Greece

Successful WTC 2023 in Athens

At the closing ceremony, the participants agreed: It was an excellent World Tunnel Congress 2023 in Athens. In numbers this means: More than 420 presentations from over 45 countries in the lecture sessions and an extensive exhibition of the tunnelling industry. This combination attracted more than 2000 participants to the congress in Athens. Perhaps not exactly excellent, but rather somewhat improvable, was the number of around 100 online participants who took advantage of the hybrid concept of the WTC and connected live to the lectures. However, since the recordings of the lectures are to remain available online without time restrictions, the number of accesses to the digitally stored lecture presentations can probably be increased.

Opening ceremony of the WTC 2023 in the Megaron Congress Centre in Athens
Credit/Quelle: WTC 2023

Opening ceremony of the WTC 2023 in the Megaron Congress Centre in Athens
Credit/Quelle: WTC 2023

Future Technologies

Round Table on „Underground Space for Mobility: Frontier Technologies”
Credit/Quelle: Klostermeier

Round Table on „Underground Space for Mobility: Frontier Technologies”
Credit/Quelle: Klostermeier
Michel Deffayet (left), President of the ITACET Foundation, presents the ITACET Award to Dr. Donald Lamont
Credit/Quelle: WTC 2023
Michel Deffayet (left), President of the ITACET Foundation, presents the ITACET Award to Dr. Donald Lamont
Credit/Quelle: WTC 2023
More than 2000 visitors attended the lecture events and the large exhibition of the WTC in Athens
Credit/Quelle: Klostermeier
More than 2000 visitors attended the lecture events and the large exhibition of the WTC in Athens
Credit/Quelle: Klostermeier
Future technologies and the serious implementation of sustainable and environmentally friendly construction projects are moving more and more into the focus of the construction industry, which is why these topics also had a higher priority at WTC 2023 than in previous years.

Arnold Dix used his opening speech for a call to all: “We have made climate change – and we as tunnel and underground construction specialists are now called upon. We’re the scientists and engineers. This is not only a conference, this is a collection of experts and dreamers of underground construction. Let's have a shared vision of how we can help the people of our planet.”

The opening ceremony also included a round-table debate on possible future technologies for underground space in the service of mobility, some of which have already been partially realized. A planet for a population of soon to be 10 billion - the use of underground space must come into focus, and engineers must think about how their field of work will change in the next five or ten years in this regard. Increasingly or even fully automated, possibly? The latter cannot and will not be imagined; control over the projects must always remain in the hands of the engineers. Chat GPT is therefore not yet to be commissioned to plan the entire tunnel. But the technology and artificial intelligence are there, and it is up to the educators to teach future engineers how to control and use these technologies.

By vote, the audience was asked which developments they considered “game changers”. In the case of tunnel construction, most participants decided for material technologies.

General Assembly

As usual, the 49th General Assembly of the ITA was divided into two parts and framed the congress days. ITA President Arnold Dix brought the representatives of the member nations up to speed on the current organizational reforms and touted the vision that the Executive Council is currently working to implement. “We have been very busy in the last seven months (since the WTC in Copenhagen),” Dix said. More specifically, busy with the vision of “One strong ITA” finding “underground solutions for a better world.” The objective, meanwhile, is clearly stated “We want to become the leading underground mining organization” to help shape an “efficient and resilient underground infrastructure for our and future generations,” the president said. However, the strong ITA should not come at the expense of weakening the national tunnelling associations, Dix affirmed. On the contrary, he said, the concept includes supporting and strengthening the national associations.

The 49th ITA General Assembly with the Executive Council and the representatives of the member nations
Credit/Quelle: Klostermeier

The 49th ITA General Assembly with the Executive Council and the representatives of the member nations
Credit/Quelle: Klostermeier
With the election of Ioannis Fikiris (Greece) by the General Assembly, the ITA now has four Vice Presidents again
Credit/Quelle: WTC 2023
With the election of Ioannis Fikiris (Greece) by the General Assembly, the ITA now has four Vice Presidents again
Credit/Quelle: WTC 2023
As of July 1, 2023, Roland Herr (left) will succeed Olivier Vion (right) as Executive Director of the ITA and support the Executive Council around President Arnold Dix (center) in its work
Credit/Quelle: Klostermeier
As of July 1, 2023, Roland Herr (left) will succeed Olivier Vion (right) as Executive Director of the ITA and support the Executive Council around President Arnold Dix (center) in its work
Credit/Quelle: Klostermeier
The reforms are seen as the most important changes since the founding of the ITA, which aims to become more agile with new initiatives. These include the “Governance Council” elected in Copenhagen, which critically analyzes governance, ethics and conduct of the ITA, as well as the new committee on sustainability, which is to remain active for the time being until 2025. To his colleagues on the Executive Council, Dix directed words of encouragement and praise: “You are changing a lot right now, and very, very fast!” And from the ranks of the member nations, Mike Rispin (USA) attested to the president and the ExCo “an excellent job of communication”.

