monitoring and decision-making.

In response to challenges posed by urbanization and climate change, AquaConSoil will focus on urban soil and water management, resilience planning, and adaptation strategies. "We also plan to strengthen our global outreach, engaging with diverse stakeholders worldwide," the chairman adds. The goal is to share knowledge, exchange best practices and collaborate on international initiatives.

Unique Features

Frederic highlights the unique features that set AquaConSoil apart: "Our interdisciplinary focus facilitates holistic solutions to complex challenges" he says. With a global perspective, the conference offers insights and solutions from various regions and contexts. AquaConSoil prioritizes sustainability, promotes cutting-edge technologies, and fosters a strong sense of community. "We address the unique challenges of urban and industrial environments, offering tailored insights and solutions," Frederic explains.

Standout Moments

A standout moment for Frederic was his first attendance at AquaConSoil Milano in 2008. "The inclusive and welcoming atmosphere fostered friendships and connections," he recalls, highlighting the conference's community-building efforts. This experience underscored the importance of creating a supportive environment for networking and collaboration.

Fostering Collaboration and Knowledge Exchange

AquaConSoil is committed to enhancing methodologies and frameworks for soil and water management within the EU, addressing the integration of social, economic and health perspectives to meet regulatory standards.

Deltares, as organizing party of AquaConSoil, plays a role in shaping the conference’s direction in environmental science and engineering. Innovative technologies, research advancements and policy development have influenced the sustainable remediation strategies discussed at AquaConSoil. Frederic: “Collaborative efforts with Deltares have enhanced decision support tools and methodologies, ensuring AquaConSoil remains at the forefront of environmental sustainability. To stay current with emerging trends and advancements, AquaConSoil continuously monitors research developments and consults expert advisory committees. "Our program reflects the latest thinking and innovations in environmental science and soil management," Fred explains. Keynote speakers, plenary sessions, and special workshops ensure attendees stay abreast of cutting-edge developments. The conference will incorporate emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and remote sensing to improve environmental monitoring and decision-making.

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Engagement beyond the conference

Beyond the bi-annual conference, AquaConSoil members actively engage with several organizations and initiatives. "We collaborate with networks like the Common Forum, NICOLE, UNEP, USEPA, REMTECH Europe, CONCAWE, SedNet, and the European Geosciences Union," Frederic says. These engagements strengthen connections, ensure the conference remains at the forefront of advancements, and contribute to knowledge dissemination and best practices in soil and water management. "Our proactive measures extend AquaConSoils’ influence beyond the conference, aligning with our mission of fostering sustainability in soil and water management," he concludes.

Looking to the future, Frederic dreams of adding virtual platforms to facilitate remote participation and interaction. "For instance, developing a range of online resources, such as webinars, discussion forums, or a virtual library," he says. “Involving early-career researchers in the decision-making process is also a priority, aiming to create a vibrant and inclusive community.”

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"Our next conference in June 2025 in Liège will showcase emerging technologies and address challenges like urbanization and climate change. We're focusing on strengthening global outreach, engaging diverse stakeholders, and collaborating on international initiatives to advance sustainable soil and water management solutions."

Looking Ahead to AquaConSoil 2025

As AquaConSoil continues to grow and evolve, its commitment to fostering sustainable solutions in soil and water management remains steadfast. Together with Deltares, the conference not only adapts to emerging trends and challenges but also pioneers innovative approaches and fosters a global community of experts dedicated to environmental sustainability.

The next chapter for AquaConSoil is set for June 2025 in the vibrant city of Liège. This upcoming event promises to be an exciting convergence of the brightest minds in soil and water management. Attendees can look forward to engaging sessions, innovative presentations, and unique networking opportunities. Furthermore, it will be the celebration of 40 years of AquaConSoil.

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