The International Geographical Union conferred four Lauréat d’Honneur awards at the closing ceremony of the Quebec Regional Conference.  Seen here are Professors Atsuyuki Okabe (Japan) and Ron Abler (USA), who were able to receive their certificates on the stage, while Professors Richard Le Heron and Robyn Longhurst (both from New Zealand) received theirs in absentio.  The IGU Lauréat d’Honneur was established to recognize individuals who have achieved particular distinction or who have rendered outstanding service in the work of the IGU or in international geography and environmental research.  Citations each of the four awardees for 2018 are as follows:

Professor Ronald F Abler has served the International Geographical Union Executive for more than two decades. He was elected Vice-President in 1996 (re-elected in 2000) Secretary-General and Treasurer from 2004-08, President from 2008-12 and Past President from 2012-16; he is still playing an important role in his capacity as custodian of the IGU’s Promotion and Solidarity Fund. Ron Abler has worked tirelessly and selflessly in support of the IGU’s mission as an extraordinarily loyal servant, a committed and hard-working colleague, friend, wise counsel, a leader, mediator and visionary; he is richly deserving of the International Geographical Union’s Lauréat d’Honneur.

Professor Richard Le Heron has had a sustained engagement with the IGU over 40 or more years. His first IGU congress was the 1972 Montreal meeting when he was a PhD student at Washington. He returned to New Zealand in time to be part of the organizing committee for the IGU Regional Conference held in Palmerston North in 1974 and was one of the editors of the conference proceedings. He attended the Regional Conference in Ibadan in 1978 and subsequent congresses including Sydney (1988), Washington (1992) and The Hague (1996). His closer involvement with the IGU has been at the commission level. This commenced with his involvement with the Industrial Commission in the late 1970s when it met at Canberra in Australia. He participated in later commission meetings in British Columbia and Orlando. The Commission was reconstituted as an economic geography commission in the early 1990s. He worked more closely with this group at a point when there were some significant cleavages within economic geography in order to show how diverse approaches still had merit. In 1996 he was invited to deliver a ‘progress in economic geography’ type of address at The Hague Congress. This was subsequently published in Tijdschrift voor Economishe en Sociale Geografie. He subsequently joined the executive committee of the Commission serving as Vice-Chair and for two terms as Chair. During this period the commission was particularly active holding meetings in such diverse locations as Turin, Vancouver, Toledo, Birmingham, Auckland, Beijing, Barcelona, and Perth. During this time the Commission were also notably successful in converting its meetings into series of books. Two examples from half a dozen include Knowledge, industry and environment: institutions and innovation in territorial perspective edited by Roger Hayter and Richard Le Heron (2002) and Agri-food commodity chains and globalising networks edited by Christina Stringer and Richard Le Heron (2008). Professor Le Heron is one of only five Geographers to be elected to a Fellowship of the Royal Society of New Zealand.

Professor Robyn Longhurst is a leading scholar in gender, social and cultural geography. Her sustained intellectual and institutional contributions – nationally and internationally – continue to profoundly reshape the discipline. She served the IGU Gender and Geography Commission for three terms, one of which as Chair, and is a global collaborator with numerous groups and institutions. Robyn’s theoretically and empirically rich research focuses on the challenges and complexities of people, inequalities and injustices. Her research on gendered spaces – particularly pregnancy, mothering and social media – is ground-breaking. A committed educator, she has many awards for her geography teaching and research supervision and is a richly deserving recipient of the IGU Lauréat d’Honneur.

Professor Atsuyuki Okabe has contributed greatly to the IGU National Committee (Japanese representative), IGU Mathematical Models Commission (full member), International GIScience Conference, and European GIS Association (AGILE). He played an extraordinary role in organizing Kyoto IGU Conference, which was highly successful, as well as in the GIS Association of Japan, which promoted substantial international exchange, including with other Asian GIS Associations. He has served as an editor or editorial board member of 11 international geographical journals. His books include Spatial Tessellations, which has been cited in more than 5,600 international papers; Islamic Area Studies with GIS was awarded the World Book Prize; and Spatial Analysis along Networks opened a new frontier in geographical analysis. Sessions in honour of Professor Okabe have been held at the AAG. He is a deserving recipient of an IGU Lauréat d’Honneur Award for 2018.