 Elections and personnel matters were also on the agenda of the General Assembly. Ioannis Fikiris (Greece) was elected as the fourth Vice President of the incumbent ExCo. And after 14 years, Olivier Vion passed on his position as Executive Director to a successor; from July 1, 2023, Roland Herr will now carry out this important work in the ITA. Vion will remain with the ITA in parallel until the organization's 50th anniversary next year. Arnold Dix thanked him and his team from the ITA Secretariat in particular for the rapid digital transformation in the COVID pandemic, saying that this changeover “may have made the difference between life and death for ITA.”

At the closing ceremony, the Greek organizers passed the ITA flag to China, the host country of the WTC 2024 in Shenzhen
Credit/Quelle: WTC 2023

At the closing ceremony, the Greek organizers passed the ITA flag to China, the host country of the WTC 2024 in Shenzhen
Credit/Quelle: WTC 2023

Future Events

The 2024 World Tunnel Congress in Shenzhen, China, has long been a done deal, as has the 2025 congress, which will be held in Stockholm. And the ITA Awards are also reliably going into the next round. The ninth awards ceremony will take place on November 24, 2023, in Mumbai, India, as a hybrid event. Applications for this can be submitted until June 20.

Two countries had applied to host the 2026 WTC: South Africa and Canada. In the end, the South African representative who wanted to bring the congress to Cape Town could only offer his congratulations: the choice fell on the Canadian opponent Montreal. As things stand, there is only one applicant for 2027 - Belgium would like to host the congress in four years' time.

New in the WTC Program: Sports!

Pakistan became the 79th member nation to join the ITA at WTC 2023
Credit/Quelle: Klostermeier

Pakistan became the 79th member nation to join the ITA at WTC 2023
Credit/Quelle: Klostermeier
Spring ITAlympics in two disciplines: Participants competed in sports in a cricket competition and a (slightly shortened) marathon run
Credit/Quelle: WTC 2023
Spring ITAlympics in two disciplines: Participants competed in sports in a cricket competition and a (slightly shortened) marathon run
Credit/Quelle: WTC 2023
A brand-new addition to the program this year: sports competitions. The “WTC 2023 Athletic Events” launched in Athens were intended firstly to be fun for participants and secondly to do something for a good cause with voluntary donations. In the Panathenaic Stadium, which was built for the first Olympic Games of the modern era in 1896, the organizers invited participants to run a symbolic marathon. Symbolic because they settled for a distance of 10 laps for its length. The donations will go to the Greek organization ELEPAP, which supports a rehabilitation program for children with disabilities.

 Sports event number two took the underground experts to the sports field of the Plato School. To mark Pakistan's admission as the 79th member country in the ITA, a cricket match was held there – lots of fun for the students in the spectator stands and the sports-loving tunnellers on the pitch.

x

Related articles:

Issue 05/2022 Denmark

World Tunnel Congress 2022 – Prof. Arnold Dix elected ITA President

Sustainability Concepts for the Tunnelling Industry The ITA President‘s agenda for the next three years coincides with the main theme of this year‘s Congress: sustainability in the underground...

more
Issue 06/2017

ITA Annual Meeting and World Tunnel Congress 2017 in Bergen

The Tunnel Congress organised by the NFF (Norwegian Tunnelling Society) in collaboration with the ITA bore the slogan “Surface Challenges – Underground Solutions”. 52 of the 74 ITA member nations...

more
Issue 01/2023 Greece

World Tunnel Congress 2023 in Athens

From 12 to 18 May 2023 the Greek Tunnelling Society, organizes the World Tunnel Congress (WTC 2023) in the city of Athens. The WTC is the premier annual event of the International Tunnelling and...

more
Issue 04/2018

ITA-Annual Meeting and World Tunnel Congress 2018 in Dubai

The Tunnel Congress organised by the UAE tunnelling committee (Society of Engineers of United Arab Emirates, SOE UAE) in collaboration with the ITA was captioned “The Role of Underground Space in...

more
Issue 08/2011 Thailand

ITA-AITES World Tunnel Congress : 18 to 24 May 2012, Bangkok

Greetings from Thailand. The World Tunnel Congress and 38th General Assembly (WTC 2012) will be held in Bangkok from 18th to 23rd May 2012. This is the first time that Thailand will host the ITA-AITES...

more