The 2019 Sergey Soloviev Medal is awarded to Kyoji Sassa for outstanding scientific contributions in fundamental research in landslide hazards and in landslide risk-reduction initiatives for the benefit of societies.
Kyoji Sassa is one of the most well-known and outstanding pioneering researchers in the field of landslides, and the founding president of the International Consortium on Landslides (ICL) established in 2002. His experience is unique in this field in which he has demonstrated a substantive commitment to research, teaching and networking for the improvement of knowledge and its various policy applications. His scientific contributions involve 390 publications, among which not only papers but also 24 books that are used around the globe by researchers, engineers and students. Sassa’s research and academic involvement has reached many countries worldwide and has been particularly beneficial to many developing countries where he has contributed to strengthening their academic capabilities in his field. Sassa’s work has simultaneously contributed to both, enhancing the understanding of natural hazards, and most importantly, paying attention and contributing to the comprehensive and integrated scientific assessment of landslide disaster risk.
In addition to his substantive scientific research, teaching and publications on landslides, related hazards and disaster risk, Sassa has played a key role in international scientific networking. From his academic work at the University of Kyoto and its Disaster Prevention Research Institute, up to the establishment and development of ICL and the International Programme on Landslides, he has served energetically and capably as an active leader in this field. Sassa’s academic, scientific and networking activities are of great significance not only for geosciences, but for the wellbeing and sustainable development of the societies themselves; the scientific approach of his career in terms of disaster risk reduction is a most valuable example of this challenging task. One of his most recent contributions to society is the establishment of ISDR-ICL Sendai Partnerships for Understanding and Reducing Landslide Disaster Risk 2015-2025, a voluntary commitment to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Sustainable Development Goals. It was signed by five UN organisations, global NGOs, some governments, the International Union of Geological Sciences as well as the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics. In addition of being a renowned scientist, and one dedicated to scientific cooperation, Sassa exemplifies the commitment of scientists who deeply believe in cross-border exchange of knowledge and experience. He is an advocate of the necessity and merit of transfer of knowledge and technology from countries that are advanced in science and know-how to those that need them.